Lily's Cakes

Lily Halabi, owner of Lily’s Cakes in Harker Heights, shows off her Smurf-themed entry to her second Food Network competition.

With one victory under her belt, Lily Halabi, owner of Lily’s Cakes, at 360 W. Central Texas Expressway in Harker Heights, was ready for another “Cake Wars” competition on The Food Network.

She returned for the “All Champs Cake Wars” program that aired on March 27, and although she didn’t grab first place, Halabi still came away a winner.

“I learned so much from the bakers,” Halabi said. “They are all great champions.”

The show pitted four bakers that previously won against each other to make a cake with a theme for the new film, “Smurfs — The Lost Village,” and a chance at $10,000.

The only creative inspiration came from watching a short clip of the movie.

Halabi’s single-tier cake, a chili chocolate flavor with raspberry filling, advanced past the 75-minute round one into the final round, where the three remaining bakers had four hours to make their cakes.

“My cake was about 5 feet tall and everything I saw in the trailer, like the Smurf village, I tried to put on the cake,” she said.

The flavor was a lemon cake with a chunky cranberry filling. Once again, her assistant was Samantha Adkins, plus two other assistants the show provided.

The judges scored her cake high on the details of the lower tiers but said the top tiers lacked detail.

“We ran out of time, so I couldn’t add as many final touches as I wanted,” Halabi said.

She finished second runner-up and said being invited to compete was an honor.

“They could have chosen other champions, but the judges liked what we offered them the last time.”

Since winning the first “Cake Wars” in January, business is booming for Halabi, including a new career path — celebrity judge.

The Waco Chamber of Commerce invited Halabi to be a judge at The Texas Food Truck Showdown with about 100 contestants on April 1.

“This is such an amazing opportunity and I’m so excited,” she said.

In the fall, she will also be a judge at Central Texas College’s Geekfest cake competition.

And if that wasn’t enough great news, Lily’s Cakes is competing in The Dawn Foods “Sweetest Bakery in America,” in which people can vote online for their favorite bakery through July 31.

Besides the judging, Halabi is busy finalizing her second Lily’s Cakes shop in Temple, scheduled to open this summer in a new area, The District, across from Scott & White Medical Center Temple.

This latest “Cake Wars” competition was a wonderful experience for Halabi, who said she brought back more ideas to use in her bakeries.

“We had a great time learning and baking.”

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