Elaborate baking recipes with pictures for a zoom work party
November 24, 2020 1:42 PM   Subscribe

My boss wants to do a combo Pinterest fail / GBBS zoom holiday party. To that end, he has tasked me with finding recipes to be assigned to our staff. Thus I turn to you.

What we need are the kind of recipes that you'd see on the Great British Baking Show. They have to be desserts and they have to have photographs, because part of the whole thing is going to be showing the original and the result. Complicated and unusual is good, vintage is excellent but the ingredients have to be obtainable on the Oregon coast in early December, so think stuff you can buy at an American supermarket only.

The idea is that everyone will be assigned a different recipe with a photograph, will bake it and then post a picture of the result. Prizes (just joke prizes, like tacky mugs) will go out to the most faithful, the most creative take and the most spectacular fail.

This is purely my boss' idea and is because of Covid. Apparently in past years they have had an ugly sweater contest / dirty Santa gift exchange but all that's out the window for 2020, and he says everyone is tired of the ugly sweater now they are so ubiquitous. I just started at this job about a month ago; I have no idea how many people bake, what the skill levels are, whether people generally like holiday parties, etc. Nothing, I know nothing, and any suggestions on how best to run this event are appreciated. I can't change it though: this IS the holiday party this year. It's for staff at a small rural community college, fwiw, and we are sort of hybrid right now, working both from home and in the office depending. The party will be all zoom.

I am looking for links to recipes with pictures for desserts. They do not have to have ever been on GBBO, in fact, American is better.
posted by mygothlaundry to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You gotta have a fool.
1. it can be assigned to someone who sucks at cooking because you can half ass it with whipped cream
2. hard to make it look cute, so it's a built in photo fail
3. jokes to be had along the lines of that fool made a fool out of you, etc
posted by phunniemee at 1:50 PM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

One season, they did a Tennis Cake, BBC has a recipe, shouldn't matter what sort of cake because, virtual, the decoration is quite specific. And they did rainbow bagels, which has great promise for Failure.

People will be submitting pictures of their bakes, and I recommend encouraging cheating, so people can submit over the top creations.
posted by theora55 at 1:52 PM on November 24, 2020

It's hard because you're new, but I'd Grinch the hell out of this ... possibly in the form of gentle questions, or by having them posed by a more senior employee.

1. Will employees be on the clock for this foolishness or does Boss expect them to donate their time?

2. What about the cost of ingredients?

3. Are there no hungry people/students in your community who might be better served with a group donation instead of a "humorous" waste of food ... never a good look but especially not this year.
posted by cyndigo at 2:00 PM on November 24, 2020 [16 favorites]

Ugh what a crap task you've been handed - let's be charitable and assume your boss has chosen it because they all love baking because otherwise it just seems totally unreasonable to expect people to do this. Even if they are all mega bakers I still wouldn't assign them a specific recipe but might give people the option of picking one from a category, so they had an easy option to pick something simple/cheap if they were not up for the full showstopper.

Lots of recipes from the GGBO show are on their website here, (with UK ingredients though) you could point people to that site and have them choose their own challenge and tell you what they chose, then you could assemble the relevant beautiful food photography images of their recipes and share those on the Zoom call before each person then reveals their own creation? That could be quite fun if people have made a total mess of it. Get them to vote in a poll for the category winners. I'd keep it as short as possible but I'm a hater of Zoom socialising.
posted by Lluvia at 2:04 PM on November 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

One thing that MIGHT make this more palatable is if you give employees the option to SIGN UP for the baking competition ... and everyone else can be in on the Zoom reveal/voting/whatever.

I'm a pretty serious cook but would balk like hell at just being told what I was supposed to do for "holiday fun" on my own dime and with my own time.
posted by cyndigo at 2:11 PM on November 24, 2020 [15 favorites]

This could be fun...have you googled pinterest fails or nailed it? You might get some ideas there. My own personal failure of this sort was making holiday themed cake balls several years ago. They were pathetic but hysterical. Actually tasted pretty good, but none were ball shaped,, the frosting dripped, really sad. Cake balls are actually more complicated than appear to be..... Not sure if they are complex enough for you, or if they've ever been done on GBBO.
posted by j810c at 2:18 PM on November 24, 2020

Best answer: The recipes from the Canadian version of Bake off might be more useful, since they use primarily US measurements (cups, temperatures in deg F) and would be unlikely to involve ingredients unavailable in a well-stocked US grocery.

I also strongly second the suggestion of at least giving staff a choice of recipes (or at least name/picture/main ingredients); I imagine citrus-hating, nut-loving Tariq from HR making the Orange Chiffon cake to throw out while Nastasia in accounting makes the hazelnut-and-almond-dacquoise based Marjolaine through her last N95 mask because of her deadly nut allergy.
posted by Superilla at 2:44 PM on November 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I like cyndigo's suggestion of having people sign up to participate. If your colleagues are into baking, it could be really fun, and those who are not baking could vote for the winner of each category, or just a People's Choice type award. Maybe come up with categories people can enter, so enthusiastic bakers and cheaters alike can join in.

