Student bakers donut disappoint at the Great Motley Bake Off

Sable Fest SC ’22, Vivi Kraus SC ’22 and Margaret Kraus SC ’22 sample the baked goods at the Motley Student Bake Off to vote for their three favorites. Samples included: pumpkin bread, vegan chocolate chip bars, oatmeal butterscotch bars, cake pops and macarons. (Eloise Shields • The Student Life)

Student bakers gathered at the Motley Coffeehouse on Feb. 8, primed to wow their peers with their culinary skills at the biannual Motley Student Bake Off. A crowd of student samplers showed up before noon, and the line stretched all the way around Seal Court for the duration of the hour-long competition.

The event, held at the beginning of each semester, is named after the feel-good hit show “The Great British Bake Off.”

“I’m a huge fan of ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ and I live for Paul Hollywood’s critiques,” bake off attendee Izzy Phan SC ’20 said. “I think the name definitely affected my standards for the baking.”

The difference between the TV show and the Motley event, however, is that the GBBO competitors only have to make enough food for two judges. Student bakers are tasked with making enough for a huge crowd of hungry college students to eat.

“Today we have cake pops, macarons, oat bars, pumpkin cake. … In the past we’ve had donuts, muffins, granola, just a huge range of things,” product manager Caitlin Kim SC ’19 said. “We also have gluten-free and vegan options, because that’s important to us [at the Motley].”

As the taste-testing students entered the Motley, they were each handed a voting slip. The students tried a bite of every item before marking their top three favorites. Later in the week, the Motley management team planned to tally the votes and deliberate over factors like the cost and dietary restrictions of each dish.

The top-rated items will then be sold at the Motley for the duration of the spring semester. Bakers are only compensated for the price of ingredients, but most say it’s just a fun excuse to bake every week. Some bakers have contributed every year.

Amalia Barrett SC ’21 assembles macarons during The Great Motley Bake Off, which determines what delicious treats will be served at the coffeehouse this semester. (Eloise Shields • The Student Life)

“This is my sixth or seventh time baking in the competition,” said Maddy Blumer SC ’19. “These are oatmeal butterscotch bars, also known as scotchy bars. They’re really easy to make so it’s a good thing to bake for the Motley.”

The event is not restricted to Scripps students, so anyone from the 5Cs can enter. Baking is a significant part of many students’ lives, and the bake off gives them a chance to share their unique passion with the 5C community.

“I’m really into science and stuff, so I got interested in baking,” Anna Banyas HM ’22 said. “Not only did I want to gain another skill, I was interested in how the ingredients interact and how baking happens.”

Some competitors even choose to enter two or three items. One contestant, Amalia Barrett SC ’21, made three different types of mini macarons and was still piping the cookies together as people walked through the door.  

There were so many people that many of the items were already gone halfway through the event.

Most of the bakers said baking is a good way to destress and share something they love with their classmates. For some, it’s also a way to push themselves and show their creativity.

“I recently made biscotti for the first time. My sister and I made a star bread together, which is a sweet bread that’s wrapped,” Banyas said. “I like trying things with a strong potential for failure. The trash can has had many of my dishes.”

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