Saturday, 27 April 2013

Danny Bryden and The Great SHWI Bake Off

Anna adds another GBBO star
to her photo collection!

Laura Bainbridge's 
chocolate and cherry cake
April’s meeting was the first time since we moved to Electric Works that the Helter Skelter sat unused and forlorn. After all, who needs slides when you have over 20 different cakes?!

This month’s meeting saw Great British Bake Off 2012 semi-finalist, the wonderful Danny Bryden, come to speak to the group. And with a baking expert at hand, it seemed appropriate to host our own SHWI Bake Off with Danny as judge. As I am already a great friend of the Great British Bake Off Stars (see April 9th’s blog post!) I was obviously very blasé and nonchalant about this particular SHWI Meeting. Er, yeah RIGHT! I had been dreaming about this meeting for months and excitement had reached fever pitch over the few days prior to it when we started getting hints dropped by SHWI members about their impending cake creations. There were two categories to enter – upside down cakes or flourless. And yet again, SHWI ladies showed their fantastic imaginations and mad skillz in the kitchen. The entries were as follows:

Upside Down Cakes

Pina Colada Sandwich Cake

Pear and Walnut
Orange and Lemon
Pineapple, Lime and Chilli
Cherry and Almond
Pear and Nutmeg
Salted Caramel, Apple and Pecan
Rhubarb and Ginger
Pear and Chocolate
Apple and Cinnamon
Pear and Pistachio

Flourless Cakes

Rose and Raspberry mini loaves

Cherry Bakewell
Lime and Passionfruit Drizzle
Raspberry and Chocolate
Fig, Pecan and Maple Syrup
Lemon Polenta
Vanilla and Strawberry Rainbow Battenburg
Carrot Cake
Hazelnut and Praline
Clementine and Almond
Cherry and Chocolate Brownie Cake

Louise Worn's amazing
rice flour rainbow Battenburg
Drool, cakey goodness… Sorry, back to business! Committee member Grace had done a wonderful job of organising the 23 entries into their relevant categories and walking round the corner to be faced with the display was quite frankly like walking into utopia – SHWI has some very talented members. The table was laden with beautifully presented cakes of all flavours and types (more of which to follow). Danny was to judge them based on three criteria – appearance, texture and taste. With my mind already boggled by the amazing array of baked delights, I decided to channel my inner April O’Neil (the journalist from the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, non-80s kids) and make notes about all the cakes on display so I could remember them all and note some of Danny’s comments. I wish I had the time, space and superlatives to describe in detail every cake, but actually I think I’ll let the accompanying photos do the talking. Danny’s first job was to judge on appearance so that Grace could slice up the cakes for the taste and texture judging (and also to feed the hungry hordes come break time). I can exclusively reveal (get me!) that she gave a special mention in terms of appearance to Sam Cleasby’s Pear and Walnut upside down cake – she loved the rustic presentation and thought the glazed pear decoration was a fantastic touch.

Danny's next job was to judge taste and texture. She approached this with slight trepidation as 23 slices of cake is a lot in anyone’s book. However, it says something for the quality of entries that she told us she enjoyed every single bite! She was bowled over by the brilliant concepts and beautiful presentation, but as the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding (or cake) is in the eating. She thought the Clementine and Almond cake was beautifully citrusy, the Cherry and Almond had very clean and distinct flavours and she loved the gorgeous home-made marmalade on the Orange and Lemon Cake, these are just a few of the many, many positive comments she made. 

As you can probably guess, the judging was EXTREMELY tight and faced with the prospect of ties, Danny asked myself and Grace to give her a second and third opinion on the taste of her favourite few. It’s a hard life. It just so happened that we were unanimous in our opinions and so after an hour of cake scoffing, the judging was over…
SHWI members enjoying cake!

The next part of the meeting was Danny’s talk and what a captivating talk it was! It was her first time speaking to a WI group and she had planned her speech around the assumption we’d want to know about her Bake Off experience and baking in general – she certainly knew her audience! Firstly she explained how entering the competition had been, in her words, ‘a bet that got out of hand’! She had first developed an interest in cooking at school thanks to her inspirational Home Economics teacher (and of course Delia) and also due to the fact that she wanted to be able to eat things she liked and nobody else in her family was particularly interested in cooking. She has always cooked and baked, especially at Christmas, and was renowned for her skills amongst her family, although she stressed it was not something she did avidly. Danny is not much of a TV watcher herself but her sister is a cookery show fan but not much of a cook herself (something I can definitely relate to). She and her husband encouraged Danny to enter GBBO because they felt it was the most suitable show for her, as she is a vegetarian and shows like Masterchef generally involve a lot of meat and fish cookery.

Upon submitting the LONG application form, Danny was selected to progress to the next stage of a lengthy application process. She had many phone interviews, spot tests on baking, screen tests, techinical challenges and more! Danny says she felt confident about these tests and attributes this to her job as an Intensive Care Consultant, where her medical training conditioned to jump professional hurdles and look for the next. Perhaps it was this attitude (as well as her amazing food!) that got her into the final 12.

Danny then let us into a few secrets behind the filming of the series which we couldn't possibly tell! 

Danny and SHWI
However we can tell you that TV isn’t all glamour and fun. The 6am starts and long hours left the contestants feeling exhausted and Danny admitted that she was happy to get to the semi-final as it had given those who had invested time in supporting her so much pleasure to see her progress, but that personally she was more than ready to go. 

