Bake Off: So Close Yet So Far

There was high drama this week, it all went a bit Bake Off.  There was a competition. Not any competition, only a bloody cake baking competition.  I tell you it was the high point of the week.  I am sorry but omelette 1o ways didn't have the same appeal. Now I know it may come in handy to know how to roll the perfect French Omelette and if I am honest I did always wonder how the breakfast egg omelette man at fancy hotels managed to keep rolling out the omelette with such precision, well that's because folks he probably did gorilla egg omelette training at culinary school.  I was flipping and rolling like a dude.   Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes Bake Off.  So, one in each pair was awarded the task of making our first proper cake, you know the type that comes with buttercream, icing, piping, the lot.  There was no mixer for this job, oh no let me tell you can lose years off your life creaming butter by hand. And no that is not as exciting as it sounds.  Well caution was thrown to the wind, orders of work were cast aside. Those doing the cake had one task at hand and that was to win.   One winner in every kitchen. Game On.

It was a nervy affair from getting the sponge out of the tin to crumb coating the sides, mixing the absolutely right consistency of icing and then the piste de la resistance, the decoration.  Now I came prepared, I'd picked my edible flowers  and had crystallised them the night before (I know SUCH a nerd) I had my cake face ON.  Then came the teacher tasting...now my teacher this week does not suffer fools gladly she means business.  Wait for it.  A ten.  A what? A ten?  You mean top marks for my orange cake of mary berry goodness. Well I am breezing.  But I wasn't out of the woods yet.  Top cake baker teacher was doing the tasting and would ultimately award the top prize.  Another nervous wait during lunch when all the cakes came into the dining room. Queue lots of nonchalant walks past the cake displays checking out the competition.  A few anxious shuffles.  But hang on, what's this?  My cake one minute there and one minute gone.  Well that could only mean one thing, I'd only gone and done it.  Result.  Oh I had a spring in my step, I was beaming (on the inside, no one likes a show off) I felt so proud of myself.   After lunch I quickly shuffled back into the demo room, took a quick peek in the demo kitchen, okay, good I could see an orange flower.   Sit down.  Cakes brought out.  Oh. Not my cake.  Well that was embarrassing. I was so close but let's be honest I was quite far.   I thought I would never see my cake again.  It was actually quite comical I was on cake tracker, I believed it had been cast aside, an inferior bake.  However it did turn up on the school trip where I rather over enthusiastically stood beside it encouraging people to try it.  I wonder where it is now? The cake graveyard? Someone's granny?  Well granny that's a 10 that orange cake.

You'd think with all that cake drama I would have exhausted myself.  Oh no at Ballymaloe Bootcamp there's always more and more and more.  We've had a business workshop, the less said about that the better, egg day (see above re the omelettes), a school trip (let me tell you trying to do bus karaoke with 18 year olds is really hard, Oasis is apparently not an anthem for such occasions, Bieber is a safe bet. Bieber Bus Karaoke, does has a certain ring to it), oh and I made my first sourdough.  This is something that I am very proud of.  I am rather partial to a sourdough.  It is bread that we can feel good about. An apparent health bread that makes the humble egg rather hip.  Made famous in Hackney, London.  Lovely one.

Well just leaves me to do a round-up and musings from week 4.

  1. I managed to ride my bike with the front wheel back to front. How is that possible?
  2. Apparently when you don't live in your head and worry about what you look like you actually look better.  Or maybe it's the lack of mirrors?
  3. Does anyone know the difference between fennel and dill? I mean to look at not to taste.  I have learnt something!
  4. Communal washing (clothes not ourselves, it's not that kind of set up) isn't fun and I really don't think it's something I should be doing at my age.  Someone has a fondness for my socks.  Thank god it's not my bonds. Yes I know, bonds. I truly am 40 going on 4
  5. I can't believe I have just told everyone what kind of pants I wear

Well another week done.  If you  have just arrived at this post and would like to read a little more about me and how I ended up at Ballymaloe then click here  hopefully that will give you some context and you'll be assured I haven't completelely lost my mind.

Until then I am off to reclaim my socks.

Nadra Shah