Cakes, pigs and coffee shops...

Johnny Shepherd of The Pudding Stop

Johnny Shepherd of The Pudding Stop - Credit: Archant

Do you know your Simnel from your sachertorte? Do you consider yourself a future finalist on The Great British Bake-Off? Well, now is your chance to show us what you can do.

The Easter Bake-a-Cake competition, organised by Christopher Place is to be held at The Pudding Stop shop on Friday, April 4. I am very excited, as I have been asked to help judge, alongside Johnny Shepherd, who owns The Pudding Stop and was a finalist on the very first series of The Great British Bake-off.

The idea is to create a beautiful and delicious Easter cake, that is either chocolate-based or a traditional Simnel cake. We will be tasting every cake, so it is not just about appearance, we will be checking for flavour, texture and sheer greed-appeal.

There are three age categories for bakers: eight-13, 14-17 and adults. Winning bakers will receive £100 for their nominated charity or school, plus £40 to spend at The Pudding Stop. Entries should be seven-10in in diameter and a maximum of two tiers. Enter by March 31 (next Tuesday) by emailing with your name, age, entry and contact number.

Children aged seven and under have their own, rather special competition. You get to design your own Easter cake on paper and the winning design will be made by The Pudding Stop!

I am looking forward to seeing chicks, spring flowers and eggs, and I am sure Johnny is looking forward to the challenge. Simply take your design, no bigger than a sheet of A4 in to The Pudding Stop by 2pm on Friday, April 4. Write all your details on the back, including your age. I look forward to seeing and trying all the entries on the day!

Go the whole hog

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The Lower Red Lion pub on historic Fishpool Street is holding a Nose-to-Tail Festival over the Easter weekend (April 19-21). Well-known publican David Worcester explained that the pub has held hog roasts in the past, but this year wanted to go further and show how to cook the whole pig, from nose-to -tail “everything but the squeak”.

David has worked at A&C meats and is passionate about good food. He plans to make his own bacon, and will also be making terrines and black pudding. A&C meats will be helping to produce own-recipe sausages, and there will be hand-made pork pies, made from Gloucester Old Spot pigs from a smallholding in Norfolk, Samphire, who also sell at the farmers’ market.

To tie in with the pork theme, David will focus on cider and visitors will be able to try a terrific range of ciders, with a few ales too. As David told me: ‘It’s usually a beer festival with a few ciders, this is the other way round’.

Live music will add to the party, and marquees mean that there will be space for all. There is no need to buy tickets – just turn up. For more information go to

Enough chain coffee shops!

I have emailed the Head of Planning at the council to object to the change of use of the old Monsoon to a Caffe Nero. Details appeared in the Herts Advertiser last week.

We need decent retail shops, not more cafés, particularly if more cafés will lead to the loss of our independents. I hope the council listen.