Going to a Bake-Off Everybody!

How does one prepare for an afternoon of eating vegan desserts? The same as any athlete would prepare to compete: training. I didn’t take the reality of training for this event seriously but if I were to participate in another sugar eating Olympics here is how I would do it:

  • Work-out!
    A combination of cardio and resistance training will help you burn the calories you’re about to earn.
  • Eat lightly on day of event.
    Have a raw green salad before and after the occasion. It will provide the necessary enzymes and fiber to help you process all the sugar and fat you plan to eat. Make sure to keep drinking water too.
  • Pace yourself.
    Once there, take small bites of everything and stop eating before you feel full. Have a reuseable container on hand to take what you can’t finish home.

The 5th Annual Vegan Bake-Off presented by the Toronto Vegetarian Association promised to be “Totally Fabulous“. The $8 ticketed event was sold out! For the price of admission you were entitled to 2 tickets which would get you 2 plates of treats. The treats ranged from just plain vegan to raw and gluten-free vegan. Ballots would be provided so that people could cast their vote for the best desserts in each category. With an empty stomach and ticket in hand I set out on a wintry Groundhog Day afternoon…

Fast forward  several hours later…

When I arrived at the Jewish Community Centre in downtown Toronto, slightly later than the start time of the event, I was met with a long line that snaked its way through the lobby, past a coffee shop and into the children’s play room before ending up at the gym where the event was being held. I thought that I would be tempted to sneak into the coffee shop to get my own treats if the line were to take too long. I didn’t need to as the line moved fairly quickly.

A few times along the way I was bombarded with volunteers waving clipboards insisting I needed to sign a waiver. The thing is I already had as my ticket had a waiver signing space on it. I guess you can’t be too sure. The waiver was to absolve organizers and participants of liability as the desserts were made in home kitchens not inspected by a Health Official.

Once inside I did a quick tour of the room to plan my strategy. I decided on the Decadent Raw Desserts plate and the Professionally crafted Gluten-free vegan plate followed by a browse at the cookbook table (most likely to purchase yet another vegan cookbook I just had to have). I managed to eat just about everything on my plates (only 2 leftovers came home with me which I didn’t end up finishing as I wasn’t too fond of them), voted on the ‘best’ and dropped off the ballots in the appropriate box. Then I joined the paparazzi like participants in taking pictures of the plated desserts display.

Intermittently throughout the event, a male and female emcee intervened with announcements said in a very rah-rah tone. I felt like I was at a hippie love-in. And to complement that ambience there was the token Rasta-wannabe whose big wool hat hid his goldilocks desperately trying to become dreadlocks.

Highlights and Lowlights

  • The best dessert I tasted was the hazelnut meringue tower with chocolate drizzle; layers of sweet, slightly nutty marshmallowy meringue.
  • The mint marshmallow from APieCalypse Now was pretty good too. This is proof that you don’t need gelatin to make marshmallows.
  • Banana Cream Pie – a raw vegan dessert. Every bite of this creamy, mildly sweet treat with distinct banana flavour kept me wanting more.
  • Bunners Bake Shop had a decent caramel brownie gluten-free
  • The Raw Key Lime cheesecake was more like Key Coconut. As a note: when eating raw and vegan desserts you will likely encounter coconut, a popular ingredient in this type of baking.
  • The raw fruit sushi. This ‘bimbo’ treat gets top marks for creativity and aesthetic appeal but loses out on taste. It was limp and lifeless fruit engulfed by sweetened seaweed and coconut.
  • Redpath Sugar was one of the sponsors of this event. They are not usually known to be associated with baking that is termed natural, raw and vegan.
  • The venue was a gym with limited seating. I ended up sitting on the floor next to a hockey net in order to eat my desserts.

Surprisingly I didn’t feel the sickly sweet feeling one gets in their gut after gorging on sweets; perhaps this was due to the bite-size portions or the abundance of natural ingredients used. I completed my experience by investing in a Vegan a la Mode frozen desserts cookbook and became a member of the TVA (Toronto Vegetarian Association). In the end, I’m glad I experienced this event as a participant. Perhaps I will revisit it next year as a participant…

Now if I can only figure out how to get the photos from my BlackBerry to this Blog then I will post pics of some of the desserts.


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