Adorned with extravagant toffee shards and luxurious Swiss meringue butter cream, Catherine Madden’s baking creations are genuine works of art. This Moree home cook has quickly gained a reputation as one of the region’s most talented cake creators and her skills will soon be showcased at Moree on a Plate on Saturday 11 May.

She is the third local cook to be demonstrating at this year’s Food and Wine Festival as part of its Look Local theme that showcases local talent as well as local produce. Together with Daisy Nguyen and Di Haddad, the three accomplished creators will deliver interactive demonstrations sharing some of their skills.

When it comes to baking, Catherine has a treasure trove of tips and tricks she will generously share. “I had two grandmothers who were both excellent cooks, so baking was something I was taught very early in life,” she explains. Moving from Sydney to Moree upon her marriage to husband Matthew, the couple raised three children – Cate, Charlotte and Alexander – on the family farm Fairfield, giving her further cause to bake. “It was much easier to bake their morning tea and lunch box treats, it’s all my children ever knew.”

For Catherine, the process is just as rewarding as the outcome. “I love the preciseness of baking, it is like a science. I make sure I read the recipe two to three times before I begin, and have all my ingredients out and ready to go – if you’re not prepared, that’s when you make mistakes.”

But even the queen of baking herself is not immune to cake fails. “I had a big shocker one Easter, we were entertaining 30 people for a sit down lunch and somehow I totally forgot to include sugar – it was so bad no one could even feign politeness. It’s become the running joke every Easter!”

Catherine bakes weekly, laughing that husband Mathew and son Alexander frequently hover around the kitchen looking for treats. However, Matthew is quick to contest he sees more cakes walk out the door than he ever gets to eat. “Often my friends ask me to bake a cake for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. It’s a huge privilege and it gives me great pleasure making a cake and contributing to someone’s special occasion,” Catherine smiles.

Not afraid to experiment, Catherine has mastered some of baking’s most challenging techniques and processes including frosting, isomalt, Italian meringue and anything toffee related.

From how to re-use the off-cuts of cake, the best flour to use, the optimal temperature and size of eggs for baking and even making sure your bi-carb and baking soda is within its used by date, Catherine is excited to be sharing her practical kitchen knowhow at Moree on a Plate. “Baking from scratch really is a lost art, there is no denying a home make cake tastes better, and is such a pleasure to create, and serve.”

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