A Hutt bake club has again given rise to the winner of the New World Wellington Bake Off contest.
Ange Puki, a teacher at Belmont Primary School, was judged best of the batch in the second annual competition, run as a Visa Wellington on a Plate event.
Janisse Taylor, who works in the Belmont school's office, won the Bake Off last year.
Keen home cooks are invited to get together with four to six others, form a bake club and elect a 'bake master'. Weekly baking challenges are released via on-line video, with club members battling to conjure up the best brownie, savoury scones, pie, and baked slice.
By process of elimination, each club arrives at their top baker, who goes on to the regional final.
This year 83 bake clubs were formed, and 44 finalists took part in the final task - to bring to Wellington Town Hall on Monday night their best decorated biscuits, to be judged by a panel of three headed by Ruth Pretty of Ruth Pretty Catering.
Mrs Puki baked summer citrus flavoured shortbread biscuits that drew inspiration from a 'Tree of Hearts' greeting card.
Ruth Pretty said the attention to detail, texture and flavour of Mrs Puki's decorated biscuit was exemplary.
Mrs Puki was delighted to take the title and continue the Belmont tradition.
''I was bake master [of our club] last year and Jinesse won. She was bake master this year. We've just swapped roles! It's so cool.''
Other bake club members were fellow Belmont School teachers Dione Frith and Kristen McGuinness.
While her mother encouraged her to bake, it was a grandmother who was a real whiz with oven treats and Mrs Puki says she's inherited some of her gran's recipes.
''My cousins are bakers as well..in fact it totally missed mum! But I really enjoy it.''
Mrs Puki says her own children get so many baked treats from her kitchen that to them ''it's a bit 'meh'.''
But around the neighbourhood, she's known to bring something delicious to any gathering or community event.
'I'll give anything a go,'' she says, ''baking though, not cooking''.
She had a greeting card she'd never sent, she liked it so much. It featured heart-shaped biscuits hanging from a tree branch. She borrowed the concept for her entry in the Bake Off final.
''It was just a dead twig with biscuits hanging off it, but it looked really elegant and simple.''
As well as the New World Wellington Bake Off 2012 title, Mrs Puki walked away with over $4600 worth of prizes - including $1000 worth of grocery vouchers from New World, a KitchenAid mixer from Kirkcaldie & Stains valued at $995, and a Fisher & Paykel appliance to the value of $2500.
Visa Wellington On a Plate Co-director and fellow Bake Off judge Sarah Meikle said this year's competition was very difficult to judge.
"We were so impressed by the originality and creativity of the biscuits.
"From Visa Wellington On a Plate themes to farmyard scenes, and Olympic rowers to Wellington's iconic Beehive, the bakers definitely brought their best to the Bake Off."
Hutt bakers are gaining a reputation for excellence. It was Wainuiomata mother Esme Dawson who was runner-up in this year's Hottest Home Baker on TV3.
- Hutt News
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