The Great Church Bake Off

14 May 2014

Loyd Grossman, Lady Lucy French and renowned pastry chef Will Torrent today launched ‘The Great Church Bake Off,’ a national baking competition to mark the start of a month-long series of Midsummer Tea Parties at England’s finest historic churches.
The competition will take place throughout June in celebration of over 30 themed midsummer tea parties hosted by The Churches Conservation Trust's Friends and Volunteers, in some of England’s most beautiful historic churches. The parties, which mark the start of the traditional picnicking season, are our biggest annual fundraiser, designed to raise awareness of and funds for our ongoing work in protecting over 340 historic churches at risk in England.

The prize

The winning ‘cake architect’ will win a two night break away for two with afternoon tea at the Stonehouse Court, a striking 17th century Manor House hotel set in six acres of stunning grounds overlooking the Stroud Water Canal and rolling hills of the Stroud Valley. They will also recieve two tickets to Cake International, the sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking show at the Birmingham NEC on 7-9 November and the chance to display their cake live at the event. 

The Runner up will receive a gigantic bar of the finest Belgian Milk Chocolate weighing 5kg, courtesy of Will Torrent and one of the world’s best chocolate makers Callebaut. They will also receive some specially selected chocolate which includes single origin chocolate, caramel flavoured chocolate, chocolate making accessories and more. If that wasn’t enough, Will Torrent is throwing in a signed copy of his latest book Patisserie at Home, to help you master the art of French pastry.

How it works

Members of the public should:

  1. Take a picture of their church inspired cakes and send them to [email protected].
  2. They can then donate their cakes to their nearest midsummer tea party, or eat it themselves!

Submissions are accepted throughout June - the deadline for entries is June 30 and the winning cake will be announced on July 5, 2014.

Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the CCT, said: “We are looking forward to seeing what the great British public come up with and hope that some of their creations will go on sale at our midsummer tea parties. We will be looking for the cake that creatively incorporates church architecture from edible stained glass windows to sugar coated steeples and butter-cream belfries - the sky is the limit! It’s thrilling to think that every tiered wedding cake we see today was inspired by a church (St. Bride's Church on Fleet Street, London). In fact, one of the churches in our care, St Paul’s in Bristol is still often referred to as the wedding cake church.”

Loyd will be joined by the CCT’s trustee Lady Lucy French and award winning pastry chef and Waitrose consultant Will Torrent on the judging panel. They will be looking for the cake that best replicates a church building, taking into consideration its structure, design and overall appearance.

Will Torrent said: "Baking and making cakes is all about precision...from weighing the ingredients to get the perfectly risen and great tasting cake to cutting the exact amount of icing to cover it! When it comes to building structures like churches with cakes, you have to be even more precise! I can't wait to see some of the UK's most beautiful buildings made out of beautiful cake."

Lady Lucy French said: “The annual Midsummer Tea Party is one of the highlights of The Churches Conservation Trust fundraising calendar and I am looking forward to seeing the entries for the competition. We welcome everyone to take part and attend their nearest party where they will be served English tea and cakes in and around some of the most historic and unique parish churches with the chance to experience irreplaceable examples of architecture, archaeology and art from 1,000 years of history.”

This year’s tea parties include:

  • Leigh Delamare Church, Chippenham which will include a performance of Cosi Fan Tutte by Pop Up Opera
  • St Mary's Church, Higham, Kent, which includes a 'Trip back in Time', the true story of the nuns of Higham Priory and a talk on the history of Lillechurch Farm by the Milton Brothers.
  • All Saints' Church, Basildon, Essex, which will be decorated with a WW1 theme and Basildon Heritage will display images of a bygone era.
  • All Saints' Church, Great Steeping, which will include a guided tour of Wildflower Meadow followed by the tea party in the church
  • St Mary's, Burham, which will include a craft fair with a selection of stalls selling a range of handmade goods.

Last year, over 30 CCT churches took part in the Midsummer Tea Party raising almost £9000. Money raised will go towards the upkeep of individual churches as well as the Trust’s conservation and regeneration projects.