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The Love Marketing BakeOff 2019 Heat 2 At Stancliffe Hall

Published On Wednesday 12 Jun 2019 by Sticky Beak
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Our motto here at The Sticky Beak Blog is to “expect the unexpected”, and to be fair it’s served us well. We decided to never say no to an opportunity and see what adventures awaited us. Due to my love of food I have to spend a fair few hours at the gym (to avoid being completely Weeble-esque) and this is where I met the beautiful Dawn Spendlove of (Derbyshire based) Love Marketing. Dawn has a wonderfully dynamic approach to business marketing, coming up with all sorts of creative ideas for her diverse clients. She also loves food, which is probably why we get on so well!

Love Marketing decided to organise a Bake Off event in which local (Derbyshire, so far) businesses competed against each other to make and decorate a cake which showcased their brand. There are several 2 hour-long heats being held over the next couple of months, the winners of which will be competing in a grand finale to be held at breath-takingly beautiful Stancliffe Hall on Thursday 12th September 2019 from 2pm. This four hour event will culminate in a garden party style celebration, a fitting end to the competition.

Dawn had mentioned the Bake Off to me a while back and asked if I’d be interested in being a judge; let me think for a moment....... heck, yes!! Eating lots of cake, sticking my nose in and asking lots of questions sounds right up my street. So there I was on an exceedingly wet summer’s (!) afternoon in the professional kitchens of Coghlans Cookery School at Stancliffe Hall, meeting some excited-but-nervous teams of business people/would-be bakers.

Before all the baking began though we were invited to have a peek around the Hall itself, and what a corker it is! Most people just think Stancliffe Hall is a wedding venue, but it would be a serious injustice to call it this - although it does offer stonkingly awesome wedding packages should you be interested. There is a lovely Spa area, complete with Jacuzzi, Swimming pool, Steam room, Sauna, and Gym that can be hired for a minimum of 2- and maximum of 8- people. You can hire this as a standalone space, or combine it with lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner if you fancy. You can even add an overnight stay in one of the 8 rooms of accommodation at the main hall too.Corporate team building events would be fab here; after doing the serious “work” bits you can always indulge in some cooking or use the grounds as a puzzle-solving trail.

Head Chef Simon Lilley did the safety talk before everyone took to their stations, and very kindly he’d pre-heated the ovens and got plenty of spatulas, bowls and whisks out in readiness too. What a legend! His Nibs and I had been under Simon’s expert tutelage ourselves a while back when we’d attended one of the short courses that Coghlans Cookery School offer. What a fab day that was!

The timer was set for two hours, and off everyone set! There was a flurry of activity as team members went to get ingredients weighed out and mixed, but after about 15 minutes that hushed, concentration laden ambience kicked in.  An orchestra of whisks played a culinary symphony and furrowed brows a-plenty could be seen at each of the cooking stations, where recipes were already being tweaked thanks to ingredients having been forgotten! Perfect time for me to go and poke my nose in and create my own bit of chaos then!

I managed to find out the teams and their creations in no time at all. Dawn’s girls stepped into the breach at the last minute due to a team having to drop out, so Love Marketing were doing a Chocolate sponge with Ganache topping and fresh Strawberry middle. Saylavy were doing a classic Victoria Sponge, but promised some serious decorating involving Barbie (I didn’t ask!), Fox Business Support were making Courgette Cake (yum!), and Stainsborough Hall’s team were baking a Chocolate Marble cake. I was looking forward to trying all of these later, I can tell you! The Smith Partnership (a firm of Solicitors) duo were again going for a classic Victoria Sponge that they said would have a surprise in the middle for us, and the AIM Awards’ ladies were busy baking up a storm with their Orange and Lemon layer cake. Quite a range on offer then.

As time marched on, the cakes began to cook nicely in the ovens and the aromas wafting through the Coghlans Kitchen were making my nose twitch and my mouth water. How on earth was I going to last until tasting time without food?! Dawn had clearly thought about my gluttonous tendencies and the ladies’ need to keep their energy levels up, and a couple of tubs of sweeties and miniature choccies appeared alongside a tray of teas, coffees and juices. Love you Dawn

Cakes began to emerge from the ovens and get tipped out of their cooking tins; a couple of casualties emerged, sticking to the tin and having to be palate-knifed off! As I said to the panicked ladies, no-one will see the middle, so don’t panic. Get me, talking as if I know what to do! One of the contestants had compared me to Sue and Mel, and Sandy Toksvig earlier when I was walking around: clearly she knows nothing of my disastrous baking skills. I managed to curdle a Bakewell Tart I made years ago whilst at school; yes, really. Don’t ask me how I did it; it remains a mystery to me and my poor cookery teacher to this day. So I think you can easily call me the budget version of these iconic GBBO ladies; and Mary Berry I’m certainly not!

I don’t know about you, but I always think 2 hours seems ages; not the case at the Love Marketing Bake off. Before you could’ve shouted “muffin”, Simon was announcing that time was up and to step away from the cakes. All the fab competitors were invited to go and sit down in comfort and enjoy a well-earned drink whilst we judges got down to the serious business of who to crown the winner of heat 2. As well as myself, Stancliffe Halls Gardener and Blogger and Dawn, there was Coghlans Cookery School Head Chef Simon Lilley and Chef Ewen Crilley from the University of Derby judging.

It’s a tough job eating cake! I never knew how critical it is to make sure that your sponge is thoroughly cool before attempting any type of decoration to it, whether it is icing or buttercream. The commonest error was that the cakes hadn’t cooled properly meaning that either the buttercream or ganache simply melted and soaked into the mixture, or that the decoration began to “sweat”. The standard was really good though, way superior to anything I could ever dream of making! Eventually we came to our clear winner, and just needed a bit of debate as to which came second and third.

The winning team was AIM Awards with their zingy Orange and Lemon Layer cake. They’d made four thinner sponges and layered them together with Orange and Lemon glazes, complimented by citrus-enhanced buttercream. Their outer icing did have a few creases to it so it wasn’t as fabulous in that regard as the second placed contestant, but their sponge was the best without doubt and overall they got the balance of what we were looking for. Saylavy came second with an absolutely spectacularly decorated cake – picture the iconic Disney Cinderella in her splendid blue ball gown and you’re getting close. Our third placed team were Fox Business Support and their delicious Courgette cake. They’d forgotten their Cream Cheese which is normally used for the Lime frosting, but they thought on their feet and did Lime zest boosted buttercream as a topping instead: genius!

You may be sat here, reading this, and thinking “how hard can it be”?  Never mind sitting there, get in touch with the Love Marketing team and sign up for one of the next heats held on Thursday 11th July, and Tuesday 6th, 13th or 20th August. All heats are held at Stancliffe Hall and begin at 4pm. I would love to see some of the venue managers, bar managers, and serving staff getting together and giving their restaurants and/or gastro pubs some representation – if only to steal a bit of their Chefs’ thunder! I’d like to challenge the PR companies too, and just out of curiosity, it’d be good to see if the fellas can step up to the mark too as this heat was all-female. So if you reckon you’ve got what it takes to stand the heat in the kitchen, get baking and I’ll be your judge!!