Something Sweet – Issue 37: The Cake International 25 Special

What’s new on the blog this week?

After the whirlwind of excitement that was Cake International 2018, the 25th Anniversary edition, I was straight back to the coal face – in that I was back at my desk in my classroom at 7am on Monday morning and wondering how I could best begin to share the awesome experience of the weekend.

Naturally, after been so involved with the Cake Dutchess stand over the weekend, through our super-fun live build, our efforts obviously needed a special post all of their own – so I was quick to get that up and ready to go on Tuesday because I needed to thank all of the wonderful individuals who helped us bring it to life. Between the team that worked on the build, including Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven, Janette MacPherson of Janette MacPherson Cake Craft, Kelly McWilliam of Kelly McWilliam – Cake Artist, Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes and, all the way from Canada, Kylie Mangles of Letterpress Bakery, as well as a whole host of Etty’s immensely talented Cake Dutchess Instructors, including Lesley Smith, Gillian Wilson, Deborah Edwards, Mariska van Bers, Rosan Kreeftmeijer, Xenia Robeson, Karin Bergrath and Wendy Slagwein, our fabulous sponsors, Nude Cakes and Decobake Ireland and our special guest, Paul Bradford who joined us to cut the cake, this really was a group effort and I loved every second of it.

You can read all about our special project – in its very own dedicated post – right here.


This week also saw me announce the winner of my Biggest Ever Subscriber Giveaway, in celebration of Cake International 25. I was so grateful to everyone who helped out with it, whether by donating a prize, allowing me to stash some flyers on their stand or by sharing it on their social media and the public response was fantastic.

I had some amazing entries and my independent judge (him indoors) and I particularly enjoyed the ones where people had gone out of their way to be creative.

In the end, we crowned Sarah Wright our overall winner and she will be receiving the entire prize hamper, but we couldn’t ignore some of the other entries – I’ll be sending some goodies out to Sarah Russell and Kristina Scott too.

Thanks again to everyone who joined in with my Biggest Ever Subscriber Giveaway – and rest assured, as I enjoyed it so much, it won’t be long until I do another one!


Have you heard…?

One of the biggest talking points at this year’s Cake International had to be our mutual concern for our dear friend, Mich Pattinson. For those of you that don’t know, Mich fainted during set up on Thursday, banging her head quite nastily in the process. As you can imagine, we were all incredibly worried about her, and she was thoroughly missed throughout the weekend.

I thought you might like an update on how she is, so she has prepared a few words to let you all know how she’s doing…

I had been looking forward to Cake International all year and I was excited to be involved in a number of features, including Karen Keaney’s Twisted Sugar Artists, Daniel Diéguez’s Chocolate Magic and, of course, CakeFlix – Winter Wonderland – I was really looking forward to seeing them all come together. Across the weekend, I was also due to be helping Faye Cahill on her book stand and doing a demonstration on the Spectrum Flow stand.

The plan was to load the van and set off to the NEC early on Thursday morning. However, the day did not get off to the best start as the van was broken into overnight and a couple of boxes of Faye’s books were stolen! This obviously had to be reported to the police, which took time and meant that I was WAY behind schedule and very stressed out. I hate being late and I hate letting people down even more. To cut a long story short, just after arriving at the NEC, I fainted, hit and cut my head and ended up in hospital.

Rather humorously, everyone now thinks that Calli Hopper can now predict the future – check out my portrait that was displayed as part of the Twisted Sugar Artists…

Without wanting to be dramatic, from what I have been told, I am lucky to be here to tell this story and for that I am eternally grateful. I wanted to share this as a lesson to us all that we need to look after ourselves.

I am honestly overwhelmed by the support I have been shown following these events. It has been a very emotional and humbling experience. Even though thank you doesn’t really cut it, I do need to give a heartfelt thank you to the following people, and anyone who sent me a message of support: Christine Jensen, Dawn Butler, Alan Morley-Davis, Emma Ball, Paul Bradford, David Brice, Faye Cahill, Stephanie Would, Melanie Williamson, Lara Mason, Molly Robbins, Melanie Underwood and the team at ICHF, Debbie White, Karen Keaney, Janette MacPherson, Daniel Diéguez, Jan Berry, Breda O’Brien, Collette Ruse, Suzanne Roberts, the team at the NEC and at Heartlands Hospital and, of course, my family.

