The Victorian Baking Show, held by the Baking Association of Australia, has enjoyed another year of treats and celebration in 2023.

The annual show took place in Bendigo for the second time, with judges enjoying their share of 590 different baked goods from 143 passionate bakers across Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales.

And despite the very difficult task ahead of them, the panel were able to crown winners in numerous bread, pastry, and sweet categories.

The show’s most sought after titles? Australia’s Best Hot Cross Bun and Australia’s Best Vanilla Slice.

North End Bakehouse in Shepparton, Victoria, seized victory with their vanilla slice. The Australian classic typically features a thick layer of vanilla custard between layers of puff pastry, most often with icing sugar sprinkled on top. But North End Bakehouse opt to shake things up, with their slice showcasing a sleek coating of white fondant instead.

“This was an absolute stand out,” executive officer of the Baking Association, and host of the Victorian Baking Show, Tony Smith declared, “the judges couldn’t believe how creamy the custard was, and the fondant was tempered perfectly on top. The pastry was crisp and thin, not soggy.”

“John Humphrey, one of the main judges – along with Stewart Latter, Chief Judge for the BAA – judged the vanilla slices and stated that sometimes it’s very hard to temper the fondant and allow it to sit perfectly on top,” he continued “along with this, some people have custard filling that leaves a gritty or grainy feeling in your mouth.

“But this was perfect!”

North End Bakehouse’s success didn’t stop there, either, with the bakery also taking home a win for its 680g sourdough loaf. And although they didn’t snag the coveted first place prize for their hot cross buns, they did secure the title of “Best Innovative Hot Cross Bun” for their Vegemite-flavoured treat.

Meanwhile, the accolade of Australia’s Best Hot Cross Bun went to South Australia’s Banana Boogie. And not only did they seize first place, but also the second-place trophy.

“The Hot Cross Bun Competition is judged over several sections by two judges,” Tony explained, “the main thing is the judges cut one in half across from left to right, and then another on a diagonal. This allows the judges to see the fruit distribution in the bun and make sure it is evenly spread.

“Of course, there is spice aroma and then mouth feel, making sure it is fresh and doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth.”

The baked goods just kept coming from there, with winners across all of the show’s categories announced.

For the category of 2 Small Individual Fruit Tartlets, Mildura’s Sunraysia Bread and Butter Bakery claimed the top spot. They also now boast the title of having Australia’s best pasties.

Melbourne’s Country Cob Bakery had the best meat pies, as well as the judges’ favourite gourmet pies.

Victoria’s McKinnon Village Bakery found their claim to fame with everyone’s favourite: Australia’s Best Sausage Rolls.

And last but not least, Mooroopna Bakery – also in Victoria – set tastebuds tingling with their iced doughnuts.

Images: Facebook

This article first appeared on Over60.