What’s new on the blog this week?
It’s been another busy few days over here at Mr Baker’s Blog this week, starting with the exciting news that I have teamed up with my buddies at Renshaw to launch the Battle of the Bakes competition as part of The Great Renshaw Bake Off.
We want to see your BEST bake, whether it’s an elaborate eclair extravaganza or a sparkling sponge spectacle – and not only that, we want to know how to make it!
To enter, you need to upload your own recipe or cake decorating tutorial, including the all-important photos of the finished decorated bake that you have made and we’re looking for steps on how to decorate at least one element of your cake, cupcakes, biscuits, etc.
I will be choosing one lucky winner and 2 runners-up from my favourite uploaded tutorials to take home some wonderful prizes, including:
The winner’s prize – Two tickets to Cake International (on the day of your choice) between 2-4 November, a night’s stay for two in Birmingham during Cake International, two tickets to Cadbury World in Birmingham, and a Renshaw Baking hamper.
The runner-up prizes – two runners-up will each receive a Renshaw Baking product hamper plus a £50 Hobbycraft voucher.
The Battle of the Bakes will run throughout the whole 10 weeks of The Great British Bake off, so get cracking on your tutorials – I can’t wait to see them! Read he full post and find out how to enter, right here.
Speaking of The Great British Bake Off, this week also saw the return of my annual #bakealongwithGBBO – my self-imposed challenge to recreate all of the technical challenges from this year’s series. As with last year, throughout the series, I will attempt the same bake as the bakers in the tent, following the same rules and timings as the contestants and posting the results of my efforts, regardless of how successful I may or may not have been.
As I was away during week one, I somewhat ambitiously decided to get all caught up this weekend, tackling biscuit week’s Wagon Wheels on Friday night (with some… interesting results – read all about that here) and this week’s Le Gâteau Vert (a spinach infused patisserie-worthy cake favoured by none other than Claude Monet) yesterday. You can read about my fun with spinach right here.
Next week, bread week returns to the tent and the bakers (and I) will be tackling naan bread during the technical challenge. If you have any top tips to achieving the perfect naan between now and then, then please feel free to send them my way. Based on how this series has gone so far, it’s beginning to look like I will need all the help that I can get.
And of course, If you want to follow my ongoing #bakealongwithGBBO adventures, then don’t forget to hit the subscribe button (on the right if on desktop or at the bottom of the page if on mobile) before you go – you will also need to hit confirm in the email that I send you.
Have you heard…?
I may have heard a wee whisper of this rather exciting news a while ago, but being the good lil’ blogger that I am, I managed to keep the secret for all this time!
But as the promos are now starting to air and the girls have now had the all clear to officially talk about it from one of the producers, the black cat can come out of the bag and we can finally get excited – because some of our favourite cakers are competing on this year’s Halloween Wars!
I must apologise in advance for not revealing the names of all of the cakers involved in this year’s competition, but I don’t actually know them all (hopefully that will change!), but I do know Cynthia White of CAKED by Cynthia White and Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven by Corinna Maguire and I am excited to see them compete against the other awesome artists involved.
If you haven’t seen Halloween Wars before, the larger than life spin off from the team behind Cake Wars and Cupcake Wars pits six teams (made up of a cake artist, a sugar specialist and a pumpkin carver) against each other, challenging them each week to create elaborate Halloween-themed scenes, using all-edible ingredients, with one team being sent home each week.
We’re particularly excited to see Corinna taking part, as I think she might be the first UK & Ireland-based cake artist who has ever flown over to participate.
Naturally I had to get the inside scoop about what is was like to join the show, and Corinna told me that she actually filmed her episodes almost a whole year ago. Imagine having to keep a secret like that for an ENTIRE YEAR!
Corinna explained: “It’s been a lonnng year keeping quiet! I had just about forgotten about it all and now there’s no hiding anymore. It was an adventure to say the least. A very hard, sleep deprived, emotional and physically draining adventure. But it was an incredible and surreal experience and I’m glad to have done it.”
I asked if she could let us in on what we could expect from this season, but she told me that she still has to keep all of that a secret I’m afraid.
She added “I’m dreading the airing of it, to be honest, as I hate seeing myself on TV and I don’t know how it will be edited together… so it’s all a little nerve wracking. But it should be entertaining to say the least.”
You can catch Corinna taking part alongside her teammates – pumpkin guru and Oregon high school teacher, Tom Lindskog; and Nashville-based chef at Proper Bagel and Owner of Twisted Fig Cake Designs, Joshua Simpson – on Food Network. I can’t wait to see how they get on!
Cake Show Showcase:
The NISE team have been adding more incredible artists to their line up this week with guests revealed so far now including:
Rose Dummer AKA Rosie Cake-Diva, Benny Rivera of City Cakes, New York, Aaron McInnis of Man versus Cake, Kara Andretta of Kara’s Couture Cakes (and known as Aaron & Kara, when they collaborate on their amazing joint ventures), Claire Anderson of Clairella Cakes, Michelle Boyd of Good Gracious Cakes and Sachiko Windbiel of Mimicafe Union Fondant Modeling Sugar Art.
