As the title mention of a first to everything, I experienced a very special first a month ago. I took part in my very first competition! As a culinary student, it was such great honour and a nerve-wrecking experience to participate. It was foreign yet, exhilarating! So today, I shall share with you my journey in my very first competition!
This competition is called Project Bake Off 2016. It is a baking competition co-organised by nEbO, a junior membership arm of the Labour Movement (NTUC) Singapore, together with a group of Year 3 business studies students from our local polytechnic in Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic. There were 2 rounds to this competition, a preliminary and final round. In the preliminary round, contestants, a team of 2, were tasked to bake 3 cheese tarts. The tarts would be judged based on creativity on the plating and the taste of the tarts. 10 qualified teams from the secondary and tertiary teams would then proceed to the finals. For the the final round, the teams would have to bake a birthday cake for the celebration of nEbO’s 9th birthday, with a secret ingredient incorporated in the cake.
It was my partner, Angelyn, and I first ever competition. We are both culinary students, this was a very big deal to us. Therefore when we read the criterias for the preliminary round, we got down to business straight away. We researched on the creativity aspect of plating as the recipe for the cheese tarts were fixed. And so we shortlisted with 3 plates with various flavours infused.
Firstly, we have this vibrant orange spread made from pumpkin puree. We thought it went pretty well with the contrast of the tart shell and it tasted surprisingly fine with cheese! We added some blueberries, mint leaves and meringue for more texture. Our second plate, was a little more simple. The spread was a blueberry sauce. Again we played with the colours of the tart.
Lastly, the plate we decided to present, was a rustic and more adventurous plating idea. The base had a meringue, lightly smashed, then it undergo heat to allow caramelisation to take place. Then we added some blueberry sauce and mint leaves for more flavour and texture.
Everyone put up a tough fight for the preliminary round as there were some amazing work done by other contestants, however we were beyond surprised when we got through to the finals.
The real deal happened during the final round, which happened 2 weeks after the preliminary round. It was intense and we only had 2 hours to dish up an 8 inch cake. We were taken aback by the results from the preliminary round, thus we did not have an idea of what type of cake we would be baking. And with the addition of the secret ingredient, caramelised cookie, we were clueless on what should our product be. We asked for advice from the chef in school and hence, we narrowed down to local flavours.
Our sponge consisted of the caramelised cookie, as we wanted an innovative way of incorporating the cookie into our cake and not just treat it as a garnish.
While Angelyn worked on the cake, I was preparing the garnishes and cream. The cream used to frost the cake was a coconut cream. In between the layers, there would be a lime curd to moisten the cake. As garnishes we had gula melaka salted caramel and some chocolate barks to give the cake height. Gula melaka is a palm sugar, widely used in asian desserts, thus our idea of having it on our cake.
We made sure all garnishes and cream were ready before we started to assemble the cake.
Within 2 short hours, Angelyn and I gladly baked a birthday cake!
It was the shortest 2 hours I have ever experienced, but it was fun and the adrenaline pumping through out the time made this whole experience so worth it. The results we achieved scored extra brownie points in my ecstasy as we clinched 2nd runner up with the most eye-catching cake.
I could not have done this competition without my partner, Angelyn. It was yet another first with you and it was such a lovely journey, from the experiments of the cheese tarts to the birthday cake. Extremely grateful to be able to take part in this competition, it really broaden my horizons in the baking world. The other contestants put up such a great fight and it made this prize even more valuable.
I would like to thank the 3 gracious judges for giving us your honest feedbacks and ways to improve. To the students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, you have organised such a great event and would be looking forward to participant in more!
Overall, it was an absolutely pleasure to be part of this bake off! It was definitely a good virgin experience in the competition world and I hope to be able to join many more and share it with you!
And if you are wondering what Angelyn and I named our team, We are called ACEsulfame! We chose that name due to the sweetener we learnt in school and also, there’s ACE in the name!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece and till next time, See you!
Spread love and Be Kind! Pei Gee
To find out more on the organizers and judges…
Project Bake Off 2016, Facebook
Mr Lutfi the founder of Bakers Of Singapore: Instagram @BakersofSingapore
Mr Markas Aw, the owner of Crusty Oven, Singapore.
Ms Sri Suratman, the owner of La Marelle Cafe, Singapore.
Come connect with me on…
Facebook, Big On Food
My Trending Stories- Pei Gee Tan
Or, Drop me a mail at TPG22@hotmail.com