Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve heard of it. Premiering on BBC Two in August 2010, The Great British Bake Off was an almost instant success, attracting over two million viewers across the nation. Seven seasons later the show is still going strong (even if no longer on the BBC); even those who wouldn’t know a scone from a crumpet tune in to watch contestants compete for the title of best amateur baker in Britain. Here in Cyprus, the show also has its fans, one of whom is expert baker Louise Nicolaou who, after devouring every season, has come up with a wonderful idea: ‘The Great Limassol Bake Off’…
“My partner actually came up with the idea,” Louise explains. “He’s forced to watch the Bake Off with me and though he’s certainly not as addicted to the show as I am, he hit on the idea of holding a similar contest here. It’s ideal for us,” she continues, “as we’ve been in the catering industry for years.”
Owner and founder of Limassol’s Metropole Hotel Vintage Tea Room, Louise has long been known for her mobile vintage tea parties. But then, a few months ago, she and her partner decided to try something a little more fixed, and opened the popular tea room just off Anexartisias Street, serving delectable fancies. Along with the ubiquitous cream teas and English breakfasts, they serve any number of unique dishes which ensure the fledgling business is never short of custom. But Louise’s plans extend a little further than building her regular clientele, and with quiz nights and supper clubs in the offing, there are certainly plenty of events on the menu…
“Although we’re a relatively new venture, lots of things are being planned – starting with the Great Limassol Bake Off,” she reveals. “It’s going to be a fun, tasty and charitable event, which will be taking place on September 16 at the Tea Room. Obviously we can’t stick exactly to the Bake Off format; finding the facilities – the endless ovens, counters, space and time – would be impossible, so we’re asking contestants to bake at home and bring the result in for judging.”
One person, one cake is the rule of the day, and those who wish to participate must get in touch with Louise beforehand. “Contestants call up, express their interest, and let me know what type of cake they will be baking,” Louise explains. “The cake should be sweet, not savoury, and must be delivered to the Tea Room before 2pm on September 16.”
Judging will take place throughout the afternoon, with three local experts putting their tasting skills to the test. “Taste, presentation and texture are the main criteria,” says Louise, adding that the judges will be trying a slice of each cake before deliberating over the winner. The remaining slices will be sold in the Tea Room on the same day, so even those who aren’t interested in competing can come along and enjoy the bakers’ best throughout the afternoon.
“There will be one overall winner, and two runners up, in much the same format as the television show,” says Louise. “But where it differs is the charitable aspect: not only will the winner receive the Limassol Bake Off trophy (and epic bragging rights!), all the money raised during the day – including entrance fees and proceeds from the sale of the competition cakes – will go to the winner’s charity of choice. So if you’re a keen baker with a hankering to help a particular charity, you could be in with a chance to do some real good! And, of course, have a lot of fun,” Louise laughs.
“The Limassol Bake Off is about enjoying the day and – most importantly – indulging in cake! We’ve already had a lot of interest from all over the island – just because the event takes place in Limassol doesn’t mean you have to live in the area; as long as your cake can travel, you’re very welcome to take part. If successful, we’re planning to make this an annual charitable event.”
Lastly, while Louise claims her own favourite cake is “anything chocolate-y – but I’m not a judge, so there’s no head start for anyone there!” – she reckons the winner will be “something that’s extremely tasty and is beautifully presented: if it looks good and tastes great, you’re probably in with a winner!” Let’s get baking!
The Great Limassol Bake Off
September 16 from 4 to 7pm (cakes must be delivered by 2pm) at the Metropole Hotel Vintage Tea Room on St Andrews street in the old town of Limassol. The contestants’ cakes will be sold by the slice during the afternoon, and all proceeds will go to charity. Entrance to the competition costs €5 per cake. For more information visit Facebook page ‘The Metropole Hotel Vintage Tea Room’, email [email protected] or call 97 689062