Quite honestly, the list could go on on and I apologise if I have missed anyone.

To me, Cake International is more than a just a cake show. It is about the people – a community and a family – and this last show weekend has proven that to me more than ever.  What a weekend – there was even a marriage proposal!

All I can say is bring on 2019 x

Thank you for the update, Mich! We’re all so very glad that you are on the mend. You were incredibly missed at this year’s show and we can’t wait to have you back and fighting fit for next time. xx


Cake Show Showcase:

As you may have gathered from the above, this year, the world’s biggest cake show, Cake International celebrated its 25th Anniversary, with what was promised to be the largest and most action-packed instalment to date. Do you know what? I think they might just have managed it.

Eddie Spence MBE chatting to our Cake Off runner ups, the Pasta Models.

When I started to put this special edition of Something Sweet together, I’ll admit that I was a little bit intimidated – how do you squeeze three amazing days chock full of awesomeness into only one blog post?!

So rather than panic about it, I decided to tell you all about my highlights of the weekend and I hope that you will get involved and comment and share your own best bits too. After all, I couldn’t be everywhere at the weekend and I am sure that I missed loads of amazing stuff!

Front row seats for heat one of the Cake Off…

On arrival at the show, visitors were immediately greeted with a teaser of the amazing things to come within the hallowed walls of the NEC. From Lara Mason’s stunning life-size Harry and Meghan Cake (updated to celebrate their upcoming arrival, of course) to Ben Cullen’s Ringmaster standing proud to welcome us through the doors, the amazing sights only continued as we headed deeper into the show…

Ben Cullen’s Sylvester the Ringmaster and Lara’s Harry and Meghan.

Speaking of visitors, one of the biggest highlights of my weekend was having the chance to finally get to meet so many of you – my readers. Between the awesome cake talents that I have profiled and written about over the last year, the people that regularly get in touch to ask for baking and caking advice and some of the fabulous brands that I have worked with over the last year, there were plenty of wonderful people to meet and speak to, and I really enjoyed putting faces to the names of so many of my online cake chums.

Checking out the official book of Incredible India 2 – the second instalment of Tina Scott Parashar’s stunning collaboration which will be revealed on 17th November.

Speaking of #cakechums, another highlight has to be the success of my Cake International giveaway. As I have already mentioned above, I really enjoyed checking out your awesome entries, and loved how many of you tracked me down to be in your selfies with you. A massive thank you again to the brands that donated prizes, Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft MagazineRainbow Dust ColoursImmaculate Confections, Cake Tools Direct, Dinkydoodle Designs by Dawn ButlerRenshaw BakingEvil Cake GeniusCake Masters Magazine, The Celtic Cakers Tutorial BookdragéekíssCake Dutchess, The-Old Piping Bag: Handmade Silicone Moulds for Cake & Craft and Cakes By Carol, to the people that took part – both at the show and at home – and to the stands that let me stash flyers on them.

I had a particularly action-packed Friday – with the aforementioned live build on Etty’s stand – read about it here – but I also managed to squeeze in a flyby to the Cake International networking event, a night out at the pub with so many of my lovely cake buddies, old and new, and even a couple of hours of sleep!

Catching up with Bryan Salazar Rojas, the beautiful Gwen Powell of dragéekíss and Wedding Cake Artist of the Year, Enrique Rojas.

I also made sure to be sat in the front row to watch Cake Masters Magazine crown their Top 10 UK Cake Artists 2018. It was amazing to watch so many of my friends have their moment in the spotlight (we missed you Kay!)- a truly special experience…

Saturday dawned with my demonstration on Cakes by Carol’s and The Old Piping Bag’s stands, which were not without incident (Pro Tip: don’t leave your sugarpaste in the car overnight, when it is freezing cold), but super fun too! The pros definitely make it look easy!

A mid-demo shot with the lovely Carol Smith of Cakes by Carol – I’m actually sweating…!


