Could you design a prize-winning cake?

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A waterfall at Blenheim Palace

There seems to be an intrinsic link, in Britain at least, between garden/gardeners and cake! This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown, the man behind well-known landscapes such as Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth and Highclere Castle (the fictional home of Downton Abbey). In celebration of his life, work and legacy, a nationwide Capability Brown Festival is running throughout the year, with a special focus on August, Brown’s birthday month.

No birthday is complete without a birthday cake, and the Capability Brown Festival is launching Brown’s Birthday Bake – a competition that calls upon the nation’s bakers (of any ‘cake-ability’) to create a birthday cake for the 18th century landscape architect.

“Although Brown was incredibly influential, creating the quintessential English landscape, he was also a man of mystery: we do not know the exact date of his birth, although it is known he was baptised in Kirkharle, Northumberland, on 30th August 1716, so this is when the competition winners will be announced.”

Brown designed over 250 landscapes across England and Wales, influencing several more worldwide. His designs ensured different elements of a landscape complemented each other, and he wasn’t afraid to experiment – to create the 500 acres of parkland now seen at Milton Abbey, Dorset, he moved an entire village!

“Anyone can take part in Brown’s Birthday Bake, but to be in with a chance of winning, bakers need to share images of their cakes on social media, either via Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest using #brownsbirthdaybake, or on Facebook by posting it to their profile page. The design of each bake can be novel or serious, either with a focus on Brown himself, or taking inspiration from a local Brown landscape, or indeed highlighting one of his signature design elements, such as a serpentine lake, clump of trees or even a ha-ha*.

A small team of judges will review the entries, from which three lucky winners will be selected with the results announced on social media on Tuesday 30 August 2016. Prizes will be given for the top three cake designs and include a luxurious overnight stay in a Brown landscape; a champagne hamper together with free entry tickets to one of Brown’s most prestigious sites; and a family pass for any National Trust landscape. The winners will also each receive a copy of garden historian Sarah Rutherford’s beautifully illustrated book Capability Brown and his Landscape Gardens, which provides a unique insight into the great man and his work.”

The closing date for entries is 21st August, and you have to be over 18 to take part.

Have you got what it cakes? 😉

*For those of you who haven’t encountered one yet, a ha-ha is a ditch, designed to be an invisible barrier between any livestock that might be roaming in the parkland, and the formal gardens around a house. It gets its name from the fact that it’s easy to fall into one, at which point you will be laughed at! 😀

Categories: bakingTags: ,

Author: Emma


  1. Choclette says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Capability Brown garden, though CT might be able to correct me. Creating a cake recipe I can do, designing a cake, especially for such a momentous occasion is another thing entirely!

    • Emma says:

      I can call one to mind, but I’m not sure I would find such an open landscape conducive to designing a cake. If I had any such skills, which I don’t 😉 I’m more of a Walled Garden kind of girl!


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