The Great Work Bake Off

My team at work has had a bake off going for the last few months. As soon as it was announced, I was there, signing up, screaming my excitement. When the lists came out I looked and realised I wasn’t baking until the penultimate week. I have been waiting since September for this moment, and I have now been making my bake since yesterday.

Now, everyone else in the team probably got the first email and thought:

“Oh, that will be a fun little thing for charity to get involved in, I’ll sign up for that.”

I looked at the email and went:

“Oh my god, this is my defining moment as a baker. It’s on. It’s so on.”

I have been seeing what everyone else has baked for the last 8 weeks and I have been silently assessing the situation. Now, my plan has always been to make something that looks spectacular. Everyone else has made things that taste fantastic and I am fairly sure I can whack out a cake that will taste good. My assessment of the situation is that the winner will come down to how the final product looks. So in my weird brain I decided to just go all out and make a cake that looks like a chess board. Now, for the best part of the last 8 weeks, I have been trying to work out how to best go about it. I have seen people online make the actual chess board by casting 64 individual squares to put on the top of the cake. That was my original plan, but failing to find good moulds for it meant I ended up drawing out a grid and casting the entire board in one piece…

Which I then snapped.

I did repair it because chocolate is fairly forgiving. If in doubt, fix it with more chocolate.

I’m in a bit of a baking frenzy at the moment. We had a charity bake sale on Friday, which I spent two evenings making halloween cake pops for. They turned out well. I only had one pop fall off the stick, which is a significant improvement on the last time I made them. But, half my decoration choices didn’t seem to go down so well. Note to self: don’t make baked goods look blood splattered. People don’t respond well.

I just got bored of icing faces onto pumpkins and couldn’t bear to dye another batch of white chocolate orange. It’s an oddly tedious process if you don’t have oil or powder based food colouring (which I didn’t).

Anyway, my bake for tomorrow is almost done now. It is the assembly left to go and a few more chess pieces to cast. I’m just hoping the cake makes it to work in one piece.

All the layers did make it out of the tin in one piece, which leaves me strangely optimistic about my prospects.

I have added some pictures below of the work in progress.

I think the grid worked out quite well. It’s a shame I really struggle to draw straight lines. I ended up using the lines of the wood on my butchers block to line up the inch measurements. Innovative, I know.

These were the first chess pieces I was casting and I realised (too late) that it is a lot better to over-fill them as they are prone to snapping. So many of the white pieces look slightly weathered.

This was the completed board. This is from the back so I am hoping that the messy lines here will translate to nice smooth squares on the front… Apart from the bits I snapped and then had to rush a chocolate repair job. I’m hoping people just won’t care / notice.

I am so impressed that all my cakes ended up coming out of the tins smoothly. I normally end up impatiently removing them and half the cake ends up left in the tin. This normally results in a buttercream repair job.

Oh, and here were the cake pops from Friday.


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