Grabbing the lovely Laura Dodimead to check out one of her demonstration models…

In between all this, I was keen to race around and see as many of the fabulous exhibits and installations as possible, including the incredible Peach Life, Peboryon’s The Gallery, Daniel Diéguez’s Chocolate Magic, Emma Jayne’s Trapeze Artist, The British Sugarcraft Guild’s Sweet Armistice, Molly Robbins’ Mermaid, the stunning Catrina in Bloom, the Twisted Sugar Artists feature, the return of Emma Jayne’s War Horse, Tuba Geçkil’s Harry Potter, dragéekíss’ Sweeteasy, Saracino’s incredible cake featuring all of their brand ambassadors and all those who have been instrumental in making CI the success it has become – oh, and a life-size cake replica of the show’s head honcho, Melanie Underwood, of course.

Cake Legend Karen Portaleo is wowed by Peach Life!


Christine and Phil Jensen of Peboryon reveal their finished live build in The Gallery…


Emma and Owain keeping watch over Annie the Trapeze Artist… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography
The moving Sweet Armistice installation by the British Sugarcraft Guild commemorating the centenary of the First World War…


Tuba Geçkil applies the finishing touches to her Harry Potter… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography


Finishing touches are applied to Catrina in Bloom… Photo: Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography


The incredible installation by the Twisted Sugar Artists – with animations by Motion Mapping…


The lovely Gwen of dragéekíss’ with the Sweeteasy display… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography


Saracino’s giant Cake International birthday cake, here with a insanely accurate model of head judge, Karen Keaney…


An edible recreation of Melanie Underwood, by Isabel Tamargo and Rhianydd Webb…

Alongside these, there were a whole host of live builds, including ours on the Cake Dutchess stand, Marc Suarez and Jacqui Kelly over on the Renshaw stand, the Celtic Cakers’ Irish Totem, Daniel Diéguez’s Chocolate Magic and even more besides.

Marc Suarez and Jacqui Kelly for Renshaw…


Daniel hard at work… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

Of course, the weekend also saw many of our favourite brands there launching new and exciting products, with the hotly anticipated Renshaw Extra colours (I WANT SOME!) and four beautiful new colours of Ready-to-Roll Icing making their debut appearance, Etty revealing the Cake Dutchess Modelling Guide: Animals AND her tools (I understand that Etty is still offering the special show bundle offer price online if you missed out on them), a whole host of exciting new products from Dawn Butler’s Dinkydoodle (I need to try the Carry Cake Kits) and Fractal Colours, a whole host of new moulds from The Old Piping Bag – oh, so many new things that I can barely keep track!

There were also ample opportunities to stock up on all your caking essentials, and to pick up some of those purchases that you’ve been hesitating over for a while – particularly with brands like Innovative Sugarworks and Evil Cake Genius coming all the way from the US, meaning we could shop to our hearts’ content without worrying about shipping. Sadly, I forgot to swing by the Innovative Sugarworks stand to pick up the turntable that I had been eyeing though, so I am bereft! I’ve wanted one forever and this was supposed to be the year that it finally happened!

The insanely talented Calli Hopper demonstrates painting with cocoa butter… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

As always, there was an abundance of classes and paid-for demonstrations, including those from Cake International themself, Renshaw Academy, Magic Colours, Saracino and more, but also a ton of incredible free opportunities to learn from the best, with Magic Colours, Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine, Cake Dutchess, Saracino, The Cake Decorating Company, Nicholas Lodge and more all featuring free opportunities to watch, learn and ask questions on their stands.

An opportunity to learn from the master, Nicholas Lodge… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

For those of us who like a bit of book-learning, the show didn’t disappoint either, with Faye Cahill, Debbie Brown, Etty van Urk and Valentina Terzieva all launching their latest publications and Natalie Porter teasing that hers is on the way. Who managed to pick up a copy of their favourite?

There were even free samples to be had of some of the exciting new products coming to market – including the aforementioned new colours from Renshaw, Saracino’s new flower paste, tasty cake from Sweet Success Sugarcraft and goodness knows what else – I really should start making notes!

Rising Star 2018 Corinna Maguire clearly explaining something very serious… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

One of the biggest highlights of the weekend though HAS to be the Cake Off 2018. With heats running on both the Friday and Saturday before the grand final on Sunday, I made sure that I was there for each of them and, with friends in every team taking part, I tried desperately to remain Switzerland, but I do think the right team one in the end.

