From Stormont on ice to icing on Stormont at Big Building Bake Off in Belfast
Well-known landmarks recreated by cake makers
It may be a cake - but it's still the most work Stormont has seen for some time.
Professional and amateur bakers gathered yesterday at St George's Market for The Big Building Bake Off, which saw contestants rustle up replica cakes of some of our most recognisable landmarks.
Among those featured were Belfast City Hall, the Albert Clock and, of course, a now dormant Stormont.
The power-sharing government collapsed in January 2017 after Sinn Fein pulled the plug over the DUP's handling of the RHI scandal.
The cakes were judged by celebrity chef Paula McIntyre and Jane Allen from Jane's Kitchen.
While they were judging the Stormont cake created by Down High School, which came first in the secondary school category, Paula commented: "The Stormont cake looks empty too, which is good and really right."
When asked about the political impasse, the chef had some hard-hitting words for the parties, saying that the people deserve more.
She said: "Stormont owe it to us all, they owe it to everybody in this country. It's a brilliant country with no bombs and we need to get back to it."
One of the most impressive designs was an intricate Belfast City Hall that could feed about 200 people.
Creator John Holliday (49) from French Village Bakery said: "My arm was sort of twisted into doing it. No one else was doing it and when you see the detail on City Hall, the windows behind the pillars at the top and what not, it just gave us a chance to sort of test ourselves and see what we really can do as bakers."
Taking 40 hours to make, John was helped by colleague Shannon More to carve two sponge and buttercream cakes that merged together to make the masterpiece. It even included the lights seen on the building each evening.
"When I looked at the building we had two choices: we could have done a smaller version of the whole City Hall, or just do the front face of it, which everybody recognises, and make it big enough to be able to put some detail into it. So that's what we chose to do.
"The hardest part was just finishing it.
"When it comes to putting it together, after the cake itself is made, there's another eight hours just finishing off and putting detail into it."
The competition, in association with Ulster Architectural Heritage and Food NI, had 27 entrants. Judging was based on the taste and detail of the cakes and was split into amateur, professional, group, under-16, primary and secondary school class.
From the under-16s, Katie McKee (10) made Bellevue's Floral Hall because her grandparents met there in 1966.
She said: "I am happy with the way it turned out but it was hard to cover the cake with the fondant. I did the steps and my mum got rice paper and printed out a floral heart and little people and we stuck them on."
Anna Hamilton (12), with the help of sister Rachel (10), made their version of Mussenden Temple.
Anna said: "We made it out of six layers and it is a caramel cake.
"Caramel, then Rice Krispie for the dome so it was lighter for the top of the cake.
"It was quite hard to make and it took us two full days over the weekend.
"We chose the temple as we liked the symmetry of it and the fact that it was contained in circles.
"And we go up to the north coast quite often - so it was just our kind of building." Sara O'Hara and Hollie McBride, from Yellow Door, made St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Armagh.
Sara said: "It is a huge cake. We started making it on Friday and it took Friday and just this morning to make - so it was a bit of a rush.
"We're glad it came in one piece as we were a bit nervous driving down.
"We're an Armagh company and we drove up from there today with that in the back of the car.
"We didn't make it easy for ourselves, but that's what it's all about - a challenge."
Chef Paula said: "I think it's very important to celebrate our buildings and everyone loves cake so it's a genius idea, really, isn't it, to take the two. I've had a look around and they're actually amazing. All of them, amateur and professional, and the attention to detail as well."
The sweetest structures
First place in the professional category went to French Village Bakery's City Hall, with St Patrick's Cathedral made by Yellow Door Bakery coming second.
The primary school category was won by Our Lady and St Patrick Primary School with Ormiston House.
Down High School's Stormont came first in the secondary school category.
The amateur winner was Christine McCrudden with a Belfast Terrace.
Castle Ward House was the team group winner with Castle Ward House.
The under 16 winner was Catherine Pollen with Palm House and Anna Hamilton's Mussenden Temple was highly commended.