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Sarah's top tips for Baking Week

schedule 1 month, 3 days ago by Hannah Gorton in Food Hygiene

National Cupcake Competition  Winner 2016

Held every year, the National Cupcake Championships test the skills of bakers throughout the UK. With six categories to choose from, hopefuls can bake unique and vibrant creations which fit into the classic, chocolate, free-from, made with alcohol, seasonal or children’s categories. A panel of judges then deliberates after a taste-test of the top ten cupcakes within each category, before selecting the winner of each category, as well as the overall champion. For baking week, we interviewed Sarah Profitt, 2014 category winner and overall champion of the 2016 National Cupcake Championships.

About Sarah

Held every year, the National Cupcake Championships test the skills of bakers throughout the UK. With six categories to choose from, hopefuls can bake unique and vibrant creations which fit into the classic, chocolate, free-from, made with alcohol, seasonal or children’s categories. A panel of judges then deliberates after a taste-test of the top ten cupcakes within each category, before selecting the winner of each category, as well as the overall champion. For baking week, we interviewed Sarah Profitt, 2014 category winner and overall champion of the 2016 National Cupcake Championships.

Originally from Stockton-on-Tees, I moved around the country for 20 years as an Army wife, before finally settling in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Now, I live with my partner of two years and have two grown up children: Sophie and Jacob. Sophie still lives at home and Jacob is away at university in Aberdeen studying geology. In my spare time I love spending time with my family and, of course, baking.

I’ve always had a love for food, but cakes and pâtisserie are my ultimate passion! Because of this, I went to catering college for two years after leaving school, before moving on to cater school meals for a couple of years. After becoming an army wife and mother to my children, we travelled around the UK and Germany a lot, so I spent my spare time experimenting and self-training in the art of cake making and decorating from books. I would make cakes for any occasion - birthdays, Halloween, Christmas - and with each cake I made a little more progress, so my cakes became more professional as the years went on.

Work

So it was lucky for me that, when I settled in Ripon, I was able to find my dream job as a confectioner at Betty's Craft Bakery, where I’ve worked for almost 10 years now. Due to my enthusiasm I was offered the position as a confectionery assistant based on how passionate I was about cakes! Now, I’m room lead confectioner and trainer.

As room lead confectioner and trainer, I get to make a lot of cakes every day, whilst ensuring the high quality of Betty’s is maintained. However, my role also consists of assisting the team leader with everyday tasks, as well as keeping the team and room moving. Every day is a challenge, as we have a high production and a room that consists of 25 other confectioners of all different levels. It’s a demanding, but very rewarding position and I love it!

Competition

Why did you enter?

I love all aspects of baking but my particular passion is cupcakes. Cupcakes are a very versatile bake, enabling me to keep my creative juices flowing - it’s challenging trying to create a huge impact with such a small cake! Even though I work for Betty's the baking is entirely my work and passion, and I wanted my creative ideas put out there for everyone to see.

What did you bake?

When I first entered the National Cupcake Championships in 2014, I baked a mango and coconut cupcake for the Classic Cupcake of the Year category. For the 2016 championships, I baked a pink champagne and strawberry cupcake for the Best Cupcake Made with Alcohol category.

My pink champagne and strawberry cupcake consisted of a champagne flavoured white sponge filled with strawberry and champagne pâte de fruit. It was topped with champagne frosting and decorated with popping candy and strawberry sherbet. I finished it off with some sliced dehydrated strawberries, and a strawberry and white chocolate truffle. As for the actual recipe, I'm afraid to say I keep this a closely guarded secret!

How did you feel when you found out you won?

In 2014, when I found out my mango and coconut cupcake had won its category, I was overwhelmed! Then in 2016, to my amazement, my pink champagne and strawberry cupcake won its category and became the overall winner of the 2016 championships. I never imagined that would happen, as the quality of the entries is always really high.

Top tips

My top tips for anyone wanting to create a winning cupcake would be:

1. Find your flavour first. Take inspiration from what you like and the flavours around you, and use winning combinations (like my favourite strawberries and fizz!).

2. Think about how to incorporate your flavours. What flavour will the cupcake be? What flavour will the topping be? How can you add to the flavour with your decorations?

3. Keep the design simple but exciting. Remember, less is more! Sticking with what you know best can be really advantageous, so why not try incorporating your baking signature?

4. Love making your cupcake from start to finish! If you’re passionate, it will show in your creation.

Dos and don’ts

  • Do keep flavour combinations simple - my general rule is that two flavours work best.
  • Do experiment with your flavours, you might come across something beautiful and unique.
  • Do stick with recipes you love - use tried and tested recipes as the foundation of your creations.
  • Don’t choose flavour combinations which overpower each other - they should always be complementary.
  • Don’t use poor quality ingredients - it will show in your end product. Quality ingredients will make far more superior cupcakes.
  • Don't make a cupcake that you don't like - you have to personally love your creation for it to be a winning cupcake.

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Hannah Gorton Author

Author: Hannah Gorton

Hannah is a content writer for the marketing team at Virtual College. She has a degree in English literature and writes articles and blog posts for a range of topics within the learning industry. In her spare time she enjoys reading, knitting and gaming.

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