It has been a very busy month for me with sorting and naming school uniforms, fulfilling customer cake orders and most weekends spent judging. From Horticultural Societies to the Great Horsham Bake off to my local village church fete this weekend. Never have I been faced with so many delights and difficult decisions to make! I have been so impressed with the number of local people that are baking for their families and clearly have a natural flare to do so. I have seen many of my friends on social media sites proudly posting photo’s of their family bakes and my frustrated response to their posts is ‘Why oh why didn’t you enter??’. All judging is done blind after all, it’s a bit of fun and gives us judges more to taste!
I have tasted some unusual cakes from Marmite and chocolate cheese, beetroot to ‘a number of traditional Victoria sponges, carrot cakes and chocolate delights, all of which worked incredibly well.
One particular event that I attended, I walked into the room and nearly passed out at the number of cakes on display. Thinking ‘surely I am not expected to taste all of these??!!’ I quickly made a call to my Mum, who has also tasted a number of cakes over the years, only to be told ‘sorry, I am just on my way out, did you need me for something?’ ahhh!
At this particular event, I was amazed by the number of colourful home grown produce on display and remember thinking to myself ‘I can never seem to grow anything’. This however has made me determined to have a go next year at maybe growing at least some raspberries as I seemed to have made a lot of white chocolate raspberry cake this summer. Then maybe I could have a go at my own carrots and beetroot? I cannot guarantee that any of my produce would with first place in a competition but it’s all about having a go.
I hear so many people say that they can’t bake and I used to just laugh but now I’d say, have a go, practice, make it fun and get your family involved and if it all goes wrong, make sure you have some custard in the cupboard!! Practice makes perfect after all.
The Great Horsham Bake off winning cakes
The Great Horsham Bake off – the winning cake from the celebration cake category
I cannot believe that it has been a year since I was asked to judge at the first Great Horsham Bake Off. As the second event is looming (this Sunday 7th September), I have been thinking about what categories I will be given to judge this year and how long it will be before I am starting to feel that my sugar levels can take no more.
A few weeks ago I was asked along to judge the Partridge Green Horticultural Society cake competition. I didn’t give much thought to the number of entries so I was a little taken back when I saw the number of cakes on display from banana loaves, lemon drizzles and buns to traditional Victoria sandwiches oozing with jam. My first thought was ‘I should have skipped breakfast!’
Being a cake maker and faced most days with grams and grams of sugar being poured into my mixer, I welcome a savoury break every now and again so I was delighted that there was a scotch egg category. Scotch eggs are one of my few guilty pleasures so I was quite happy to get stuck in after sampling so many lovely sweet delicious cakes. The winning scotch egg was obvious to me from the intense flavours that came from what could only be quality sausage meat. It was confirmed that the meat had come from the very well known butcher over the road, S K Hutchings, a family run Butcher. After my judging had finished, I immediately paid the butcher a visit where people were queuing out of the door. I had to buy some of his sausages and took them home (along with a couple of sausage rolls for my 2 hungry men of the house) and we had them that evening. My 8 year old said ‘Mummy, can you buy these again, they are the best I have ever tasted’
I am all for supporting local businesses, particularly when it comes to quality. Judging by the number of people in the shop that day, their reputation has built them a thriving business through hard work and supplying quality meats. If you haven’t already, pay them a visit, but get there early if you’re going on a Saturday. You can also pre-order for collection.