Bakery newsletter: Issue 1

March 2018

Students Beth and Katie feature on Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers


Bakery and Patisserie Technology students Beth Swift and Katie Garrett assisted high-end cake company Peboryon with their competition entry for Cake International, the UK’s leading cake decorating, sugar craft and baking show. As a student at UCB, you could be involved in a number of shows just like this one. Here Beth gives the inside scoop on everything they got up to:

“Each year Cornish cake company Peboryon create a cake related to a specific charity to show at events – and this year, it was the Marine Conservation Society,” said Beth.

“Katie and I worked closely with Peboryon’s owners Christine and Phil Jensen to create a six-foot seahorse out of lemon Madeira cake under the watchful eyes of Cake International’s guests – and a Channel 4 camera crew.

“The cake was carved and covered in ganache on the Friday, topped with sugar paste on the Saturday, and finally airbrushed and decorated on the Sunday. I was especially pleased to be asked to help on some of the air brushing as that’s a really technical job.

“Our main job, however, was to man the stand and interact with the general public. We encouraged the audience to make fondant shells which were stuck around the bottom of the seahorse as decoration. It was great fun chatting to everyone.

“Having the chance to work with such a talented company was an amazing experience. Being filmed for Extreme Cake Makers was slightly nerve wracking, but knowing I played a small part in the project being completed made me really proud – especially as it was for such a good cause.

“Seeing something as ambitious as a six foot seahorse come together definitely inspired me to challenge myself and become more adventurous with the cakes I make.”

On the rise - star student profiles


Before finishing UCB with first class honours earlier this year, Bakery and Patisserie Technology student Hannah Parry landed an incredible position with the UK’s leading bakery ingredients manufacturer AB Mauri.

Check out her job profile here:

Name: Hannah Parry

Job title: Research and Development Technologist for AB Mauri

Role profile: AB Mauri focuses on researching innovative new ingredients and cooking methods, ways of reducing the salt, fat or sugar content of our products and ‘process enhancement’, meaning finding ever more efficient ways to produce the best goods.

The average day for me can involve planning and conducting trials and analysis, reporting on my findings, researching innovative projects and ideas within the industry and liaising with both customers and suppliers. Some highlights so far have been going on a site visit to a major plant bakery, attending a seminar on food rheology and visiting an innovation conference in Cologne, Germany.

The support I’ve received, the knowledge I have gained and the experience I have built in the last three months has been brilliant. I couldn’t recommend a career in product development and research to a UCB Bakery graduate enough.

Student Jessica Dalton has baked her way to a bumper year of awards this year, most recently winning the Trainee Baker category at Tiptree’s World Bread Awards, recognising the best in baking talent across the nation.

Jessica was joined in the final by fellow UCB students Chelsea Collins and Fiona Ahern. While Chelsea was awarded a runner-up position for her work, Jessica edged the top spot with her simple-but effective takes on white and wholemeal tin loaves.

“It felt great to make it to the final along with two other UCB students,” said Jessica, who attended the World Bread Awards ceremony at St John’s Hyde Parkin London along with Chelsea and Fiona. “I was honoured to be representing University College Birmingham.”

After a rollercoaster year, Tiptree’s trophy is yet another award Jessica must add to her rapidly expanding collection. Other titles include winner of the Rising Star category at the Baking Industry Awards, the British Society of Baking Trophy and winner of the Bakery Trainee Challenge.

Jessica strongly advises any ambitious future or current Bakery students not to shy away from competitions if they want their own taste of success.

“It’s not about winning – though of course it’s great if you do – it’s about understanding what you could do better next time with feedback from the judges,” she says. “It’s always a great experience.”

Blogger Ellie’s crème-de-la-crème of first year modules


Ellie Smith, third year Bakery and Patisserie Technology student, blogs weekly for UCB about everything from exam stress and money-saving tips to her love of the Great British Bake Off. Here she hand-picks her top three modules from the beginning of her journey through university.

1. Artisan Bread – Production and Appraisal

I did this module in my first term and really liked it. The bread we made was delicious and I would often find myself walking back to halls in the evening, after a long practical, and completely devouring an entire focaccia as I went. I was nervous about the practical side of the module but my lecturer, Richard Wood, was brilliant at helping everyone get to the same level.

2. Bakery and Confectionery Science

I loved the topics this module covered. Having touched on a lot of the material previously in my Food Technology A-level, this was a great refresher. I love learning the science behind how stuff works and why different reactions in bakery happen. Having that kind of technical knowledge made it even more exciting to go into practical sessions - for example, baking wedding cakes became a completely different experience once we knew the science behind why they rose in the oven. We also had a written exam paper at the end of the module, and as an added bonus it wasn’t at all as hard or daunting as I was expecting.

3. Specialist Confectionery

This was my favourite module of year one. I learned so many new skills. I had never attempted chocolate work before, so seeing the final pieces I eventually made for this topic was possibly the proudest I have ever been of myself. It was hard work, but I also loved the freedom we were given – choosing the theme and decorations for a chocolate wedding cake project we had was so much fun.

You can read more from Ellie and our other UCBloggers over at

Lecturer Graham returns inspired from Mondial du Pain 



Bakery and Patisserie Technology Lecturer Graham Duckworth, who before joining UCB worked in product development for major companies such as Hovis, Marks & Spencer, Dominos and McDonalds, was invited to join the panel of judges for this year’s international Mondial du Pain competition.

The Mondial du Pain puts contestants from all over the world who have won their home countries’ national baking championships head to head. Seventeen teams, from Peru, to Canada to the Philippines, were required to bake eight categories of products and build a pre-prepared artistic piece made entirely of bread.

“As an invited judge I was stunned by the technical ability of some of the work produced,” said Graham, who went on behalf of UCB after the University was selected to represent Britain by the UK government.

China’s kung fu panda artistic piece wowed the crowds, but in the end it was Taiwan who won the overall competition.

While the UK cannot yet enter the Mondial du Pain as it does not have a national baking championship, Graham has stated that there is every possibility this may be something the Craft Bakers Association will decide to run in the future.

“Competitions like these should remind our students to think globally about their careers,” Graham added. “There is so much going on in the world of baking and the industry is constantly expanding. Get out there and see what’s on offer.”