By Penelope Chan, Editor – Simply Her
I love baking. I love how you can mix a bunch of ingredients together, pop it into the oven and have it transform into something delicious. There’s so much potential for creating good food every time.
Oh, the treats that have come out of my oven – lemon meringue cupcakes, fudgy brownies, fruitcake, sugar cookies, apple crumble, molten lava cakes, creme brulee and more. I find the process of measuring out ingredients and following a recipe almost meditative.
But like many hobbyists, I can get obsessive. I’m still trying to achieve the signature hump on my madeleines, which always come out flat. And I’m picky about ingredients – there’s special butter for baking and regular butter for eating; and there are always fresh eggs and whipping cream in my fridge.
Is it obvious that I love my food?
Many Simply Her readers do too. So to celebrate the magazine’s 10th birthday, we had a Birthday Baking Challenge on Nov 8, 2014, at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.
The task: Each team of two amateur bakers had less than two hours to bake a cake to mark Simply Her’s 10th birthday, using the Philips Avance XL Airfryer HD 9240/30. They could create any cake they wanted.
From the 40 entries received, eight teams were chosen to vie for more than $6,000 worth of cash and prizes.
Our judging panel comprised Chef Steven Ong, assistant director of culinary studies (pastry & baking) at SHATEC (The International Hotel & Tourism School – Singapore), Maureen Ow, food and travel blogger of www.misstamchiak.com, representing Philips, and Simply Her’s consumer and lifestyle editor Lim Tsiao Hui.
Each cake was judged on taste (25 per cent), design and presentation (25 per cent), variety of ingredients (15 per cent), work organisation (10 per cent), hygiene (10 per cent), teamwork (10 per cent) and timing (5 per cent).
I was thrilled to see all the teams rise to the challenge – the last few minutes of the competition were truly nail-biting, with each pair working to put the finishing touches to their creations. And the smells coming out of each Airfryer were to die for!
First prize went to Ida Betryl Cecil, 37, and Sunitha De Silva-Cant, 44, who baked a Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, decorated with delicate fondant daisies and letters that spelt “Happy Birthday Simply Her”.
Ida, a senior manager, and Sunitha, a head of development, took home $1,000 cash, a Rest and Relax Package from Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel worth $1,005, and a Philips Avance XL Airfryer HD9240/30 worth $539.
Second prize went to Audrey Loke, 34, and Elaine Chan, 29, who made a Green Tea Sake-Misu Cake, an original recipe. The bank managers who are former colleagues took home $500 cash, a Rest and Relax package from Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel worth $958 and a Philips Digital Airfryer HD9230/50 worth $459.
Third prize went to Wendy Ang, 58, a manager, and her niece Carina Ang, 18, a student, who made a carrot cake they called Karaton Rose Te Amo. They took home $300 cash, a Rest and Relax Package from Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel worth $945 and a Philips Digital Airfryer HD9230/50 worth $459.
I was really impressed by how dedicated every team was to producing the best cake they could. It couldn’t have been easy, baking in unfamiliar surroundings, and in front of an audience. And then having your creation judged by professionals. I’m not sure I could do it myself!
But I’m happy to say that our teams seemed inspired by the baking challenge – and by their fellow competitors. I definitely was. In fact, when I got home that evening, I baked a banana cake with a twist, substituting plain flour for wholemeal, and using shaved gula melaka instead of sugar. Mmmmm.
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