With many of these incredible artists jetting in from North America, this will be an amazing opportunity to meet them and learn from them in a truly intimate setting – the likes of which we have never seen in the UK & Ireland before!
I am told that the full NISE website will be going live any day now, including the booking pages for the classes with these wonderful talents. If you would like to be the first to know when they are available to book, be sure to head to the NISE Facebook page and give it a like.
In fact, go and do it now. I’ll wait here…
Have you done it? Excellent! Then let’s continue.
This week I am mostly loving…
While neither a product or a tool, I am loving the pre-Cake International excitement that seems to be taking over social media right now.
Between people posting teasers of pieces that they are creating for the various displays and demonstrations that will be taking place across the weekend and the questions from both experienced and new entrants to the internationally renowned competitions in the cake groups, it’s all starting to feel really close! And it IS getting close – we are less than eight weeks away from the biggest cake show of the year!
If you are entering the competitions for the first time, then you may not have realised that there is a dedicated Cake Competitions and Shows Group over on Facebook where you can ask questions about all things competing – including the nitty gritty type stuff, like how drop-off works and the best places to stay while you are in Birmingham.
Of course, the Cake International team are careful to point out that any advice you receive from your fellow competitors should be taken at your own risk, explaining that any competition schedule-related questions should be directed to the judging team directly, it is still good to know that you are not alone as we start to head into the late nights and early mornings to get those all-important entries finished in time.
If you would like to join the Cake Competitions and Shows Group, you can find it at this link – whereas any technical questions regarding the competition schedule can be directed to the Cake International judging team, via Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are competing this year, then I wish you the very best of luck – I can’t wait to see all of your fabulous entries!
The hottest ticket in town!
With more and more cake artists moving more into teaching and away from creating client cakes on a regular basis, it can be both an exciting, but also a sad time.
Exciting that we will have the opportunity to learn from many of our favourite talents, but sad that we won’t have their weekly orders brightening up our social media feeds on a regular basis.
That is why I was really excited to see that Laura Dodimead of Life in Sugar has reopened her books for orders from clients.
In spite of being super-busy with her awesome chocolate modelling classes (including her upcoming Christmas workshops, which I have written about before, here), writing her monthly column for Cake Decoration and Sugarcraft Magazine, creating regular photo-tutorials for print media publications AND pursuing her tattoo apprenticeship (which I have also written about before), Laura is now also taking bookings for wedding cakes, birthday cakes, new baby cakes, Christmas cakes and, in fact, any bespoke custom cake her clients can dream up.
I am so excited to see more work from Laura brightening up my news feed – her chocolate modelling is SO awesome and you never know what she will create next!
If you would like to find out more about classes with Laura or would like to order one of her fabulous cakes, you can find her on Facebook at Life in Sugar.
I wanna make that!
Saracino ambassador, Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes by Rhianydd Webb has had an illustrious career that has included considerable press and television exposure, three solo features at Cake International and numerous medals and awards at cake shows all over the country.
She now splits her time between teaching her uniquely recognisable style of cake artistry, as an accredited BSG demonstrator, through classes both near her home in Pontypridd and further afield, at venues including the prestigious Renshaw Academy, judging at the world’s largest cake show, Cake International, and continuing to produce her awe-inspiring creations.
I have shared my own experience learning from Rhianydd before (which you can read here), but now, thanks to the team at Saracino UK, you can now have the opportunity to learn from one of my favourite artists yourself, in her latest tutorial. And the best part? It’s completely FREE!
Rhianydd’s Amplifier Sculpted Cake would be perfect for the musician in your life and it is entirely edible, with no tricky structures to master. As one would expect from Rhianydd, the tutorial is incredible clear and easy to follow, with many
If you would like to have a go at Rhianydd’s Amplifier Sculpted Cake, you can find the full tutorial here. Don’t forget to let the Saracino team and Rhianydd know if you have a go at it yourself!
The Collaboration Station
Founded earlier this year to make collaborations more accessible for everyone, SugarSouls have now published a number of collaborations throughout 2018 and they are back again with their latest collection: Infamous.
Put together by Stephanie Would of Cake Nation in honour of her birthday, she thought there was no better way to celebrate her special day than by celebrating her love of the underdog – the movie villain.
There are some truly fabulous creations within the collection and as always, I have only been able to share a mere fraction of them here. Be sure to visit the Sugar Souls’ Facebook page to check out the rest of the collaboration.
Stephanie is so grateful to all the artists who joined her and shared their talents for her birthday and she hopes you enjoy their work.
Spotlight on the boys…
As you saw above, the NISE team will be welcoming many amazing artists from across the Atlantic to their inaugural event early next year, including a certain young man called Aaron McInnis of Man versus Cake – a self-taught baker and specialty cake decorator located in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland – an island as far east in Canada as you can go!
I first discovered Aaron through his work with Kara Andretta, including the awesome Cake Escapes that they run across North America. They had both felt the cake world was lacking significant, impactful events and moments, that can help transform careers or and change lives. They found a way to fix that, but only for those who are serious about taking their caking AND LIFE to the next level! You can read more about their work together over at their website, which you can find here.
