Lily's Cakes

Lily Halabi poses for a portrait at Lily's Cakes in Temple on July 20. 

Cake challenge

Local baker dances to final on Food Network show



Though she didn’t quite make it into the end zone, Bell County baker Lily Halabi still scored a valuable experience on the Food Network baking competition “Winner Cake All.”

The football-themed episode, which aired Monday, pitted four teams against each other. Teams were told they would be baking a cake for a special event hosted by a VIP client. The winner would also receive $10,000.

Their first task was to design a cake that encapsulated the thrill of victory.

Halabi — owner of Lily’s Cakes in Temple and Harker Heights — previously appeared on and won two other Food Network competitions, decided to build a trophy that represented her family’s unique background.

“I come from two countries that are in trouble. My parents are immigrants from Syria and Venezuela,” Halabi said during the episode. “I am living the American dream one cake at a time.”

The trophy-shaped cake featured a wreath with the colors of the Syrian and Venezuelan flags. Judge Damiano Carraro appreciated the touch.

“I like the idea behind it. I came from Italy to live the American dream, so it really means a lot,” Carraro said.

Halabi was joined by Miranda Wooten, a part-time Killeen Police Department officer who has worked with Halabi for several years.

“She was the very first cake decorator I hired at my business,” Halabi said. “She kept coming by until she landed a job with me, so I’ve known her for over six years now.”

Halabi wasn’t sure if the trophy cake was enough to get the team to the next round, but she believes symbolism behind it resonated with the judges.

“I thought I was going home, but what sold it was the story behind it and what it meant to me. That’s what made us make it to the second round,” Halabi said.

She and Wooten made the cut. Before the second and final round, it was revealed that the teams would be making a cake for former National Football League player Rashad Jennings to use at a game day party. Jennings, who is also a former champion of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” wanted a cake that incorporated both his football and dancing backgrounds.

Wooten, who has two teenage sons and an extensive football knowledge, believed she had an advantage.

“As a football fan, I know a lot about Rashad. I’m hoping we can incorporate some of the things I know about his background into the cake,” Wooten said before the round began.

The teams had five hours to construct their creations. Halabi and Wooten made a base to look like a football field. The plan was to stack a disco ball, a football and a bust of a football player on top.

However, it didn’t quite go as planned. As time ran out, the bust didn’t quite materialize. The team decided to install the helmeted figure next to the tower instead, but Halabi said the golden bust didn’t turn out like she imagined.

“I know it wasn’t the best helmet. We were going for a trophy look, and then it ended up looking like a nun with braces,” she said.

While Jennings said the cake successfully told the story of his career, it wasn’t selected as the winner. In retrospect, Halabi said the scale was just a little too big to complete in the time allotted.

“I think we could have cut it down to save time so we could finish the details. If we had 20 more minutes, that’s all I would have needed,” Halabi said. “Like they say here in Texas, ‘Go big or go home.’ Well, I went big and I went home.”

Still, she said the chance to compete and meet other bakers was a worthwhile experience.

“All the people we competed against were very sweet and definitely very talented,” Halabi said. “All of us are doing what we love.”