Following the success of the much-loved Great British Bake Off, we decided 2018 was the year we should get involved in baking and hold the first ever Great Persona Bake Off!
Kindly hosted by The Green Cafe, the contest had three categories for entrants to choose from and we had nine entries from across the services.
The bake off judges were Jean Foster, a member of our Stakeholder Forum, Sharon Keymer representing the Employee Forum and Julie Hackney, independent baking enthusiast.
After a welcome speech from Laura Wolstenholme, the judges tucked into the marvellous spread, ably assisted by Sean from Escape, who kindly agreed to be our special guest judge after Ted Leach was able to enter the competition instead of judging*, despite having had problems with his oven.
The entries were:
Elton Wednesday Morning Baking Group with their Lemon Drizzle Cake.
The judges said this was excellently iced, a nice moist texture and lovely and lemony. "If we saw this cake in a shop, we'd buy it".
Sunnybank's Banoffee Tray Bake
Judges comments were that the great flavours of banana, caramel and biscuit came together well; they loved the chocolate on the top and said it "had a lightness which raised it above the ordinary".
Escape with Custard Cream Blondies
"An excellent tray bake"; the judges described it as smooth and caramelly with an even brown topping and a crispy base.
Ted Leach's microwaved Fruit and Nut Cake
Described by the judges as having a good flavour with fruit evenly distributed, a good colour and a perfect bake "looks exactly as a traditional fruit cake should".
Tuesday Gents in the Halstead Lounge at Grundy with their Spiced Apple and Caramel Sponge
"A cake with a kick!" Excellent decoration, great texture, a smell of spices and great filling were the judges' notes.
Carolyn Watson's Apple and Blackcurrant Pie
Great pastry - no soggy bottoms here! "Excellent presentation and decoration with artistic flair and great coulis".
Pinfold Team with their Victoria Sponge
"Beyond the classic with strawberries on top", a perfect bake, wonderfully presented and a great texture.
Marilyn Wantling's Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Coconut Sponge Cake
"An excellent upside down cake; a lovely, light sponge with a gentle hint of pineapple and a coconut sponge "as good as grandma made" with a great texture and a coconut flavour that hits you straight away.
The Green's Oreo Cheesecake
"Very artistic and appetising" with a smooth topping, crunchy base and a lovely sweet flavour.
After an intense debate over a cup of tea, the judges awarded Star Baker to Carolyn Watson for her Apple and Blackcurrant Pie. Carolyn thanks her mum for inspiring her love of baking; she also taught her to bake without using scales or measures! Carolyn won a Star Baker etched wooden spoon and a Slattery voucher - congratulations.
Runner up prizes were awarded to Sunnybank's Banoffee Tray Bake and The Green's Oreo Cheesecake; both teams were thrilled to win their engraved Runner Up wooden spoons, as you can see. Well done to all the team members!
Thanks to all our entrants, the knowledgeable judges and the patient, welcoming staff at The Green. Everyone had a lovely time chatting, tasting cakes and listening to the judges.
We hope this will be an annual event, so start thinking about your 2019 baking challenge now!
*Sean took his role very seriously, but had no input into the final result due to impartiality issues, as Escape had entered the contest. Thank you, Sean, for your help with the bake off.