Haemi Kim and Allison Wordes — Staff Writers
On Saturday, February 22, The LCAs held their Great Bake-off challenge in Kuyper Apartments. The 55th lobby filled with streamers, long tables, and a string of British flags—a nod towards the event’s inspiration. Stacks of butter and cartons of eggs sat piled high in preparation for the upcoming challenges. An array of kitchen utensils covered the tables, including whisks, measuring spoons, spatulas, and even a stand mixer.
Jake Thorsteinston and Nicole Wichhart hosted for the event, snazzily dressed and ready for action with their microphones and personal cameraman following them. Teams had names like “UCA (United Cakes of America),” “All or Muffin,” and “Whisk Taker” which they wore on name stickers. Overall there were 16 groups with two through six people in a team. Some of them wore aprons, matching shirts, bandanas, etc.
At 6pm sharp, the mood shifted when the music switched from Disney to an intense British cooking show soundtrack: “Welcome to the Great LCA Bake-off!” The bake-off was live-streamed on Dordt Student Activities’ Instagram for viewers to watch from the comfort of their own couches if they didn’t want to come experience the excitement firsthand.
The event comprised of two challenges: a technical challenge and a creative challenge. The rules were simple, bake the given recipe, arrange it on the red square plate provided, bring it on the golden table before the time is up. For the first, the teams were given the same recipe on the spot—to the horror and amusement of all—French macarons!
With an hour-and-fifteen-minutes to complete their first challenge, the chaos erupted. People stumbled over one another to grab the correct ingredients, engaging elbows to make paths through the mob. The buzzing sound of the beater filled the whole 55th. At one table, a student attempted to demonstrate to his baking partner how to separate an egg yolk from the white.
One student asked, “Is there a strategy?” to which they received the adamant reply, “There is no strategy!!”
Many Kuyper apartments volunteered their ovens for the bakers to use. The sound of feet flying up and down the hallways filled the building as they rushed to get things baked.
“I can taste the powdered sugar in the air right now,” said Thorsteinson to his live audience. The macarons came out in a variety of shades—Dordt colors, mint, pink. One turned out as a “turquoise mosaic” on the parchment paper.
As the challenge progressed, some groups started to panic. Some began second batches. One group attempted to decorate their mistakes with fruit. One of the teams, the Oven Man, made it just in time to the golden table with twelve seconds left on the clock.
“It’s a scandal and a half,” said participant Christianna Marcy, displaying her team’s creation.
The second challenge was creativity, which meant that the groups had more freedom.
The theme was chocolate cake.
After washing their mixing bowls, measuring cups, and utensils, each group got out their own recipes.
As the challenge started, people rushed back and forth to their assigned rooms to preheat ovens. Unlike the first challenge, with each team having the same recipe and doing the same things, every team’s activities were unique this time. Some printed out a recipe from online, while others brought their own or a special family recipe.
Even though the LCA provided them with some ingredients—cocoa powder, flour, sugar and baking powder—the participants also brought their own unique ingredients like raspberry, peanut butter, coffee, zucchini, and even a sprig of fresh mint planted in a pot. These items began materializing from under the worktables.
Going around the table, the MCs asked questions about these different ingredients.
Time went by and while the teams were continuing their challenge, 55th had opened and more students came to Kuyper. Some were surprised to see what was going on. Some of them saw their friends and got to take a closer look at their baking while others were accosted by the MCs and asked to comment on the previously made macaroons for the live stream.
After two-hours were up, teams cleaned off their table and set their cakes neatly on the table. While they were cleaning up, the judges started their first silent-judging for the macaroons. The judges for the Great LCA Bake-off this year were Paul Fessler, a history professor; Manuela Ayee, an engineering professor; Mihret De Jong, a Global Ed Office staff, and Chef Nick, the commons dining hall chef.
During the silent-judging, judges went around the golden table tasting different macarons and commenting on each team’s paper and giving points on consistency, creativity, and taste. Then came the chocolate cakes. As each team went up to the judge’s table, they briefly explained their cake and the judges made comments.
Comments ranged from “It is nice and moist.” to “This is terrible.” Students had to prepare for realism from the judges, especially from Fessler. Fessler played hard to impress as he commented on how he disliked the color of the cake or that a cupcake is not technically a “cake.”
The finalist for the macaron contest was the “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” and the winner of the creative contest was “Cake or Muffin.”
Receiving high rankings in both categories, “UCA” (United Cakes of America) took home the distinction of winner overall.