Update, 8:15 p.m., Saturday:
It paid off. Kastle Sorensen and Amy Grue took the cake.
The episode of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" featuring the Eagle River bakers aired on Saturday. And they won.
The pair survived the three-round competition and made a cupcake according to the sustainable seafood theme that included smoked salmon, chives and lemon. In the final round, they pumped out 1,000 cupcakes in two hours.
Sorensen won $10,000 and had her cupcakes presented at an event at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif.
The two bakers are the first Alaskans to win the competition.
Original story (11/21/13):
In the month before their date with fame on the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars," Eagle River cupcake-truck owner Kastle Sorensen and her assistant, Amy Grue, studied episodes of the long-running show like football players would study game film, picking apart past episodes for up to 12 hours at a time.
They recorded themselves baking with GoPro video cameras and reviewed the videos for any weaknesses. They made cupcakes with ingredients like beef tongue, blood sausage and cow brain, trying to anticipate a potential curve ball from the show's judges.
For good luck, Sorensen even touched up the pink and lime green cupcake tattoo already on her wrist.
The episode featuring Sorensen and Grue will air on Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Food Network. The episode has already been taped, but due to the network's confidentiality agreement, Sorensen can't say who won.
Sorensen and Grue are the first Alaskan bakers to be featured on the show, she said.
Sorensen's 3-year-old cupcake-truck business, Kastle's Kreations is based out of Eagle River but can sometimes be found roving the streets of Anchorage.
Sorensen is married and has a master's degree in Spanish education. She taught high school Spanish in Washington state before returning home to Eagle River in 2008, she said.
This is the third time Sorensen has auditioned for "Cupcake Wars," but it was the first time auditioning with Grue, she said.
Grue sold her Anchorage bakery, Cakes in Love, because she was getting overwhelmed by the business and decided to become Sorensen's assistant to spend more time with her husband and three daughters, she said.
Grue and her family rented the house connected to the garage where Sorensen does her baking for Kastle's Kreations.
The two had barely talked when they made their YouTube video to audition for the show, she said.
This wasn't the first time Grue had tried out to be on air, and it showed.
The video showed Sorensen walking in on Grue having a love affair with a cupcake, undressing the moist cake by peeling back its wrapper while a bass-heavy funk track played in the background.
Grue has been on "Fear Factor" and was supposed to be on "Next Great Baker" but had to pull out of the competition because of wrist surgery, Grue said.
"I know how to put myself out there," she said.
After going through the process, "even when we're not baking, we are still attached at the hip," she said.
When Sorensen got the call that they had gotten on the show, she called Grue three times, leaving screaming messages, Sorensen said.
Sorensen and Grue flew to Los Angeles in late June. On the day of the taping, a crew from the show picked Sorensen and Grue up from their Los Angeles hotel at 5 a.m., Sorensen said.
The show is a bake-off centered on a theme and judged by cupcake luminaries, complete with a surly French baker who has a judging personality like Simon Cowell of "American Idol."
During the final round, bakers had four extra assistants to help them bake 1,000 cupcakes in 2 hours. It would normally take Sorensen 20 hours to make that many cupcakes, she said.
The two bakers said they were elated and shocked upon seeing their mandatory ingredient was seafood.
"We eat this for dinner, not in a cupcake," Sorensen said.
She can't say any more about the seafood cupcakes -- or how they fared on the show -- until it airs.
The episode will air on Saturday on Food Network, GCI channel 61, at Saturday 4 p.m.
Sorensen and Grue invite the public to a viewing party at Pizza Man, 16410 Brooks Loop, on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sorensen will bring some of her award-winning cupcakes for people to try.
By BENJAMIN S. BRASCH
Alaska Dispatch Publishing