Forces baking competition

Soldiers have challenged their "tough" image by creating tasty showstoppers in their annual forces' Christmas baking competition.

Dozens of Army chefs from the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) showcased their festive cakes and puddings at the annual Christmas cake contest.

Among the treats competing at Wiltshire's Tidworth Garrison were the 'decorated Christmas cake', a glazed fruit and nut loaf cake and 'gingerbread festive centrepiece'.

And the tables were awash with edible glitter, snowy icing and Christmas figures as the 60 RLC soldiers, as well as civilian caterers, put their technical skills to the test.

The inaugural competition was judged by a panel of military and civilian judges, headed by professional pastry chef and BBC Bake Off: Crème de la Crème judge Claire Clark MBE.

The judges mulled over neatness, precision, creativity and originality, as well as difficulty of design and technique.

army baking compeition

And Ms Clark said she was "blown away" by the level of professionalism on display.

She said: "I didn't really know what to expect. I have judged competitions where the Army have been competitors, so I knew the standards would be high.

"But I didn't think they would be this high. When you see some of the cakes from the juniors, they are outstanding.

"I have staff that couldn't do that well and they are trained pastry chefs, so for me that is impressive."

First place went to Lance Corporal Glen Smith for his decorated cake, with Sergeant Matthew Hunter from 19 Regiment Royal Artillery winning the challenging gingerbread category.

Sergeant Hunter, who recently returned from a deployment to South Sudan, said: "I'm over the moon to have won - it just shows how all the hard work has paid off.

"The last two days have been full-on, assembling the house, and also extremely challenging as I've never tempered chocolate before.

"A few weeks ago I was cooking in temperatures in excess of 60°C and this week I have spent hours working on chocolate in a room chilled at nine degrees."