Two Offaly bakers through to meet Mary Berry at Ploughing Championships

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Ireland's star bakers to meet Mary Berry at Ploughing Championships in Offaly

Ireland's star bakers to meet Mary Berry at Ploughing Championships in Offaly

The National Dairy Council has announced the three finalists of the Dare to Dairy with Mary competition. The three lucky finalists will bring their winning cakes to the Ploughing Championships in Offaly on Wednesday, September 19 and meet the Queen of Cakes herself, Mary Berry.

The NDC received a huge volume of entries from all over the country and baking enthusiasts really impressed the judges who included Chandima Gamage Head Pastry Chef at Dromoland Castle, Food Writer and judge of Great Irish Bake Off, Lilly Higgins and Ciara Leahy, Consumer Editor of the Irish Farmers’ Journal.

The three finalists are Anne Dunne from Cork, and Offaly natives Natasha Daly and Sonia Steedman.

Natasha Daly is originally from Birr but now living in Kerry and working as a Cardiac Physiologist. Natasha created Sloe Gin and Blackberry Cakes for the competition.

She said, "there is a large crop of blackberries growing in the field behind my home so I wanted to create a recipe using them. The bottle of sloe gin was from a supply that I made last year. The recipe was developed from a number of different ideas while trying to incorporate dairy products into the recipe. Each layer was sampled and approved by my husband."

Ploughing local Sonia Steedman from Screggan in Co. Offaly is also through having created a magnificent Pistachio, Rosewater, Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake. Sonia works in IT but has a passion for baking and has her own Instagram channel full of her creations @vanillarose2018. 

Anne Dunne from Mallow in Co. Cork, a Home Economics teacher who lives on a dairy, beef and tillage farm in Mitchelstown is also a finalist. She created Hazelnut Sable Biscuits with Ricotta Mouse, Caramelised Pears and Crushed Praline for the competition.

Anne said, “I am surrounded by some of the best dairy producers and I know only too well the importance of using locally produced products for freshness, quality and flavour. This concept is one I regularly bring into class and I encourage students to research and use Irish ingredients where possible. I have always loved to bake with my mum and aunts being my first educators and with an endless supply of free range eggs from my mother's hens I gained much practice at home!”

Each finalist will receive a €300 voucher for Ballymaloe Cookery School and an Afternoon Tea Hamper filled with Goodies, free entry into Ploughing and will have Afternoon Tea with Mary Berry.

Mary Berry said, "I'm looking forward most to meeting people and food producers at the National Ploughing Championships and tasting some good Irish food. Irish stew is one of my favourite dinners, even better with a chunk of soda bread. My mother used to make it when I was young and I still make it for my children and grandchildren. You just can't beat a good crumble or pie with homegrown berries or a stew with neck of lamb," she remarks excitedly.

Mary Berry and the three finalists will be at the National Dairy Council stand at the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday, September 19.