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Source: Te Pukenga

Ara-Te Pūkenga’s bakery tutor Dave Bradley donned his other chef’s hat this morning when he crowned a local bakery the best in New Zealand for a Christmas treat.
In addition to his tutoring duties, Bradley also organises competitions for Baking New Zealand. The most recent competition – to taste-test the best stollen, fruit mince pies and croissants in the country – was judged in secret in the Ara-Te Pūkenga campus kitchens two weeks ago.
Today, he got to pay a visit to Rangiora Bakery, live on Breakfast television, with the news they’d taken out the award for the best Christmas stollen in the country.
Stollen is a traditional rich fruit bread from Europe containing an almond paste centre.
Bradley said the competition was piping hot with entries from all over the country – but there could be only one winner.
“The judges decided that Rangiora Bakery’s stollen had a beautiful flavour profile, excellent volume and crumb structure and a wonderful aroma which set it apart from the others,” he said.
Rangiora Bakery Operations Manager Frank Janssen said their cake is based on a 50-year-old secret recipe handed down from a family bakery in Holland, with local teamwork also in the mix to refine it.
“It’s an art to make such a nice product,” Janssen said. “It needs a balanced, consistent dough, the fruit needs to be prepared well and the proving time and attention to the filling are also really important.”
The competition was judged by industry professionals Bruno Falco and Marcus Braun (both former Ara tutors) and Mat Keys who is Channel Manager – Bakery Independents for Goodman Fielder New Zealand Limited as well as a skilled professional baker.
The winner of the best fruit mince pies category was Wild Grain Bakery, and the top croissant went to Daily Bread, both in Auckland.
Bradley said competitions are important to the industry.
“As well as shining a light on the winners it also brings staff together to share ideas and to sharpen their craft as professional bakers.”
He added that in previous years, the competition focused on Christmas fruit mince pies, but it was decided to extend it this year.
“The idea behind this Christmas competition was to have some different festive products to promote bakeries which have really been struggling over the last couple of years with lockdowns and the increase in ingredient costs and labour.”
You can be sure if anything can be done to support our partners in industry, Ara will be there with bells on.