THE two judges at the first-ever Tamworth in Bloom Bake Off were faced with some tough decisions last Friday, as the standard of entries was so high.
Judges Natasha Stringer – who competed in the Great British Bake-Off series three in 2013 – and Christine Hart from the Women’s Institute (WI), praised the extremely high quality of all the entries, and admitted that choosing an eventual winner was extremely difficult.
As part of this year’s Tamworth in Bloom campaign, the call went out for bakers, cooks, jam makers and general kitchen stars to enter their produce into the Bake Off, which was being held in Tamworth Town Hall last Friday (July 3).
The inaugural Bake Off was challenged Tamworth cooks to produce a dish from 1915, to tie in with this year’s Tamworth in Bloom theme – Keep the Home Fires Burning.
This year, Tamworth in Bloom has teamed up with the Women’s Institute (WI) to continue the commemoration of the First World War. The WI was founded in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing and preserving food during the war.
Eight people with culinary talents rose to the occasions, submitting a total of 11 items for judging.
The entrants were:
- Rachel Bassett, Glascote – Trench cake, wrapped in brown paper to look like a parcel to a WW1 battlefield, addressed to Private John Bassett of the Royal Field Artillery. Pte Bassett was Rachel’s husband’s great-grandfather and served in France during the First World War. When opened, the cake was decorated with a sugar poppy.
- Joan Sealey, Mile Oak – elderflower cordial and beetroot chutney
- Vanessa Adams, Stonydelph – German apple cake
- Diana Reece, Amington – plum jam
- Julie Sanders, Haunton Hall – honey cake created by six residents of the care home
- Suzanne Archer, Amington – honey cake made from locally-produced North Warwickshire honey and rhubarb & ginger cake made with home-grown rhubarb.
- Geraldine Richards, Mile Oak – trench cake & raspberry jam
- Sue Thompson, Manor House Day Centre – bread & butter pudding
After a lot of tasting and rigorous scoring by the two judges, the eventual winner was Joan Sealey’s elderflower cordial. Joan also took second place with her beetroot chutney, while Sue Thompson came third with her bread & butter pudding.
The judges also singled out Rachel Bassett’s poppy decorated trench cake for special mention for its thoughtful presentation, drama and appearance.
Announcing the results, Natasha Stringer said: “This was very difficult to judge as all the entries were at the top end of the scoring scale. The dishes went right back to how they would have been made in 1915 and there was a lot of skill on display.”
Winner Joan Sealey has now been asked to recreate her elderflower cordial to serve to the Heart of England judges when they come to Tamworth next Tuesday to judge the borough’s In Bloom entry. Rachel Bassett will also be recreating her moving and dramatic trench cake.
Cllr Michelle Thurgood, Cabinet member for Housing & Waste Management, said: “It was great to see so many people take part in the first Tamworth in Bloom Bake Off and wonderful that the standard was so high.
“This shows that Tamworth in Bloom is about a lot more than just the flowers and I would like to thank everyone involved in this exciting challenge – particularly all the entrants and the judges.”