Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Heaton's Cakes: Cake Bake Off

I don't know anyone who doesn't love cake. Whether it's a rich dark tea loaf, a heavily frosted chocolate cake or a sweet little fairy cake. A piece of cake can be a peace offering, a celebration or just an excuse to take a break with a cup of tea. The cake is not a lie.

I recently became caked out. No, seriously, it is possible, even with my level of cake love. It all started on a sunny Sunday morning at Heaton Moor Park.... *wavy lines*

I arrived just before 10am, to meet Emma, the hostess of the Heatons Cakes Bake Off. I'd heard about it through her twitter feed (yes, that thing again) and effectively invited myself and Claire Fieldhouse of the Sweet Blossom Bakery (as blogger's assistant for the day) to Heatons Summer Festival, to see the fun for ourselves.

The sun was shining (typically me having brought my umbrella and not bothered with my sunglasses), the tents and stalls were going up, people were milling round and the scent of food was gently wafting in the breeze.

The whole Festival itself was much larger than I expected, with live band, beer tent, local businesses offering food, drinks, games, gifts for sale and your usual raffles and tombola. After introducing myself to Emma, and with Claire making her way to us, we were soon surrounded by people of all ages, carrying platters, plates, dishes and cake stands. 

Mary-Rose and Peter
As the day progressed, more cakes, tea breads, iced wonders, savoury quiches and chocolate delights were brought to the stall. So many of them filled with local produce (even down to rhubarb from a local allotment in the rhubarb and custard cupcakes). It was a feast for the eyes and despite a good sized breakfast (and fuelled by coffee obtained by Emma's brother in law) my tummy was eager for me to dive in. 

We soon reached the judging portion of the day. With Mary-Rose Edgecombe and Peter O'Grady, founders of the iconic Northern Quarter Market Restaurant and its famous pudding club. They are out of retirement to consult with Red Lion in Stockport and kindly agreed to assist with the judging on the day.

Hot on the heels of Mary-Rose and Peter, came our next set of judges; Pat McGurk, prolific winner of baking competitions at The Heatons WI. Barbara Yates President, Heatons WI; Sarah Cooper, lately of Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars and Young Waiter of the Year 2009 and Rob Whittaker, owner SeaShell Fish and Chip Shop, Heaton Moor. 

The judging was tense. Every item was admired, tasted, discussed. Notes were taken and decisions made. Claire and I found the whole thing very tense and we handed out recipe cards whilst competitors and onlookers alike came over to watch the judges in action.

Once, they had (to paraphrase a certain Mr Grossman) deliberated and cogitated, the judges and Emma departed to the main stage to announce the winners and give special mention to those whose work really impressed the judges.

The winners!

Saskia Gentile, whose cake won the children's section 

Saskia's winning entry

Winners: Kay Faulkner (Teatime treats), Jo Fallows (Savoury)
and Rachel Corrigan (Celebration Cakes) with Emma

Jo's winning entry (top two plates)

Kay's winning Tea Time Treat entry
(lemon drizzle cake under the daisy cover)

Rachel's winning Celebration Cake entry

The standard of baking was outstanding. The children's section especially impressed us; speaking to them during the day we were able to find out the ingredients, how they'd made them and just how much help they'd had.

The talent was incredible. There are so many photos and they can all be found on the Heatons Cakes Facebook page - but I've created a little gallery of everyone's entries. I couldn't bear not to include them all.

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