The winning entry.

Victoria reigns!

It’s perhaps understandable that many vegan books and cooking classes focus mainly on the nutritional aspects on the diet.

Above all, they aim to convince doubters that you can still eat (and live) ethically and healthily after cutting out animal-based products.

The fact that this lifestyle requires a lot of self-discipline means that many regard practitioners as the dietary equivalent of flagellants; deliberately torturing themselves because of their radical beliefs.

All the more important therefore to show that vegans recognise the importance of comfort food; something you eat primarily with pleasure in mind.

This is why in the inaugural cake competition held at the village of Sorrivioli di Roncofreddo near Cesena in Emilia-Romagna was such a welcome event.

It had all the qualities of a modest garden fête with 12 entrants to choose from. I paid €5 to become an official taster although my vote was a foregone conclusion as my daughter had made one of the cakes!

True to her heritage, she opted for the classic British Victoria sponge and placed a mini Union Jack on top to ensure the source of the original recipe was beyond doubt. It didn’t actually look as spectacular as some of the others, but it had a great texture and taste.

A pure white coconut cake and a lavish fruit creation stood out as strong contenders for first prize but neither tasted as good as they looked. The winner was a simpler selection of mini pancakes and strawberry tartlets.

The ‘ Naughty But Nice’ slogan for UK fresh cream cake advertisements sought to persuade consumers to put their diet plans on hold and indulge in high calorie treats; these particular vegan alternatives were much less naughty but just as nice.