By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 11, 2010 at 12:02 PM

The Iron Cupcake: Milwaukee competition keeps gaining momentum here and across the country. Founder Sandy Ploy has franchised her tasty contest to big cities across the country like San Francisco and New York (she's even gone international; there's now an Iron Cupcake: London), which has probably helped her garner attention from the bigwigs at The Food Network.

This month's cupcake challenge asks local bakers to incorporate beer into their batches and Ploy recently announced that Food Network Cake Challenge baker Michelle Garcia will be on hand as a celebrity judge for the event, happening Monday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.

Michelle and her husband Vinny own Bleeding Heart Bakery (local, sustainable punk rock pastry) and Smash Cake bakeries in Chicago. Michelle was named American Culinary Federation regional pastry chef of the year in 2006 and has been named chef in focus by the North American Pastry Art and Design.

Their bakery has won many awards, including top 10 bakeries in the nation, top bakery in Chicago by Chicago magazine, multiple green business awards and top bakery by the Small Business Association. Together, they have competed in seven Food Network challenges and have placed in five.

The first Iron Cupcake challenge of 2010 is held in its new location at Moct Bar, 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave. A $7 ticket gets you more mini cupcakes than you'll probably care to consume, discounted drink specials and a chance to win a variety of raffle prizes.

One dollar from every ticket will go to this month's charity, Wisconsin Brewers Club.

Mmmmm ... cupcakes.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”