A schoolgirl from Prestonpans in East Lothian has been crowned Scotland’s best home baker after a nationwide search earlier this year.

The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh has named 14-year-old Grace Warnock its champion home baker following its search a few months ago.

Amateur bakers from John o’ Groats to Jedburgh were encouraged to put on an apron and show off their culinary creations for a chance to be featured on The Scottish Cafe’s iconic afternoon tea menu.

From classic cream cakes to indulgent gateaus and classic cupcakes, The Scottish Cafe received an overwhelming variety of mouthwatering entries from the country’s most talented home cooks.

Grace, who attends Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans, came out on top as the first ‘Contini Bake Off’ champion, having impressed the judges with her trifle, banoffee, apple pie and lemon meringue cupcakes.

Grace has been baking at home with her mum since she was only three years old and really enjoys baking crispy cakes, biscuits and bread in the kitchen with her family.

Head ‘Contini Bake Off’ judge and Scottish Cafe owner, Carina Contini, was joined by the venue’s specialist pastry chefs to select the overall star baker and the judges were unanimous in their decision to choose Grace for the top accolade.

They were on the lookout for technical ability, creative flair, originality and use of local ingredients, but ultimately a delicious and eye-catching addition to The Scottish Cafe’s signature afternoon tea menu.

As part of her prize, Grace recently joined Carina Contini for an afternoon tea masterclass at The Scottish Cafe, before recreating her own recipe, which will be showcased on the afternoon tea menu throughout November.

Commenting on being crowned winner of the ‘Contini Bake Off’ 2019, Grace said: “I’m so excited to be the first Contini Bake Off champion.

“My trifle cupcake is my favourite and I think it’s the perfect choice for Christmas too. My recipe combines vanilla cake, custard filling, a jelly centre made of from my own homemade jam and whipped cream icing.

“I bake mainly cakes and biscuits at home, but I’m trying to practice other things like pastry and bread too.”

Carina Contini added: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Grace has become the winner of our first ever Contini Bake Off competition and we can’t wait to showcase her delicious cupcakes on The Scottish Cafe afternoon tea menu this month.

“With the home baking trend continuing to grip the nation, we wanted to encourage talented amateur cooks of all ages to put their culinary skills in the limelight. Grace really did rise to the challenge and dazzled us with her creative flair.

“As the home of one of Edinburgh’s finest afternoon teas at the Scottish National Gallery, The Scottish Cafe is the perfect setting to celebrate this iconic British dining tradition, as well as people’s passion for beautifully presented and mouthwateringly delicious food.

“We look forward to launching our second annual search for Scotland’s best home baker in 2020.”

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About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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