Monday, 15 April 2013

Bake-spiration: Cake International

Cake International
On Friday I visited Cake International at Excel in London - at just £12 per ticket it represented excellent value for money. There were basic cake decorating demonstrations throughout the event, free workshops and more niche skills workshops available for just £5 extra. Speakers at the Bakery Theatre included very high profile industry names, such as Mich Turner, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

The competition zone was one of the most impressive parts of the show - with innovatively designed cakes and cupcakes on display being judged by professional chefs. Unfortunately as competition entries, none of these were displayed with the name of their maker - so the photos below are uncredited (if anyone does know who these cakes belong to - please let me know):

Competition area - cupcake category

Competition area - floral cupcakes with a pocket watch biscuit
One of my favourites - afternoon tea cupcakes!
Competition area - beautiful cakes
Competition area - cupcake category
Competition area - cupcake bouquet
Competition area - picnic cupcakes
Competition area - cupcake category
Competition area - cupcake category
Xanthe Milton (AKA Cookie Girl) held a series of live buttercream piping competitions at her stand - watching from the crowds I saw her judge the cupcakes, scrutinising the detail and feeding back to her students. The live cupcake competitions were a great idea, here's Xanthe at work:

Cookie Girl's live cupcake decoration competition
Cookie Girl's live cupcake decoration competition
Cookie Girl's speed-class learnt to pipe buttercream roses, ruffles, a carnation and (what I think was) a chrysanthemum - I think for first timers these look pretty good! You can subscribe to Cookie Girl on YouTube here.

Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry at the Bakery Theatre
I inadvertently spent a small fortune taking advantage of discounted cake decorating tools for workshops I will be running as of next month (all will be revealed soon!). I also had the pleasure of watching Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood live demo in the Bakery Theatre - Mary Berry demoed a beautiful looking sweet pear pie and Paul Hollywood made a stilton and olive flatbread (which he then chopped up and lobbed into the audience, thereby covering the first few rows with melted cheese), as well as demonstrating his machine-like ability to perfectly plait bread. 

Baking greatness aside, the best aspect of their demo was of course their dynamic - (just as on TV) - Paul Hollywood spoke about playing darts with Mary, saying he 'went for a session with Bezza' the night before. Refreshingly, they were honest about their baking fails - Mary Berry recounted the time she gave a chocolate cake to the Jonathan Ross show - earlier that day, her daughter's terrier had taken a bite out of the cake, so she iced it to cover the missing chunk (she was honest and told the recipients a dog had bitten the cake - they ate it all anyway). Paul Hollywood confessed that in his earlier days he once salted 1,000 doughnuts instead of sugaring them (!) - the bakery received only one complaint. Good to know they are both human.

Here are a few other snaps from the show:

Impressive cakes by Queen of Hearts
Giant chocolate rose by David Leslie

The Renshaw school
Under the sea cake by Tracey's Cakes
Buttercream demonstration by PME
Piping bags at the PME demonstration
I will definitely be attending again next year. If you missed the London and Manchester show, you can still visit Cake International in Birmingham this November - see the Cake International website for more information.

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