Maths and baking with the #estimationnation challenge

Those of you who have read here for a little while will know that I enjoy baking.  While I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth in the world I love whipping up cakes, puddings and treats for when we entertain. I’m probably a better cook than a baker (cookery’s room for improvisation is more my speed than baking’s precision), but there’s something quite therapeutic about the steadiness and calm that baking requires.

Imagine my delight, then, when I was invited along to a baking event by the crew at Smart Energy GB, to see if my powers of estimation were up to snuff.

Full disclosure, I went in to this challenge knowing my skills of estimation were….a bit rubbish. Having taught primary maths for years I’m super happy with numbers and calculations, but my estimation has always been a little bit…iffier. It’s more of an innate skill than something you can learn, and it’s not something I find particularly easy. Nonetheless I happily signed up to go along, knowing that either I’d pleasantly surprise myself, or amuse the rest of the people in attendance. Smart Energy are the team behind the rollout of Smart Meters for electric and gas bills, so estimation worries are at the forefront of their mind…

 Once we’d arrived at the kitchens in Hoxton (where they do some of the auditions for Bake Off, apparently) we were split into teams and handed a fetching purple apron. I was paired with May of Eat, Cook, Explore, who I’ve seen at several foodie events but never worked with, so it was fun to chat and catch up as we baked and attempted to measure.

 Our MC for the proceedings was the lovely Ian, who’d been the runner up on last year’s Great British Bake Off (a.k.a. my food and TV heaven each spring). He was thoroughly nice and very sporting, even with teams who had a bit of a nightmare on the estimation front.

*cough* us *cough*

For both bakes we were given a pile of ingredients, plenty of utensils, and a recipe card.

Alas, the recipe card had no numbers on it. No weights, no temperatures, no quantities of any kind.  When it came to those things it was estimation all the way….

Ah, here we are, so young, so hopeful….

 …and here are our finished cupcakes (or semi-souffles with dog poop icing,as we decided to call them). An oven too low and icing too buttery conspired against us.

 For reference, this is what they should have looked like!

After that disaster we broke for a restorative cup of tea before the second bake of the afternoon – cheesy, herby scones. As you can see below, these worked out far better, and were even, dare I say it?


I had to get a snap with the Bake Off meister, of course.  The red mark on my forehead is from the Go Pro I was wearing all afternoon…the team from Smart Meter should be sending that footage, plus the video they took, over in the next few days.  Nigella I’m not, but there are bound to be some truly hilarious faces pulled, so I’ll be sure to share that here when it arrives.

We were so proud our second bake took, we all had to get a picture!

After all the drama the contestants were greeted downstairs by the team for wine and canapes while Ian and the other judges decided who would win the prizes for the best and worst bakes.

And guess who got the wooden spoon for our cupcakes?

Good losers that we are, we still happily posed for a picture. We both won a gift voucher for cooking lessons, though as it was an estimation fail that did for us rather than a cooking based mishap, I’m hopeful my next creations will be more delicious!

Thank you so much to the team at Smart Energy GB for a fun and challenging afternoon, and for all the writers and bloggers in attendance for making it such a fun event.

Disclaimer: I was the guest of Smart Energy GB at this event. Cooking without quantities is stressful, for the record.

 PS The Smart Enrgy GB team have now sent me the video they made on the day (thank you!). I pull a classic bemused face about thirty seconds in!



  1. Lubka Henry
    31st May 2016 / 9:39 am

    Wow… I laughed and laughed whilst reading this post. Even if you didn't win a wooden spoon, most importantly you attended and had lots of fun baking.I would have done far worse than you, for sure :))Lu |

    • Claire
      1st June 2016 / 1:36 pm

      I think that would have been tricky – our cupcakes were terrible!

  2. Mellissa Williams
    31st May 2016 / 10:14 am

    I love how this combines maths and cooking. Aw don't worry abut the wooden spoon lol it looks like you had fun!

    • Claire
      1st June 2016 / 1:37 pm

      We really did! Such a fun event, great crowd.

  3. Lyndsay FizzyPeaches
    31st May 2016 / 10:25 am

    Haha, looks like an awesome day out! You got to meet Ian from the Bake Off too, thats cool. I can't bake at all, let alone guessing the amounts so you did really well, mine would just be a mess, ha!Lyndsay x

    • Claire
      1st June 2016 / 1:37 pm

      Haha, I think ours were messy enough – so silly!

  4. the3scribblers
    31st May 2016 / 7:42 pm

    Love the go pros on your head!

    • Claire
      1st June 2016 / 1:38 pm

      I can't wait to see the footage – I think it's likely to be pretty hilarious (for all the wrong reasons).

  5. Lilinha Angel
    1st June 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting challenge. Hubby usually cook without measures, but I like my measurements! :)

    • Claire
      2nd June 2016 / 7:25 am

      I love cooking without measures too, like your hubs, but for baking I need those scales, man!

  6. Amy-May Hunt
    1st June 2016 / 1:56 pm

    I think they looked lovely (then again I'm no Mary Berry) but it looks like you had a brilliant time regardless, judging from the big grin you have on your face! I'd love to go to events more, especially ones where cake's involved!

    • Claire
      2nd June 2016 / 7:26 am

      Cake based events are truly a gift. This one was such fun, I'm looking forward to taking a cooking class with my prize!

  7. Jessica Robson
    1st June 2016 / 3:54 pm

    Looks like you've done an amazing job considering you've estimated all the ingredients! Not sure I could make something that resembled a cake if I guessed what went in… well done! Seems like you really enjoyed it 🙂 Jess x

    • Claire
      2nd June 2016 / 7:27 am

      Such fun! At the very least we had a fab time!

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