Gone are the candle-lit dinners, boxes of chocolates and flowers, and in are… just dates. Literally.
This year I decided to enter the Ekka Fine Arts Cookery competition in the highly coveted Date Loaf category. Ok I have no idea if it’s highly coveted or not, but it looked easy enough to have a crack at and was open to novices only.
So how did I go? Read on to find out.
I knew I’d have to up my game and have a few goes at baking said date loaf to give myself the best chance against all those CWA ladies who just have baking in their blood.
And so I did.
See exhibits A and B.
Exhibit A was your standard date loaf recipe, which was pretty much agreed on by the first few recipe hits on google. Chop dates, put in hot water with bicarb, mix with other ingredients, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The second recipe was a bit left-field with a cup of orange juice and some caramelisation thrown into the mix. Delicious, but possibly a bit too creative for what I was looking for here.
The results were pretty conclusive.
I’m impatient, I use cold ingredients straight from the fridge, I measure by not measuring and relying on approximations to save washing up Pyrex jugs. Basically, I’d never be able to hold down a job at Brumby’s.
And so I churned out date loaf after date loaf and took my time (kinda) with each one.
Coming over to my place for morning tea? Date loaf.
Let’s take the kids to the park? Date loaf.
I’ll bring dessert? Date loaf.
You didn’t even ask for any? Date loaf.
I realised I may have been overdoing the date loaf when my two-year-old just looked at her 300th slice of sweet, baked-good delightfulness as if I had just served up a raw brussel sprout and kale brown bread sandwich.
So how did I go? Did I win the highly sought-after title of ‘Best Date Loaf Baker Brisbane 2018’? Am I currently walking around with a bright blue ribbon attached to me like a meat tray at a pub raffle?
No. No I didn’t. Not even second or third place.
I did get to eat a lot of date loaf in the past few months which really is winning at life. I also helped to single-handedly support the date industry with the almost $100 worth of dates I’ve purchased recently. Shareholders in palm trees- you’re welcome.
I did learn quite a bit on baking too and have a newfound appreciation for anyone who can make their baked goods a consistent colour all the way through.
Compared to my baking skills pre-competition, I’ve definitely come a long way. Yes, yes the bar was low to start with, but still…
I'd say my first date with a cooking competition was definitely fruitful.