I suggest Buche de Noel! Not a particular recipe, but the category: log-shaped cake, elaborately decorated, with a wintery theme. Participants could submit a picture of the overall cake, and a slice to show the cross-section. Some pretty examples from GGBO: 1, 2, 3

- Seasonally appropriate.
- Appearance will range from excellent, gorgeous cakes to basically large poos.
- Flavor should still be ok, even if the outside is really ugly, so hopefully people will enjoy eating their cakes.
- Potential for humorous interpretation! Cheat mode: rather than making the intended rolled cake, get a mix from the grocery store, bake it in a loaf tin, and trim the sides so it looks round. Or make a tube-shaped rice crispy treat and decorate with a tub of frosting from the grocery store and holiday Peeps. Or dust a big tootsie roll with powdered sugar and take close-up glamour shots. Or, if feeling Grinchy, frost a cardboard mailing tube.
posted by esoterrica at 3:00 PM on November 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'd take a look through Sally's Baking Addiction. So many recipes. Maybe the recipes are too well written, and you need to scale them back? Any recipe with piping or intricate details might add some drama to the event.

Please give people the option to choose to participate, and which recipe they want (from a large group of possible options). They may need to work around what equipment they own, as well as catering to the tastes of their household (who will have to eat the results).
posted by hydra77 at 3:13 PM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’d try to create one of those gross 70s gelatinous desserts, like tomato aspic salad with whipped cream. I’d give you the prize just for the kitsch factor. I don’t have any links but they’re easy enough to find, just google disgusting 70s jelly dessert.
posted by Jubey at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

How about a gingerbread house contest? That would be more universally accessible and still fun. Buy some graham crackers and a squeezable tube of icing, go nuts with decorations, etc. Tell your boss that GBBO has an architectural gingerbread house showstopper almost every season.
posted by dum spiro spero at 3:29 PM on November 24, 2020 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I like the gingerbread house contest as a less burdensome alternative, but the tubes of icing sold in grocery stores won't construct anything; people will have to make royal icing, or it can be bought, but isn't super widely available pre-made, I don't think.

A suggestion for a difficult recipe that doesn't use obscure or expensive ingredients: croquembouche.

(The contestant doesn't have to do the pastry cream if the object is only to make the things for looks. If doing the pastry cream, it's not vital to use a real vanilla bean.)
posted by lakeroon at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2020

Can you steer it in a more Nailed It direction? That way you could have bakes but also there's an avenue for someone who just wants to decorate something they picked up at the store, and rather than GBBS where it's people trying their best, the Nailed It formula assumes people aren't going to do well and those who opt in are ready to fail.
posted by assenav at 4:17 PM on November 24, 2020

Maybe everyone could do their interpretation of a Shitballs recipe in honor of your boss? Seriously, elaborate baking is the least festive, most employee-onerous "holiday party" idea I've ever heard.
posted by vers at 4:41 PM on November 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have a solution! Have a rice krispie treats contest; ship a bag of marshmallows and a box of cereal to everyone.


posted by warriorqueen at 4:43 PM on November 24, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Couple more ideas that don't call for a lot of expensive ingredients or special pans in case you really have to do the challenging baking thing.

Crepe cake

Macarons - the almond flour is expensive, but a person wouldn't need to buy a lot of it

Petits fours - please don't make the contestant make all three fillings

Potica - more of a teatime snack than a dessert I guess

Mirror glaze cake - there are a lot of variations on this

Cronuts - really punishing, I have not made these
posted by lakeroon at 6:03 PM on November 24, 2020

100 Layer Lasagna. See here.

Before their troubles, the Bon Appetit test kitchen had a home made pop tart challenge.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:08 PM on November 24, 2020

Warriorqueen's suggestion of rice crispy treats is really the way to go IMO. But I came here to suggest https://www.reddit.com/r/Old_Recipes/ for ideas.
posted by entropyiswinning at 6:21 PM on November 24, 2020

As this is going to be reviewed purely on construction and decoration, not taste, and to make it less onerous: perhaps each person could get a gift card for whatever box cake, pre-made frosting, and decorations they like? A gallery of decorated cakes is then provided - princesses, flowers, etc. Or the decorations could all come from GBBO. They've done decorated cakes multiple times.

That should make it easy for people to put the desert together in whatever equipment they have, and focus the results on how it looks. They could then provide their cake next to the original photo. Almost all the time is spent on decoration, i.e. the "fun" part. And the result will still be an edible treat for nearly everyone.

(I agree this is a ridiculous contest, and I enjoy baking, but offered as a way to meet easy entry, low costs, and the purpose of the results.)
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 6:22 AM on November 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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