Can you believe it? We have come to the end of yet another year – and actually, another decade too?!
Every year, I think to myself that there is no way that this year could top the previous, in terms of cakey fun, excitement and adventures… and every year, I am left completely surprised – in a good way!
In this week’s issue of Something Sweet magazine, I (along with a handful of the members of my Cake Chums – with Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group) shared some of my highlights of 2019 as well as looking ahead to 2020, so if you haven’t read it yet, do check it out at this link. But I thought, as 2019 comes to a close, I would expand a bit on some of my answers and reflect on another crazy year in cake….
In January of 2019, I was rather excited to discover that Cake Masters magazine were releasing a second edition of their hugely popular colouring book. And what’s more, I was blown away to find out that one of my own cakes had been included in this year’s edition. Did you have a go at colouring in my wintry creation?
January also saw Sarah Bray of Daisy Cakes by Sarah reveal a truly awesome birthday surprise when she unveiled her miniature versions of my Grumpy Pug collection in cupcake form. I was absolutely enchanted by her tiny take on some of my favourite cakes and I know that they proved very popular online too.
In February, after months and months of planning, I was super excited to head off to the first ever Welsh National Cake Show, in Cardiff. The show, which was a real celebration of the amazing cake talents in Wales, saw me demonstrating alongside Rhianydd Webb, Cara Maiden and Paul Williams; judging the competitions, which was an incredible experience; and contributing to a rather fantastic collaboration display – the Pharaoh’s Tomb. I loved how my little mummified cat came out and he was a popular addition to the display. I also gave my pirate ship a refresh to be displayed on the roll of honour table.
The show was also the subject of the first video to be uploaded to my brand new YouTube channel. It’s pretty painful to watch now (deer in headlights anyone…?), but it is also amazing to see how far I have come already, in less than a year. The increase in confidence in front of the camera alone is a sight to behold…
In February, I also headed off to the launch party of the Sugar Lair, the brand new cake design academy, which was also being filmed by Extreme Cake Makers. I honestly don’t know what happened to the Sugar Lair (does anybody have an update?), but I definitely had a good time making some new cake chums that evening… as well as enjoying some tasty cake from Peboryon.
Here on the blog, I was delighted to finally be able to feature a rather gorgeous tutorial from Vicky Teather of the Yellow Bee Cake Co. – which naturally HAD to be pug-themed! Be sure to check out Vicky’s adorable step-by-step guide on how to make Pascal the Puppy cake topper, if you missed it at the time!
February also saw me start work on what would eventually end up being probably the most ill-fated project I have ever undertaken… the setback-plagued, almost-year-long project to create my purpose built (well, converted) new and improved cake studio here at home.
March was a busy one as it saw months and months of hard work come to fruition with the first ever Northern Ireland Sugar Expo, masterminded by Emma Stewart. I had been incredibly proud to be part of the team that put this incredible event together and loved doing my first ever main stage demonstration as part of the weekend. I know that everyone who attended had a brilliant time and my biggest takeaway from the entire weekend was getting to know some of my most beloved cake chums even better – big kisses guys… you know who you are.
We also celebrated my sister’s hen weekend in March and you KNOW I was going to shoehorn in some cake-themed fun. You can check out my video to see how the hens did at the Mr Baker’s Cakes Hen Weekend Cupcake Challenge.
I was also delighted to be invited to attend a rather fabulous class with Rhianydd Webb at Cakeart Creations the Studio, where we learned how to make a fabulous gravity-defying turtle cake. If you have yet to take a class with Rhianydd, I can’t recommend them highly enough!
We closed out the month with the reveal of the Holy Cake Batman Collaboration, to which I contributed my Nightwing bust cake. As a huge fan of both Marvel and DC Comics, any collaboration or project that allows me to combine my passions of both comics and cakes is always going to get me excited and this one was no exception.
I don’t think I have ever looked forward to a month as much as I was looking forward to April 2019.
The month started with a flying visit to London for Cake International on Tour. For the first time in a long time, I had decided not to contribute anything to the show, and instead attended merely as a visitor. Well, technically, as a member of the press, with my vlogging camera in hand, but I had a fantastic time actually being able to take in the whole show.
April also saw us celebrating my sister’s wedding, during which I fulfilled the role of ‘man of honour’, as well as making the cake of course. It was a wonderful day, during which many happy memories were made.
Straight after the wedding, the Other One and I were jetting off on what has literally been a lifelong dream holiday… yup, we were finally – FINALLY – off to New York! We had an amazing week seeing all of the sights, including a rather wonderful day with Jean Schapowal experiencing New York in Cake, during which we visited a whole host of bakeries, cake shops and cake supplies stores.
While we were stateside, I was also thrilled to be able to share my contribution to one of this year’s most popular collaborations, Americake Horror Story.
AND if all that wasn’t enough, when we got back, I had a super fun day filming with Bake with a Legend and star of The Great British Bake Off, Jane Beedle.
Gosh, I’m almost out of breath already and we’re only five months in!
In May, we were off travelling again, heading over to Germany for Cake & Bake, Essen. After a rather ill-fated attempt to make it to the show in 2018, I was finally able to attend, and have the experience of flying with cake for the first time. I’m pleased to report that my contributions to the Sweet Impressions charity feature survived the journey entirely unscathed and I was incredibly proud to be a small part of such an inspirational display.
I was also thrilled to be asked to attend the BSG Annual Exhibition in Brighton, where I took great delight in catching up with a whole host of my cake chums.
