We showed Nadiya from 'Bake Off' our cake decorating skills and it was a glorious disaster

LONDON — Decorating cakes is a fine art.

You need precision, flair, an eye for detail and a steady hand — all of which are skills we definitely don’t possess, as it turns out.

On Wednesday afternoon, we met Great British Bake Off 2015 champion Nadiya Hussain at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cookery School in London for a live cake decorating challenge.

The idea was this: two of us would go head-to-head and try and out-decorate each other. We’d have 10 minutes to complete our designs, and Nadiya would be on-hand to offer us advice and encouragement along the way.

The calm before the icing storm.

Image: maya robert/mashable

Here’s how the whole thing panned out.

Sam’s cake

The last time I did anything even remotely baking-related was in my Year 9 food tech class at secondary school. I remember making fairy cakes, and I remember it being stressful. There were about four different ingredients involved (which was four too many for me) and the hour we had wasn’t anywhere near long enough. I dropped food tech after Year 9 and I haven’t trusted myself near a spatula since.

All of which is a rambling way of saying that when I found out I’d be decorating a cake in front of Bake Off champion — and all-round lovable hero — Nadiya Hussain, I was mildly nervous about how it might turn out.

I decided to keep the theme simple and make an emoji cake. Everyone recognises emoji, and you can’t really mess up a simple smiley-face, right?

Wrong. From the minute the challenge started, I pretty much knew I was doomed to failure. I squeezed my overfilled piping tube with far too much gusto as Nadiya announced that the clock had started, and my carefully prepared yellow emoji icing came gushing out the wrong end. All over the table and all over my hand.

Here I am moments later, cheerfully piping icing sugar from the wrong end.

Things went from bad to worse when I realised I didn’t have any dark icing sugar for the emoji mouth. Nadiya helpfully advised me to mix different colours together to get brown, but when I started mixing them on the cake itself — rather than in a bowl, as most normal humans might do — I think she wrote me off as a lost cause.

Despite the fact I’d clearly disappointed her immensely, Nadiya remained upbeat. “My 8-year-old would love that,” she said, and although she was definitely just saying it to spare my feelings it still felt good.

Sam’s finished cake:

Rachel’s cake

Baking is a pretty big deal here in the UK. So, when I was asked to take part in a bake-off, it was a no-brainer. Why of course I’m down for my mettle being tested. Bring it on Sam Haysom. Bring it on Nadiya. Bring it on everyone!

Sam and I went head to head in a cake decorating contest, mediated by the one and only Nadiya Hussain, who baked the Queen’s birthday cake.

Sam and I are pretty competitive, so naturally I wanted to destroy him in this challenge for the pure thrill of one-upmanship. I decided to channel my spirit in this competition and decorate my cake with a resplendent unicorn.

I sketched it out beforehand on a post-it note and I was immediately concerned by my truly appalling drawing skills. This wasn’t going to be the cakewalk — lol get it? — that I had expected it to be. Nonetheless, when the time came, I gave it my all.

Nailed it.

Image: Rachel thompson/mashable

As soon as Nadiya said “go!”, Sam and I both went for the piping bags full of coloured icing. In my excitement, I squeezed a little too hard and green icing came pouring out the wrong end like a volcano eruption. I was covered in green gunge and so was my cake. 

While Sam flailed and made his cake into an even bigger mess, I grabbed a spatula and began to salvage the wreckage of my cake. Then I grabbed the candyfloss pink-coloured icing and began to create the majestic unicorn that — at this stage — looked like one of those bald cats. I drew a gorgeous horn in white icing, and — with minutes to go — etched a kaleidoscopic tail before covering the entire cake with glitter. I was pleased with my creation. It wasn’t the best unicorn I’d ever seen, but it had a kind of amateur charm to it.

And, thankfully, I won the challenge. Praise was heaped upon me by Nadiya. Life goals = complete.


Image: sam haysom/mashable

Rachel’s finished cake:

Here’s some of the positive feedback our cakes received on Facebook:

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Needless to say, we’ll probably be leaving the cake decorating to the professionals from now on.

Oh dear.

Image: maya robert/mashable

If you’d like to learn more about cooking from someone who actually knows what she’s doing, Nadiya has a new cookbook out called Nadiya’s Kitchen.

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