A dollop of determination
A spoon full of courage
A bucket load of The Dee
… And one red velvet cupcake.
The only recipe for a Great British Row Off. With thanks to Jennifer Kelly.
Bellowing orders at her cowering crew as they power down the River Dee, Lauren Cammaert isn’t your average 5ft 3 cox; as behind the façade of ruthless competitor, the Aberdeen Universities’ Boat Club president swaps her one-piece for her pinny at every available opportunity.
And she’s not alone.
It would appear that for this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race, Lauren has an army of keen bakers behind her, all inspired by the nations on-screen fascination; The Great British Bake Off (GBBO).
This new generation of university students spend their evenings adding their own touches to the latest Delia Smith recipe, baking artisan bread and designing wedding cakes. And this pastime isn’t gender specific, even 6ft 3 Alexander Hutchinson takes pride in his homemade bread.
It’s just as well they all have such a stringent exercise regime, and youth on their side.
However, 23 year old Lauren went one step further than other adoring GBBO fans and applied to be a part of the 2013 Great British Bake Off. Diligently, she pulled her application together, consisting of 12 original recipes and a 35 question-long interrogation form. After submitting, she awaited a response eagerly.
Weeks came, and passed, and the realisation that she was not successful became reality.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, as it took me weeks to put my application together, but I was not going to be disheartened. I can dedicate my baking skills to other causes- like bribing my crew out of their warm beds at 6am on very cold mornings!” says Lauren.
The Canadian born competitor first discovered her passion for cooking during the winter months of her childhood. Inspired by her mother and sister, Lauren followed suit and baked her way through the chilly festive months. She explains how it all began,
“Where we stayed in Canada, the winter months were perilous and there were often days that we were barricaded inside by snow. To relieve our boredom, my mom taught my older sister and I to bake. I was instantly fascinated and spent the rest of my junior years with sticky fingers, covered in flour and icing sugar.
“My baking was pretty mediocre to start, but, like anything, it improved with time. I like adding my own little twists onto recipes just to see what happens. Sometimes it’s disastrous but that’s part of the fun.
“My signature bake is a batch of red velvet cupcakes where I take elements from Nigella Lawson’s recipe and add my own cream cheese icing recipe. When I’m not too busy, I take orders for wedding cakes which have definitely proven to be my biggest, but most rewarding, challenge yet.”
For 2014, Lauren will be swapping spatula for oar in the Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race on Saturday March 1st. Lauren moved to Aberdeen when she was eight years old and started at Robert Gordon’s College. From there, she progressed to Aberdeen University to study medicine where she hopes to graduate as a doctor next year.
She describes her early rowing career,
“I started off rowing for a couple of years, inspired by the stellar reputation of Aberdeen University Boat Club, but decided that my petite frame was better suited to coxing. My mom rowed during high school, my dad at college in Cambridge so it definitely runs in the family … and my boyfriend also coaches.
“The Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race is a fantastic student event but don’t be fooled, the competitive atmosphere is so electric it could pass for a professional competition. I am always touched by how many local supporters turn up on the day to cheer us on. Hopefully this year will achieve results that Aberdeen University can really scream about.”
Although she was involved in last year’s race, Lauren views her recent presidency as a chance to step up to the plate and bring Aberdeen University to victory once more. She jokes:-
“If I have to bribe them all with fresh red velvet cupcakes to train all winter then that’s what I’ll do!”
Lauren had hoped to re-apply for the 2014 GBBO but the filming falls at the same time as the race, and there is no competition as to which she is determined to see through. Her last year at university will hopefully one filled with delicious cakes and rowing triumphs.
Keep an eye out as Lauren on 1st March 2014 as swaps her pinny for one-piece, spatula for oar and coxes her crew to victory for Aberdeen University.
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