Tag Archives: competition

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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The taste of victory!

At long last Saturday 2nd October, the day I’d been eagerly awaiting since February when I started organising my birthday party, finally dawned and brought with it the most awful weather and rain of monsoon-like proportions. This most inauspicious of days saw my friends battling the elements clutching cake tins, tupperware and highly inventive home styled cake carrying devices from far and wide on public transport to take part in…

I don’t do anything by halves and with the help of my glamorous, graphic design assistant, Hannah we were all set with posters stating the rules and even official voting slips!…

You may recall that the original rules stated all entries had to be at the venue by 8pm but I started receiving panic stricken calls and texts begging for an extension due to inclement weather. So the deadline went out the window and a steady stream of entries arrived…better late than never I say…

Entry number 1 was my friend Marky’s Lemon and Sour Cream Cake (A Godfrey Family Recipe), which was essentially a shed load of sugar, some flour, 6 eggs, rind of one lemon and some sour cream, mixed up and baked slowly for 1.5 hrs. A simple, classic but perfectly formed creation I’m sure you’ll agree…

Entrant number 2 was Zannah with her star spangled hummingbird cake with vanilla bean icing…

Number 3 was from Han, graphics whizz…chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping and there sure was a definite Baileys kick going on! And…she had a double tier cupcake carrier…this lady means business!…

Number 4, from Jennie and Mark, arrived looking like a clingfilm wrapped space ship but when unveiled was in fact a gorgeous sticky toffee banoffee cake, consisting of a banana sponge with a caramel banana whipped cream and mascarpone filling, topped with more caramel whipped cream and mascarpone and finished off with chocolate sprinkles and special happy birthday icing…

And entrant number 5 was my housemate Patti with her trademark coca cola chocolate cake…it’s so wrong that it’s right!…

Number 6, baked by my oldest friend Clare, was a plum, hazelnut and chocolate creation…

Cam baked entry 7, a gorgeously classy looking lemon afternoon tea cake, with lemon icing (my photo does it no justice at all sorry Cam!)…

Number 8 was a batch of Jellyberryfish cupcakes made by Dr Tan…

I thought they definitely deserved a close up…

Next up was Georgie’s entry…in her own words ‘hummingbird stuffed marshmallow cupcakes with vanilla and minimarsh glittery goodness… Fit for a birthday princess!’, which actually had a whole marshmallow hidden in the middle mmm…

Entry number 10 defied the laws of gravity and was iced in situ by Span. It was a delectable maple syrup and pecan nut floating autumn birthday cake…

Lianna had baked some perfect Hummingbird strawberry cheescake cupcakes…

and her housemate Laura had made pineapple and coconut cupcakes…

In all of the excitement, I’m very ashamed to admit that I don’t have a photo of entry number 13, the handiwork of my friend Simon! But I can describe it as the naughtiest looking chocolate cake known to man!…

??

So, 13 entries in and voting on appearance commenced…after everyone had had a chance to take a look and cast their votes me and my mum took to the floor and judged them for ourselves. Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for and salivating over…the taste test…

I was in heaven…13 cakes and I HAD to taste them all! I was cursing the limitations of my posh frock but at the same time blessing he invention of control pants!

I never thought it would so hard to judge a cake competiton but the standard was so high! The effort that had been put into the competition blew me off my feet and the decision was definitely a toughy! We counted up the voting slips, then me and my mum (baking oracle and cake appreciator extraordinaire) chose the winners from those that had received the most public votes.

I have great pleasure in announcing that the winner in the appearance category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…

Hannah with her uber professional looking chocolate chip cupcakes with an espresso baileys cream cheese topping…

and the winner in the taste category of the 1st Official Afternoon Tease’s Birthday Cake Bake Off was…Simon with his ‘Ultimate Chocolate Cake’!

As a consolation for not having any photographic evidence of Simon’s immensely naughty creation, I have managed to prise the recipe from him for you here. I highly recommend giving it a try just make sure you have an elasticated waistband 😉

Thank you to all entrants, voters, friends and family…you’re amazing!…I had the best party and 13 whole birthday cakes…that surely must be a world record?!

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