The Great University Bake-Off, by Hayley Swinson

bake off2Photos by author.

Hungry for Competition

It’s here, it’s here! The Great University Bake-off! Sparks erupted in my brain as I squirmed in my chair waiting for the event to start. As with all the ILW events I’ve attended, I didn’t know what to expect. But we all arrived at the New Town Cookery school at half past 12 equipped with excitement, a love of baking, and hopefully an empty stomach!

Céline, the event organizer, ushered us into a gleaming, stainless-steel kitchen where a multitude of ingredients were spread out on one counter and appliances, utensils, pots and pans, and other useful things were tucked in nooks and crannies. It was a baker’s dream-come-true. We were mesmerised.

bake off 1The kitchen at the New Town Cookery School.


Céline split us into four groups, explained the rules, and let us go. We had two challenges to complete in three hours: one technical, one creative. Everything had a Scottish theme.

The first challenge was a Scottish take on French macarons. Traditionally, macarons are made with ground almonds, but the recipe given to us used stone ground oats instead. I love macarons. I have loved macarons ever since I spent a semester in France. One Christmas, I received a book on baking macarons. They’ve kind of been my “thing” ever since. So I was excited about making them for this competition.  Finally, I’d get to put my skills to use!

bake off 4The second challenge was to bake a cake of our choosing with a Scottish theme. This is where we got a little stuck. My team members and I didn’t have a clear idea where to go with this one. We ended up with a 6-layer sponge/cream/shortbread/raspberry/lemon curd/whisky cake. Yeah, I know. It was a little schizophrenic. But in the end it tasted delicious!

bake off 3

The Results!

During the competition, the kitchen was busy and crowded. But somehow, everyone had something to show when the time was up. It was neat to see all the different takes on Scottish baking each team came up with. The winning team made a kilt & sporran out of available ingredients! Even though we didn’t win, our team went home happy: new friends made, a new experience had, and plenty of baked goods to go around.

bake off5

Blogger Hayley and her Bake-Off team.

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