1 Dec 2023

A show stopper for Christmas cake lovers

From Country Life, 7:13 pm on 1 December 2023
Christmas Cake competition

Christine Beaton in front of the Christmas Cake display Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Cake convener Christine Beaton has a tip for fruitcake bakers at the New Zealand Agricultural Show, "you don't really cook a Christmas cake, you dry it out."

The sheep farmer from Leithfield in North Canterbury knows what she's talking about.

She learnt about the dark arts of making Christmas cakes from her great-grandmother.

"I still use her old crockery bowl but it's got some cracks in it now, so one day it's going to disintegrate."

Christine has brought the Christmas Cake Competition back into the heart of the Christchurch show, after it was absent for a few years.

"The people that had done it had done their dash and I've got a passion for cooking so I thought, let's give it a go and see if we can start it again."

She's had a great response from home bakers with entries arriving from as far afield as Western Australia.

"I've got a cake in competition too, but mine is the lightest cake, so everybody has their own taste."

Christmas Cake competition

Best in Show - The supreme champion Christmas cake Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

All the cakes are cut in half for judging. A ruler is used to ensure the cuts are made exactly through the centre.

"Because if you did go over to one side a wee bit and it was a bit underdone in the middle, they could miss that."

Christine says the judges, former show president Richard Parkes and farmer and Waipara foodie Judith Hoban, were really impressed by Julie Tapp's winning entry.

"The taste was good, the top was nice and smooth and soft and there was no burnt or over-cooked fruit coming up through," she says.

So did the convener get to taste the fruit cakes after the judging was done?

"I did, I cleaned up the crumbs after every cake was judged, so I do not want another piece of Christmas cake for sometime!" Christine admits.

The annual Canterbury A&P Show. Julie Tapp won the Best Christmas cake

The annual Canterbury A&P Show. Julie Tapp won the Best Christmas cake Photo: Canterbury A&P Association and Dean Kozanic