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Competitors Rise to Bake Off Challenge

Monday, 23 March 2015

After another two exciting rounds, the Bolton School Bake Off Finalists have now been selected!

The task of scoring entries and selecting pupils to advance to the next round has been getting more and more difficult for the judges as the weeks have passed. The standard has been incredibly high and has only increased as the competition has progressed.

In the third round of the competition, pupils were expected to create a miniature pastry product. These could be sweet or savoury but had to incorporate flavours or ingredients inspired by the local area. Due to the time constraints of the competition, pupils were allowed to buy pre-prepared pastry to bake on the day; however, they were informed that they should make as much of the product as possible in school.

The boys and girls created a mouth-watering display of products on the day which included pasties, pies, both sweet and savoury tarts, and several other pastries.

It was clear that a lot of thought had gone into choosing the individual flavours and fillings, and every entrant made a special effort to step up their presentation to the next level. One girl made a set of pastries, each one woven into the shape of a Lancashire rose and filled with Lancashire cheese and a mix of locally sourced vegetables. Another presented Lancashire cheese and Bury black pudding tarts on a board decorated with an old map of the area, while another pupil chose to make Vimto tarts, basing the flavours on the drink first created in Salford! There were also several lovely interpretations of Manchester Tarts, and even Chorley cakes made from scratch in school by Year 7 pupil Jack Tyldsley. This particular entry, which was served with Lancashire cheese, was highly commended by the judges.

However, the winner of Star Baker in the third round was Hamzah Babaria in Year 8, who created a curried chicken and vegetable roulade. The judges agreed that his creation was well-presented and each of the six mini-pastries was consistent, as well as tasting very good!

Nine entrants made it through to the fourth round of the competition, which was also the semi-final. For this round, competitors had to make mini-desserts on the theme of ‘old meets new’. As pupils were now competing for a place in the final, the level of difficulty once again increased: they were allowed to create just three products, and had to present only one of these to the judges.

Once again, the young bakers stepped up to the challenge, and it was clear that a great deal of effort had gone into creating the desserts. A number of pupils opted to make layered desserts while others chose to make cakes or puddings. Once again there were some creative interpretations of the ‘old meets new’ theme which really showed that they had thought hard about their concepts.

The standard was again extremely high in this round, making it very difficult for the judges to select just four contestants to proceed! After much deliberation, they finally decided on the final four.

Year 8 student Safa Patel’s impressively presented sticky toffee pudding with a balloon-blown white chocolate dome, butterscotch syrup served in a glass bottle, and Kelly’s Cornish vanilla ice cream won her a place in the final. The stepped presentation in the image of the Riley Centre with art deco influence gave a modern twist to this traditional dessert, perfectly fulfilling the brief for this round.

Asmara Stubley, also from Year 8, created a delicious modern take on a Black Forest Gateaux, served with Mascarpone cream and brandied cherries. The melting chocolate centre made for an excellent taste and texture, and the dessert overall certainly fulfilled the ‘old meets new’ criteria.

Year 7 pupil Jack Tyldesley made a sticky toffee pudding from scratch in school, showing off his baking talents and proving that he could work under pressure! The modern twist on this dessert came with the addition of oranges to the sauce, which created an additional zingy flavour.

The fourth finalist, Year 8 pupil Issy Plant, also won Star Baker for her twist on a traditional trifle. Served in a shot glass, this consisted of elderflower jelly with a raspberry at the base, layered with panna cotta and topped with cream which had been whipped with Eton Mess. She served this with a sandwich of homemade shortbread biscuits filled with fresh raspberries and cream, and a quartet of fresh raspberries. The judges particularly liked the minimalistic presentation of Issy’s entry, and also found that the flavours and textures worked really well together in addition to fulfilling the ‘old meets new’ criteria.

Girls’ Division Food Technology teacher Mrs James, who organised the competition alongside Mrs Entwistle in partnership with Unilever, commented that any of the four pupils selected for the final could have been named Star Baker for their semi-final performance, as the standard was just so high.

In the much-anticipated Bolton School Bake Off Final, Asmara, Issy, Jack and Safa will have to create a ‘Showstopper’.

This is a free choice for the contestants, who have been asked to create their signature bake. It could be a modified or improved version of a product from a previous round, or something completely new, but whatever the pupils choose to bake, it should be unique, creative, and high-quality in both appearance and taste. The judges advised that the previous rounds and themes – the 100/500 Celebration, Unilever products, Lancashire, and ‘old meets new’ – should be considered as inspiration for this final round. In light of this, contestants have also been asked to provide a short explanation of their reasoning behind their entry alongside their description, to give the judges a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve with their final product.  Each entry will then be marked on concept, presentation and sensory characteristics.

Pupils will be expected to create the whole product from scratch in school during the 50-minute competition period. With time penalties for any dishes that are presented late, and organisation and time management also taken into account, the pressure will certainly be on for the four finalists!

The Bake Off Final will take place on the first Friday after the Easter holidays, giving Asmara, Issy, Jack and Safa plenty of time to think about their ‘Showstopper’ product and have a few practice runs at home!

The finalists will receive aprons and the overall winner will receive a further prize donated by Unilever.

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The Bake Off Semi-Finalists

The Bake Off Semi-Finalists

Hamzah Babaria won the Star Baker award in Round Three for his roulade pastry

Hamzah Babaria won the Star Baker award in Round Three for his roulade pastry

Round Four Star Baker Issy Plant with her twist on a traditional trifle

Round Four Star Baker Issy Plant with her twist on a traditional trifle