Talented cooks battle it out in college Bake Off

Emma Pearse with her garden cake

Emma Pearse with her garden cake

First published in News by

CREAM-slathered sponges and scrumptious loaves were just a few of the offerings at Swindon College’s first baking contest – judged by TV’s Great British Bake Off contestants.

More than 70 students, staff and amateurs from around town as well as secondary and primary school pupils spent hours creating intricate biscuits, cakes and pastries ahead of the Big Bake Off in aid of Cancer Research UK on Saturday.

The fruits of their labour were then judged by a panel of experts, including two of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry’s protégés, Christine Wallace and Toby Waterworth, plus Shelly Baker of Mrs Baker’s Cake School.

Emma Pearse’s garden-inspired design, complete with its traditional shed, icing vegetable patch and flower borders, scooped Best Showstopper and Best In Show.

The double victory came as a shock to the 43-year-old amateur who never expected to be crowned overall champion at her first baking competition.

It took me seven or eight hours to make and it was worth every minute of it,” said the Tesco night manager from Haydon End. “I was so chuffed, I was actually shaking. I am very proud.

“I am not a professional; I’ve never had lessons before. I just make cakes for the children and the family. I went to the Cake International Show in London and saw so many garden designs that really inspired me.”

Ghossiya Hameed was also a big winner on the day, making a clean sweep in the college student category with her Victoria sponge, cupcake and fruit loaf.

“I am just really passionate about baking,“ said the 38-year-old early years student from West Swindon. “I’ve never done this before; it’s my first competition.

“Every time I finish an assignment I bring in a cake so my classmates said I should enter.”

Christine Wallace, of Didcot, was impressed by the array of desserts presented to the judges, particularly Emma’s showstopper, which she believes would have beat Ruby Tandoh’s ‘shed cake’ in the last season of the Great British Bake Off.

“The garden showstopper was better than Ruby’s on the show,” said the BBC3 show finalist. “The standard was high and they all went through a lot of trouble to do their best.

“In some categories there were some lovely flavours and it was hard to decide. But at the end of the day it’s about taste. You have got to have the presentation but taste always comes top.”

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