…Rachel Stonehouse, last year’s Bake Off runner-up and the youngest baker in the competition. Last year I very narrowly beat Rachel in the Cambridge Bake Off and have to admit to feeling a little bad about it ever since. She is supremely talented and creates the most innovative designs and wonderful flavours in her bakes. I was really pleased to see her re-enter this year and even more pleased that she pulled off a spectacular showpiece in the Easter-themed finals to deservedly be crowned Cambridgeshire’s best amateur (though she’d give many professionals a run for their money) baker.
For the finals the bakers had to assemble and decorate a tiered celebration cake along an Easter theme in just 2.5 hours, being allowed to bake the cakes at home.
Whilst Rachel certainly has oodles of creativity and natural flair for exquisite flavour combinations that’s not to say that her victory came easy; both her competitors Laura and Sarah put up a strong fight throughout the competition, each earning star baker on one of the previous rounds, so the finals were wide open.
But in the end it was Rachel who pulled out all the stops with her nature-inspired cake, entitled “First signs of Spring”, delivering on all levels: taste, texture and presentation, for which she was awarded an exceptional score of 21 out of 20 – it was that good!
We (the judges) all agreed that it looked spectacular, yet it tasted even better than it looked! Rachel had developed her own recipes to create a delicious hot-cross-bun-flavoured light fruit cake for the top tier, and an equally delicious, fantastically moist, melt-in-the-mouth, spiced chocolate cake for the other two tiers. The whole thing was incredible!
Understandably so, but oh-so-tantalising, Rachel is keeping her recipes close to her chest…oh, if only I had sneaked a second piece into my handbag! D’oh!