Saint Valentine himself would have swooned before the spread of sweet treats in the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s “Baked With Love” Phoenix Stroke Appeal fundraiser on Thursday, February 14.
Staff from across the hospital departments showed up bright and early to the Knowledge Spa student common room, bearing Tupperware, plates, and cake tins of every shape and size. Organisers’ mouths watered as they laid out the 39 entries in their classes of Cake, Cupcake, Biscuit, and “Wild Card”.
The mood got serious when the judging panel got stuck in: Rick Stein’s patisserie chef Stuart Pate, Tom Hazzledine of Baker Tom, and Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) Governor and Friends chairman Beatrice Dyer, who has judged many Women’s Institute events and also taught home economics to schoolchildren. BBC Radio Cornwall’s Daphne Skinnard joined later to add her opinion to the Biscuit and Wild Card categories.
“We are impressed with the quality of many of the entries, and people have put a lot of effort into decorating them beautifully,” said Stuart Pate.
“It is great to see that the home baking tradition is alive and well, and people have really embraced the Valentine’s theme,” added Beatrice. Indeed, there were hearts of every shape and size, with pink and red dominating the colour palette.
The baked goods enjoyed a moment in the spotlight when BBC Radio Cornwall’s reporter Zak Stanley arrived, to get the inside scoop for David White’s morning programme.
Judges marked the entries on appearance, flavour, texture, execution, and ambitiousness. Their scores were then combined to decide the winners.
In the Cake category, Emma Elliott O’Leary from Urgent Referrals streaked into first place with her beautiful cranberry and white chocolate cake, topped with white chocolate shavings and a heart fashioned from pomegranate seeds. A close second was Steph McIntosh from Research and Development, whose chocolate concoction was crowned with confectionery, with “Phoenix Appeal” standing out in white icing.
Sharon Moore from Pharmacy scooped first in the Cupcake class with her Turkish delight cupcakes, and the sweetheart cupcakes submitted by Michelle Barnard from Audiology attracted the judges’ affections for second.
Several entries won a “commended” award, including glittery cupcakes made with beetroot, and a poodle cake that made masterful use of marshmallows.
Hearts were definitely on sleeves in the Biscuit category, with the delicate melt-in-your-mouth hearts offered by neonatal’s Natalie Parsons winning first, and the heftier (but still delicate) shortbread hearts submitted by Learning and Development’s Amanda Thompson a close second.
The Wildcard category was gloriously eclectic, with brownies, tarts, bars, and even a family-size Pavlova. Amanda Thompson was in the rosettes again in this category, scooping first prize with her beautifully executed macaroons with passion fruit filling. “Macaroons are really hard to get right - we even struggle with them sometimes at Rick Stein’s,” commented judge Stuart. Jilly Luck from Neonatal came second with her “retro” chocolate refrigerator bars, elegantly decorated with swirls of dark and white chocolate.
Winners will receive a range of prizes, from a Baker Tom baking class, a three-course hotel lunch, spa entries, deli vouchers, dishes, books, nautical art, and Rick Stein kitchen accessories.
“A huge thanks to all the staff who took the time to bake for this event,” said Phoenix Stroke Appeal committee member Gillian Molesworth, who organised the event together with Natasha Westbury-Harris and Sally Maynard, both from Voluntary Services. “There was a very high standard of entries, and the money from the entries and donations of cake sales will all help win Gold Standard Stroke Services for Cornwall.”
The cakes generated around £40 in entry money, and two were bought on sight with £10 offers from sweet-toothed admirers. Staff took their entries back to their departments to sell the remainder off for donations - proceeds will hopefully top £150.
You can see pictures of the event on the Phoenix Stroke Appeal’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PhoenixStrokeAppeal, and also BBC Radio Cornwall’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/bbcradiocornwall. Read more about the Appeal on www.rcht.nhs.uk/phoenixstrokeappeal.
1. Rosette winners Jilly Luck (left) and Natalie Parsons from Neonatal with their Wild Card and Biscuit entries
2. The Baked With Love judges: Stuart Pate (left), the patisserie chef for Rick Stein; Tom Hazzledine of Baker Tom; and Beatrice Dyer, RCHT Governor and Friends chairman
3. The winning cake surrounded by other delicious entrie