Tag Archives: bake off

Recipe: My Prize Winning Victoria Sponge Cake

Summer is the season of horticultural and agricultural shows. Up and down the country, towns, villages and counties have fairs, fates and big shows and often there’s a competition where crafters, growers and bakers enter their produce to be judged against the best.

We were on holiday in the North Devon village of Welcombe during the preparations for their 60th Welcombe Horticultural Show. We have friends and family in the village, and they suggested I enter some of my baking. So that’s what I did. I entered two classes in the cookery section – Victoria Sponge and Homemade biscuits.

A Victoria Sponge should be a fairly straight forward thing to bake. It’s considered my many to be entry-level baking; but with a Victoria Sponge there is nowhere to hide. It’s so simple but quite easy to get a little bit wrong. Before I became more interested in baking I used to make very mediocre Victoria Sponge cakes, but in recent years I’ve perfected my recipe and technique and now my Victoria Sponge is as good as any.

Recipe: My Prize Winning Victoria Sponge

We were staying in a converted barn which had a very well equipped kitchen, so I only needed to buy some new cake tins and some weighing scales, plus the ingredients I needed. I made everything the night before the competition and made sure I read the WI rules for the perfect Victoria Sponge which you can find below.

Guidelines for making the Victoria Sponge sandwich for competition are set out in the NFWI Education Committee’s handbook On with the Show:
  • May be baked in one or two tins
  • No cooling rack marks on top or bottom surface
  • Traditional filling of raspberry jam, sufficient and evenly spread
  • Light sprinkling of caster sugar on top
  • Pale golden colour, evenly baked
  • Texture fine, even
  • Flavour delicate, characteristic, with no strong favour predominating

I followed these instructions almost to the letter, almost because I used icing sugar rather than caster sugar sprinkled over the top. I’ll know better next time.

I had a bit of a disaster with my lemon shortbread biscuits, the mix wouldn’t firm up enough for me to roll out, so I baked it in a traditional round and sliced it into six wedges. I knew that presentation would mark me down, and I was right; but the judges did comment on the lovely flavour and texture. So I just need to figure out what went wrong for next time.

We dropped my entries off on the morning of the show and then had a nervous wait while the judges deliberated. I was delighted when the show opened that afternoon to find that my lemon shortbread had won 3rd prize in its class and my Victoria Sponge was joint 1st.

Recipe: My Prize Winning Victoria Sponge

I genuinely did not think my baking stood a chance against the talented local bakers. The competition was very stiff and I was so pleased with myself for doing so well.

The recipe I used for my Victoria Sponge was based on my fail-safe sponge cake recipe which has done me proud over the years. It never fails, never.

Prize Winning Victoria Sponge cake Recipe

Ingredients:
200 g caster sugar
200 g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tbsp milk
200 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

To finish
1/3 of a jar of good quality raspberry jam
Caster sugar for dusting

Method:
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins, I also lined the bottom of each tin with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the two tins. You can weigh them to make sure they’re fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until golden and they’re cooked. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

If you’re baking to WI standard and want to avoid making cooling rack marks, then turn your cakes out onto a cooling rack; but make sure there is a piece of baking parchment between the cake and the rack.

Leave your cakes to cool, preferably overnight before thickly spreading good quality raspberry jam between them and sandwiching them together. Dust with a little caster sugar and serve.

It’s really important to make sure your cakes are cool before you put your jam layer in. I thought mine were cool enough, but they weren’t and my jam seeped into the layers and I got marked down for that.

My Victoria Sponge was victorious! I’m planning to go back again next year and defend my title, enter a few more things into the show and do better with my lemon shortbread.

If you live somewhere where there is a village show, or some kind of Bake Off competition, please do consider entering. It’s really great fun. I entered thinking I didn’t have much hope of even placing, let alone winning anything. I was delighted to have done so well. Good luck, and happy baking!

Recipe: My Prize Winning Victoria Sponge Cake

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Over the weekend I organised and ran a successful charity bake sale. We raised £275 in a little over an hour for a worthy cause. I really had no idea how to go about organising a charity bake sale, but with some help and organisation, what we did was a success.

Here’s my guide to organising a charity bake sale…

Enlist the help of keen bakers who are sympathetic to your cause.

As soon as I realised I had been put in charge of organising the bake sale I contacted a group of my friends and asked them (begged them, I actually begged them) to help. They all very, very kindly offered to bake crumbles, cakes and gingerbread men for the big day. I also asked for someone to help manage the stall during the sale and my kind friend Sarah offered her services.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Sell little bit of everything.

If you can, try to have a good variety of cakes, bakes and biscuits on sale. I baked 50 butterfly cakes which I sold for 50p each, a low-cost item will sell well, especially to children who want a little treat. Individual bakes sold well; flapjacks, brownies, buns, cupcakes and gingerbread men all disappeared quite quickly.

Try and have a range of products of different sizes and at various price points which will appeal to different people. Large crumbles and whole cakes sold well, with many people taking them home as a nice family treat. Also, don’t forget to bake some things suitable for vegans and people who are gluten-free or dairy free.

Be organised.

I’ve never done anything like this before so I knew I had to be organised. I made a list of things I’d need. Such as £20 in change as a “float”, aprons and latex gloves, kitchen towel, knives, paper plates, sandwich bags and larger plastic bags, stickers to write prices on and a couple of pens. I also bought a tablecloth, which I forgot on the day. I’m not as organised as I thought!

