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Everything you need to know about the Highland shortbread showdown this weekend

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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The Highland shortbread showdown is set to return this weekend at Eden Court.
The Highland shortbread showdown is set to return this weekend at Eden Court.

The final of the Highland shortbread showdown 2024 is set to take place this weekend, with finalists from across the region and beyond battling it out to be crowned champion.

Last year a crowd of over 600 people descended upon Inverness Botanic Gardens for the Inverness and Loch Ness heat of the second annual Highland shortbread showdown.

Organised by Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) and taking place at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness ton Sunday, 17 March.

Finalists from 11 destination marketing organisations (DMOs) across Scotland will present their best bakes to a panel of expert judges.

The event will be held at Eden Court.
The event will be held at Eden Court.

The judges consist of; Coinneach MacLeod, more famously known as the Hebridean Baker, Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery, Kirsten Gilmour of KJ’s Bothy Bakery, and Gary Reid, director of Scottish Bakers.

Managing director of Reids of Caithness, will find the Highlands ‘best traditional shortbread’, ‘best flavoured shortbread’ and ‘overall winner’, while the ‘public’s choice’ will be chosen by those attending the final.

Hosting the final will be MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin.

Finalists for this year's shortbread showdown are:

Inverness and Loch Ness (representing Visit Inverness Loch Ness): Downright Gabbler, Hou Hou Mei and R Macdonald & Son.

Moray Speyside (representing Visit Moray Speyside): 14-year-old Charlotte of Charlotte’s Cakes & Bakes and Timeless Fashion.

Nairn (representing Visit Nairn): The Highland Weigh, Nairn Golf Club and Vitamin Sea.

Caithness and Sutherland (representing Venture North): Mrs Baverstock’s Bakery and Black Stairs House.

Lochaber (representing Outdoor Capital of the UK): An Cafaidh Mara.

Dornoch (representing Visit Dornoch): Oversteps Care Home.

Cairngorms (representing Visit Cairngorms): The Boathouse at Loch Insh and Speyside Kitchen Limited.

South of Scotland (representing South of Scotland Destination Alliance): The Bake Hive.

Arran (representing VisitArran): Baked By Stacey, Monamore Guest House

Mull and Iona (representing Visit Mull and Iona): Tobermory Bakery.

Isle of Skye, Lochalsh and Raasay (representing Skye Connect): UHI Portree and MacKenzie’s Bakery.

Also taking place during the event will be a raffle to raise funds for Befrienders Highland, as well as a treasure hunt that is bound to keep the children occupied.

Delicious shortbread will be made fresh on the day.
Delicious shortbread will be made fresh on the day.

Destination development manager at VILN, Emma Harrison, said: “The time has almost come for our judges and the public to make their selection for the best shortbread in the Highlands!

“The inaugural Highland shortbread showdown in 2023 was a huge success, with around 800 people coming along to taste a selection of the country’s favourite biscuit.

"This year, we hope the final is even bigger and better, with the addition of new categories.

“Our panel of fantastic judges know a good biscuit when they taste it so I can’t wait to see who they crown winner of each category.

"If you’d like to help decide the winner of ‘the public’s choice’, please come along to the event on Sunday – see you there!”

The Hebridean Baker, Coinneach MacLeod, said: “I am absolutely delighted to take on the role of judge at the upcoming Highland shortbread showdown, an event that not only promises a feast for the tastebuds but also celebrates the essence of Scottish culinary heritage.

“As the Hebridean Baker, I have always been passionate about the traditions of shortbread and I am excited to see how the competitors share the techniques, artistry and flavours of our national biscuit.”

Hou Hou Mei featured in the last shortbread showdown.
Hou Hou Mei featured in the last shortbread showdown.

Host for the final, MasterChef finalist Sarah Rankin added: “The second shortbread showdown is coming to Inverness this weekend, and I am thrilled to be hosting this year.

"Shortbread is Scotland's national teatime treat with a long tradition.

"I'm excited to see how the Highland businesses who have thrown their wooden spoons into the ring will wow the judges with their sweet, buttery, crumbly bakes!”

Further details can be found at Visit Inverness Loch Ness website.

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