Friday, 15 June 2007

Competitive Baking Day

A few weeks ago, some friends had the foresight to call a competitive baking competition. Are there sweeter words to my ears? I love baking, and I can't help but be competitive, so this was a combination I was destined to take seriously.

After planning my recipe for several days, sourcing the ingredients, and spending a fair amount of sweat putting together my Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies with a Oatmeal Cookie crust, I discovered an hour before we went that they were terrible. Utterly awful. I had doubled the brownie amount without getting a large anough dish, so the top and bottom had burnt and the middle was raw. I panicked but decided to stick with the brownie theme: I'm a brownie maven, and can create a batch from scratch within 4 minutes (minus cook time) even when drunk. Being American, I know a good from bad brownie and I have a good recipe. So batch number 2 became brownies with a peanut butter topping (seen below, decorated with hearts and stars. HEARTS AND STARS. Bring on the accolades).
All entries were graded on 5 seperate criteria, with you not being allowed to award yourself any points:

  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Presentation/implied effort
  • Originality
  • Carbon Footprint
Taste, being all important, was saved until last and received double the points. How did I do? I was in the lead, resoundingly (except for taking a clobbering on the carbon footprint - darn North American peanut butter)...until it came time to the taste round.

One by one, everyone gave me the least number of points available. Reasons? They didn't like peanut butter. The brownies were a bit dense. They 'just didn't like them'. These. These brownies, which when I sampled them, made me think: 'this is the best batch you've ever done'. I didn't just tate brownie when I ate them, I tasted victory.

C'MON PEOPLE! Don't like peanut butter??! Too dense (and this from my husband, too)!? I've lain awake many a night since this bake-off, wondering where things went wrong. Had some of them never tasted a real brownie before? Were they beaten as children while their school teacher made them eat brownies? I don't have an answer, I just know this was a dark day for my soul and that I haven't baked a batch of brownies since.


Will said...

Maybe it's a British thing? My phrase for Brownies has always been they taste a bit 'claggy.' They stick to the roof of your mouth. But who can deny the divine union of peanut butter and chocolate? Reeses can't be wrong, surely? I'd try a more discerning audience! And who won? With what?

Annemarie said...

Clearly I needed you in my audience to swing the vote Will - anyone who recognizes the beauty of Reeces is on the right wavelength. Winning cake was a very good flourless almond and orange water cake, a la Nigella. Damn that Nigella.