The Ice Girls showed a dazzling array of skills across their two pieces – a Mexico-themed number for their heat and then a stunning three-tier creation that drew attention to the terrible ways in which we are polluting our planet for the final. Both pieces were absolutely stunning. Congratulations to Sharon Perrins, Becky Jenkins and Angela Morris on their win and to all of the other competitors too – you were certainly entertaining and a high point of the weekend for sure!

Speaking of the Cake Off, those of you who came to Saturday’s heat were also treated to a very special experience that was absolutely my number one part of the whole weekend – Val’s proposal.

Photo: Robby Dee Photography

Having been part of the secret group that helped Val put her surprise together, it was a truly magical experience to see it all come together, from Sandra Velez-Beltran’s stunning rendition of Leela James’ Fall For You and Rhianydd Webb’s beautiful roses, to the touching gifts of Sachiko’s cake topper, Emma’s wedding cake and a lot more besides.

Would you just look at those incredible models by Sachiko Windbiel…!


Photo: Robby Dee Photography

I feel truly privileged to have been there to witness such a wonderful expression of love and, I’ll be honest, I cried like a baby!

With some of my cake besties, Ben and Nicola – don’t we scrub up well…?

Speaking of wonderful experiences, for me the Cake Masters Magazine annual awards are always a highlight of the action-packed weekend. Not only are they a fantastic opportunity to catch up with all of my bestest cake chums from all around the world away from the hustle and bustle of the show, which many of us are usually busy working at, they also give us a chance to celebrate some of the brightest and best of the cake world.

My annual All the Winners shot…

I loved how international this year’s awards were – allowing me to discover many new talents from around the world – and it is always amazing to see some of my favourite people recognised for their hard work and tireless pursuit of excellence. A massive thank you must go to Rosie Mazumder, Yawar Mehboob and the whole Cake Masters the team for all their hard work in making this year’s event the biggest and best yet and congratulations to all of the finalists and winners.

The incredible winning collaboration piece by my buddies, Carol Smith of Cakes by Carol and Sharon Perrins of Cakes by Sharon.

Of course, I can’t talk about last weekend’s show without mentioning the competitions… wow! Just wow! With over 1900 entries this year, there was a ridiculous amount of talent on display and I only wish that I could have spent longer taking them all in. Long gone are the days when I could manage to get around and photograph every entry – I think I would have needed a whole extra day at the show!

I loved this Interview with a Vampire piece by Lulú Lucero of Lulú Lucero Sugar…

It quickly became clear that the expectations had been somewhat raised this year, which I know left some people disappointed. Perhaps controversially, but I do agree that as people continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in sugar, the bar needs to rise also – after all, a gold award from the biggest Cake show in the world should be an elite prize. And it’s definitely not the first time the standard has been raised either – I’m sure that even as recently as Spring 2017, we saw far fewer gold awards than had been seen at previous shows.

One welcome change in recent years has been the move towards judges who are considered top of their respective fields, such as Dorothy Klerck and Daniel Diéguez… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

Obviously, there were some issues with some of the judging and feedback arrangements and, from what I hear, not everyone had the best experience, but I’m told that the CI team will be meeting for a mop up session in just over a week, so I know they will be keen to address all of the points people have raised. I’ve also asked Head Judge, Karen Keaney to write a guest post for Mr Baker’s Blog to talk about it all from the other side of things, so keep an eye out for that soon…

Karen Portaleo casting her expert eye over some of the entries… Photo: Karolina Andreasova – Art and Photography

In the meantime, if you’d like an additional sneak peek into what goes into judging a category at Cake International, a good place to start would be Tracey Rothwell of Little Cherry Cake Company’s vlog over at her YouTube channel. You can find it here.

2018’s Best in Show winner… Photo: Dunroamin Photography

I’d like to offer my sincerest congratulations to every single competitor who managed to place a piece on to the hallowed black cloths. To have your work displayed at the biggest cake show in the world is a real achievement and, regardless of the outcome, you should be incredibly proud. And to those who went one step further and managed to take home an award, my congratulations again. There really were some breathtakingly incredible pieces at this year’s show and again, I only regret that I couldn’t spend longer taking them all in…

Becky Jenkins breathtaking illusion cake netted her a perfect score…

I honestly think that I could write and write and write and still never manage to do this past weekend justice, it really was that good. So instead, I want to open the floor up to you guys – what was your highlight of the weekend? Post your photos and comments below this week’s blog link over on Facebook and I will scoop up a whole load more for a follow up next week…

And finally let me say a huge than you to everyone who helped to make the Cake International weekend another huge success, including Melanie Underwood, the ICHF team, all of the exhibitors, demonstrators and competitors and of course all of the people that travelled to Birmingham from all over the world to visit the show.


