The following information and  judging guidelines have been compiled by several resources and my personal  cake decorating instructors – Hall of Fame Decorators with ICES.  Great information and great guidelines for an cake competion and show.  In my opinion, the shows need to follow a general guidelines across the board; US and Internationally for the Judges and hold special  trainings.  I myself have only had one show in the US make sure, we as Judges were all trained and knew how to judge the categories we were judging and specific guidelines on what to look for and follow.  


1. Neatness, on the cake board, cake covering, in the piping, and/or hand work in molding is important.

2. The cake board should be in proportion usually 3 inches larger than the cake (i.e. an 8 inch cake should have an 11 inch board). The shape of the cake board should correspond to the cake. The board should be covered with greaseproof paper, preferably embossed food safe foil. Board and foil should complement the cake. Silver, glass or plastic trays may be used. Thickness of the base should be in keeping with the weight of the cake. Boards may also be covered with fondant for fondant covered cakes.

3. The cake should be level on top with good straight sides. It should also be a good logical size. A tiered cake should be in proportion graduating sizes as you go up (i.e. 16,12, 8)

4. The cake covering should be smooth and as flawless as possible, no cake or dummy showing through. Avoid crumbs in icing.

5. Precision in dividing your cake accurately is a must. Preliminary markings should never show.

6. All piping tip work should be uniform and free of air bubbles. Stars should be equal and uniform in size and have no points on the star centers. All flowers should show definite petals.

7. Hand work should be smooth and free of small drying cracks. The petals should be thin and delicate.

8. Color should be appetizing. Colors should be soft and delicate, the exception being some holiday cakes, children’s cakes, etc. Color in icing the cake should remain the same throughout, unless marbling or gradual fading is the design.

9. Originality ideas copied exactly from books will lose points over original ideas. Build on an idea seen in books. Change it and add your own ideas. Some shows prohibit copyright work from other media.

10. Choose a well-balanced design. Larger borders on bottom should graduate up to smaller borders on top. Floral display on top should not overpower the whole cake.

11. Avoid over decorating. Extend yourself to the fullest, but do not go beyond what you have mastered. Do not use every technique you learned on one cake. It is better to do a technique well than to over extend yourself to do it badly.

12. Has contestant kept to the assigned theme in his/her division? If category calls for ‘Song Title’, by all means make sure design depicts a song that is recognizable.

13. Keep true to form in the foreign techniques as we know them from books and classes, unless the rules specify mixing of techniques.



1. A judge should have a good background in all cake decorating techniques and related fields.

2. A judge should have good understanding of the division they are judging. Read show rules and regulations carefully as show rules vary. Request clarification of rules, to make sure judges are judging by what entrants were told.

3. A judge should have taken classes in all areas of cake decorating including foreign techniques plus they should constantly read and study books by the professionals in every technique.

4. A judge should have taken at least 1 professional class each year and as many classes and demonstrations as possible.

5. A judge should have been a contestant in cake shows in order to have a clear understanding of what it feels like to be judged. It is helpful to have directed a cake show or been involved in the workings of a cake show.

6. A judge should be able to put himself/herself in the shoes of the contestant in all the different divisions.

7. A judge should be intelligent, honest, tactful, and reliable with a good conscience and strong character to be able to disqualify themselves from any unfamiliar technique.

8. He/she should have done it all; struggled and achieved from basics to professionals and is still out there doing and learning and never stopping. He/she should constantly keep abreast of current trends and new techniques.


1. Be punctual, courteous, friendly, open minded and unbiased.

2. Be prepared. Read the rules and regulations thoroughly so as to have a clear understanding of the divisions, categories, and the theme assigned to each.

3. Introduce yourself to the show personnel. If something about the show is not to your

liking, do not make a fuss. Give constructive suggestions after the show, if asked.

4. Be extremely careful of your remarks so as not to hurt or discourage a contestant, during as well as after judging. Be careful of hand gestures as well as facial expressions.

Some contestants have been turned away from decorating because a judge loudly criticized a cake, not knowing that the contestant was close by.

5. Show professional courtesy to the judges you are judging with. Do not dominate the judging; the other judges have opinions too. Listen, evaluate then come to a mutual agreement.

6. Dress neatly. Do not have jewelry such as long necklaces or bracelets dangling. Be careful not to damage a contestant’s cake. Do not touch or handle a contestant’s entry. Look at accompanying sheet if in doubt of method or material.

7. Do not enter a cake into the show you are judging, rather bring your work to display if requested.

8. Disqualify yourself immediately from a category if you recognize someone’s cake. Also disqualify yourself if you are unfamiliar with a certain technique.

9. Make constructive comments on the score sheets. Always remember to encourage not discourage contestants. Do not write o harsh remarks. Critical comments should not be necessary on a 1st prize cake and especially Master divisions.

10. Thank the director and show personnel for inviting you to judge

their show. Compliment them on having a nice show; they need encouragement too. A short note after the show is greatly appreciated.

11. If you have to cancel judging a show, contact the director immediately and suggest a replacement.

12. Respond yes or no to judging a show in the time requested. If yes, and you disagree with the fee, discuss it with the director. Perhaps you can come to a mutual agreement.

13. Do not repeat another judge’s opinion. What was discussed while judging should not be disclosed.

14. Not judging the same show year after year is a suggestion so that the judge does not become too familiar with work of the contestants. Good rule of thumb: judge every other year.

15. Do not judge with a close friend unless you can be objective

And express your opinion and listen to his/her opinion too.

16. Do not make any changes in the judging after all score sheets have been turned in, unless all judges confer and agree.

17. Attend the awards ceremony, if at all possible.

18. As a cake show judge, you should make yourself available after the awards ceremony to answer contestant’s questions. A judge should have a reason for everything that is judged both good and bad.

19. A judge should not criticize or discuss another contestant’s cake in a derogatory manner to other contestants or to observers. You could be wrong, plus your comments could conflict with other judges’ remarks made on the comment sheet.