BAKE-OFF STAR JUDGES CONTEST
Dr Challoner’s High School sixth former KATRINA VASEY reports on Bake Off queen Mary Berry’s visit to her school to celebrate the final of the Great Challoner’s Cake Off competition
THE event was run for the first time this year and invited girls from the entire school to submit their cake designs giving thought to taste, look and food miles.
All proceeds from the day went to the Challoner’s Girl Foundation which is helping to secure funding for the school at a time when government cuts are continuing to restrict funding to state schools.
Out of the 50 entries 25 were chosen for the final, five from each of the school’s houses, and judged. This meant the judges had the envious task of trying all the cakes and awarding each cake a score for presentation, taste and how local the ingredients were.
During her visit, Mary Berry gave a talk to the girls about her experiences of baking and resulting career, with a question and answer session to finish the day. Mrs Berry revealed what she would be if not a baker (perhaps she would have gone into horticulture but certainly something creative) and what she and Paul Hollywood do to pass the time whilst the Great British Bakers are busy in the tent (Paul watches racing car videos whilst Mary speaks to Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the presenters of the BBC One show).
When asked about how she felt the day went, Mrs Berry said: “Because I live locally, I’m always happy to support local schools and charities. I’m always delighted to encourage people to bake and to cook. Obviously here at Challoner’s they had 50 entries and that’s really good with some splendid results.”
The rules required a minimum of two tiers to the cake, with one entry including seven tiers, one for each colour of the rainbow. All different age groups participated, from 11 years old to 18. Mary Berry was not one of the judges but did try the top three winning cakes. She said: “They were of a very high standard. There’s a great use of modern food colouring, especially with the rainbow cakes. However, remember a cake has to taste good as well as look good.”
An important criteria of the day was locally sourced ingredients, Buckinghamshire’s rural backdrop allowing for relatively easy access to fresh dairy products as well as fruit and vegetables.
After much deliberation, and eating, the three judges: head master Ian Cooksey, deputy head girl Connie Lewis and local bakery owner Glenn Stephens decided upon the winner – 18-year-old Sasha Warren of Barrards Way, Seer Green with her Ginger Cake.
“I checked up on what ingredients were seasonal at the moment and thought what goes with sweet potato? You’ve got ginger, rhubarb, which are good flavours. Apple is also good, so I thought we’d see what we could do from there.
“This is the first time I had made this cake; I hadn’t made a vegetable based cake before either so that was a learning curve.”
Sasha credited the ease of finding locally sourced ingredients to happening to have a lot of friends with fruit trees: “I think it might be a Buckinghamshire thing, to have fruit trees in the garden.”
When asked about the importance of locally sourced ingredients Mrs Berry added: “I think everyone nowadays really ought to know where their food comes from and so to support local producers is very important because it’s their livelihood and you know it’s fresh.”
The day was organised by 17-year-old Connie Lewis from Woodfield Park, Amersham.
Connie spoke of her inspiration for the day: “I wanted to get the community involved with the school for this event because its such a great opportunity to showcase the great talent at our school which I wanted everyone to see.
“Then when Mary Berry said yes to coming I was over the moon, no, over Pluto!”
There was just enough time to find out Mary Berry’s favourite cake was a lemon drizzle and hear her advice to budding bakers: “Start off with something your family would enjoy and looks simple. Follow the instructions exactly, read it three times and weigh carefully and watch it when you put it into the oven.”
All in all, the school raised £415 from the day with the second and third place (Ella Merten-Mancer and Ellie Meets) receiving hand made gift hampers of goodies from the Rex Artisan Bakery, Little Chalfont while the winner Sasha was awarded a three hour baking session for four also with Rex.
The day was a resounding success with plenty of cake left over for the girls to enjoy – the cherry on top!
THE WINNER IS...: Sasha Warren, 18, with her ginger cake which was judged the best with TV Bake Off queen Mary Berry who visited Dr Challoner’s to speak to the girls
TOP TIPS: Mary Berry with from left, Emily Harris 18, Connie Lewis 17, Amy Gerrard 17, Rebecca McCoy 18 and Emma Cochrane 17