Something Sweet – Issue 3

What’s new on the blog this week?

Sadly, I’ve been a bit under the weather this week, so baking and caking have had to take a back seat, but I still made time to get the latest instalment of my Extreme Cake Makers interview series, with the irrepressible Molly Robbins, up on the blog. Be sure to check out the Interviews tab above to find out what initially made Molly take the jump from eye shadow to icing sugar, how she deals with internet trolls and what she wants to achieve in 2018.

While you’re there, why not catch up on any of my exclusive interviews that you may have missed…

To mark the launch of Brain Tumour Awareness month in the UK, Vicki du Plessis of Tiki’s Bakehouse has penned a guest post to tell us all about The Brain Tumour Charity’s Big Bandana Bake event. Have a read and find out how you can help this remarkable charity raise much needed funds and awareness this month.

Have you heard…?

Let’s get straight down to business. Irrefutably, the hottest topic in every cake circle this week was the release of the Cake International 2018 competition schedule. The Cake International competitions are some of the biggest in the world, so naturally, as soon as a new schedule is announced, people start dissecting it in detail.

There were a number of surprises for the 2018 show, already being billed as the biggest yet, with some new categories, some quite significant changes to a number of our favourites and also the early demise of some relatively new ones.

One of the most exciting announcements was the fact that Renshaw, Rainbow Dust and Renshaw Academy are sponsoring the Best in Show award and contributing not only a trophy, but also a staggering cash prize of £2,500! For a long time now, people have unfavourably compared the modest prizes of the UK show with its international cousins, so I wonder if this is a sign of things to come…

Another big talking point has been the new rule stating ‘Spaghetti and Noodles are not permitted in the competition’, under the heading ‘Edibles and non-edibles’. Many significant winners in recent years have used ingredients such as vermicelli rice noodles to create realistic hair effects and so the realisation that, under these new guidelines, this will no longer be appropriate left some people rather surprised – although others were pleased at this change, stating that they wouldn’t dream of using dried pasta in their day-to-day confections.

Similarly, the removal of the ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ and ‘Tiered Celebration Cake’ categories, both of which had proven popular with entrants, also created a bit of a stir. I know that, following last year’s change to the Decorative Exhibit category to insist that real cake was used in the place of dummies, some felt that Pushing the Boundaries had just become the new large Decorative Exhibit – with a large array of bust cakes. However, for those cakers that had been using the new category to experiment with true ‘boundaries’ – internal motors and suchlike – this hasn’t necessarily been a popular decision. However, with the return of dummies to Decorative Exhibit, this could see a return to the elaborate sculptures of previous years – possibly with some boundary-pushing thrown in for good measure.

Previously, I had regularly entered the Sculpted/Carved Cake category and was left disappointed that last year they changed it to allow supports and RKT elements. My favourite part of the category had been trying to figure out how to push the limits of my designs, while only using real cake and no structuring, so this year’s announcement that those limitations would be returning is a particularly welcome one, at least as far as I am concerned.

© Robby Dee Photography

The new category that immediately caught my eye was the Fantasy Winter Wonderland: a show-stopping cake, with any number of tiers, within the theme of “Fantasy Winter Wonderland”. As ever, event manager Melanie Underwood has been on hand to answer all of our questions and has already cleared up some confusion around this one: “The cake can be from one to any number of tiers and can be actually cake or dummies and can also be carved. The judges want to see the piece look like a cake rather than a completely sculpted decorative exhibit.” I can’t wait to see how people interpret this one!

I’m also excited to see the new ‘Absolute Beginners’ category, open to anyone who has never entered Cake International before – a true cake novice with one-or-less years of experience in cake decorating. Entering the world-famous competitions for the first time can be a daunting prospect, so anything that encourages more people to do this can only be a good thing.

Of course, there are many more discussions abounding right now and I could probably continue this all day, but instead, why not head over to the dedicated Cake Competitions and Shows Group on Facebook and join in for yourself.

However, before we move on, in a final bit of welcome news, I did notice that competition pick up on the Sunday has been brought forward by an hour – to 4pm – meaning that we might all be able to get home at a reasonable hour this year!

