Yesterday (27 September) employees at npower’s office in Swindon took part in a ‘bobble hat’ themed cake competition to raise funds for their charity partner of 12 years, Macmillan Cancer Support.
Employees based at the site battled it out for the title of star baker – as selected by Martha Collison, the youngest ever contestant on BBC’s The Great British Bake Off and quarter finalist of the 2014 show.
npower is running the baking competition across its eight main sites to celebrate Macmillan’s 26th World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event and this year, the main event will be taking place across the country on Friday 30th Sept. npower enlisted the help of Martha to inspire the nation to hold their own Coffee Mornings by cooking up an exclusive chocolate and lime hat cake for Macmillan – and the challenge was also set for employees at each site to dust off their aprons and bake their own ‘bobble hat’ cakes, raising funds to help people living with cancer keep warm without the worry
In Swindon, Martha judged all the bakes based on how they met her winning criteria of flavour, texture, effort, creativity and appearance.
Star baker, Sian Betts created a chocolate ‘Where’s Wally’ bobble hat themed sponge cake, decorated in the distinctive red and white Wally colours, topped with a handmade mould of Wally, sat up against the winning creation. Her inspiration came from her love of baking for her two children, so she decided to pick a children’s themed cake as her speciality.
Sian said: “I’m always baking for my children, so what better way to celebrate Coffee Morning with a well-known children’s character who wears a bobble hat! I’ve become more and more adventurous with my baking as the kids have become older and they love my chocolate cake recipe. I’m absolutely delighted to have won the competition – my little girls will be thrilled to hear the news. It was also great to have Martha come and taste all of our creations.”
Sian added: “Macmillan is an amazing charity and this is my way of giving something back and support their fundraising.”
Talking of the winning cake, Martha added “The cake was truly creative, perfectly baked with a lovely moist chocolate sponge, all cleverly executed with a really fun theme. A lot of hard work had clearly gone into it, especially creating Wally! All the cakes here today were impressive and I’m delighted at everyone’s efforts. It was really difficult to pick the best cake, but Sian’s bobble hat bake was definitely a clear winner!”
During the baking competition, Martha commented: “It’s not every day that you get to encourage people to bake for such an amazing cause. Cancer can have such a devastating impact on people’s lives so any opportunity to create awareness, especially through baking, is a cause I’m incredibly proud to be involved in.”
Beth Gardner, Head of Community at npower, said, “Our employees really rose to the occasion, showcasing their baking skill in our cake competition. We’ve seen and tasted a whole range of cakes and bakes – and not a soggy bottom in sight! We’re proud to work with Martha to deliver such a fantastic event. We hope Martha’s exclusive cake recipe inspires people to hold their very own Coffee Mornings and raise vital funds for Macmillan to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.”
To take part in this year’s Macmillan Coffee Morning, head to www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee to register and upload your image at @npowerHQ. Watch Martha’s exclusive baking video at: https://we.tl/vZVSmgs8br
Martha Collison’s Exclusive Chocolate and Lime Bobble Hat Cake:
Butter, for greasing
125g plain flour
225g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
125ml buttermilk (cultured), or
110ml milk plus ½ tbsp lemon juice
60g butter, melted
1 large egg
125ml brewed coffee (or water)
Zest of one lime
For the decoration:
200g vanilla buttercream
550g fondant icing
Food colouring, colour of your choosing!
1. 1. You will need a pyrex (or other oven-proof) pudding bowl. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 then thoroughly grease the bowl with butter. Put the plain flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
3. 2. If you don’t have buttermilk, pour the milk into a large jug and add the lemon juice. Leave to stand for five minutes until thickened.
5. 3. Whisk the buttermilk/acidified milk with the melted butter and egg, followed by the coffee or water, and the lime zest.
7. 4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, whisking until a smooth batter has formed. Pour this carefully into the prepared bowl (it will be very runny).
9. 5. Bake for 50 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the bowl for ten minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack.
11. 6. While your cake is cooling down, break up 500g of the fondant into a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add a small amount of food colouring and knead until the mixture is one uniform colour. You can also do this by hand, using your hands to knead.
13. 7. When the cake is cooled, cover the outside with a thin layer of buttercream and then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
15. 8. Roll out your coloured fondant icing using a rolling pin and then place over the top of the chilled cake. Smooth the edges using your hands or a cake smoother. Trim away the excess icing and roll into a long sausage shape. Flatten the sausage using a rolling pin and then trim off any rough edges before using water to stick to the bottom of the cake, making a rim for the hat. Use a toothpick to create a knitted pattern up the side and rim of the hat.
17. 9. Using the saved 50g of white fondant icing, mould it into a round ball and use a toothpick to ruffle the edges to create the bobble. Stick a toothpick into the top of the cake and balance the bobble on top. You can also make other shapes like flowers and stars to apply to the sides of the cake.
This recipe is taken from TWIST: Creative Ideas to Reinvent your Baking (HarperCollins), and given an exclusive *twist* for Macmillan’s Coffee Morning, 30th September 2016.