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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Businesses Triumph in Highland Shortbread Showdown

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The final of the Highland Shortbread Showdown 2024 took place yesterday, with Raymond Stewart from MacKenzie’s Bakery in Skye being crowned overall champion.

Raymond’s Scottish honey and rolled oats shortbread impressed the judges with its texture, flavour, appearance and innovation, saying that his “creativity, using oats to create the texture, was outstanding”.

In the other categories of the competition, David from Oversteps Care Home in Dornoch won ‘best traditional shortbread’, Scottish Borders-based The Bake Hive won ‘best flavoured shortbread’ and Dorothy from R Macdonald & Son in Inverness was named as ‘the public’s choice’.

14-year-old Charlotte of Charlotte’s Cakes & Bakes in Buckie won the award for the best stall.

Upon being named overall champion, Raymond Stewart from MacKenzie’s Bakery said:

“I’ve had the idea for the shortbread for a while but didn’t have the chance to try it.

“I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the bakery and their support – we all chip in and work as a team.

“Believe it or not, the first time we tried this version of the shortbread everyone liked it and we didn’t tweak it again.

“We are definitely going to introduce it to our bakery.

“Now we have to plan for next year!”

Organised by Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN), the final took place at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness with finalists from 11 Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) across Scotland battling it out with their best bakes.

Entrants had to impress expert judges Coinneach MacLeod, more famously known as the Hebridean Baker; Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery; Kirsten Gilmour of KJ’s Bothy Bakery; and Gary Reid, director of Scottish Bakers and managing director of Reids of Caithness, while the ‘public’s choice’ was chosen by those attending the final. The event was hosted by MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin.

“Congratulations to the winners of the Highland Shortbread Showdown 2024,” said judge Coinneach MacLeod.

“As the Hebridean Baker, I have always been passionate about the traditions of shortbread so I was excited to see how the competitors would share the techniques, artistry and flavours of our national biscuit – and they did not disappoint!

“With so many delicious bakes and interesting flavours, choosing our favourites was tough but well done to MacKenzie’s Bakery, Oversteps Care Home and The Bake Hive, as well as the winner of the public’s choice, R Macdonald & Son.”

Emma Harrison, Destination Development Manager at VILN, said:

“What a fantastic day at the final of the Highland Shortbread Showdown 2024!

“Eden Court was packed, and everyone had a lot of fun trying the delicious shortbread made by our finalists.

“The judges and the public chose some worthy champions.

“Well done to everyone who took part and congratulations to the winners!”

The event also raised funds for Befrienders Highland via a raffle, and children attending enjoyed a treasure hunt.

Other highlights from the final included a baking demonstration by Fernando from XOKO Bakery and free tea and coffee from Grain & Grind.

Host for the final, MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin added:

“I was thrilled to host the Highland Shortbread Showdown this year and see how creative the finalists got with such a traditional teatime treat!

“They certainly gave the judges and the public difficult decisions to make in choosing their winners.

“Well done to everyone who took part – it certainly was a sweet day!”

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