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Le Bureau’s Macmillan Coffee Morning is coming, and here’s how to win

Calling all bakers, makers and home-ec heroes: Le Bureau’s Macmillan Coffee Morning is just a few weeks away so it’s oven mitts at the ready for a fabulous cause…and the glory of being named Star Baker.

Macmillan has been running its Coffee Morning since 1990, when the idea was that groups of mates would meet for a cuppa and donate some money to the cancer charity. Since then it has grown into a national event, with businesses, schools and organisations the country over raising over £200m.

The money raised goes to help anyone who has been affected by cancer in whatever way they need it. Macmillan recognises that a cancer diagnosis is life-changing and far-reaching and can affect everything from relationships and work to family and living situations. Its onus is on treating cancer patients as individuals and tailoring support to each person’s circumstance.

Hence, Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning doesn’t just raise money. One of the charity’s key aims is to ensure no one with cancer feels like they are alone – and what brings people together faster than cake?

Le Bureau has been holding its own annual bake sale for Macmillan for years. It has consistently proved one of the most popular events in the office, and you don’t need to be a whizz with a whisk to take part.

That said, there is a grand prize up for grabs for the winner, as well as the coveted Star Baker badge – and as entrepreneurs, most of us are competitive by nature. Sure, you’ll be raising money for an excellent cause, but this is also a chance to excel in the kitchen. So as you prepare to get baking, here are our top tips for rustling up your very own showstopper and taking the title.

Keep it simple(r than you think)

The most successful bakes aren’t necessarily the ones with 17 different variations of sponge and a load of intricate decoration; clean lines and distinct flavours look neat, pack a punch and can be a shoe-in for a win. A classic cake done well trumps a fancy mess very time, so think Victoria Sponge with home-made jam or a classic chocolate cake decorated with precision. Any maybe Maltesers, because everyone loves Maltesers.

Tray it to slay it

Tray cakes are brilliant for bake sales as they are easy to make and decorate, and divide up to make the goodies go further. Chocolate brownies, carrot cake and millionaire shortbread are perennial crowd pleasers and require little in the way of decoration.

Use your loaf

The first cakes to go at any bake sale are, without fail, the loaf cakes – the type of delicious slabs where the flavour speaks for itself and can be enjoyed with a cuppa. We’re talking banana cake, lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut: bung the ingredients together, chuck the mix in a loaf tin and turn out for a guaranteed slice of comforting goodness. Loaf cakes may not be the most extravagant or aesthetically complex but have you ever known someone to turn down a chunk of banana bread? Nope, me neither.

Go big or go home

Want to bake something impressive but lack the patience for fiddly design? Go big. It’s not rocket science: the larger your cake, the most impressive it looks. So double down on your recipe and finish with a simple buttercream and some straightforward decoration on top.

Get a head start

Bakers often put a premium on freshness, but who wants to be up until 1am icing a cake? There are several cakes that can be made well ahead of time and still keep: coffee cake kept in an air-tight container will taste just as good two days later, and any cake that is covered with thick icing or marzipan – Battenberg is a good choice – will stay moist. Fruitcake isn’t to everyone’s taste but the mixture is so dense it gets better over time. Truly organised bakers should opt for biscuits as cookie dough freezes well and can be baked to perfection in a around 15 minutes.

For more information about Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, visit coffee.macmillan.org.uk

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