The Cake Show Showcase

Speaking of cake shows, last weekend, some of the industry’s brightest and best travelled to Austin, Texas for the That Takes the Cake, Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition.

As always, the work produced was incredible and I wish I could post all of the amazing competition entries here for you to see. However, sadly we are limited on both space and time, so instead here are just a few of my favourites…

I particularly loved this piece by Shelby Bower of Shelby Elizabeth Cakes and I’m sure it will come by no surprise that she went on to win best of division, 1st in individual sculpted, innovator award, the people’s choice award and 2nd in the special award for gravity defying cakes.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it wouldn’t be the full cake show experience without a significant helping of cake show gossip and this year’s That Takes the Cake is no exception. As in any show lately, there was the usual drama around judging. That Takes the Cake has become the second US show, after the New York Cake Show, to adopt the model of judging more familiar to UK cakers, wherein all entries are scored and awarded a prize as a result of their cumulative points. Although this was stated in the rules, it seems that many people had not really understood them, so when they arrived on Sunday to a sea of gold, silver and bronze plaques on everything, many people thought they had placed. They didn’t realise there was still an awards ceremony to follow later on that evening. The judges were really helpful in explaining everything on the day, but unfortunately many people were left somewhat deflated with their results and some felt like it was a participation award more than anything. It just goes to show how important it is to read and reread the rules!

But all in all, what a stunning show – yet again! Congratulations to all who took part and made the That Takes the Cake, Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition the huge success that it was.


I couldn’t live without…

This week’s submission comes from Kelly McWilliam AKA Kelly McWilliam – Cake Artist. Another of my #sugarsisters, Kelly initially sent me, “Etty’s Paste!”, which, for those not in the know, translates to Cake Dutchess Premium Modelling Paste, by Dutch modelling specialist Etty van Urk (DUTCHess – geddit?!).

Image via US stockists:

When asked for more, Kelly elaborated that she had tried a few pastes and always found they dried as she was working, leaving her figures cracked and with a poor finish. She went on to explain that Cake Dutchess Premium Modelling Paste is brilliant because it lets you work away for some time without drying out and the finish is really smooth. It also colours brilliantly, which is great when making small details on little figures. Once you are done, it sets well, so you don’t have to worry about things losing their shape.

Kelly is also waiting eagerly for Etty’s soon-to-be-released range of modelling tools, as she keeps having to tape her existing sets when working somewhat zealously (although I have told her that cheap supermarket knock-offs will never match up to their premium quality equivalents). In her own inimitable words, “It’s very annoying when you’re in the zone and then – bam – half of your dresden tool pings aff yer barnet!”

Cake Dutchess Premium Modelling Paste is available from a number of UK retailers, although the cheapest I have found it is at Cake Stuff where it currently retails for £8.95 per kilogram. In the states, you can order it from Etty’s tools are currently in development and are expected to be available for purchase by June 2018. You can register your interest and pre-order them here for a special discounted price.


Image via

The hottest ticket in town!

Next weekend sees the Squires Kitchen Exhibition return to Farnham Maltings on 10th and 11th March 2018. From live demonstrations by star guests to inspirational designs in the Wedding Cake Showroom and Competition Hall, there is so much to see and do throughout the exhibition weekend. Be inspired by stunning wedding cakes on display from some of the UK’s top designers; see all the latest trends and get advice from award-winning professionals; view the fabulous creative talents of entrants in the Squires Kitchen Annual Cake Decorating Competition; and check out the live demonstrations, where the best in the business share their secrets for professional-standard modelling, royal icing, cupcake decoration, chocolate work, sugar floristry and more.

There will also be a host of stands where leading sugarcraft suppliers help you to discover all the latest tools and materials, while you take advantage of special show offers and speak directly to the manufacturers about their products.

For more information, head to the show website and you can buy tickets here.

Let me know if you are planning on attending and hopefully I will see some of you there!


I wanna make that!

We’re being spoilt for choice this weekend, as Craftsy have opened their archives to the public, with an All You Can Watch Weekend – meaning that each and every one of their 1,300+ classes are available to watch for free – for one weekend only.

