Easy Does It!
Jamaican fruitcakes, or black cakes as they are affectionately called, are more than holiday treats, they are often childhood mementos, baked with pride then gifted to loved ones as a surefire way to spread holiday cheer.
Each recipe — many of them existing only in the baker’s head and rarely quantified on paper — is steeped in history and differs from home to home.
On Thursday, December 21, Jamaica Observer Christmas Bake-Off Challenge conceptualiser Novia McDonald-Whyte gave six bakers from across the island the opportunity to impress herself, Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges Mala Morrison, Matthew Hogarth, and Professor Lloyd Waller, as well as Supreme Ventures Ltd Head of Marketing Kamal Powell, Corporate Communications & PR Manager Chloleen Daley-Muschett, and restaurateur and businesswoman Yanique “Curvy Diva” Barrett at the Jamaica Food + Drink Kitchen.
The six competitors had their eyes fixed on the glittering gifts, which included cash prizes, a shiny new stove, and a year’s supply of gas.
For the second year in a row, The Jamaica Observer partnered with Supreme Ventures Ltd, Gas Pro, and J Wray & Nephew and welcomed Appliance Traders Limited.
Brittany Easy, fund administrative officer at JMMB, and the baker with the fewest years of experience, snagged a sweet victory, copping a grand prize of $200,000 courtesy of sponsors Supreme Ventures Ltd, and year’s supply of cooking gas courtesy of Gas Pro, a stainless steel Whirlpool 30″ Gas Range Stove, courtesy of Appliance Traders, gift baskets courtesy of Supreme Ventures, Gas Pro, Wray & Nephew and Seprod, and professional chef gear courtesy of Perry’s.
Before being declared the winner, Easy — who decided to enter the competition after seeing the promotion in print and on Instagram — along with Camona Burton, Phillip Llewellyn, Janique McKenzie, Amanda Myrie, and repeat entrant Trevanne Donegal-Porter — presented their Christmas cakes, complete with the story behind each, to the panel of judges.
According to the judges, Easy’s cake scored big points for flavour, texture, and overall taste. “Taste of nostalgia. Good ‘ole time’ Christmas cake taste with good texture,” said Supreme Ventures Ltd Corporate Communications & PR Manager Chloleen Daley-Muschett.
Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges Matthew Hogarth and Mala Morrison also gave Easy their seal of approval. Hogarth noted that while “the presentation could have been embellished more”, the overall taste of her cake earned her a score of 4/5. Morrison gave Easy 5s across the board for flavour, texture, and overall taste.
Easy admits that though she knew her cake had the potential to win, she was a bit intimidated by the grandeur of her competitor’s cake presentations, and was shocked when the panel announced her as the winner.
Second place went to repeat entrant Trevanne Donegal-Porter, who walked away with $100,000 courtesy of Supreme Ventures, and gift baskets from J Wray & Nephew, Gas Pro and Seprod.
Content creator Camona Burton scored third prize with a revamped version of her mum’s recipe. She walked away with $50,000 courtesy of Supreme Ventures, and gift baskets from J Wray & Nephew, Gas Pro and Seprod. Both Donegal-Porter and Burton were gifted professional chef gear from Perry’s Manufacturing.
“On behalf of the Jamaica Observer newspaper I would like to thank all of you for participating… and upholding this wonderful tradition… Our tradition is at Christmas we bake! We put together and we create what was historically the British plum pudding. We add our own twist to it, with overproof rum, and Red Label wine. We have created for decades something that is uniquely Jamaican in ethos, in taste, in texture, and in narrative,” said McDonald-Whyte.
“Having a concept is one thing, having people buy in is another. So, thank you very much to our partners, especially Supreme Ventures, for coughing up some of that lovely cash,” she concluded.