Have you ever wondered what goes on at the big cake events but never actually been? Or are you planning on going to one next year and can't wait to find out what's in store?
Whatever your reasoning, Cake International is one of the most famous shows in the UK, exhibiting in Birmingham and London twice a year, and boy, is there a lot to see!
The show is set over 3 days from Friday to Sunday. I foolishly thought I could get in done in one day.
I now completely understand why some people fly in from miles away and book a hotel for the weekend. The whole thing is massive and there's so much to do.
There are 5 main reasons to go to Cake International:
To see demonstrations (like how to make wired clematis).
To exhibit/see cake competition entries for different titles (such as 'Character Novelty Cake').
To see showstopper cakes (this year included a lifesize Villanelle from Killing Eve).
To buy anything & everything to do with cake - i.e. courses, tins, sugarpaste, cutters - you name it!
To meet your cake heroes (like Alan Dunn).
First things first. I started with a coffee because, to be frank, after travelling for 3 hours in a car and two trains, I needed a moment to get up to speed, and I was super pleased to find a place that didn't do oat milk (so I didn't have to worry about cross contamination).
I had gone as early as possible to see Anne McNamara demonstrate how to make a dahlia in sugarpaste. The sugar dahlia has been my nemesis for some time. I can't count the number of hours I spent trying to make a pompon dahlia once, only for all 4 attempts to go horribly wrong. Thankfully, Anne's techniques had a much better outcome:
The thing about a good sugar flower is it should momentarily fool you into thinking it's real. Then (when it doesn't move or wilt after a few days) you may become suspicious.
I've made plenty of sugar roses I've been proud of but the dahlia is something else, and Anne made it all look super easy, I must say.
The big exhibit for me was Ian Stuart Bridal. If you've ever watched The Posh Frock Shop, you'll know who I'm talking about. So I was keen to see the complimentary cakes made by some amazing cakesmiths and I wasn't disappointed.
Let's start with this hat cake. Perfectly executed and perfectly charming. It's the sort of work of art that should never be cut!
Next up is this incredible peacock.
All those flowers are made from sugar. I'm sure they could have done a nice little sweepstake on how many hours it took for them all to be made (especially that pink pompon dahlia).
Last up was Ian Stuart himself (in sugar, natch). And here I am photobombing the pic.
The next part of the exhibition I headed to was the competition area. Some of the entries were absolutely brilliant, either because of their wit or absolute sugar prowess. I'll give you a selection:
The full roast dinner
Tempted? Nor am I. But I am rather impressed by that glaze.
Pig eating icecream
Well, what else is a pig to do? Especially when there's a yummy waffle cone to be had.
The desperately impressive horse wedding cake
Obviously, one has to be into horses, otherwise everyone at the wedding would be wondering about the link. But I doubt anyone's wondering about the decision to give it a gold standard.
A face in cake
One of the best ways to make a cake captivating is to have a face with misty eyes.
Of course, the stunning sugarcraft and winged animals help, too.
As I wandered amongst the many stands (and spent far too much money), I looked up to see this sign. It could be about the ability to create a stunning Helleborus Christmas Rose, but I prefer to think of it in a wider context, identifying a motto for life.
Did you go to Cake International this year? What did you think? Do share your thoughts below!