The Great Horsham Bake Off - are you ready to get baking?

JPCT 060813 S13321278x   Hilary Knight, East Street, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 060813 S13321278x Hilary Knight, East Street, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb

When the Great British Bake Off graced our television screens last summer Hilary knight admits she became ‘a complete addict’.

“I absolutely loved it,” said the local food enthusiast who runs the Sussex Food and Drink Network.

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“I just wasn’t expecting to become so excited by watching someone else cook!”
But like thousands of people nationwide who enjoyed the hit BBC television programme, she became hooked.

And so, when working as a consultant with Horsham District Council on the ‘Big Nibble - A slice of Sussex’ foodie event, Hilary embraced the idea of bringing their own version to the district.

A year later, and rolling pins are at the ready Great Horsham Bake Off, coming to The Forum, Horsham, on Sunday Septmber 1,

As part of the weekend long ‘Big Nibble’ event, organised by Horsham District Council in conjunction with Horsham Markets, the Bake Off will award a ‘Supreme Champion’ with some glorious goodies.

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Whilst the adult competition may be the highlight for some, there will also be two classes for children to find The Great Horsham Bake off Children’s Champion - an opportunity for all to get involved.

Hilary hopes the inaugural event will encourage people of all ages to get baking, and she is a calling both seasoned bakers and newcomers to rise to the challenge.

“Baking is one of those things with a real satisfaction that goes with it,” she said.

“It’s part science, part art, and part creativity, and I think it is something we should be celebrating.

“And hopefully we can find some real stars in the Horsham district too,” added Hilary, who devised the various classes for the competition.

They include a family cake that you would cut; cup cakes, ‘perennially popular because they can be made so pretty or themed’; and an open fruit tart’.

“These can be very straight forward with a pastry case, but it is all in the presentation,” said Hilary,adding: “And although not essential, if someone is using what’s local and in season, I’m sure it will carry some weight with the judges.”

A top tip from the culinary expert who will be taking people’s entries on the day, which cost £2 each, and returning a £2 Waitrose voucher to every contender.

Two children’s classes are free to enter though and include one of Hilary’s favourites - individual flapjacks, as well as iced biscuits.

Drawing from years of experience as a judge in food competitions, Hilary implored children to only use edible items to decorate their biscuits!

Meanwhile, she is expecting to see a number of men enter a traditional white loaf, believing more and more are discovering bread making to be therapeutic as well as quite physical.

They could also enter six brown rolls in another class - the advice being to ensure they are all the same size and shape.

The same applies to six individual meringues.

Finally for those up for a different challenge, a recipe is being provided for Chelsea Buns and Bakewell Tarts - with competitors judged on how well they can execute it.

“It all comes down to interpretation and skill,” said Hilary, who is always amazed by the entries.

“I have judged these things before and it is quite fascinating the different results from a standard recipe – it is extraordinary.”

Hoping the ten categories ‘offer something for everyone’, Hilary is delighted with the ‘fabulous’ prizes for the winners.

Courtesy of Steamer trading, they include Nordic Ware various baking items; Le Creuset bakeware set; Cook book bundle; Joseph Joseph Mixing Bowl Set; Kitchen Craft various baking items; and a Green Pan Bakeware Set.

And obviously there is the honour and pride of being crowned the Supreme Champion, or a category winner in front of your friends, family, and of course the competition.

“Although we can’t have all these bakers baking on site, there is a tradition in England from village fêtes and horticultural societies to have these sort of cooking competitions,” said Hilary, warning: “And they get quite fiercely competitive at times!”

So, if you’ve always said your mum makes the best cake, you believe you kneed dough better than the rest, or your children show a penchant for prettifying iced biscuits - enter them or yourself into the Great Horsham Bake Off!

The deadline for contenders is August 29, and full event details including how to enter can be found visit www.thebignibble.co.uk, or email tco@horsham.gov.uk or call 01403 215529 for further information.