Are you ready for the Wroxham Barns scone competition?
PUBLISHED: 09:29 26 September 2012
Submitted - September 2011
Norfolk’s equivalent of the Great British Bake Off returns this week with the highly-competitive food festival scone competition, says reporter Victoria Leggett. But can your baking rival Wroxham Barns pastry chef Janet Sharp’s?
As Wroxham Barns’ pastry chef, Janet Sharp will have made about 160 scones by 9.30am today.
And after 28 years’ experience, she has got pretty good at it – knowing just how much fruit to put in and what the perfect consistency is.
Thankfully, participants in this weekend’s scone competition at the Broads attraction will only have to make four each – although judges will be hoping the quality will be up to Janet’s “legendary” standards.
Ian Russell, director of Wroxham Barns, is a big fan of the scones served at his restaurant.
“As far as we know, this is the only scone making competition in the country and it’s a great contest as well as great fun,” he says. “Wroxham Barns’ scones are legendary, but it’s always interesting to see what other people are making and to hear about their recipes and ideas.”
The competition will return for its fourth year this Sunday as part of the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, in association with Norfolk County Council.
Organisers are hoping the popularity of shows like The Great British Bake Off, which recently returned to television screens, will ensure another strong turn out.
Like last year, the “Norfolk bake-off” will have five categories.
In 2011, Wroxham Barns introduced a children’s category for the first time which asks youngsters to make their best plain scones.
Ian, who began creating the attraction in 1982, says: “We were delighted by the response, so this year we thought we’d go one step further and let the children present their scones in any way they please – as traditional scones, scone rounds, cut into different shapes and so on.”
Adults will be able to enter four different categories including plain, fruit or cheese scones.
The competition’s final category is “freestyle” and encourages entrants to be as inventive as possible.
Neil Haverson, editor of Let’s Talk Magazine, has been a judge twice before and will return again for this weekend’s contest.
He had the dubious task of trying the free-style scones the first year and, with the competitors all watching him as he ate, he says he felt “obliged to adopt an expression of delight with every mouthful”.
“My abiding memory is of one scone I sampled, thankfully towards the end, which was laced with salami. There are days when I can still taste it,” he said.
But while a Vicar of Dibley-style concoction has yet to win, Janet says, in her experience, anything goes with scones.
“We’ve done bacon and cheese, we’ve done cherry. We’ve done lots of different ones over the years,” she says. “They don’t seem to be quite as popular as the sultana ones but everybody has a different taste, don’t they? We have so many people visit here and if there’s something new on the board, they will try it.”
The Wroxham Barns’ pastry chef is considering adding sour cherry scones to the menu soon, after a test was well received.
Janet says she will probably bring them in for customers over the winter period, when the attraction welcomes more regular visitors instead of holidaymakers.
“It’s better to try it out with your regulars,” she says. “They will give you the feedback.”
Anyone wanting to compete in the Wroxham Barns contest needs to bring a batch of their freshly-prepared scones to the venue by 2.30pm on Sunday.
Judging, by a panel of local journalists from different publications, will take place between 3pm and 4pm and winners and runners up in each category will be presented with a special baking-related prize.
To keep participants entertained during the judging, jam tasting sessions will take place outside The Pantry, the Barns’ food store which stocks more varieties of jam, pickle and chutney than any other food store in the country.
Competitors and visitors will also be able to pick up a free scone recipe sheet with baking tips from pastry chef Janet.
A prize draw will also take place with a chance to win an afternoon tea hamper.
For more information about Wroxham Barns and the scone competition, visit www.wroxhambarns.co.uk or call 01603 783762.