You can't always bake what you want
Wellington on a Plate's bake club is back for a fourth time and we are up for the challenge.
Along with 85 bake clubs across the region we, the Cheap Tarts, will put our baking skills up for judging by our beloved (and now feared) colleagues.
And while baking may be just a delicious hobby for some, this bake club is not just for fun. Up for grabs are prizes worth over $5500. So the gloves are off. Things are set to get hot and dirty.
For four weeks, every Thursday, a new challenge will send our minds spinning. The first in this year's competition is a baked slice.
An endeavour that has us concentrating on texture and taste, and less on looks. Is there such a thing like a pretty slice?
With the task at hand, there's one question that torments us. Return to a trusted favourite of your baking repertoire or try out something new? How to set you apart from the field of excellent fellow bakers?
As many of the cooking and baking reality shows around want to make us believe, it's all about taking risks. But is it really?
But let's have the baking do talking: here are the five contestants: Vote for your favourite and we will publish the recipe here on Thursday.
Lisa Rapley: Hazelnut fudge slice
Why they should win: This fudgy slice is very more-ish - have one piece and you'll be going back for a second and third. The crushed wine biscuits mixed with butter, golden syrup, sweetened condensed milk and a splash of vanilla essence provides a solid, yet gooey base for the melted Whittaker's Hazelnut blocks on top. It is easy to make and easy to disappear very, very quickly.
Wellington ingredients: A dash of Hansells' natural vanilla essence, Whittaker's Hazelnut chocolate
Lucy Corry: Salted caramel chocolate slice
Why they should win: This is a new take on what a friend of mine used to call Jenny Craig Slice - as in, once you're hooked on this you'll need to sign up to Jenny Craig. It's a tempting blend of textures and flavours - crunchy shortbread base infused with hints of vanilla nibs and crushed cardamom, topped with lightly salted caramel, nuggets of dark chocolate and a scattering of shortbread crumbs. Just like a Memphis Meltdown - one bite of this and you'll go all gooey...
Wellington ingredients: Whittaker's 72 per cent Dark Ghana chocolate, a smidgen of Hansell's Baking Powder
Jule Scherer: Amaretto-prune streusel slice
Why they should win: My slice is a play on a German favourite, the Streuselkuchen. Traditionally it is made of a yeast dough covered with a sweet crumb topping called streusel.
To make my light and fluffy dough even more sumptuous I have added a bit of mascarpone and marzipan and topped it with a juicy, pungent amaretto-soaked prune mousse on a thin layer of caramelly home-made dulce de leche. There's nothing like baking with a bit of booze. The crunchy streusel are made from amaretti cookies and roasted pecan nuts and give the light, but still fruity middle a crunchy finish.
Wellington ingredients: Zany Zeus mascarpone and Hansells' Vanilla essence.
Siobhan Downes: Sweet 'n salty caramel slice
Why they should win: Like a handful of popcorn followed by a bite of a choc-top ice cream at the movies, or like McDonald's fries dipped into soft serve (trust me, it's good) - there is no combination better than sweet and salty. Forming this slice is a crunchy cocoa base, lathered in peanut butter-infused caramel and topped with dark chocolate icing and pretzels for that extra-salty hit. Even my lactose intolerant flatmate couldn't refuse a slice!
Wellington ingredients: A teaspoon of Hansells' baking powder, Whittaker's Dark Block.
Katie Kenny: Belgium slice with lemon berry icing
Why they should win: I was surprised to see just one Belgium slice on offer today - after all, the pink-topped spice biscuit is a Kiwi classic. After two failed attempts, it finally came together for me. My signature moves include using pressed raspberries rather than jam, and infusing the berry icing with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Oh, and don't be stingy with the jelly crystals - they're the best part!
Wellington ingredients: Eggs from the Wellington Harbourside Market, and a lemon from my tree at home.
Which one of these would tickle your fancy? We will publish the readers' choice recipe on Thursday.