How to throw a successful 'Bake Off' at home
Entertaining and experimenting with new recipes are both great fun - though combining the two can be risky! Conventional wisdom tells us to always stick to tried-and-tested recipes when hosting a get-together, but if you'd like to be a little more inventive, why not mix things up by throwing your own bake off?
Here are our top tips for hosting a successful bake off at home - tent optional!
1) Send out invitations
Once you've finalised your guest list, send out invitations - you could try designing your own e-cards to save on time and postage - it's a fun way to get in the creative spirit before announcing the competition. As host, you'll be the judge, but it's a good idea to ask one other non-baker to share the duties.
2) Decide what to bake
Your invitations should also include recipe details, including a list of ingredients your bakers will need to bring along. Desserts are always popular, but remember to keep things simple so guests can still have fun. We recommend these easy bakes for a stress-free competition:
- Victoria sponge
- Chocolate brownies
- Strawberry cheesecake
- Blueberry muffins
- Apple strudel
3) Prepare & decorate your baking space
Make sure you have the room – and the equipment – to accommodate your bakers, and ensure the bake off 'arena' looks suitably festive. Drape bunting across the walls and blow up some balloons to create a welcoming, country fête ambiance. If you have more guests than oven space allows, you might combine bakers into teams of two to encourage some healthy teamwork - and competitive spirit.
4) Here is a list of equipment that will come in handy for your bakers:
- Circular cake tins
- Mixing bowls & spoons
- Cupcake cases
- Muffin tray
- Whisk (electric or hand)
- Rolling pin
- Greaseproof paper
- Egg wash brush
- Piping bags
- Icing duster
5) Time to cook
Once your bakers are at their battle stations, remind them how long they have to cook. Then it's on your marks, get set, bake! As they bake, circulate with refreshments to keep the conversation flowing. When time is up and the last baker has put their creation in the oven, bring out a platter of savoury snacks to fill the time between baking and feasting.
6) The moment of truth
The best part of any bake off is the tasting - and judging! Ask your bakers to present their dishes on a table, labelling each one with their names on a Post-it, facing away from you and your fellow judge. Make your way down the line, tasting each dish in turn. We recommend awarding each bake marks out of 5 for the following criteria:
- Following the recipe
After scoring each dish, turn over the name badges to reveal the winner - then invite your guests to tuck into the delicious treats!