Bake Off stars create edible, working clock to celebrate National Engineering Day
Three former stars of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) have teamed up for the first time to engineer a unique, edible, clock cake.
The ‘Time to Celebrate Engineering’ cake is being unveiled on National Engineering Day – a nationwide celebration, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, that aims to showcase the impact of engineering and inspire the next generation of engineers.
Rahul Mandal, Andrew Smyth, and Giuseppe Dell’Anno – all hotshot bakers and real-life engineers – came together for the first time to create this cake.
The clock is designed as a timely reminder that we need more engineers to address current and future challenges and is a feat of engineering itself. The front of the cake looks like classic antique clock, and boasts a mahogany-effect chocolate veneer, edible tuile biscuit hands and a golden isomalt dome. The sides of the cake reveal a stunning hidden design. Peeking from behind intricate royal icing lattice work, golden clock gears represent the technological developments made possible by UK innovators, and the engineers working behind the scenes across the UK to improve our lives. The tuile biscuit hands move and tell the time, thanks to the sealed clock mechanism hidden within the cake. It’s the only element of the bake that can’t be eaten.
The bakers designed the edible clock after being challenged to make a bake that celebrates engineers for National Engineering Day. It is made of layers of chocolate madeira sponge, soaked with a milk and honey syrup, and sandwiched with a raspberry jam and Swiss meringue buttercream.
The team behind the bake include:
- GBBO 2021 winner and sustainable packaging champion Giuseppe Dell’Anno: as an engineer, Giuseppe has helped the food industry reduce plastic waste and use alternative packaging options. He worked in research and development for packaging company Sealed Air, researching ways to make packaging more sustainable. He left the job in January 2022 to take time out to focus on writing his first book – Giuseppe’s Italian Bakes – which has just been published.
- GBBO 2016 finalist and green air travel innovator Andrew Smyth: an aerospace engineer working on the future of flight for Rolls-Royce. He is improving lives by making flight more efficient, greener, and quieter. Since appearing in the Great British Bake Off, Andrew has created the art of ‘bakineering’ (the exploration of incredible engineering through edible means), writing, producing, and performing live ‘bakineering’ shows across the UK and Ireland. More recently, in 2021, Andrew produced and starred in an original Netflix series ‘Baking Impossible’ – a cooking competition themed around baking and engineering.
- GBBO 2018 winner and sustainable energy champion Rahul Mandal: a research scientist at the University of Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. Rahul is improving lives by helping the country shift towards more sustainable energy production. Rahul's first cookbook Showstopping Cakes: Mastering the Art and Science of Baking was released on 13 October 2022.
Andrew Smyth comments: “With our bake we wanted to pay homage to UK engineers, both past and present, that have improved our lives for the better. It was a privilege working with Rahul and Giuseppe to design and create this celebratory cake. We hope National Engineering Day can help inspire the next generation of engineers, and that our edible clock is a timely reminder that engineering is an exciting, creative, and rewarding profession.”
Dr Giuseppe Dell’Anno said: “People always jokingly ask me why engineers do so well at Bake Off. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But we do know that engineers are used to thinking creatively and tackling problems, small and large, on a daily basis. This gives them the tools needed to create a great bake and avoid the dreaded soggy bottom!”
Dr Rahul Mandal comments: “The role of engineers is often misunderstood. Many people don’t realise that engineers play a key role in producing sustainable energy, creating a virus-busting vaccine, or developing medical advancements, such as robotic prosthetic limbs. Or that they are instrumental in making everyday items like alarm clocks, mobile phones and even rollercoasters. Many people definitely don’t know we are rather good at baking! I believe that if you can bake you can be an engineer. By busting some myths about engineering on National Engineering Day, we hope that we can encourage young people into a career that makes lives – and cakes – better.”
Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “We’re delighted to have Rahul, Giuseppe and Andrew involved with National Engineering Day. What an amazing cake! I may well have to give them a Royal Academy of Engineering handshake.
“This is a fantastic way to celebrate the creativity of our engineering profession and show that engineering is for everyone! In the process we also want to raise awareness of the importance of engineering to our society and economy, with our latest data suggesting it generates up to £645bn gross value added (GVA) for the UK economy each year.
“However, the UK urgently needs more people from all backgrounds and parts of society to join our profession. We hope that on National Engineering Day we can raise awareness of what engineers really do and the vital role they play in building a better future for all, and hopefully encourage others to follow these star bakers into the engineering profession.”