Oxford baker makes the finals at Katie Fforde’s “Recipe for Love” bake-off

April 11, 2012

Baking competitions are gaining traction, it seems, with BBC Two’s Great British Bake-off going into its third season and the first Oxfordshire Bake-off for charity last month. For spectators, it’s great fun to watch contestants sweating over the crunchiness of shortbread or the shape of sugar paste. The results are usually breathtaking, and it’s easy to see why it is so tough to be selected for these shows.

However, one our volunteers has made it through and took part in Katie Fforde’s “Recipe for Love” Bake-off. Beccy Johnson, a Free Cakes for Kids volunteer, was chosen as one of the five finalists and spent a day at The Cookery School in Little Portland Street in London. Of course, we wanted to know more about this experience. So have a look at the short video and read some of Beccy’s comments below.

Q: Congratulations, Beccy. Glad to see you’re back in one piece. How did it go?

Thank you – glad I’m back on two feet after my broken foot! It’s been a long 3 month recovery. The Katie Fforde bake off was fantastic. It was so great to be in London for the day and to meet other passionate bakers.

Q: Was it a very competitive atmosphere? The other contestants look quite eager in the video.

It wasn’t very competitive really – the other contestants were absolutely lovely. I am in touch with Fleur, Fatima and Julie on facebook/twitter and we are sharing baking tips which is really helpful.

Q: How did you actually learn about the contest?

I saw the competition on Katie Fforde’s facebook page. I have read almost all of her 17 novels and thought I’d have a go at entering as I wanted to meet her.

Q: You were chosen as one of the five finalist. What exactly did you do to get that far?

It was quite easy really! All I had to do was upload a picture of something I considered a “Recipe for Love” (the title of Katie Fforde’s latest book). I always take photos of my cakes! I had one on my computer of Coffee and Walnut cupcakes I had baked for my Mum’s birthday so I uploaded it with a brief message along the lines of: “It isn’t just the eggs, flour, marg, sugar, coffee and walnuts but the time, effort and love that goes into baking that makes this my recipe for love.”

Q: In the video you say that you wanted to get the experience of baking in a professional kitchen. What were the facilities like and what was different from baking at home?

I was so excited about cooking in a professional kitchen! The bake off was at The Cookery School on Little Portland Street in London. All the ingredients were weighed out in little bowls with a table with “extras” of everything. We had access to several ovens, hobs, large electric mixers. The biggest difference to me were the two kitchen porters who did all the washing up! I don’t get that at home!

Q: Kate Fforde seems to have been really impressed by the “flavour of the walnuts and the coffee” as well as the “unexpected crunch” of your cupcakes. What does it feel like to be judged like this in public?

I was genuinely thrilled by her response. The other recipes were quite complicated compared to mine but I really believe that with home baking a simple, tasty outcome is the most important thing! I think I may have put too many walnuts in however as she chewed for a long time!!!

Q: What are your plans for the future? Will you be taking part in other bake-offs, too?

Maybe! I’m not a massively competitive person but it was really good fun. I met some lovely people and had a wonderful day during a pretty rough 3 months.

If you want to try Beccy’s recipe for love yourself, you can download it here. Let us know how they go, the Coffee and Walnut cupcakes.

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