Ted opened the front door to a wonderful smell of baking. Well actually, it wasn't wonderful. And in fact, it couldn't really be described as the smell of freshly baked cakes. It was more like... the smell of burning. And then Ted realised... oh God, today was the day Mrs Doyle said she was going to teach Dougal how to bake! Ted pictured the kitchen going up in flames, as Dougal shrugged, unaware of what he'd done. Then again, Ted couldn't really blame Dougal for his lack of baking skills. Ted himself barely knew how to make his own cups of tea.
Ted made his way to the kitchen, careful not to wake up Father Jack, who was asleep in his chair. When he got to the kitchen, he found that Dougal was still there, tongue sticking out in concentration as he applied large amounts of icing to his cake. Well, Ted thought it was a cake. It was so burnt that it was difficult to tell quite what it was.
"Dougal? How did your baking lesson go?" Ted asked softly. Dougal jumped violently, unaware that the other priest was in the room.
"O-oh, it's been just fantastic!" Dougal replied. "This is actually my third cake though. The other two got a tiny bit burnt."
Ted studied the cake Dougal was currently icing, wondering how a cake could be any more burnt than that one.
"Oh, and I was thinking I might enter a cake in the Craggy Island Bake Off! Mrs Doyle said I was really improving with my cooking skills!" Dougal looked really excited, and the last thing Ted wanted to do was upset him by insulting his cake. He was always very supportive of Dougal's hobbies, however short-lived they may be. Although, after paying an arm and a leg for Dougal's new roller-skates, he was maybe just a tiny bit disappointed that Dougal only used them once.
"Oh yes, the baking competition," said Ted "If I remember correctly, there's a cash prize, isn't there?"
"You're right there, Ted! But if you entered, you'd never have a chance of winning. You can't even make a cup of tea!"
"I bet I could win. How about we both enter? And then, and then the loser would have to do a forfeit!" Ted immediately regretted saying this, as he knew he'd probably end up being the one doing the forfeit. Why did he agree to do this? He knew he had no cooking skills. Hopefully this was something he would have in common with the rest of the contestants.
It was then that Dougal turned around to shake Ted's hand, and Ted realised that Dougal probably had more flour on his face than there was in the cake itself.
"You've got a bit of flour... just... there" Ted pointed at Dougal's nose. "Actually, it's everywhere."
"I wonder how that happened!" Dougal replied innocently.
That night, Ted lay in bed, thinking about the competition. Dougal was right, for once. Ted had no baking experience. There was no way he would be able to win, apart from if he cheated. But would Ted really sink that low? Actually, he would. He'd simply have to sabotage the other entries, and then his would be the only edible cake in the entire competition. In Ted's eyes, there was no way this plan could fail! He could almost feel that substantial cash prize in his wallet.
The next day, Ted got up extra early- 11am- so he'd be the first one in the kitchen. Careful not to wake Dougal up, he crept downstairs and found the largest cookbook on the shelf. He found the recipe Dougal was following yesterday: Simple Sponge Cake. It didn't look too difficult to Ted, and once he mastered it, he could move onto a more complex bake. Ted started to mix the ingredients together... Flour, butter, eggs... Was that really all that was needed? Baking was much simpler than Ted expected. He set the timer and sat down to read his book. Normally, he would've gone back to bed, as 11 was far too early to be getting up, but he didn't want to risk burning his creation.
Ted heard thumping feet coming down the stairs. Dougal was up then. Hopefully he wouldn't interfere too much with the baking.
"Ted!" Dougal shouted excitedly. "Are you making me a cake?"
"Sorry Dougal," Ted replied "but I'm practising my baking." He saw Dougal's face start to crumble. "You can try a slice if you like though!"
"Thanks Ted! I'm sure it'll be just fantastic!"
At that moment the timer went off and Ted went to fetch his cake, shooing Dougal away from the oven. The cake didn't look burnt at all; in fact, it was a lovely colour, and it was actually cooked all the way through! When Dougal had got bored of waiting, which took no more than five minutes, the two priests cut themselves a slice. Dougal enthusiastically took a big bite of his, but immediately looked like he regretted it.
"Did you... put any sugar in this?"
Finally, it was the day of the competition, and Ted had been working hard to improve his baking. He could actually make an edible cake now. But everyone else looked like they had been baking for years! And... Dick Byrne had entered. Why? This was the Craggy Island Bake Off! Seeing his nemesis just made Ted even more eager to win. He held his bag of cake-sabotaging materials close to him as Dick made his way over.
"Dick... What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm not here to bake, Ted. No, when I heard you were entering the competition, I simply had to come here to watch you... make an arse of yourself and come last!"
