MEETinLEEDS are hooked on the Great British Bake Off, so we thought that we would join in the fun and hold our own Showstopper Challenge!

What Is the Showstopper Challenge?

As most of you will know, the Showstopper Bake is the final challenge where you are able to showcase your baking skills. The only rules we applied are that everything had to be home-made (no shop bought pastry!) by the entrants – no professional help allowed!

The bakers were be anonymously judged by our very own experts, Mary Bevvy (Bev Kenny – Head of Conference and Catering) and Simon HollyWood (Simon Wood – Head Chef at the Refectory).

The judges were looking for the most impressive and elaborate creations – flavour, aesthetics, originality and ambition being the 4 categories scored out of 10, with a maximum of 40 points available. The Star Baker winning the highly coveted MEETinLEEDS apron!

However, the taking part is what mattered most, as all of the money raised went to the University of Leeds nominated charities.

The Entries

We had 8 entrants to the bake off, each of which had obviously had a lot of time and effort invested in them. Just take a look for yourself! 

The competition was very tight, with the judges deliberating for half an hour over the merits of the entries, which were as follows:

Parkinson Building Cake – Vibha Firth’s extremely detailed cake was modelled on the iconic Parkinson Building, and was a gluten-free chocolate cake with icing.
Out of the Allotment – Harriet Boatwright’s take on goodies from the potting shed was carrot and cream cheese muffins.
Slime CakeEmma Broadhurst’s disgustingly good entry was a white chocolate cake with white chocolate slime.Piggin’ BrillLisa Wood’s cake was chocolate with a chocolate ganache, with a decoration of pigs that looked very happy.Rubik’s CakeMatt Hamnett’s esoteric entry was a chocolate and butter cream take on the classic puzzle from the 70’s.Scone HengeRyan Johnson’s scone-less bake was flapjack with a mint-chocolate mousse, modelled on Spinal Tap’s famous on-stage set.The Temptation of St Patrick – Mitchell Perry’s cake of the good stuff was a Guinness and chocolate cake, featuring the ubiquitous clover on top.It’s a Peach – Aneta Rus’s light and fluffy entry was a peach and cream cake with a mint leaf topping.

The Winner(s)

Vibha-Harriet-with-CakesThe judges both scored Harriet’s “Out of the Allotment” and Vibah’s “Parkinson Building Cake” exactly the same number of points, with “Mary Bevvy” scoring both 37/40 and “Simon HollyWood” giving both 30/40 (“I am a bit more unforgiving”). Here are their comments on the cakes:

Parkinson Building Cake

Simon – Lovely flavour and icing. The sponge was good, if a little dry. However, the amount of skill, originality and execution of the idea meant it was a deserved joint winner.

Mary – While the sponge was a touch dry, the complexity of the frilly icing, not to mention the representation of the University of Leeds signature building, made this a worthy winner. It should be the new university logo!

Out of the Allotment

Simon – The bake was perfect – lovely and moist muffins with great flavour and very good icing. The use of plant pots for the presentation was very original and appropriate for the carrot theme.

Mary – The best carrot sponge I have ever eaten! The presentation was unusual and the use of the crate, plant pots and sunflowers brought the whole idea together.


Congratulations to Vibha and Harriet and thank you to everyone involved in the Great Big MEETinLEEDS Bake Off – see you next year!