Thursday, 6 October 2016

September meeting - Our 2nd Annual Bake Off

In honour of the GBBO's return to our screens in September, we had our own little Bake Off themed day. Yes, we enjoyed last year's inaugural event so much that we did it all over again - but with a few tweaks. This time our baking competition was to be judged in an ingenius new *'democratic'* way (after last year's judging was, ahem, judged to be extremely professional, but a bit harsh... nervous cough, #strawberrylacegate). Not only that, but our Debbie had spent the whole Summer trapped in her shed, whittling away specially engraved spoons for the winners! Bless her. But more on all that later.

After our meeting agenda was dealt with, we started the day with more serious business. Our guest speaker was Sarah, a local mother who very sadly suffered the loss of her son Kieran 3 years ago. Kieran was only 17 when he was stabbed and lost his life on a Harehills street in February 2013. The senseless killing of this young man left a devastated family behind, and Sarah talked us through the painful aftermath of losing her son and the impact on family and friends, and (very bravely and nobly) reminded us that everyone directly affected by knife crime suffers - including the perpetrator, who is serving a 20 year minimum jail term, and of course his family.

Sarah is an amazingly strong woman and is trying to build something positive in the wake of her family's tragedy, by working tirelessly to build a knife crime education programme for young people. Sarah shared with us the materials and workshops she has developed and begun delivering in schools and young offender institutions. She feels passionately that there is a place for this type of knife crime education within schools, and has been working to this end - but the process is far from straightforward, with some local decision-makers seemingly reluctant to admit that there is a knife crime problem that needs addressing in this way.

We were both saddened by Sarah's story and experiences, but also tremendously inspired by her bravery, drive and hard work. Sarah's journey toward achieving her aims is still at a relatively early stage, and we hope to keep in close touch with her and offer any help that we can. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wonderful work with us Sarah.

Our guest speaker Sarah, far right

Once we got our shared lunch out on the tables and on the go, there was even more eating required than usual, because (in a stunning twist) we were all to be the judges of our bake off this year! Our members' baking entries were displayed anonymously in the three categories, biscuits, scones and cakes, and the system was that we were all to work our way around the table, tasting the wares. Claire gave us all 3 gold star stickers each (no more mind, don't mess with Claire!) and you were simply to place a gold star on your favourite in each of the three categories. We thought it was simple anyway... but Darling Roses are mavericks, as you know, they cannot be tamed, so when it came to tallying the scores we found that our instructions had been ignored, with most gold stars awarded in the cake category, and a noticeable shortage in the other two. (Give us strength!!) But seriously, all were worthy winners :-) Here's a sampling of some of the entries.

We saved the prize-giving to the end of the day, as is fitting, and whilst stars were counted, our members settled down for a talk and demonstration from the marvellous Martin of Roundhay Bakehouse. Martin has established, from his home, an artisan bakery that is part of the micro-bakery movement. Every weekend he works through the night to produce hundreds of fresh, traditional sourdough breads, and also pastries, gateaux and other fancies. The emphasis is on quality and authenticity, in both ingedients and the process, and also an insistence on local ingredients wherever possible. Indeed, Martin barters with like-minded customers - sourdough and bakes swapped for eggs, fruit and anything he can use, and all from within a very small radius in North Leeds.

The very amenable Martin entertained us (yes we are the kind of people who can be entertained by bread) with his artisan techniques, miraculously managing to produce beautiful batches of baguettes from our less than ideal church hall kitchen. He also introduced us to the care and feeding of sourdough, which we were brave enough to taste. It was, er, sour.

We then hauled Martin up to present the prizes of wooden spoons and Roundhay Bakehouse vouchers to our lucky Bake Off winners. A winning day for all though! Thank you so much Martin (

Check out class swots, Jay and Kate, practically sitting on the counter! ;-)

1 comment:

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