I figured that as Aaron (and Kara) will be heading to NISE next year, it was high time that we got to know him a little better.
Married dad of three Aaron started cake decorating as a means to help him pay for Post-Secondary Education and his love and excitement about cake grew from there. When he finished his education, he used his cake artistry to support my family, even going as far as having a storefront for about two years.
However, he has since returned to the workforce full time as a Nutritionist in the field of Mental Health, but is still a baker and caker at heart and the proud owner of Happy Belly Cakery, a home-based cakery where he prides himself on offering a high-quality product and service to his clients.
I love that in his website bio, he explains that he runs his website to show his boys that supporting your family “like a man” doesn’t always mean grease stained hands or sawdust in your hair – sometimes it means food colouring stained hands and flour everywhere – and to show them that pursuing a dream is not always going to be easy. It’s a long, tough road and that, as long as you are willing to put in the time, the energy and most of all, the hard work, you can achieve anything your heart desires!
When he is not creating his fun and unique cakes, Aaron also spends his time sharing the more classic techniques on his online channels, while adding his own twists and sharing tips and tricks to help us all in our caking journeys.
A little bird also tells me that he is hard at work on his first book too, so keep an eye out for that very soon!
You can join Aaron and Kara for a number of classes at next year’s Northern Ireland Sugar Expo – head to the NISE Facebook page to find out more.
Cake of the Week!
In a rather random turn of events, I’m actually meeting up with the creator of this week’s Cake of Week later today – not that she knows that she has scooped this week’s award.
I love ultra-realistic sculpted cakes and when I saw this awesome sandwich cake by Zoe Burmester of Sugar Street Studios, I just knew that it had to be a shoe in for this week’s cake of the week.
It is all of the tiny little details that really bring this piece together, from the super-realistic brie and the wafer thin lettuce, to the napkin that looks like real fabric – it really is a masterpiece!
If you would like to learn how to create cakes the Sugar Street Studios way, then be sure to visit Zoe’s Facebook page where you can find out more about her work and discover where you can find her latest print and YouTube tutorials.
Congratulations on a fabulous Cake of the Week, Zoe and I’ll see you later! Brunch is on you, right? 😉
Long time readers will know that this time last year, I was invited along to The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice to contribute a bake to their Cake Week episode – my Kenwood mixer cake. It was a great experience and you can read all about it here.
As I was watching this week’s episode, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of another one of our baking chums, Becky Jenkins of Becky Jenkins Sugar Artist.
Like me, Becky was invited along to share some of her sugar expertise (they like to disperse a few ‘pro bakers’ amongst the audience) and she took along this incredibly realistic pizza cake – quite possibly one of the best I’ve seen!
Although the panel spoke to Becky about her cake, even tasting some (apparently Prue described the sponge as beautiful), her little slot didn’t make the final edit – but it was still super fun to catch glimpses of a familiar face amongst the audience.
Should you ever find yourself in the audience, remember: to make the cut, you really need something outrageous to happen! Whether that be a naked Paul Hollywood (*shudders* You’ll have to watch the episode to find out what THAT is all about), an unusual ingredient or, of course, a cake that is so ridiculously huge that the celebrity guests are unable to even move it, let alone lift it. *ahem
If you missed Becky’s episode of An Extra Slice, you can find it again on catch up over at All4 (UK only, I’m afraid).
Congrats Becky, I hope to catch you on my TV screen again soon!
And the winner is…
Last week, as a thank you to all of you that followed my Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour adventures, I announced a little giveaway to win a souvenir poster signed by all of the wonderful individuals that I met up along the way.
Featuring signatures from some of our favourite cake artists and a whole host of celebrity chefs too, including Etty van Urk of the Cake Dutchess; Kay Gajra of Kaykes; Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes; Luis Troyano of The Great British Bake Off 2014; Julie Rogerson of Julie’s Cake in a Box; James Martin (yes, THE James Martin!); Rose Dummer AKA Rosie Cake Diva, of Extreme Cake Makers fame; Double Michelin-starred chef, Michael Caines; Creators of the #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong, The Baking Nanna and Rob Allen; Extreme Cake Maker, Molly Robbins; Emma Jayne of Emma Jayne Cake Design; Hayley O’Beirnes of Gadget Cakes; Nadiya Hussain of The Great British Bake Off 2015; and of course… me, the poster should be a fabulous memento of a super exciting experience.
Thank you to all those who entered to win it, I can now announce that the winner is…
Congratulations Jerri. Send me a private message over on Facebook and we can arrange getting your prize out to you!
Don’t forget to get in touch this week to tell me all about what your corner of the cake world is talking about; to share which tools or products you are loving this week; to tell me about any exciting events or classes you have coming up; to share any recipes or tutorials you have discovered this week and are dying to try; and about anything else that has grabbed your attention on Planet Cake.
And of course, don’t forget to nominate your suggestions for the Cake of the Week. Maybe it’s one you have seen or perhaps it’s one of your own!
You can submit your contributions by messaging my Facebook page, by posting in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by emailing me directly.
I look forward to hearing from you!