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
Tesco – Vanessa (in place of Charlotte, who was sadly unable to attend)
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………….
Fuss Free Helen says
lovely write up Karen. And thinks for describing me as eminent. That has made my week!
Well, you are EMINENT Helen! Lovely to see you again too…..
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
Looks like fabulous fun! I was so disappointed not to be able to make this! Very surprising results too.
Shame you could not make it Sarah, and the results were VERY surprising too!
Ren Behan says
A lovely write up, goodness me, there was SO MUCH CAKE!! Nice to read it all back again and remember. It was great to see you again and I thought your ASDA cake was fab, can’t believe you didn’t mention your lovely blue bucket!! Thank you for my little treats from the shop too, I’m sure you’ll spot them in one or two pics soon! xxx
Thanks Ren, I have now added my “bucket” tale! 🙂 I look forward to seeing your wee lacy and fabric gifts on your blog and thanks once again for the lift!
Charlotte @gofreecakes says
What a lovely write up Karen and gorgeous photos….soooo sad I couldn’t be there : ( Looks like you had such a fun morning! xxxx
I was so sorry you were not able to come Charlotte, but, I hope to meet up again very soon! Karen
I’ve just read this with a big smile on my face. We had such fun and I was thrilled to be part of it. So nice to meet you as well. My favorite pic is the one with all the chocolate cakes and the Charles and Di mug in the middle. Sums it all up perfectly. x
It was a smiley, happy day wasn’t it? And the “cakeys”, that’s us, did so well I think, as did Vanessa and the judges too! LOVELY to finally meet you Fleur!
Would have loved to have joined in the fun but it was too far for me :-((.
Really enjoyed listening back to it on iplayer, it did sound like a fun baking event.
The results were interesting and I was glad Morrisions won as they are my favourite.
Must try the recipe sometime soon, its looks so good.
Lovely write up and photos Karen. x
I would have been JUST so happy if you could have made it Sue….I so want to meet my Lancashire Hot Pot baking tweet buddy! I am chuffed to bits that good old Morrisons came out top too……good on them! 🙂
Wow, wow, wow, love your blog post on our chocolate cakey morning. Beautifully described and fabulous pictures too. Cant wait to meet again, love my cake stand!! xx
Thanks! It was a pleasure meeting you Carmela, and one day, maybe soon, I would love to see you again with MORE cake on that wonderful vintage cake stand! 🙂
A Trifle Rushed says
Great write up Karen, it sounds like a wonderful day, Wish I could have joined you, but it was lovely arriving in France and having our first walk on the beach while you were all under exam conditions. (ps I’m still sticking with Waitrose, just not the basic line!) Jude x
Thanks Jude, the result was a surprise, but Morrisons are a very innovative supermarket…. however, as you say, Waitrose for non basic ingredients, yes!
Such a great post and lovely pictures! It was indeed a lovely morning and it was lovely to meet you.
Thanks Jayne! It was SO great to meet you at last…..after all our tweets and comments on each others blogs! 🙂
Such a lovely write up I feel like I know all about the really fun day you must have all had! Where I am, we do not have a Morrison’s so cannot put their cake ingredients to the test. We do have loads of Co-op’s though and I am always popping in there so now will try out their baking section too.
Hope you have a very Happy Easter! I am off to Cornwall so will be hoping to enjoy a week of beaching….not! Taking my ski gear just in case xx
Happy Easter to you Laura and have a wonderful time in Cornwall, maybe you can get to meet Choclette? I was also pleased that Co-Op came second too…..ethical shopping wins!
How nice to get a ‘proper’ look at you Karen! And to see so many bloggie friends in the ‘cakeys’. I think you are very brave to make the cake in a strange oven and carry it in a bucket ha ha!
I looked around Hannah’s flat and all I could see that would hold the cake in case it slipped was this giant blue bucket! I then put the bucket and cake into a HUGE Ikea bag! LOL!
A lovely piece. I am amazed at the overall result. Goes to show the proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating.
The results were interesting weren’t they Solange? And, as you say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Rachel Lucas says
A lovely write-up of a wonderful morning, Karen! So good to meet you and this post has brought back some great memories! The cakes & participants all look simply beautiful…it would have been very hard to choose on looks alone! Hope you had a good trip home & we meet again before long. Rachel xx
Thanks Rachel! I am SO sorry that I didn’t have any photos of you at the table, I took the “cakey” photo before you arrived and if I had thought about it, I should have taken another one after you arrived! It was lovely to meet you too, and I hope we get to meet again soon……Karen
Vanessa Kimbell says
Karen I am loving your post ! it is like I am reliving the whole day !
Fabulous photos.. I love them ! Seeing my local shop through your eyes … lovely. Wasn’t it fun .. & Helen & William were amazing !
Thanks Vanessa, it was a BRILLIANT day and such a good idea of yours too……I LOVED the shop, the cafe, the people and the whole event; it was great seeing old blogging friends again and meeting new ones, and it was such a privilege to meet William Sitwell too. Thanks again for asking me along Vanessa! 🙂
Oh wow! What a fun and delicious event! All that cake…it looks so, so good. And aren’t you cute, love the green! Sounds like such a fun day! Now I want cake 🙂
Thanks Heather, have never been called cute before, so that has made my day! LOL! 🙂
wow… that is a heck of a lot of chocolate cake… did it all get eaten?… well done Morrisons for winning… I love it in there, in fact i’m off to my local morrisons now!
Fishfingers for tea says
Well that sounds like a really fun day 😀 And I love the photo’s! How lovely to be surrounded by so much cake. Heaven!
It was a BRILLIANT day thanks Sian!
Wow looks like a brilliant day – cant go wrong with all that cake! 🙂 I saw this on Vanessa’s blog and would have volunteered if it was closer to me. Great to read all about it and see the pictures.
The cakes were lovely and the day was fun, maybe next time Ros, glad you like the post and photos!
Those cakes look amazing!
And what an interesting event! 🙂
IT was a wonderful and interesting day!
Fiona Matters says
Fascinating to see the differences between the different supermarket cakes baked with the same ingrediants. A bit like the great British bake off really! Shared on twitter.