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A Baking Come Back

Thanks to competitions such as 2019 McDougalls Young Baking Team of the Year, pupils are being encouraged to hone their skills and bring good old fashioned baking back into schools.

Woodlands Primary School was crowned 2019 McDougalls Young Baking Team of the Year at catering exhibition LACA (Lead Association for Catering
in Education) ‘The Main Event’ in Birmingham. The young bakers wowed judges with their impressive edible Woodlands Garden showstopper!

Grace, 10, Amy, 10, and Laura, eight, supported by their school caterer Holly Southeran, used rhubarb and raspberries from their own school garden, honey from a local bee hive and eggs from the caterer’s pet chickens in their dish, sticking brilliantly to the competition theme of using locally sourced ingredients.

The competition, run by Premier Foods, helps school caterers to encourage teams of up to three children, between the ages of seven and 11, to develop an interest in cooking skills by baking either one sweet or one savoury recipe, including a product from the McDougalls Flours or Flour Based Mix range.

Woodlands Primary School so impressed judges with their presentation and attention to detail, that it earned them the highest score ever received in the five-year history of the competition.

“Every year we are absolutely blown away by the standard of food the pupils produce and this year was no exception,” says Sarah Robb, foodservice channel marketing manager at Premier Foods. “Every dish was so well thought through, presented beautifully and had delicious local ingredients incorporated into the recipe.”

The school was awarded £1,000 worth of kitchen equipment, a prize which was presented to them by Michael Hales, chair of LACA to encourage the pupils to develop their passion for sourcing ingredients and using it to make tasty dishes.

Take Stock spoke to Holly to get some top tips for those who want to encourage more baking in their school.

How important is homemade baking to your menu?

We really value homemade baking in our menu and all our school dishes are homemade. We have a three week rota menu that changes twice a year; our desserts are baked fresh every day and we try to be as imaginative as possible and off er a wide variety. The fact I (and pupils and parents) know exactly what has gone into them and there are no hidden or unknown ingredients is half the appeal.

What baking tips do you have?

The most important thing is to be adventurous and have confidence. Don’t be afraid to try new and different combinations. Our students are our best critics as they aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, which we love!

What products help you bake in school?

Fruit is a great addition. It’s a great way to get the pupils to try foods they haven’t had before and each fruit has a different health benefit. It makes our bakes lovely and colourful too!

Is homemade baking now a priority in schools?

Speaking for my own kitchen, homemade is vital, because I know exactly that is in the children’s food. We have a lot of children with allergies so this is incredibly important to us as we try to make the same dishes for all children so no one feels left out.

How can you make baking delicious yet still take into account the sugar level?

It’s all about balance. Some days we make healthier puddings including a lot more fruit, or make a smaller biscuit and add some fresh fruit on the side, so the pupils get both. We do replace sugar with honey too. Children definitely eat with their eyes, so we try to take this into account. We’ve experimented with lots of different shapes depending on the dish, and we’ve even turned bananas into dolphins!

What about catering for those pupils with allergies?

We have quite a lot of children with allergies or specific diets. I meet with the parents and discuss our menu and then tailor it to suit the individual but I try to keep their food as close to the main menu as possible, so they don’t feel different to the other children, or left out.

 

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