The trauma of competitive baking…

A few weeks ago in a moment of spotaneous madness I entered myself into a Great Brownie Bake Off being organised by Louise from the Chocolate Consulltancy. I’d recently made a successful batch of brownie’s as blogged here and was feeling confident. I took the competition very seriously and spent Friday night diligently baking what I hoped would be my winning brownie’s (wishful thinking maybe). On Saturday morning I transported them to Look Mum No Hands in time for the 1pm deadline.

The place was packed and at this point my nerves really kicked in. But luckily Louise had lined up a whole day of chocolate based baking demonstrations, which took my mind off the competition. I watched Fred Ponnavoy, Head Chef at GU

whip up an amazing banoffee style chocolate desert…

and then a GU Pear Belle Helene, which was made up of pear poached in vanilla, layered with mascarpone cream with green cardamom, GU chocolate ganache and topped with caramelised puffed rice mmm…

At this point there was a break in demonstrations whilst the judging commenced. There were 25 brownie entrants and 11 judges…

It was all very official and the judges took it very seriously. I was intrigued by the whole process so got closer to get a better look. I made the mistake of watching the panel taste my entry…

I’d taken a bit of a risk by submitting a brownie containing pear and brazil nuts and hoped that the judges wouldn’t be brownie purists. It was a totally nerve wracking experience watching the judges cogitate and deliberate over my humble brownie and if I’m honest I don’t think my gamble paid off.

I backed off, left them to it and watched some more demonstrations including one by Edd Kimber, winner of the Great British Bake Off who made Chocolate and Banana Whoopie Pies

I also drank copious amounts of coffee and Suki Tea

At 5.45pm the winner was announced…Louise M’s brownie’s were apparently the best by far! It was a real shame that she wasn’t there to collect her prize, she’d gone home early, convinced that her brownie’s were underbaked! Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to have tasted the winning entry.

In my quest to constantly improve my baking skills I was interested to find out the feedback that my brownie’s had received from the judges so I collected my score cards and read their comments. I kind of wish I hadn’t…’cloying’, ‘too loose’, ‘textures didn’t quite work together’, ‘dominant vanilla note’ but…I’m clinging to the fact that the most common observation was along the lines that it was ‘a nice cake but not a brownie’ so I guess it’s not all bad. It was a fun day but I left feeling a little deflated and now have a renewed respect for all the entrants in my Birthday Cake Bake Off…competitive baking is a pretty traumatic experience!

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