Cakes by you

Vineyard Haven library presents its version of ‘Nailed It!’

—Courtesy Vineyard Haven library

Have you nailed chocolate chip cookies and brownies, a little hesitant to try something out of the ordinary, but feeling a bit adventurous after months of quarantine? Ever secretly fantasize about being on one of those virtual reality cooking shows? Looking for something different to do with the family? Well, the Vineyard Haven library has provided the solution. They’re inviting us all to a fun family baking competition, where your team has 45 minutes to replicate a Cakes by Liz or Val’s Cakes cake. And they assure us: Disasters are welcome! Best yet, you don’t even have to feel pressure to practice because, as Jennifer Rapuano, the library’s Young Adult librarian explains, “The specific design is a surprise — that’s part of the fun.”

The event is fashioned after the Netflix cooking show “Nailed It!” where home bakers with a terrible track record in the kitchen seek redemption — and cash. In each episode, three adult contestants take a crack at recreating edible masterpieces. The projects don’t always turn out great, but whichever amateur baker comes closest to a successful dessert by the end of the episode takes home the $10,000 prize, which they might want to use on baking lessons. Comic Nicole Byer and renowned pastry chef Jacques Torres host the culinary competition, which features such challenges as painting self-portraits on cookies or replicating Olympic medals. The Vineyard Haven library event was inspired by an off-Island library that came up with a way to duplicate the show for families.

For our local version, Liz Kane from Cakes by Liz and Val Stoyer from Val’s Cakes will be the eagle-eyed judges, having presented an elaborate “stunt” cake that you’ll try to copy. Whoever comes closest will win. All you need, besides a little chutzpah, is to have made two nine-inch cakes beforehand, and have some frosting and food coloring at the ready.
“People will also be using what they have on hand,” Rapuano adds. “It’s part of the challenge for us at the library, because we can’t provide supplies, but that will also be funny.”

What you’ll see on your computer during the event is everyone else creatively working away, as well as the hosts and judges. In this era of COVID-19, Rapuano points out that it’s a chance to connect with the community virtually.

What’s particularly enticing about this event is that there’s no pressure to win — it’s all about having a good time together, and getting to eat a slice of the results. In fact, while the term “nailed it” can refer to successfully and skillfully completing something, it’s often used sarcastically in reference to efforts that comically failed. So, the pressure is off. Channel your inner Julia Child, and join the fun. As library program coordinator Anne McDonough says, “’Nailed It!’ is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s the perfect mood lifter.”

Register ahead of time at