Last Sunday I took part in a baking challenge testing the quality of supermarket products. The ever inspiring Vanessa Kimbell wanted a very good question answered, what exactly is the difference between supermarkets? The price difference we already know can be vast but does this mean when we shop at one of the cheaper supermarkets we are being sold products of an inferior quality or is it actually that we are more cheated by shopping at the pricier supermarket and their products are of no better quality than the cheaper stores? Along with so many others the recession has hit my purse hard and I have found myself swinging between the higher and lower priced supermarkets during the last couple of years so this question was one that I was very interested to have answered!
9 bloggers, including myself, took part in The Most Marvelous Chocolate Cake Bake Off each making the same chocolate cake following a recipe from the lovely cookery book Prepped by Vanessa Kimbell using a stand mixer. We had to buy all of the ingredients for the cake from one supermarket each, my supermarket was Aldi. We were to keep the supermarket a secret so as not to influence the judges, especially as one of the judges was William Sitwell, the writer/editor of the Waitrose kitchen magazine! Judging alongside him was Helen Best-Shaw creator of the fabulous blog Fuss Free Flavours. The bake-off was held in a lovely vintage shop/cafe called Most Marvelous in Northampton and broadcast live on the Kitchen Garden radio show that Vanessa is on!
I’m glad to say the results were not as predictable as I had expected. The most expensive ingredients did not make the winning cake! In fact the most expensive supermarkets were rejected along with the cheapest. 1st and 2nd places went to Morrisons and The Co-op with Sainsburys coming in at 3rd. So neither the cakes made with the cheapest ingredients or the cakes made with the most expensive ingredients made the final 3! Interesting! I really expected Waitrose or Marks & Spencer to win! Listed below are all of the cake bakers and “their” supermarkets along with the total cake price. The cakes are listed from the highest price through to the lowest. As you can see the difference between the most expensive and cheapest cakes is quite a lot.
Rachel – Marks & Spencer, cake cost £12.50
Ren – Co-op, cake cost £10.32
Most Marvelous cafe – Morrisons, cake cost £9.61
Fleur – Waitrose, cake cost £9.39
Carmella – Sainsburys, cake cost £8.63
Karen – Asda, cake cost £7.45
Rosie - Lidl, cake cost £7.03
Jayne (me!), Aldi, cake cost £6.78
I had such fun taking part in this bake-off and it was lovely meeting everyone there! Thank you to Vanessa for organising it and Rosie for sorting out the costs.
I guess the question of supermarket quality wasnt really definitive. While its true the 3 cheapest supermarkets did not make the top 3, the most expensive 2 didn’t either. I made the cheapest cake and while its true it was no winner, it was edible! Maybe the answer is to go “middle of the road”. Also choose wisely, seasonally in whichever store your budget allows.