Taking the Cake

Armed with spatulas, spoons, and spirit, students battle for timê in the Great Reedie Bake-Off.

By Paul Molamphy ’22 | March 14, 2019

Hundreds of Reedies piled into Commons on Friday to witness three teams of students battle it out in the final round of the Great Reedie Bake-Off. Through a combination of creativity and technical prowess, the teams had each survived several rounds of eliminations; now one of them would become the first ever bake-off champions.

The competition, sponsored by the Committee on Diversity, began last month. Thirty-seven teams of bakers were first tasked with creating bakes (yes, that’s the word) inspired by Doyle’s Diner, a student-run café that occupies the library lobby during finals week. Contestants included students, language scholars, community safety officers, and even a team made up of librarians (fittingly named HD8039.B2, the Library of Congress subject heading for “bakers and bakeries”).

In the second week, teams crafted treats that represented the life of the mind, producing bakes inspired by world literature, anarchist philosophy, and molecular diagrams. Week three saw the remaining teams face the challenge “Stop Baking Sense,” which asked contestants to reimagine one of their favorite recipes and make it their own. At the end of this baking bonanza, only three teams were left standing: Big Ole Jaws, Tedibles, and Mélange Ethnique.

The three now faced a final challenge: to create a bake that celebrated their favorite aspect of life at Reed. But that wasn’t the last of their worries. They also had to make a delicate chocolate roll  à la James Beard ’24, which required the bakers to carefully assemble compact rolls of cakey, creamy goodness—all in front of a live audience of fellow Reedies!

Amidst the stress of the competition, the bakers found themselves growing closer together. Big Ole Jaws bonded over their shared Jewish heritage, and incorporated that heritage into each of their themed bakes. Tedibles was formed by three housemates in order to support team member and chemistry major Ted Hume ’20 in his dream of opening his own bakery. Most surprisingly of all, Mélange Ethnique was a team of three thesising seniors—Ally Watson ’19, Maryam Ahmad ’19, and Edward Zhu ’19—who had been friends ever since Orientation Week!

Ultimately, that friendship helped carry them to a narrow victory, crowning them the first ever champions of the Great Reedie Bake-Off. Their rosepetal-adorned chocolate roll won the favor of judges cookbook author Diane Morgan ’77, Alystair Augustin ’19, Bon Appétit chef Amy Blunt, and Prof. Pancho Savery [English 1995–]. Along with the engraved cake stand trophy and a basket full of prizes, a dessert from the winning team will be featured in Commons for a week in the near future (stay tuned for the exact dates!). “We’re friends, we came here, and we had fun,” said Maryam. “Bon voyage!”

Dayspring Mattole, assistant dean in the Office of Inclusive Community, helped to organize the bake-off. “We wanted to do something to bring the community together,” she said. “It’s fun, but it’s still a lot of work for the bakers!” Enjoy more photos of the culinary delights from previous weeks in our online gallery.

Tags: Campus Life, Cool Projects, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, Students