After last week’s gruelling battle of the breads, the Stylist Cake Off returned for yet another week of baking disasters and triumphs
Following shopping editor Lucy Reber’s impressive soda bread win last week, the Stylist Cake Off bakers returned, refuelled and ready to tackle the baked cheesecake challenge. With rumours of practice bakes at the weekend and bain marie (a water bath) fiascos, we all hurried home on Monday to don our aprons in the challenge to be crowned the cheesecake champion.
Tuesday morning came, as did the rows of cake tins and a hat box (one was too big for a tin, apparently), ready for judgement hour.
This week, the Stylist office welcomed Tarek Malouf, founder of the Hummingbird Bakery (aka our ultimate baking hero) and Selena McCubbin, communications assistant at the bakery, who were ready to put their expert taste buds and sweet teeth to the ultimate test.
The bakers wowed with an array of bakes ranging from Nutella, coconut and raspberry, quadruple chocolate, caramel and butterscotch and chocolate and lime-flavoured baked cheesecakes. As the duo tasted the bakes, it must be said that a lot of water, coffee and moments of breath were necessary to get through the sheer amount of sugar that sat on that table.
For Tarek, the perfect cheesecake requires a good crumbly biscuit or doughy base, a hard cheese that isn’t too grainy and, most importantly, it should not be over-whipped. He pointed out that over-cooking a cheesecake results in a hard filling that will crack as the sides stick to the walls of the tin.
After a thorough process of tasting, prodding of bases and extra tasting (you know, to make sure they’re edible) it was shopping editor Lucy Reber who impressed again with her salted caramel cheesecake with a butterscotch chocolate crunch. On tasting the delicious cheesecake, Tarek said: “It tastes like a cheesecake. It looks like a cheesecake…that’s the winner for sure!” Forget ‘dark horse’, Lucy Reber is officially our front runner.
As Tarek and Selena deliberated the other bakes, comments ranged from “whipped too much”, “silky taste”, and “tastes more like scrambled egg than cheesecakes”, resulting in the crown for 'the worst bake of the week' awarded to our editorial assistant, Katie O’Malley, who had stepped in to cover deputy editor Susan Riley while she is off on holiday. In a bid to take back her former baking glory with a quadruple chocolate cheesecake, Tarek said that despite Katie's tasty filling and smooth layers of chocolate, the base was undoubtedly burnt which counted as “a technical fail”.
Our baking goddess, picture researcher’s Nicole Holcroft-Emmess, came in second place with her Oreo chocolate cheesecake, aptly called ‘The Bruce Bogtrotter’, while art director Natasha Tomalin’s chocolate caramel bake came in a close third. It has to be said that it was hard to decide on the winning bake given the close tie between the top three. Tarek said a few extra minutes in the oven on some bakes was the deciding factor.
As the rest of Shortlist Media Ltd demolished the remaining bakes (there wasn’t even a crumb left of Lucy Reber’s cheesecake), the rest of the Stylist Cake Off competitors breathed a sigh of relief at passing another week of baking… until they heard what next week’s challenge will bring.
Your fourth Stylist Cake Off challenge: sugar-free cakes. Think Hemsley + Hemsley, whip out your Deliciously Ella recipes and, if all else fails, pray to the baking gods for help.
On you marks, get set…bake!
Remember to keep posting your weekly bakes to the Stylist Cake Off Instagram account tagging @stylistcakeoff and using the hashtag #stylistcakeoff.