Gold for Blossoming Young Baker

It was a gold medal for Royal Alexandra and Albert School’s baking star Charlie Bennett. Charlie, 12, took part in the final of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) Bake Off on 21st June at Dorney Lake, Eton.

Pupils from BSA schools from all over the country competed in regional heats to make it to the final, but only nine very talented young bakers succeeded in securing a place. After two intensive hours of baking the competition kicked up another notch with a further two hours of intricate and creative decorating.

The designs on the day varied from a cake inspired by the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to a more traditional three tier Victoria Sponge. Charlie’s inspiration for her own cake came from an article she was reading about cherry blossom. She explained, “I was watching tv with my granddad and reading an article and all of the sudden I had my idea. I knew that I wanted to create a cake that would feature cherry blossom in the design.” She used white fondant to cover her three tier cake and cut out individual small blossom shaped flowers to be added to tree branches that had been painted on the fondant. The overall effect was enchanting. But Charlie wasn’t happy for the cake to only be aesthetically pleasing. Pushing herself even further, each layer of Charlie’s cake was a different flavour: the bottom layer was chocolate and salted caramel, followed by a vanilla sponge and topped off with a cherry flavoured tier to tie the whole creation together.

Charlie had prepared ahead of the final, practising each element of her cake, but as the judge said “go!”, she froze. She said, “I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing. I don’t deal well with stress so at that moment my mind went blank.” However, she soon recovered and went on to bake and decorate a cake that made her the youngest competitor to be awarded a gold medal by the experienced panel of judges led by celebrity chef James Tanner.

Whilst the medal was the cherry on top of the cake, Charlie said, “It was a brilliant day. I really enjoyed the cooking demonstration and getting to wear chef’s whites with my name on, which I get to keep.” Other perks included taking home a goodie bag full of baking equipment.

Mrs Yvonne West, Head of Food Technology at the School was with Charlie on the day. Mrs West thought the experience was wonderful. “When we arrived at the beautiful venue the finalists were immediately put at ease, and the three chefs present were on hand supporting the finalists all the way. Charlie was an absolute credit to the school, and I am so proud of her skill and determination.”

23 June 2016

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