Christmas cake bake-off and competitive blokes.

You might remember last year I was involved in a competitive Christmas cake competition. A small splinter group of a group of my friends decided to test out our baking skills in what was meant to be a light-hearted competition culminating with an impartial judge tasting on New Year's Eve 2014-2015. Christmas cakes
My cake from 2014. Not a winner apparently.

I won't lie to you - it got a bit ugly. I didn't take the news that my entry "didn't even taste like a Christmas cake" terribly well. It may have been mentioned a few times throughout the year by the friend who was ultimately victorious. A male friend.

Yes most of the world's top chefs are men and I think it's possibly because men who cook can often be ruthlessly competitive. This theory gained some credibility with the 2015 Christmas cake competition.

Thankfully due to work and finances (the cost of ingredients for Christmas cakes can add up to a startlingly high level!) I had decided against making my own cake this year, settling on a small £4 Tesco job in a box which would satisfy my craving for a piece of cake with a cuppa on Christmas night.

This left three remaining competitors - two men and one woman. The female competitor planned a fancy cake containing oranges, Cointreau and controversially, chocolate. However she was unable to make the New Year's Eve judging sesh so it was man on man. No, hang on, that's not the phrase I need.....

Imagine if you will, two cocks strutting round a ring, preparing to fight. Cakes were laid down, slices were cut. Oddly the judging panel AKA the rather drunk dinner guests, seemed rather disinterested in the whole event despite the pre-fight talk about homemade marzipan, texture of (homemade) icing and quality of decorating.

One of the cakes was a spartan, minimalistic affair with not even an icing star to be seen. The other positively bristled with decorations, many in the style I remember from childhood cakes like plastic figures and bottle-brush trees. And a slightly pissed looking snowman which was appropriate given the state of the judges.

A cake made by a very competitive man.

Finally a few of our number were persuaded to taste the opposing cakes. Anonymity was not exactly preserved and as I mentioned, the alcohol intake in the room had been quite high so the "judges" comments varied between tactful platitudes and downright blunt assessments.

One guest, sorry, judge, declared that they both tasted pretty much identical. I have to agree on taste but I felt one was more moist but unevenly cooked while the other was evenly cooked but maybe a tad dry. We declared a draw.

Two days later we got to taste the female entry which was moist, rich and tasty but do I dare say it? I didn't think it really tasted like a Christmas cake......

Already gauntlets have been hurled down and next year's competition is ON. If my hungover brain serves me right I believe the challenge for 2016's competition is to make your cake as home-made as possible.

This includes growing and drying your own fruit to go in it.  I do have a grapevine but it doesn't bear fruit so I may be cheating a little and sun-drying grapes from the local supermarket later in the year. Then all I need to do is learn how to mill flour and make brandy. Oh and get some chickens for the eggs.

Or maybe I'll do what I did this year and leave the blokes to fight it out amongst themselves in the great Christmas cake bake-off.