Ask for extra help.

Although I had my friends baking away for the sale, we asked the rest of the church to help out if they could. Several people brought along excellent cakes, tarts and crumbles. When I laid everything out it seemed like there was far too much and I’d never sell it all. How wrong I was.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Advertise your charity bake sale!

Spread the word. People generally love homemade cakes, especially if they’re being sold in aid of a charity or cause they support. In our case the charity bake sale was mentioned in the church newsletter and we spread the word on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Believe!

Reader, we sold the lot! Well almost everything, the very few items that were left I bought and brought home to feed my hungry hoards.

Together we raised £275 in just over an hour of sales after one church service. We had billed it as a one-off harvest festival style bake sale. I think if we ran one on a regular basis it wouldn’t be quite as popular, but we did well. We did really well. Huge thanks to everyone who baked and everyone who bought.

There’s still a long way to go before we hit the £50k target we need to raise before the end of the year, but we did our bit. We baked some cakes, raised some money and spread a bit of cakey joy throughout South Manchester.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Win a pair of Cake and Bake Show Tickets (Manchester)

This November The Cake and Bake Show returns to Manchester and this year it promises to bigger and better than ever before. The show brings together the nation’s best loved bakers, chefs, TV personalities, cake experts and enthusiasts together under one roof in a celebration of all things baking.

Coming to EventCity in Manchester from 10-13 November 2016, the UK’s only dedicated baking show promises to deliver a lip-smacking line up of celebrities, demonstrations and exciting new products.

Cake and bake show tickets

I am delighted to have two pairs to tickets to The Cake and Bake Show Manchester to give away. You can read my full preview of the show HERE.

The Cake and Bake Show will be on at EventCity in Manchester from 10th-13th November 2016. For more information and to buy tickets visit The Cake and Bake Show website.

WIN A pair of Win Cake and Bake Show Tickets (Manchester)

To be in with a chance to win a pair of Cake and Bake Show Tickets (Manchester), simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive a pair of Cake and Bake Show Tickets (Manchester).
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 1st November 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Preview: The Cake and Bake Show Manchester

This November The Cake and Bake Show returns to Manchester. This year it promises to bigger and better than ever before. Bringing the nation’s best loved bakers, chefs, TV personalities, cake experts and enthusiasts together under one roof in a celebration of all things baking. 

Coming to EventCity in Manchester from 10-13 November 2016, the UK’s only dedicated baking show promises to deliver a lip-smacking line up of celebrities, demonstrations and exciting new products.

The celebrity line up features some of our Bake Off favourites, as well as top chefs and patissiers including…

  • Nadiya Hussain – Current title holder of the 2015 Great British Bake Off and the nation’s sweetheart
  • Eric Lanlard – master patissier, author, cake boutique owner and cake maker to the stars
  • John Whaite – TV chef, author, cookery school owner and Winner of the 2012 Great British Bake Off
  • Rosemary Shrager – TV personality, chef, author and cookery school owner
  • Jo Wheatley –Winner of 2011 Great British Bake Off and author

Cake and Bake Show

In the Cake and Bake Super Theatre and Baking Classroom there will be baking and cake decorating demonstrations, where some of the best experts in the decorating world will be sharing their skills.

When not learning new skills, visitors can head to the bustling Exhibition and Market Stands for baking and decorating innovations from leading experts, as well as an array of delectable foods from the finest artisan bakers and producers in the country.

There’s plenty of fun for children too as this year there’s a new and improved Kids Zone where little ones can try their hand at icing and decorating sweet treats.  And don’t miss Roald Dahl’s much loved and ‘gloriumptious’ BFG, made by world record-holding sugar artist Jacqui Kelly and supported by Cake Decoration and Sugar Craft Magazine.

This year, the Cake and Bake Show has chosen Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity as their official charity partner.  The Charity supports seriously ill children in the UK.Cake and Bake Show

The Cake and Bake Show will be on at EventCity in Manchester from 10th-13th November 2016. For more information and to buy tickets visit The Cake and Bake Show website.

Didsbury Bake Off

It’s been a funny old day. One minute I’m perusing stalls at the Didsbury Craft Fair, the next I’m being roped into helping to judge the Didsbury Bake Off competition. Nice work if you can get it I’m sure.

I ambled into the judging tent to say hello and lend moral support to local cake-eating expert and foodie blogger Liz. I then ended up joining her and fellow judges – local chef and food hero Robert Owen Brown; Emma Caine from Heatons Cakes; actress Tina O’Brien and local businesswoman, telly star and local gad-about Sian Astley.

There were over 40 entries in total across the various categories and we tried everything from jam and chutney, brownies, biscuits and buns to epic and beautiful show-stoppers. Here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the day.

cupcakes

General cakery. The rose cupcakes (pink) and the parma violet cupcakes were something else!

three tier cake

This was the show-stopping winner of the 12-17 year old category.

cake

This was my favourite entry – a 7 year old made the most amazing chocolate cake and decorated it really, really beautifully.

If you fancy having a go and entering a local bake-off yourself then follow Heatons Cakes on Facebook and keep your eyes peeled, they’re organising one as part of The Heatons Summer Festival on Sunday 22nd June 2014.

Well done Didsbury Bakers!