Of course, just because this is the Cake International special, doesn’t mean that the cake world ground to a halt this week, so let’s see what else has been going on over the last seven days on planet cake.


Cakes in the Mainstream:

If you’re the sort of individual who spends their time watching Disney Junior UK, then you may well have seen a familiar face pop up this week.

In celebration of 90 years of Mickey Mouse magic, Lara Mason of Lara Mason Cake Art was tasked with creating a life-size Mickey Mouse Roadster for his special birthday!

What a once-in-a-lifetime commission to receive and an incredible experience to have had – I am so thrilled to see Lara getting the recognition she deserves.

Congratulations Lara, you nailed it!

Catch the full video here.


The hottest ticket in town!

If, like me, you are currently suffering from the post-show blues, you will probably be wondering when you can next get your cake on…?

Well, fortunately, unlike this year, spring 2019 is stuffed full of cakey joy, with the Welsh National Cake Show on Saturday 9 February 2019, the Northern Irish Sugar Expo on 9-10 March 2019, the Cork Sugarcraft Competition and Exhibition from 23-24 March 2019 and Cake International on Tour at the ExCeL London from 4-6 April.

Tickets, class tickets and competition schedules are now available for the Welsh National Cake Show, the Northern Irish Sugar Expo and the Cork Sugarcraft Competition and Exhibition, so get booking (click on the name of each show to head to their websites) and I hope I’ll see you there!


The Collaboration Station

You may have noticed that I didn’t compete at last week’s show and that’s because I instead decided to throw my efforts into creating the centrepiece for my friend Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co’s Sugar Pirates collaboration table at the show.

We were super proud of how the whole team came together to create an incredible display of all sorts of pirate paraphernalia, with a dazzling array of sugar disciplines on show.


We were absolutely delighted to go on to win the Best Group award at the Cake International prize giving (although I missed it – oops!) and special congratulations must go to Vicky for pulling us all together.

I can’t wait to collaborate with the team again – we’re already conjuring up our idea for 2019…

In the meantime, head to our dedicated Facebook page to all of the pieces in all of their glory.


Cake of the Week!

When it came to choosing my Cake of the Week this week, I didn’t have to think about it at all. The real cake categories always prove a real draw to me at the show – I always think things are much more impressive in real cake – and one cake in particular stood out by a mile.

If you were at the show, then you probably already know which one I’m talking about…

Kate Bartlett of Kate Bartlett Cake Design created her adorable piglets entirely from cake and they were a massive hit with the public and the judges alike, scoring a perfect 100 out of 100!

In addition to the perfect piggies, people were also enamoured by the incredibly realistic straw, which I believe was created from wafer paper.

Having had a break from competing for the last three years, I am thrilled to see Kate back and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

To keep up with her cakey exploits, head to her facebook page here and show her some love…

Congratulations on a fabulous entry Kate, a well-deserved award and placement and a wonderful Cake of the Week.



Also wowing us in the cake stakes this week was Mr Baker’s Blog favourite, Rose Dummer – AKA Rosie Cake Diva.

In the days building up to Cake International and immediately following it, Rosie was hard at work creating an incredible cake to celebrate the first birthday of the West End’s hottest production, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Her life size reproduction of the show’s star, John McCrea as Jamie New was lowered from above the stage during the show’s finale, before being served at the after party. I can only imagine how amazing it was to see it appear as if by magic after such a spectacular show.

You can see more shots and videos of Rosie’s incredible creation over at her Facebook page. Go take a look!


And finally…

I want to work with you! Not only am I ALWAYS on the lookout for your contributions to Something Sweet, but I also welcome guest posts on the blog too. If you would like me to publish your tutorial, recipe or even a guest blog about an event, experience or topic you are passionate about, make sure you get in touch…

To get in touch, you can message my Facebook page, post in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by email me directly.