Laois student baker wins national Odlums CEIST Bake-Off competition

Lynda Kiernan

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Lynda Kiernan

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lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois student baker wins national Odlums CEIST Bake-Off competition

Tara Maher, Scoil Chríost Rí, Portlaoise, winner of the Junior category with her Home Economics Teacher Aine Thornton

Odlums mills begun in Portlaoise, Laois and now a young Portlaoise student has baked her way to become Odlums Ceist Junior Bake Off champion for 2018.

Tara Maher, 14, a 2nd year student in Scoil Chríost Rí, created a Spongebob Squarepants cake that wowed judges in the national final of the competition, held in Árdscoil na Tríonóide, Athy on March 9. 

One of seven regional finalists, she was stunned to win, she told the Leinster Express.

"I didn't really believe it at first, there were loads of really good cakes," she said.

She had to bake, cool and ice her novelty Spongebob Squarepants lemon madeira cake with lemon buttercream icing, in the three hour competition time.

"I got it done and cut just in time. I was very happy, it turned out better than my practices," said Tara.

Tara is already baking occasion cakes to order in the family kitchen in Market Square, with a growing customer base.  She thanked her school, Scoil Chríost Rí, teachers and family for their support.

"I might go down the career route of baking," said Tara, a daughter of Cora and Joe Maher.

She was presented with an Odlums hamper, a certificate and a cash prize of €150, which she plans to put towards her savings for a high spec mixer.

Her Home Economics teacher Aine Thornton is delighted for her student.

"She is fantastic, a very talented baker and decorator. The future is bright in Portlaoise if Tara continues her business and work ethic. It is a fantastic achievement. Our Home Ec department really encourage our students to enjoy the subject and be creative," she said.

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Below: Tara shows her amazing Spongebob cake, with judge Catherine Leyden.

Hundreds of submissions were made to the Junior (1st to 3rd year) and Senior (4th to 6th) competitions from 110 schools nationwide. The senior event was won by Tipp student Niamh Doyle.

Catherine Leyden is Odlums’ brand ambassador, a home baking expert and one of the competition judges. 

“It is always encouraging to see the high calibre of entries we receive every year from student’s around the country, and this year was no different. Watching our 2018 finalists pour their heart and soul into their designs, their passion for perfection and desire to create something truly unique has been eye-opening. We have a highly skilled and talented number of bakers across the country. Well done to everyone who submitted entries, to those shortlisted and our overall winners Niamh Doyle (Senior 5-6th year winner) and Tara Maher (Junior 1-3rd year), it has been a fantastic effort by all," she said.

Odlums remains based in Laois, from their mill in Portarlington. CEIST, the ‘Catholic Education, An Irish Schools' Trust’ is the Trustee body for 110 Voluntary Catholic Secondary Schools in Ireland.