By previous standards, June was a somewhat quieter month, with another family wedding – this time it was the Other One’s sister who was tying the knot. Naturally, I made the cake again!
It also saw the reveal of the What have WHEDON collaboration, and my first attempt at hand drawing and painting on a cake. I loved my Dark Willow and I had a lot of fun experimenting with isomalt to create her mystical magicks for the piece.
In July, I was off to Wales to take another class with Rhianydd – but this one was all for me. Rhianydd’s Leaping Fox Cake class is probably one of the best classes I have ever seen advertised; gravity defying, real cake and one of my favourite animals to boot? There was no way I was missing this one!
As is always the case when the school summer holidays arrive, my August was jam-packed full of cake-related content, including the relaunch of Something Sweet magazine in its new format AND I finally cracked under immense peer pressure and made my take on the popular unicorn cake trend.
August also saw the launch of the Mr Baker’s Cakes apparel store – I really need to hurry up and get my new designs finished and added to the store! Consider that one of my new year resolutions! Have you seen that we now have hoodies though? After a LOT of requests…
I also relaunched my Bakealong with The Great British Bake Off series – and this year, I was filming them! SO much more traumatic than just writing about it!
September was a quieter month cake-wise. What with starting at a new school, welcoming my new niece to the world and saying an emotional goodbye to one of our beloved fur babies, there wasn’t a lot of time for cake, but I was still managing to continue with my Bakealong with The Great British Bake Off through most of the month. In fact, it was the loss of Buster that put the final nails in the coffin of this year’s attempt, although I had fun while it lasted. I’ll be making some changes to the format in 2020 to hopefully make it a little bit more sustainable.
As the year was drawing to a close, the case show season was upon us once again, starting with the Cake and Bake Show, where, once again, I was there supporting my buddy Rosie Cake-Diva and ‘hanging’ out with her incredible Boris cake. It is always a full-on weekend, but always chockfull of laughs too.
2019 also saw me receive a very exciting invitation (one that I completely didn’t have time for incidentally), but when one of the original and the best collaboration teams asks you to join their ranks, you do not say no! Yup, for the seventh year running, October saw the release of the annual Sugar Spooks collaboration and this year, the theme was a haunted mansion. I created my Sinister Sid cake, inspired by creepy ventriloquists’ dummies and creepy was definitely the word. He was hanging out in our conservatory for weeks leading up to the reveal and I lost count of how many times he made me jump, when I ventured out there after dark…
In November, we were off to Cake International at Birmingham’s NEC and I was finally able to reveal the project that had been keeping me busy for most of October – my life-sized Father Christmas cake for the completely edible Santa’s Grotto feature. Sponsored by Renshaw masterminded by the gorgeous Hayley O’Beirnes of Gadget Cakes, the display was raising money money for the incredible charity, Help Harry Help Others.
My Father Christmas was decorated entirely with edible materials (yes, including his chair) and, as you can probably imagine, weighed an absolute ton. I ended up having to hire a small truck to get him to Birmingham and finding a driver to help me out was a whole other drama all in itself! Thankfully, the lovely Rhu Strand of Cake Minds was able to bail me out at the last minute and I shall forever be grateful to her for her much-needed help. Thanks again, Rhu!
Across the Cake International weekend, I also demonstrated for Renshaw on their stand (ably assisted by the lovely Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes). Different to a main stage demonstration, I loved how much I was able to interact with the people watching and had a brilliant time. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!
I also finally – FINALLY – won my first ever gold award in the show’s competitions, as well as the much-coveted Best in Class rosette, for the collaboration category with my Sugar Chronicles chums for our Wizard of Oz display. It really was an incredible weekend…
Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, later that month saw the release of the Couture Cakers collaboration, where I was celebrating my Welsh heritage!
And that brings us to December – and of course, we weren’t slowing down with the cake excitement. This month has a seen a brand new tutorial for Renshaw – my utterly delicious S’mores Cake; I was thrilled to partner up with Bake Diary to promote possibly one of the best online competitions I have ever seen – their opportunity to give a special gift to one of your bestest cake chums; I finally finished the studio (yup, after starting in February, remember?) and started filming in it, including sharing some of my favourite festive recipes AND a super fun Facebook Live during which a fair few of you joined me to help decorate this year’s family Christmas cake.
And breathe! Congratulations if you have managed to keep reading up to now! I wouldn’t blame you if you started skimming… I’m sure that there are even more things that I have forgotten, but amongst another year-long crazy whirlwind of cakey adventures, it’s easily done.
Looking ahead to the new year (how is it 2020?!), I already have some exciting things planned in. In fact, in the next couple of weeks alone, I will be heading ‘oop north’ to visit one of my favourite cake talents and will hopefully filming a couple of fun collaborations together while I am there. I will also be celebrating yet another birthday, so look out for some awesome, themed content around that too. Oh, and towards the end of the month, look out for a big – and rather exciting – announcement. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now and can’t wait to share it with you all!
Do you know, I have a feeling that 2020 might end up being even more action-packed that 2019…
Thanks for sharing my year in review, guys and for being a part of my cake adventures over the last twelve months. Whether you were there in person, have been reading the blog, watching my videos, contributing to Something Sweet magazine or following along on social media, I am incredibly grateful for all of the support and encouragement that you give me along the way and I look forward to doing it all again with you in 2020.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you the happiest of new years and I hope that you are all blessed with good health and happiness in 2020.
Until next time…