Sheriffhales WI recently welcomed Helen Sadler, who spoke on the controversial topic of How to Become a WI Judge. Helen only became a judge last October, having observed some harsh decision-making. However, she was inspired by some good judges to start the training, later completing a food hygiene course and even buying a white coat! After her talk, Helen demonstrated her skills by assessing members’ cakes, which generated lively discussion…

If you’re looking to brave a WI cake competition, here are some of Helen’s top tips:

A nice plate helps with external presentation and can earn or cost you four points.

If you’re baking a Victoria sandwich, butter will give a different taste to margarine and if the creamed method is specified, don’t make it with the all-in-one method; the judges can tell. There’s no vanilla essence in the recipe. Homemade jam will probably bleed into the cake but will taste better. Victoria sponges taste better if you don’t preheat your oven.

If you’re baking jam tarts, make lots to select the most similar. Put a small amount of jam in while you bake and then add a second spoon of jam when taken from the oven.

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