The summer is winding to a close and that can only mean one thing. It’s nearly time for the UK’s biggest cake decorating, sugarcraft & baking show – and the highlight of my annual calendar, Cake International.
In its home at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, the show blends a glittering array of demonstrations, hands on workshops, trade suppliers showcasing the latest developments in baking and sugarcraft products, fun challenges and of course the legendary competitions, which bring together some of the biggest names in cake from across the globe.
This year promises to be the best year yet, with many new and exciting additions to the show’s regular line up. I’m excited to see some of my cake buds take part in some new wild and crazy challenges and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is the live final of the Cake International Cake Off – following the earlier heats at the springs shows. Awkwardly, I’ve got friends on both finalist teams, but I think the Welsh team, The Welsh Cakes, will be benefiting from my cheers! It’s my patriotic duty after all! Sorry Molly!
I’ve already had a sneaky peek at the proposed layout for November’s show and it seems that there will also be even more stunning cake displays than ever before and some of the artists involved are my absolute idols!
The world-famous competitions themselves have also had a massive overhaul this year, but still remain open to anyone – from champion award-winners to first time novices, including the ever-growing and usually awe-inspiring junior classes. One thing that sets the Cake International competitions apart from other cake shows is that everyone who wishes to enter can enter. The supportive and experienced judges look at each individual entry on its own individual merits awarding points for originality and innovation, the variety of skills shown, quality of finish and many more factors, meaning that even absolute beginners can receive recognition and awards alongside some of the most talented artists in the world! The sheer variety of categories available also mean that all manner of skill sets are celebrated and I would strongly encourage anyone considering entering to give it a go. I visited the shows a number of times before I was brave enough to enter, but I’m oh-so-glad I finally did! In addition to the fun of competing (which is honestly indescribable), the judges are always on hand to give you feedback on your entry, which you can use to hone and refine your craft – not to mention improve for next time!
Of course, one doesn’t have to be a competing cake artist to enjoy the shows, as there is plenty to see and do besides. Across the weekend, an incredible line up of cake, baking and sugarcraft stars will be presenting some fabulous tutorials, top tips, handy hints and much more and often these are open to all, with no need to book or pay an additional fee. For the more serious sugarcrafter, there are also a huge number and variety of paid-for workshops where one can learn anything from the wonders of traditional royal icing to hands-on modelling in a variety of mediums.
For those less enthused about admiring cakes, preferring to, well… eat them, there are also many stands selling a variety of tasty cakes and bakes for immediate consumption – also useful for bribing partners and family members to accompany you when indulging your cakey passion.
I am sure that Cakers up and down the country and across the wider world are already finalising their competition entry plans – if they haven’t started making their pieces already of course – and many exhibits and displays are already well on the way to completion. In addition to competing (well, if I ever decide which class I’m entering – my previous category is one of the newly-reimagined ones), I’m thrilled to be exhibiting for the second time this November, in collaboration with a simply extraordinary array of talents as part of The Magical Dragon Machine – read more about that here.
In the meantime, I’d better get back to the Competition Schedule and get my entry form in – there’s nothing like leaving things until the last minute though, right…?