Vintage Kitchenalia, Kitsch Cruet Sets………
The Most Marvellous Chocolate Cake Bake Off!
It’s hard not to feel happy when surrounded by cavorting fishy cruet sets, old wicker hampers, flamboyant maxi dresses, old-fashioned milk bottles, vintage Kenwood stand mixers and CAKE………..but, that is how exactly I found myself last Sunday, which was April Fool’s Day; however, nobody emerged from any cakes, well not so far as I could see, but seven fellow food bloggers, two eminent judges and a cookbook author were there to direct the cake proceedings, and a wonderful time was had by all. Yes, I was part of that elite baking group, hitherto to be known as the “Cakeys”.
We travelled from all over the UK and France, our only mission was to make a cake with ingredients from a secret supermarket, only known to us, (of course) and then bring our cakes to the amazing Retro Café, Most Marvellous on the Kettering Road in Northampton, where we would appear LIVE alongside the lovely Vanessa Kimbell (Author of Prepped) on her Kitchen Garden radio show on BBC Radio Northampton………the secret “supermarket cake off” plan will be discussed after I share a few more photos with you…….
The Most Marvellous Chocolate Cake Bake Off was the brainchild of Vanessa, and what a wonderful idea it was too. This was the plan – nine cakes were to be made, each one made from the own brand ingredients from all the major Supermarkets to comprise: Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, The co-op, Lidl, Aldi and Marks and Spencer. These nine cakes were to be made by eight food bloggers and the staff of Most Marvellous, who were each assigned a “secret” supermarket – the cakes would then be judged with William Sitwell, writer, presenter and editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and Helen Best-Shaw, from the food blog Fuss Free Flavours, being the two eminent judges that I mentioned earlier.
The cakes were to be made to the same recipe, Vanessa’s wonderful Chocolate & Raspberry Cake recipe, and must be made using stand mixer .. so they were all made in the same way as well as being presented on a white plate on the day…….and so it was that I found myself amongst all the other “cakeys” on April Fool’s Day, with thanks to my lovely “cakey” friend Ren Behan, who kindly picked me and my cake up in the morning, and drove us both to the venue and back. The honourable list of “cakeys” is now listed below, in alphabetical order:
Aldi - Jayne
Asda – Moi! Karen
Co-Op - Ren
Lidl - Rosie
Marks & Spencer - Rachel
Morrisons - Most Marvellous (Coffee shop cafe)
Sainsbury’s - Carmela
Waitrose - Fleur
Us “cakeys” all assembled with our cakes just before 9.30am and there was a lot of chat, coffee drinking and laughter, which soon stopped as the time for judging came around……William and Helen were joined by the brains behind the judging panel, Libiana, Alice and Albert, the “kinder” of Vanessa and William, and we all knew that this was going to be a tough call, as hands were flexed and forks were reached for……..the first cake was called for and it was mine that was taken to the judging table, an Asda cake; the cake was
devoured eaten and pronounced lovely by all, if a little too crumbly, which I knew would be the case, as I had battled to bake the cake in a strange “fan” oven the day before………William asked that my (empty) cake plate be put to one side, as it was difficult to judge it until other cakes have been devoured tested. The next cakes were brought up in pairs, and finally there were just three cakes that had made the “Top Table”……whilst my empty Asda cake plate languished forgotten at the bottom of the judging table! And the results, you may all be VERY surprised by the results actually, as the top three supermarkets were:
1st – Morrisons (4th most expensive at £9.61 per cake) – baked by Most Marvellous staff
2nd – Co-Op (3rd most expensive at £10.32 per cake) – baked by Ren
3rd – Sainsbury’s (6th most expensive at £8.63 per cake) – baked by Carmela
The cakes were all remarkably similar in texture and flavour, despite using different supermarket ingredients. However, I suspect that winning cakes had the best cocoa solids chocolate used in them, as that is the key ingredient of this cake recipe. I also have to mention that the winning cake was the cake that most resembled Vanessa’s original cake photo in her book too……..so, a worthy winner, and as a Northern lass, I was VERY pleased to see Morrison’s take the title! The costings of the other cakes are below, and make for interesting reading:
Morrisons: Total cake cost: £ 9.61
Co-Op: Total cake cost: £10.32
Sainsburys: Total cake cost: £8.63
Asda: Total cake cost: £7.14
Tesco: Total cake cost: £11.71
M & S: Total cake cost: £12.50
Waitrose: Total cake cost: £9.39
Aldi: Total cake cost: £6.78
Lidl: Total cake cost: £7.03
The results were very interesting insofar that the top two supermarket who trade on their superior quality, M & S and Waitrose didn’t even make the top table; which, was a surprise as I would expect their ingredients, especially the chocolate to be of the highest quality. That difference in quality was most evident in the ganache, which was the part of the cake that varied the most in colour and texture……I felt that my Asda cake was very nice, but, the quality of the chocolate had let me down when it came to the ganache finish.
With thanks to Vanessa for inviting me to be a “cakey” and also a big thanks to Most Marvellous staff for putting up with us all with our weird and wonderful drinks and food orders! Thanks also to the lovely Helen, who was a great judge, and of course to William too, who let me have a sneak preview of his book, A History of Food in 100 Recipes, which is published on the 12th April 2012. This book is definitely on my wish list, as I am a lover of all things historical on the food front. I will leave you with a gallery of images from the day…….people, hampers, laughter, cake, books, milk bottles and many other odd and happy things! See you later with a chocolate review, a restaurant review and MORE Easter fish and cake recipes. Karen.
PS: A BIG thanks to Rosie of FreyCob too, she was the most marvellous costings geek, who costed all the “cakeys” prices for us…….thanks darlink! I also forgot to mention, and Ren has just reminded me, that as I baked my cake away from home and there was NO cake cover/carrier in my daughter’s shared flat, I carried my cake to the radio show in a BIG BLUE BUCKET! It worked though! And now for more photos………….