If you thought baking was a mild hobby, think again. Nothing brings out competitive fire quite like a pair of oven mitts, a speciality flavoured sponge and the chance to try a new recipe…
By Katie Garner
It was time to bring out the big guns. Completely committed to my running training programme, I have been dedicatedly pounding the pavements in preparation for the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October, which I am running for Parkinson’s UK. With my highest fundraising target to date, I’ll admit, I was getting nervous that the £400 I needed to collect for my charity spot on the start line was going to be unreachable. There was nothing for it but to arrange a fundraiser, so I wheeled out the heavies of the money making market…cake.
But not just any cake. This was going to be cake with fisticuffs, cake with some swagger, cake that knew its way around a side plate; this wasn’t just your typical bake sale, but a fully blown boxing bonanza of an Afternoon Tea Bake Off. Friends and family each paid an entry fee of £4 to test the mettle of their culinary creations, with prizes for the top three spots. Sophisticated sipping tea and coffee, contestants indulged in the afternoon tea aspect of the event, sampling the sweeping slices of foodstuffs, while I doggedly ate my way around the entire table, taking my role of lead judge incredibly seriously.
What I thought was great was the completely varied mix of cakes that were entered. Oozing with a cream filled centre, my mum had re-created a James Martin speciality of Apple and Pecan Crumble Cake, while my sister Jess has gone for summer fruits in her icing drizzled Fresh Strawberry Yoghurt Cake. One of my best friends Robyn showcased her famed Apricot and Prune Flapjacks, while my other best friend Meral provided Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars, complete with homemade caramel sauce. Absentee baker Jack sent his fiancée Charlotte with his entry – a traditional American Pecan Pie, while Charlotte mixed her baking skills with jam filled and sugar sprinkled Doughnut Cupcakes. Jack’s mum Janet made a mountain of a Chocolate Ganache Cake, whilst my mother-in-law Tina went for citrus zing in her Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake. My grandma’s Jean and Hazel both provided a walnut topped Coffee Cake, while local neighbours Jackie P and Jackie L brought along Fruit Cake and Bread Pudding respectively. I added to the mix with a new recipe I’d wanted to try – Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies.
Like the front row of footmen in a classic war movie, we faced the table with forks held like spears, slices angled in a ‘get set’ position and tea cups and mugs waylaid for the tempting allure of cake. With a resounding battle cry, the sponge simply didn’t stand a chance as we annihilated and decimated the lovingly created cakes. However, with two bottles of wine and an umbrella up for grabs as our prizes, I now had the incredibly tough decision to make, of which cake was going to cash in on it’s fantastic flavours and nab the top spot.
After much deliberation and seconds, I had reached my conclusion. Third place and the floral umbrella went to Robyn’s delicious flapjacks – beautifully light, crispy and crumbling. Second spot and a bottle of decadent red wine went to Jack via care of Janet for his sticky, crunchy and flavourful Pecan Pie. But our winner today was Tina’s Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake. The sponge was light, moist and soft, with a really fabulous zest of flavour provided by the citrus fruits. A very worthy winner of a bottle of white wine.
After the winners were announced we all hunkered down for some more mingling and munching before people began to take their leave, ensuring that they re-filled their tupperwear with a mix of the leftovers for quite possibly the best doggy bags ever given away. On the whole, I managed to amass £100 for this event, so I just want to say a massive big thank you to all of you who attended. I really enjoyed it and think it would be great to do again, whether as a fundraiser or just for fun. It was something a bit different to do with your Saturday afternoon and I really appreciate the support for my half marathon.