It is December. Winter and Christmas cheer are in the air. And in this festive season, GurgaonMoms and The Academy of Pastry Arts, Gurgaon, organized a fabulous contest for Gurgaon’s home baker moms. The GurgaonMoms Baking Contest. Rules were simple. Participants were to bake two one-kilo-cakes, one red velvet, the other a travel cake. The Christmas theme was to shine through, in the cakes and the presentation. This contest stirred up a great deal of interest and excitement amongst bakers and potential tasters alike.

On the 15th of December, it was a cold, overcast day. I walked into The Academy of Pastry Arts rubbing my hands to keep warm. A few bakers were already there, keeping themselves warm, chatting while waiting for the outdoor tables to be set up. There were moms who had taken to baking full-time and moms who had full-time jobs and baked as and when they had time. Amongst the chatter, I could hear a healthy exchange of information and resources. There was a lovely sense of camaraderie. I have rarely seen a friendlier contest.

Once they started setting up, each cake was a revelation. What talent! What creativity! Our baker Moms had created such beauties. Each was prettier than the other, each presentation lovelier than the next. Competition would be really tough. And yet, there was such camaraderie and warmth amongst the contestants as they put finishing touches on their creations. I did not envy the judges the task they had picking winners out of this fabulous array.

Even the sun, which had been missing all morning, couldn’t resist coming out to see the spread. Several other GurgaonMoms members came to see and support the baker moms, wearing bright smiles and bringing cheer. We were welcomed by Mr Dinesh Sharma, founder-director of the academy, who told us a little about the academy and then went on to introduce the judges and the chefs at the academy. Evaluation criteria were reiterated and the contest began in earnest.

While the judges moved on to the almost impossible task of selecting winners, The Academy of Pastry Arts had another treat for us – a macaroons demonstration class with Chef Robin. It was a delight to see the fabulously clean and well-equipped teaching kitchens. Chef Robin, with his delicious French accent, was the very picture of skill and patience. He took us through the entire recipe, showing us every step, giving tips and answering the many questions put to him. And then, of course, there was the tasting. Macaroons at Laduree, Paris couldn’t be better than the pillowy soft creations we got to taste!

Little did we realize, this was just the beginning of the taste-fest. We came out to try the contestants’ entrees and found yet another surprise from the Academy. The students and faculty of The Academy of Pastry Arts had laid out a scrumptious savoury buffet to balance out the sweet treats the home bakers had brought in. From hummus and pickled veggies to olive muffins, from vol-au-vents to salmon sandwiches to onion pizza and mini burgers… there was something for everyone. We found ourselves alternating between the cakes and the buffet for quite a while. We also had an opportunity to vote for our favourite cakes for the Popular Choice Category.

While we were occupied with this assiduous task, the students of TAPA brought out yet another surprise. They are having a bake sale on 21st December and we were privileged enough to get a preview of some of the goods on sale. Finely crafted chocolates and macaroons, delicious Christmas cakes and cookies… they had it all. It was a complete treat for the eyes till they asked us to sample their wares. That took the gastronomic experience to yet another high. By now, no one could eat another bite.

The morning, however, was not over yet. What is a contest without results? Everyone gathered around, happy smiles abounded. Participation certificates were handed out and then the winners in each category announced. I could not possibly end this report without sharing the names of the winners.

The contest winners were Gayathri V Datla (First Place), Arpita Prakash (Second Place), Seema Jain Krishnan (Runner – Up). Popular Choice/ Special Jury Awards went to Shweta Rai for Red Velvet Cake and Tapasya Babbar Gulati for Travel Cake.

A vote of thanks by Upasana Mahtani Luthra of GurgaonMoms was followed by a lovely and lively photo session, of people this time. The baked goodies had been photographed all morning!

Very full and very happy, I headed home. My Christmas had come in 10 days early this year. I sincerely hope this contest is an annual affair and that I can be there year after year. Just a small request… don’t tell my dietician!!

Mentioned is the complete list of participants

Seema Jain Krishnan Bake & Beyond
Mansi Aggarwal The Oven Artist
Shefali Sharma Bake Away
Anshul Sharma Purple Cake Box
Shweta Rai Cakes Personified by Shweta Rai
Arpita Prakash Tender Loving Cooks
Monika Mukheja So Sweet by Monica
Debu Choudhary Soul Cakes by Dee
Tapasya Gulati  Melting Moments
Gayathri V Datla The Sweet Saga
Pallavi Jain
Jyoti Sethi Divine Delicacies
Rainna Gupta Creative Oven
Pragna Parmita Guru Ambrosial Flavors
Jyotsana Chaudhari The Cake Boutique
Priyanka Behrani The Sweet Art
Tanya Malhotra

 

Photo credits: Gunjan Dua Chhabra.