Image: A judge inspects a chocolate cake entry at the Ekka, 6 August, 2013. Credit: Ursula Skjonnemand.
What does it take to make a prize-winning cake for the Royal Queensland Show?
We visited the cookery judging in progress and asked a judge, an associate judge and the Honorary Council Steward, who agree that presentation, texture and flavour are all important.
Interestingly decoration does not interest the judges (except in specific cake decorating categories).
“You can have decorated it just beautifully but…. it’s the cooking we’re judging, not the decoration,” says Cheryl Thiel, the Honorary Council Steward in charge of cookery.
Cheryl says technique and recipe are equally important.
“We have people who come in every year and if you asked for a recipe they would rather die than give it to you.”
Ekka judges started providing feedback to entrants last year in an effort to help them improve.
“People enter every year and they may not win a prize and they’re finding it’s because they’re not learning,” says Cheryl.
Judge Lynette Pearce says it’s important to pay attention to small details such as getting the oven temperature right and ensuring there are no rack marks on the bottom of the cake or folds from baking paper.
“Cut your paper to suit the size of the tin,” says Lynette.
“You’ve got to learn to know your own oven… have a practice run.
“A cake has to be cooked… hold it up to your ear, if it’s still making a crackling noise or talking to you, put it back for a little while.
“And make sure you read the schedule, that is most important.”
Maree Harvey is in training to become a judge. After 20 years entering the Queensland Royal Show cooking and many years in the regional shows, she has taken the step up to associate judge.
“Talk to the stewards, the stewards have a lot of knowledge,” says Maree.
“If you aspire to be a judge, try to cook everything on the schedule.
“Practice each one until you get it right.”
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