It’s hard to say which came first: The opening of Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement or SAM staff binge-watching the Great British Bake Off. Either way, we can’t get enough Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Our staff is so into it that we are hosting the Great Victorian Radicals Bake Off. On August 29, 6–9 pm, everyone is invited to see the resulting confections of this public baking challenge, cast a vote for your favorite dessert, and find out who the judges select as winner!

24 local bakers have signed up to create signature desserts inspired by artworks of their choosing in Victorian Radicals.  At the event, bakers will present their work to the judges, explain their approach and inspiration. Judges will select one baker based on criteria of taste, relevance to artwork, and presentation. The winner will be awarded $500. Here are just some of the artworks selected as inspiration!

Our three judges may not be tossing out catchphrases but they are certainly bringing some serious skill to this lovely affair. Meet our three tastemakers below.

Rachael Coyle
Rachael is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and is the owner of Coyle’s Bakeshop. Previously, Rachael was Executive Pastry Chef at Le Pichet and Cafe Presse.

For me, baking is as much about texture as it is about flavor, so I’ll be looking for pieces that show balance and skill in both areas. I love seeing well-executed classics—but I especially love when a piece can play with something familiar just enough to make it new and interesting. Last, and very much not least, good technique is essential to good baking, so I’ll be checking that all the individual components (pastry doughs especially!) demonstrate good technical skill. But most of all: I can’t wait to see what the bakers create!

– Rachael Coyle

Chiyo Ishikawa
Chiyo is Seattle Art Museum’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and curator of Victorian Radicals.

Chiyo Ishikawa headshot

I am hoping that contestants will be inspired by some of the objects in the exhibition—there are great images using flowers, vivid colors, and lots of detail. I am particularly hoping someone might want to take on some of the three-dimensional decorative arts objects that pile on Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic styles and use jewels, enamel work, and sculpted forms. More is more!

– Chiyo Ishikawa

Sara Naftaly
Sara is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and is owner of Amandine Bakeshop. For 30 years prior, Sara was co-owner of Le Gourmand.

For me, presentation cakes are a little like beautiful people.  If there is no integrity on the inside, no depth of flavor,  no individual character, then the resulting impression is eminently forgettable.  

– Sara Naftaly

Although the audience can’t sample the desserts, we will have a bar and dessert options provided by TASTE during the event. Definite bonus, a limited number of free community passes will be made available for visitors to view Victorian Radicals which is open until 9 pm.

Images: Proserpine, 1881–82, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, British, 1828–1882, oil on canvas, 31 × 15 3/8 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Presented by the Trustees of the Public Picture Gallery Fund, 1927P7, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. Peacock Vase, ca. 1885, William Frend De Morgan, British, 1839–1917, earthenware, painted in underglaze colors over white slip, 13 3/4 × 11 1/2 × 11 1/2 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Presented by Miss Bridget D’Oyly Carte, 1949M79, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. Medea, 1866–68, Frederick Sandys, British, 1829–1904, oil on composite wood with gold leaf, 24 1/2 × 18 1/4 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Presented by the Trustees of the Public Picture Gallery Fund, 1925P105, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. Tea set (water kettle on stand with integral paraffin burner, teapot, cream jug, sugar bowl, and tray), ca. 1895, William Arthur Smith Benson, British, 1854–1924, copper and brass, 11/16 × 15 3/8 × 9 3/16 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Purchased with grant aid from the V&A/MGC Purchase Grant Fund, 1991M34.1-6, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. “Honeysuckle”, 1874 (design registered 1876), William Morris, British, 1834 – 1896, block-printed linen, 27 1/8 × 38 1/8in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Presented by the Friends of Birmingham Museums Trust, 1941M402, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. “Garden of the Hesperides” chest, 1887–88, Edward Burne-Jones, British, 1833–1898, wood with paint and gold leaf over gesso, 40 3/4 × 74 1/4 × 27 1/2 in., Lent by Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council, Bequeathed by Helen Mary Gaskell, 1940, 2005.0121, © Birmingham Museums Trust, Courtesy American Federation of Arts. Photo: Courtesy Rachael Coyle. Photo: Scott Areman. Photo: Courtesy Sara Naftly.

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