All the contestants got on really well and many keep in touch still – Danny recently had lunch with Brendan and is working with James on a medical article about comparing medical feedback with the feedback you get on TV. SHWI Vice-President Jen was also able to pass on a message to Danny from fellow contestant Cathryn who told us to say hello to Danny after we met her at Manchester’s Cake and Bake Show recently! Danny said that although she doesn’t intend to pursue baking as a profession she has gained a huge recipe library and has infinitely developed her baking skills so that she has the confidence to tackle difficult recipes with gusto and was proud to be able to bake her Mum’s 90th birthday cake recently.

After her amazing talk, Danny proved again what an all-round inspirational lady she is by promoting a charity close to her heart, the Sheffield Hospitals Charity's new initiative, Charity Chef. This encourages charity supporters to host a dinner party and ask their guests to make a donation to the Charity in return for their food. Fo
r more information on how you can get involved with Charity Chef go here

The final act of the night was announcing the winners of the Bake Off. And (drum roll....) the prize winners in both categories were as follows:

Upside-Down Cakes:

1st Blanche Spataro’s Cherry and Almond cake

2nd Sam Cleasby’s Pear and Walnut cake

3rd Jen Marsden’s Pina Colada cake

Flourless Cakes:

1st Caryl Carson’s Carrot Cake

2nd Samantha Duffy’s Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

3rd Amy Grange’s Hazelnut and Praline Cake

Well done ladies! Although all entrants should be very proud as it was a VERY tough decision! The prize winners were presented with rosettes to mark their accomplishments. A fitting end to a fabulous night! And, of course, the icing on the cake (boom boom) for me was adding a picture with Danny to my burgeoning collection of GBBO contestant photos!

Finally – SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT! If this blog post has whet your appetite, why not come to the next SHWI Dining Club event on Friday 24 May at the Showroom cinema?! 

Notice that I used the word ‘event’ rather than meal – because we are having a TUDOR BANQUET! A bespoke menu has been created for us and in the words of the Tudors themselves, you’d be a massive fopdoodle to miss it! Look here for more details.

Anna Pilson
SHWI Committee 

Photos by Laura Bainbridge

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cake and Bake Show and a little bit of modelling...

A sneaky peek of one of our calendar pics...(photo by Laura Bainbridge)

On Saturday 6 April, some of our members had a busy day visiting the Cake and Bake Show in Manchester before hot-footing it back to the seven hills for our second SHWI photo shoot for our 2014 calendar. 

The Cake and Bake Show is one massive event over three days with talks, masterclasses and workshops from some of the biggest names in the baking industry, as well as featuring a whole host of companies giving demonstrations and samples of their baking goods and wares. 

Laura and a Fabulous Baker Brother

SHWI members Laura Bainbridge, Anna Pilson, Di Coupe, Jen Marsden and myself booked some half-price tickets, unsure what to expect. Would we get sufficient samples? Could we meet any Great British Bake Off contestants? Would we get Laura get a cuddle of a Fabulous Baker Brother?

The answer was yes. On entering the venue, we paid £5 for the Cake and Bake Show goody bag with an event programme, free copy of the Telegraph, vouchers, Green and Black's White Cooking Chocolate and some Silver Spoon cake decorations. 

Most stalls had some good tasters, from chunks of focaccia to dip in balsamic vinegar to homemade fudge. Stalls like the Lakeland section sold all the essentials (and more) for the potential baker and companies like Dr Oetker handed out even more goodie bags. Other stalls had some very interesting cake toppers (naked baby iced figure, anyone?).
Di and Edd

But some of us had our eyes on the celebs. The name at the show who drew the biggest crowds was Eric Lanlard but I confess that I'm not that aware of his programme or previous books. 

We'd missed Mr Paul Hollywood who had been there in person on the Friday but there was still plenty of GBBO contestants to spot. I'd spied Ruth Clemens (series one) entering the VIP area, Holly Bell (series two) handing out leaflets for Sainsbury's and Laura and Di spotted series one winner Edd Kimber.

One of the most popular events of the day was the Bake Off featuring previous GBBO contestants. We were there on the front row (well, sat on the floor in front of the front row) to watch John Waite (series three winner) and Natasha (series three) team up with a volunteer from the audience to make tweels. I was first with my hand up and a question for John, asking him what he's been up to since winning the show. As soon as the Bake Off finished, Jen and Anna rushed to meet James Morton (series three hottie) and Catherine Dresser. 
Jen (left) and Anna (right) with
GBBO's Catherine and James

Laura and I watched a soda bread demo by Fabulous Baker Brother, Tom Herbert, who MADE HIS OWN BUTTER. And we got to try it. 

Tom also got a picture with everyone who watched and tweeted it to his followers...and we got in on the pic!

Anna also managed to meet the fabulous Brendan Lynch outside the venue who was happy to pose for a photo and grab her arm. 

After nabbing all our freebies, we enjoyed lunch and a few beverages (ahem) in Manchester before heading back to Sheffield on the train. 

Brendan and Anna
We met more SHWI lovelies at the Showroom cinema before decamping to our first shoot location of the night: The Leadmill. The idea was to have everyone dressed to the nines and in the queue for the club. After a few variations, we got some great shots.

Next up was the 'Cutting Edge' at Sheffield station (random fact: our President Lindsay's Dad installed this sculpture!). 

I won't give the game away but the setup involved sparklers which were a devil to syncronise. After a few gos (and a crazy drunk guy harrassing us for a while) we got the shot before 
we got pneumonia. 

The results are amazing and I can't wait to see the finished calendar! 
All that modelling meant that we deserved a few drinks at the Sheffield Tap.

Kirsty Bowen
SHWI Events and Programme Officer