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Posts Tagged ‘bake-off’

So after having fully recovered from the sated effect of the Berry crumble that my colleague Aarti had made, I rolled up my sleeves and got down to work. No not my job, I meant the competition at hand – The Bake off!

And my oh my. What a surprising episode this was! We won Bronze in the Bake Off. Not too shabby at all. I think that was fair as far as our food was concerned, especially given the fact that our team was taking on 2 colleagues who also baked professionally for a living, who by the way won the top 2 spots. But presentation wise, not fair at all. I whole heartedly disagree with the judges. I would like to think we were hands down the best of the whole lot, presentation wise.

Picture collage made by me

Picture collage made by me

My team name is ‘Renaissance’. So we selected our theme to be Italy, which was the birth place of Renaissance, or as the Italians would call ‘Rinascimento’. We decided on our Novelty item to be a ‘Pizza Cake’ and for the muffin variety, Feijoa muffin with Lime Glaze.  We did realise Feijoa might not be Italian, but it was in season and we thought we need to be refreshingly different to those of the other teams who were clichéd enough to present Blueberry and Chocolate Chip muffins.

In addition to this, we enhanced our presentation by each of us baking more items, to give a fuller looking table, like a typical Italian table. With a whole array of food, we wanted to extend the idea that Italians never did things by half and created masterpieces in whatever they did, which was in extension of our team motto “Every call is a Masterpiece”.

The preparation process was so energizing and a fantastic outlet for creativity. We decided that our table was going to look like something right out of Italy, rustic, beautiful and be adorned with food, art, flowers, serve ware included. But to make ourselves stand out, we decided to build the top half of an archway over our presentation board. One of my colleagues even went on to suggest, that we need to challenge ourselves and even make hand-made flowers. And anxiety bells started ringing! Origami and me! Bad idea! It’s like me trying to pop a wheelie!

But we had to get our act together and pitch in especially with the clock ticking closer to our deadline. A couple of my colleagues worked on the archway, Aarti, the berry crumble expert decided to take on the Pizza Cake head on and Kim who by the way was also working on the Archway, said she will bake the Feijoa muffins. And me, I had volunteered to bake Almond Biscotti for an authentic Italian item on the menu, to make things harder than it already is for me, I even chose a traditional Italian Biscotti recipe. I also worked on a picture collage of all things Italian and I got my boss to print it off in an A3 paper in colour to be put up on the board like a poster /painting. On top of this I volunteered to help with the hand-made flowers as well. I got so carried away with the ongoing excitement and planning, I committed myself to it without realising what I was getting into. Yes! Oh the irony of it. Dont even ask! During the closing hours at work, I tried giving the instruction sheet a glance on how to make those pretty paper carnations. I gave up trying to make sense out of it. How on earth was I going to make paper carnations from delicate pink tissues with pipe cleaners.  We had less than a sleep away to present.

Paper carnations

I printed off the instruction sheet for the carnations, rushed back home, had dinner. Fortunately, forever my knight in shining armour Ram, helped me with the baking. The dough for the Almond Biscotti turned out to be perfect. I stuck the biscotti in the oven and started on the paper carnations. I read line by line from the instruction sheet and followed each process step by step and Voila..! Wonder of Wonders. There lay in my hand a delicate pink carnation with dark pink edges. What a proud moment it was for me! I realised that this bake-off was such a wonderful learning experience for me art-wise. Hurrah…….I felt great that I had learnt something ‘new’.

Next day, the sun was hiding behind the clouds. Gloomy weather. Not good at all! Went to the office with a huge bag filled with all the presentation paraphernalia. And helped the team with the table and board set up. I came to learn about another piece of depressing update. My colleague who had left the archway outside the site to dry, as it was spray painted and the fumes would have been a health hazard, arrived in the morning to find that someone had removed it. She had to rush back home and bring fresh cardboard, re-cut the archway and the bricks. Since we all had to go back on the phones, my boss, being the ever gracious lady, got down on her knees and painted our archway in a rich terracotta red-brown colour. And she managed to arrange some time off work for some of us later closer to the presentation hour.

The tension around me was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. It was emanating from all team members, I even ended up riling up a couple of them for the worse, when I shot down a couple of unaesthetic additions and removed it.

Overall presentation

Overall presentation

The judges came, we all greeted them in Italian and one of colleagues presented the idea behind the theme. They tried the main items and applauded our effort. And half an hour later, the winner was announced. We had come 3rd. I sent congratulatory emails to my team and we celebrated with the left over food.

Exhausted and rooting for my bed and a good night’s rest, I was winding up for the day, clearing things away. One of the judges, stopped by my desk and said, “I liked your team’s presentation the best”. And I thought to myself -“Darn right you are. We were the best”. He went onto explain that the food had more points unfortunately.

Close up

Close up of the table

And that it was a great achievement that we had pitted against 2 professionals. And overall had done a good job. It felt great to receive this exclusive feedback. I was happy that he had taken time to come personally acknowledge the humongous effort. I thanked him, wished him a good evening and walked away smiling to myself, reflecting on the journey that this spectacular bake-off has been.

And now, where was I? Oh yes. I need to catch up on that rest.

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My workplace has this 4 week competition running currently where each week we are given a task, that each team has to participate in and will be judged on.

So far we have had 3 tasks.

1) Paper bridge building which should hold 2 x 2 litres of milk bottles for 30 seconds

2) Second task was to build a straw and paper based contraption which will be dropped from 7 feet height and that which carry an uncooked egg. Bottom line, the egg shouldn’t crack. Boy did we get splattered on that one!

3) The third task was Runway’s version of catwalk called the Runaway(LOL…this cracks me up), which required us to fashion an Oscar worthy evening gown that was made out of newspapers and magazines.

Fashion show

We are approaching the fourth task this week. And this week we have a classic kiwi style “Bake-Off”.  We have to present 2 items – a muffin variety & a novelty dessert. Some of the daring bakers in our team, who I might add were not so worried about earning bad reviews decided they will bake something and test it amongst the team for feedback.

And today, one of my colleagues, Aarti brought a very unique dessert. The type I haven’t tried so far. I should admit, there are very few categories and sub categories in the desserts section of the menu that I have not tried. However I must tell you this was something from a totally different league. It was a “moist berry crumble”. I swear I could carry on eating this shamelessly and without the aftertaste of an overdose.

Berry crumble

It was purple and moist and felt good. The first taste into my mouth, the taste was puzzling to my taste buds. The taste took me by surprise at first. And then the tang hit me. Then sweetness melted me. It was just right. Not too rich or heavy. And finally made me close my eyes and sigh, because the coolness and goodness of the berries made me feel really really good on the inside.

Don’t think I am repeating the word “good” time and again. I am pretty sure I will have many of you joining me in this category for using the same word if you tried it.

It was baked to a humbling perfection. And this particular dessert “berrily crumbled” my preconceptions of the different types of desserts. It was in my opinion definitely one of a kind and was “berrylicious”.

I have asked my dear colleague to share this recipe. And she has told me that she will forward it soon. Really looking forward to trying this one for sure!!!! Okay I better get going and add this to my “To-Do” List now. Keep your peepers open for this recipe!!! Cheerio!

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