Excuse me while I enter into CWA baking competition mode.
Next weekend I’ll be throwing my oven mitts into the ring to compete in the Mornington Peninsula Group Country Women’s Association 41st Annual Creative Arts Exhibition 2012.
Whilst I scarcely dare to dream that I might actually come home with a ribbon or trophy, competing is one of the reasons why I joined the Country Women’s Association in the first place. An opportunity to learn about the craft of baking from the experts!
As a first timer I limited myself to just four categories: Orange Cake, Plain Biscuits, Muffins – Other and Decorated Cupcakes.
To help me I’ve invested in the competitors bible: a copy of the CWA Home Industries Judges Notes. I’m also relying strongly on the competitive baking wisdom of Merle Parrish (from her book Merle’s Kitchen) and the fabulous information in the new cookbook: Jam Drops and Marble Cake: 60 years of CWA Award Winning Recipes from the Land Cookery Competition, run by the CWA of NSW. I like to be prepared.
This is what the CWA judges will be looking for in the Muffin category:
Look for uniformity in size, firm straight unbroken sides, and a rounded top. Evenly coloured with no burnt patches. Well flavoured and golden brown (according to the type and flavour). Moist texture but not a fine crumb. May be sweet, savoury or plain.
Judges Notes: Home Industries February 2010, Country Womens’s Association of Victoria Inc
I’ve decided to enter in my favourite Carrot, Orange and Almond muffins. They’re so moist thanks to the carrot and the miraculous powers of buttermilk. I always get rave reviews whenever I make them and the key ingredients aren’t your average muffin offering.
I test baked them today and realised as soon as I put the tray in the oven that I’d forgotten to include the orange zest – whoops! The lesson here is: Assemble your ingredients first before you start mixing! (They still taste pretty good even without the orange – will make a note of the variation.)
Because its ‘show-baking’ I also have to bake the muffins without papers. I picked up a can of Wilton’s Bake Easy Non-Stick Spray this morning from my local cake decorating shop and I can say, hand on heart – this stuff really does work. The muffins were practically leaping out of the tray! At $8.95 a can, its worth every cent.
As I test bake my way through the cakes and biscuits this week, I’ll be sharing the recipes with you – what a di-licious way to spend the week!
The Mornington Peninsula Group Country Women’s Association Creative Arts Exhibition 2012
Saturday 28 April 10am – 4pm and Sunday 29 April 10am – 3pm
Peninsula Community Theatre
Wilson Road, Mornington
Admission $5 Light refreshments available
28/4/12 UPDATE: I won Second Prize with the muffins and First Prize for my Cardamom Biscuits. Beginners luck maybe but I am thrilled beyond words!
- 1½ cups grated carrot (approx 2 carrots worth)
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- 1 Tblsp finely grated orange rind (zest)
- 2 cups Self Raising flour, sifted
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk soured with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar and allowed to sit 10 min before using)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Lightly grease and flour a a 12 cup muffin tray or line with baking cups.
- In a large bowl, combine the carrot, almonds, orange zest, flour and sugar – making sure everything is evenly distributed and all of the carrot is coated in flour.
- In a separate jug, gently whisk together the egg, buttermilk and oil, then pour over the dry ingredients.
- Using a light hand, mix together gently til the flour has just been incorporated.
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tray – the cups should be ¾ full.
- Bake in preheated oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow muffins to sit in tray for five minutes before turning out.