Ted was desperately trying not to let Divk get to him. "Well... you thought mine and Father McGuire's song wouldn't win A Song for Ireland... but look! It did! Ha!"
"But do you not remember how badly you did once you got to Eurosong? Do you not remember 'Irelande nul points'?"
Ted's best comeback was a muttered "Shut up, Dick."
Dick put his hand on Ted's shoulder. "Look, even if your cake doesn't win, I'm sure it's at least edible."
"Oh, really? Thank yo-"
Dick ran off to find Cyril, leaving Ted alone. "What a fecker..." Ted muttered to himself.
Inside the tent, the contestants were getting ready. The spectators were outside; Ted could see that Mrs Doyle had brought Jack along. Hopefully if anyone was planning to put alcohol in their bake, Jack had already found it. It would make Ted's sabotaging job a lot easier. He looked around to see who the other contenders were: John and Mary (working separately), Tom, Father Purcell, Father Noel, and of course, Dougal, who happened to be stationed right next to Ted. Ted breathed a sigh of relief. The competition didn't look like much. However, just to be sure, Ted kept his sabotaging materials close.
"Psst, Dougal, do you know who's judging this? Anyone famous?"
"Sorry Ted, I haven't a clue," Dougal replied. "Maybe it'll be the pope or Elvis or someone like that."
"I doubt it, Dougal."
A very familiar face made their way to the front of the tent. Mrs Doyle!
"Well, she is an expert in baking, all right!" whispered Ted.
"Ooh, you're right there, Ted!" replied Dougal.
"H-hello everyone. At the end of the three hours, I will be tasting each cake and deciding on the winner. You can make any cake you like, just make it interesting!"
Purcell's out then, thought Ted.
Mrs Doyle continued. "Oh, and don't think that I'll show any favouritism towards any of the contestants." She made eye contact with Ted and Dougal. Ted gulped. "Okay, start baking!"
One and a half hours had passed, and the bakers were still working hard. Ted was proud of his cake so far, but he knew he had to be absolutely certain he was going to win. There was no going back on the promise he made to himself to ruin everyone else's cakes. He looked around at the other bakers. It looked like John and Mary had given up on baking altogether and had simply been throwing their ingredients at each other. John had eggshells in his hair. Noel was putting a lot of bright food colouring into his mixing bowl, and Ted didn't really want to know what Tom was putting in his. To him, it looked to be still alive. The contents of Father Purcell's bowl looked like gruel. Surprisingly, Dougal's bake was the only one that seemed to be succeeding. Just how much extra practice he been doing?
Mrs Doyle signalled to the bakers that they could have a short break, and everyone left the tent. Everyone except Ted. He had a plan to carry out.
Ted grabbed his bag where he was keeping all his sabotaging materials. He had approximately five minutes before people came back into the tent. He reached inside his bag and brought out a large bottle of vinegar. Perfect. He darted around the tables, pouring just enough vinegar into people's mixing bowls that they wouldn't notice until it was too late. Then, he got to Dougal's table. He couldn't do it... not after all the work Dougal had put in, and how excited Dougal was for the competition. He imagined Dougal's face crumpling when Mrs Doyle told him his cake wasn't edible. Ted just couldn't find it in him to betray his curate, no... his friend like that. Anyway, Dougal would be sure to share the cash prize with him, wasn't he. As the contestants started coming back into the tent, Ted hid the vinegar. For the rest of the 3 hours, he worked in silence, not looking at the others.
"Time's up!" shouted Mrs Doyle. "Please bring your cakes into the top secret tasting room. You'll soon find out the winner of the first Craggy Island Bake Off!" Ted tried to get away as quickly as possible after dropping his cake off, but it was too late. Purcell had spotted him.
"Ah, Father. I was looking at the tent pegs and how good they are. If God hadn't invented tent pegs, then where would we be now? Not in this tent, that's for sure..."
Ted made up an excuse and got away as quickly as possible. He was not in the mood for idle chit chat with his fellow priests and parishioners.
Finally, it was time for the results to be announced. Ted scanned the audience for Dick. It was easy enough to spot; he was making an 'L' sign on his forehead at Ted. Ted stuck two fingers up at him.
Mrs Doyle cleared her throat. "Well, it's been an easy decision. There were only two cakes that were actually edible! And out of those two, the winner is Father McGuire!"
Ted stopped himself just in time from saying "I don't believe it!" He didn't think Richard Wilson was nearby, but, you can never be sure. He made his way over to Dougal to congratulate him.
"Wow Ted, this is amazing! I've never won anything in my life! This is amazing!"
Ted patted him on the back. "Well, you definitely deserve it, you worked so hard! Now, about that cash prize, would you consider sharing it with your best friend?"