It took 100 applications, complete with videos, for the premier staging of the Jamaica Observer Christmas Bake-Off Challenge to declare Pamela Bunting the winner. The challenge, conceptualised by Novia McDonald-Whyte, senior associate editor, lifestyle and social content, seeks to showcase generations of bakers using decades-old recipes to create sensational Jamaican cakes that remain as integral to the Christmas table as sorrel, gungo rice and peas, ham and curried goat.

Partnering with the Observer on this initiative were Supreme Ventures, Frigidaire, Wray & Nephew and Gas Pro.

Prior to being declared the winner Bunting, along with Jovan Walker, Latoya Newell-Irving, Sandra Samuels and Trevanne Donegal-Porter, convened inside the pavillion of the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel where they presented their cakes for judging to Professor Lloyd Waller, Yanique “Curvy Diva” Barrett, Matthew Hogarth, Winnie Veronica Allen, and McDonald-Whyte.

Flavour, presentation, texture, aroma and overall taste dominated the deliberations. When the scores were tabulated by chartered accountant Patricia Henry, Pamela Bunting emerged the clear winner.

Thursday Food introduces you to the five finalists.

As a child I helped my mother bake traditional English plum pudding from which our Jamaican Christmas cake evolved. In my teens I did some baking but my baking adventure really began after the birth of my daughter in the 70s.

For Janella’s first birthday I baked a fabulous cake, but to my horror it flopped! The cake was lopsided and the frosting slid off. I was determined that by her second birthday I would conquer the art of baking and produce a masterpiece. And I did! That was the beginning of years of baking birthday cakes.

Every Christmas I was asked to bake cakes which I didn’t like, as most that I tried were usually bitter and full of mixed peel. So I challenged myself to bake a Christmas cake that I would enjoy. After nuff experimenting I baked a cake I loved, and to my surprise so did my family and friends. From baking birthday cakes I now went on to baking Christmas and wedding cakes for clients.

I continued baking until retirement when I decided to focus on Christmas cakes as I was going to be spending summers in London and winters in Jamaica.

My baking experience began with me helping my mom and now I have passed on my recipe and secrets to my daughter and my sister-in-law. I hope they keep up the tradition of baking delicious Jamaican Christmas cakes and in the future pass my recipe on to their children.