And what’s more, Paul Bradford has also got in on the act, with a free weekend over at the Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School too, meaning that you can access all of his premium tutorials for FREE!

AND Karen Keaney is also having a free trial weekend over at her website, Roses and Bows Cakery, meaning that you can access her premium tutorials for free for this weekend only!

So basically, if you have ever considered joining an online cake school, this is the perfect weekend for you to check out Craftsy, PBSS AND Roses and Bows Cakery and decide which, if any, is the school for you. But hurry, it all ends at the stroke of midnight tonight!


The Collaboration Station.

No collabs this week I’m afraid, but I know of a couple of beauties that are being published this week, so watch this space!


Spotlight on the boys…

I know of Daniel Guiriba of Daniel Bakes for his beautiful wafer paper floral work and this beautiful cake featuring his edible realistic wafer paper flowers and his DIY edible gold leaf is a shining example of his fabulous work. Be sure to visit his Facebook page to see more…


Last week, Gail Kingman was after some advice on stencilling – specifically how people attach their stencils to cakes and the best way to apply a repeating pattern stencil. Now I don’t know about you, but I hear stencilling and I immediately think of my lovely friend, Robin Martin – known to many as the Evil Cake Genius. I reached out to Robin and she had this to say: “I have a pdf tutorial and a video that might be of some help. Here’s the link to the video and you can download the tutorial here.”

Thanks, Robin!

Nobody sent in a cry for help this week, so hopefully that means that all is well in the cake community, but don’t forget, if you’ve got a cake conundrum you can’t figure out, send it in and let our readers come to the rescue…


Meanwhile on Twitter…

This week, the age-old battle reared its head once again when #TwitterBakeAlong matriarch The Baking Nanna took on TV baker, Suzy Pelta in the war of the cream tea. Regardless of how you pronounce them (even though to rhyme with ‘gone’ is clearly correct – Mary Berry says so), the real war of the scone boils down to the debate of which comes first, jam or cream?

Known respectively as the Cornish way and the Devon way, the Cornish purists like Nanna argue that jam should be spread first on first, with a dollop of cream added as a garnish. Alternatively, Devon fans, including Suzy, prefer the cream to be spread, almost like butter, with the jam added as a final flourish. Nanna even went as far to conduct a Twitter Poll with fairly conclusive results, but sorry Nanna, I’m with Suzy on this one.

What do you guys think? Are you #teamjam first or #teamcream? Let me know your thoughts…


Cake of the Week!

In a first for something sweet, this week’s Cake of the Week was actually nominated by a cake muggle (AKA a non-cakey person). Picked up by numerous viral content pages, this stunning piece by Elegateau Cakes Ltd was inspired by the movie Moana and features the all-powerful, life-giving goddess Te Fiti. The level of detail is simply astounding and I can’t get over how lifelike she is.

Like me, I’m sure many of you have already been tagged in the comments of this wonderful recreation of the iconic movie scene and I am yet to get bored of rewatching the South Wimbledon bakery’s video. Be sure to visit the Elegateau Cakes Ltd website to see more of their fabulous creations or you can find them on Facebook. Congratulations to the whole team!

Honourable mention…

It has been so wonderful to see the UK press pick up on the news that legendary royal icer and hero to us all, Eddie Spence MBE is retiring after an amazing 71 years in cake artistry. I don’t make a habit of reading the Daily Mail if I can help it, but they have written a great tribute to everyone’s cake hero, which shouldn’t be missed.

Please join me in wishing Eddie a truly wonderful retirement…


And finally…

Do remember that Something Sweet is a chance to share what is happening in all of our little corners of the cake world and, as such, relies heavily on your contributions to keep it relevant and interesting.

So, if you have something to share, whether it’s a hot talking point for ‘Have you heard…?’, an essential tool or product ‘I couldn’t live without…’, an amazing class or event that is quite simply ‘The hottest ticket in town!’, a recipe or tutorial that made you cry ‘I wanna make that!’, a beautiful collaboration you have seen or taken part in for the ‘The Collaboration Station’, a cry for ‘Help!’ or a cake that you think could be next week’s ‘Cake of the Week!’, be sure to send them in via my Facebook page!

I look forward to hearing from you… x