The Hyatt ballroom was jam-packed with cakes on Sunday for the PANDSI cake off in support of Canberra’s Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Group.
Four years ago volunteers baked every cake in the Woman’s Weekly Party Cakes book for a fund-raising event. It was so successful they now run an annual cake off event and the 2019 cakes were better than ever.
This year’s theme was World Cultures in Cake and all corners of the globe were represented. Vikings, Canadian footballers, Japanese dolls and traditional Croatian dancers stood proudly on the cake tables alongside a red British phone booth, Chinese noodle bowls and a Persian carpet.
The cake-decorating standard is outstanding and crowds of Canberrans turned up to marvel at the creations, and to bid to take one home. The cakes sold at a silent auction for between $130 and $700. The cheaper ones are a steal considering the hours and hours of work that goes into them. The Irish dancer’s hair alone took three hours to create in perfect icing curls.
The bakers donate their time to the cake off, as do the organisers.
“It takes many hundreds of volunteer hours to make this event happen,” says PANDSI president Christine Spicer. “But is an important event for us. It is huge for awareness raising which then reduces the stigma and makes it easier to ask for help. We actually increased our requests for assistance after the first year, so of course then we need additional money to help more people.”
Megan Jeremenko is on the PANDSI board and has baked for each of the four cake off events.
This year her prickly Mexican cactus took out the viewers’ choice award and went home with proud new owner Tara Cheyne MLA.
Shane Rattenbury MLA also attended the event in his role as Minister for mental health as the ACT government is the major supporter of PANDSI. “This event is not only great fun, it is important in raising money,” he said. Rattenbury has a genuine appreciation for the hard work involved and even baked a cake for the event in the shape of a windmill from The Netherlands.
The international theme inspired a huge variety of cakes including a working volcano, a Moroccan lamp (with real light inside), a Viking suit of armour and a circle of Croatian dancers spinning around.
Baker Christine Allard chose Greece as soon as she heard about the theme, and made a cake surrounded with white columns and topped with silhouettes of Greek dancers. This cake took around 40-50 hours to complete.
The inside of many cakes also gave a nod to the country of choice. The Greek cake included olive oil and lemon in a cranberry and olive oil cake with citrus white chocolate mud cake. The Irish island cake was made using a chocolate stout cake and bambrock (traditional fruit cake).
“This is the first cake off for me,” says Dr Yvonne Luxford. “It is amazing the effort people have put into this. But it is such an important cause, and one that resonates with everyone, as one in seven new families experience perinatal issues.”
Donations can still be made by clicking here.