Good News Stories with Ava Hopper (@Gabbabetic)
Tullamore National Show Gluten Free Baking Competition Covered by Ava (@Gabbabetic)
Ava (@Gabbabetic) tells us about her passion for gluten free home baking and her newfound love of entering Gluten free baking competitions in Ireland. Results (and pictures) of the recent Tullamore national livestock gluten free baking competition included.
Gluten Free Baking at Tullamore show
Covered by Ava (@gabbabetic)
The Coeliac Society works very hard to promote gluten free living in Ireland. I have submitted this article to share with the members of the Coeliac Society as I thought many members may find this interesting and to hopefully raise awareness of the opportunities for gluten free baking in Ireland.
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2009 and have been a member of the Coeliac Society since diagnosis. In the last year or two, I have endeavoured to improve my gluten free baking skills. I recently moved back to Ireland after living abroad for the last couple of years. I had never lived in the countryside and wondered if rural life would be very different to what I am used to. When I moved into the area, I was encouraged to enter the baking classes in my local agricultural show. Having never been to an agricultural show before, I was unsure what to expect. When I received a list of the classes I was delightfully surprised to learn that there was a class specifically for best gluten free cake. I also decided to enter the new class for 2022 ‘Banana Bread’, having made many a gluten free banana bread during the pandemic! For my gluten free cake I decided to bake a gluten free red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Although the Irish weather rained on the show itself, for me it just meant I got to meet more people in the locality inside the baking tent. As well as getting to meet people in my locality, I was also delighted to take home a second place prize for my gluten free red velvet cake and I will definitely be back next year!
After enjoying entering my local show, I learned online that Tullamore National Agricultural Show in Co. Offaly is the largest single day agricultural show in Ireland. Being such a big event, I hoped it would also have a gluten free class that I could enter. To my surprise, I discovered they have a whole gluten free section in the baking tent, including six different classes exclusively for gluten free entries. One of the things I find most difficult about being a coeliac and maybe many of you do too, is the feeling of exclusion when there are no gluten free food options available. I think that is why I am very appreciative of Tullamore Shows inclusivity towards those of us who have to eat gluten free.
The six classes in the gluten free section at Tullamore show 2022 were:
Class 849: 6 Gluten Free Fruit Scones
Class 850: Gluten Free Health Bread
Class 851: Gluten Free Coffee Cake
Class 852: 6 Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies
Class 853: Gluten Free Pizza
Class 854: Gluten Free Loaf Cake (Lemon and Poppyseed)
As I was unsure what qualified as ‘Health Bread’, and I don’t like fruit in my scones, 😊 I decided to enter the Coffee Cake, Brownie, Pizza and Loaf Cake classes. Entering would require me to expand my gluten free repertoire, as out of these four classes, I had only ever baked brownies before. This meant I would have to have to do a few practice runs to test and tweak some recipes to both gluten free and my liking.
The day before the show was one of the hottest days of summer 2022. I was very worried that the heat would have a negative impact on my baking. Everybody kindly stayed out of my path while I sweated away in the kitchen for a few hours baking, assembling, decorating, and planning how to pack my bakes for the over 200Km journey to Tullamore the following morning.
The morning of the show I had to make sure to have my entries in before 9:30am. I was nervous that after all the work my creations might not survive the journey. Although the drive seemed never-ending, we eventually arrived at the show and managed to set up in the gluten free section on time.
There were so many entries in the baking tent that the judging took a few hours to complete. Nobody was allowed back into the tent until all judging is complete. The weather at the show was fantastic, so during this time we explored the show including cookery demonstrations, fashion shows, horticulture displays, farm produce competitions and my personal favourite, the dog show.
I did not know if I would win any prizes, but regardless I had really enjoyed the excitement of planning and practicing the recipes, baking the entries, making the journey to the show and the satisfaction of entering my own cakes at the competition tent on time. When I returned to the tent later in the day to see the results, I couldn’t believe it! I was very fortunate to win three first place prizes in classes 851: GF Coffee Cake, 853: GF Pizza and 854: GF Loaf cake!
As an amateur baker, I have really enjoyed entering gluten free baking competitions this summer. It has helped me expand my gluten free baking repertoire, meet new people, increase my confidence in my abilities, given me many hours of enjoyment and provided me with lots of freshly made gluten free treats to devour.
If you have any interest and even if you are new to baking, I would like to encourage everyone interested to enter, not just to win but for the enjoyment you get out of the baking, the competition, and the day out. Maybe I will see you next summer?
With the current cost of living crisis and especially having returned to Ireland after living abroad, I have noticed how expensive GF products have become. All the more reason to learn to bake your own 😊
If you would like to see my experiences entering gluten free baking competitions and watch videos on my favourite gluten free recipes and favourite gluten free products, you can find me on YouTube and Instagram as @Gabbabetic.