All Content, Blog

Cake International 2017 – the rest!

My plan was originally to post a daily digest from each day of Cake International, but I think, somewhat naively, I didn’t realise just how busy I would be, between entering the competitions, co-hosting an exhibit, capturing content for you guys, meeting up with my oh-so-lovely cake chums, checking in with the many wonderful brands that have supported me in my cakey and charitable endeavours and of course, attending the Cake World’s biggest party, the Cake Masters Magazine Annual Cake Awards! So instead, I thought I would save it all up for one monster post and share the rest of all the Cake International fun right now.

When I left you, I was just heading to bed in the early hours of Saturday morning after a first full day of dragon fun. After a sneaky lie-in, I woke up to some amazing news. My competition piece, which you may recall I had all but given up on this time last week, had won me another silver award! I was utterly gobsmacked and genuinely thrilled that all my last-minute hard work had paid off. I have fallen hopelessly in love with my Paddington bear cake, following our rocky journey together, and I love that he proved so popular with many of the visitors to the show!

final

Arriving back at the NEC on Saturday, after a brief dragon flyby, it was time to explore the show! The sheer number of incredible displays and collaborations meant that there was so much to see and do!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_5923
Emma Jayne Cake Design’s poignant War Horse exhibit
IMG_5927
Claire Anderson hard at work on her Fantasy Fairy wall
IMG_5905
Peboryon’s stunning seascape in support of the Marine Conservation Society
IMG_5902
Saracino’s Christmas Tree
Dragon
The Magical Dragon Machine
Robby Dee Image
Chocolate Magic by Daniel Diéguez, featuring legendary guest artist, Karen Portaleo © Robby Dee Photography

Thank you to Robby Dee Photography for the special permission to use his image. Robby works tirelessly across the Cake International weekend to capture the full event in all its glory and you can find the rest of his stunning images over at his site: www.robbydeephotography.co.uk

Of course, all of this doesn’t even begin to factor in the many hundreds of beautiful competition cakes on display all weekend!

IMG_5918

IMG_5971
My friend Laura’s (Life in Sugar) stunning entry
IMG_5977
And I loved this by Sharon Perrins – Cakes by Sharon

A big highlight of the Saturday though had to be the grand finale of The Cake Off, hosted by Will Torrent and my darling Rosie Cake Diva.

IMG_5894

After the earlier heats at the spring shows, the final, judged by Chef Benny Rivera, Cake International head judge Sally Owens and Dawn Butler, pitted Cake That (Molly Robbins and Phil & Christine of Peboryon) against the Welsh Cakes (Rhianydd Webb, Paul Williams and Cara Maiden). Naturally I had to cheer on my Welsh brother and sisters, but I have to say, both teams managed to create utter masterpieces in only 45 minutes! I was completely thrilled when #teamwales were crowned the victors with this awesome Medusa-themed cake!

IMG_5898

It was also on Saturday that I discovered this wee chap had made his Page 3 debut in the Daily Mirror, although, for the record, Paddington is made out of 100% cake – I never work in polystyrene!

IMG_5932

Saturday evening saw us all getting our glad rags on to celebrate the brightest and best of the Cake World at the annual Cake Masters Magazine Awards, in their new larger home. Rosie and her team at Cake Masters never fail to lay on a fantastic night and I think this year’s bash might just have been the best yet! It’s always the highlight of my social calendar! Congratulations again to all the finalists and winners!

IMG_5951

After a VERY late night at the after party (oops), Sunday was hard work. On The Magical Dragon Machine stand, we were joined by Hendrix from Coffee 4 Craig, the charity we had chosen to support, who cut up the dragon and helped us box it up ready to be distributed to homeless people in and around the Greater Manchester area.

IMG_5996

The team from Snow White: the Grimm Obsession also generously donated loads of leftover cake from their live build to the charity (thanks Emma and team) and then Sweet Success followed suit too.

IMG_5969

IMG_5930

It was truly inspiring to see and a memory I will treasure always.

I also made sure to race around and catch as many people and organisations as I could, before we all had to say goodbye again for another year (sob!). It was so lovely to see everyone, particularly my absolute loves, Hayley and Michael of Fabricake!

IMG_5900

And of course, Robin and Brian from Evil Cake Genius who I simply adore (thank you for my presents guys!).

IMG_5901

I must also give a huge shout out and thank you to the lovely team at Renshaw Baking and the Renshaw Academy (and Kayleigh in particular) for taking the time to track me down and give me some of their new goodies. I always use Renshaw products as they are so accessible to home bakers like me (they’ve even starting stocking some of them in my local supermarket!) and it means a lot that they have offered me so much support over the last year. I’m looking forward to sharing their newest lines with you in another post coming soon!

IMG_5882

Thank you to everyone that contributed to making this weekend such a huge roaring success. It really is an incredible event and if you haven’t visited before, you must in 2018! I’m already hearing next year is set to be the best one yet!

Much cakey love!

PS. This weekend also saw the release of the November issue of Cake Masters Magazine, featuring a very special Christmas tutorial! Winter the Grumpy Pug marks the final chapter in my Grumpy Pug collection and I am delighted to be able to share him with you in my first published tutorial.

IMG_5875

Cake Masters Magazine November issue is out now and available to buy in the UK at WHSmith, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. For international stockists or to subscribe, visit the Cake Masters website

All Content, Blog

Cake International 2017 – Day One

Sorry for the radio silence of late, but I have been crazy busy working to get everything ready for Cake International this weekend.

The last week has seen me and my fellow Dragonistas working hard to pull everything together ready for the grand reveal of The Magical Dragon Machine and I must give a shout out to my #teamdragon colleagues, who worked like trojans this week to finish the main build. They genuinely had their work cut out and yet have managed to make him even better than I could ever have imagined!

Of course, I also had a competition entry to do. With all of the other projects that I have had on my plate recently, I had actually pretty much decided not to bother with an entry, but then some of my friends got wind of this and strongly encouraged me to ‘pull my finger out and get on with it’. So as a result, I had three days to get something together. I can’t give anything away about my piece yet – we’re not allowed to reveal them until after the judges’ results are released on Saturday – so you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what I managed to produce.

Roll on to this morning however and when my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 3.45am (after going to bed at 1.30am – ouch), I just managed to gulp down a couple of pints of coffee and then it was time for the madness of show life to begin.

The first drama of any cake show is of course getting to the venue. Cakes don’t really like being transported and often have a tendency to misbehave, so when one is transporting a competition piece you really have to be sure that you pack it safely in your car. The best places are where the centre of gravity is lowest – the boot or a footwell ideally. However, when your showpiece is ridiculously huge, you often need to get creative – particularly when you have a tiny convertible! I had to pretty much build a wooden shelf over my minuscule back seat and then put the roof down, place the cake on top of the boot, climb over the side into the back seat, lift the cake into the car and onto the board (on a non-slip mat) and then pop the roof back up – so nice and simple really. Unfortunately, the journey didn’t pass without incident – being cut up by a lorry at one point required an emergency stop and that had an impact (quite literally) on the cake. But bearing in mind, four days ago, I wasn’t even entering, I’m feeling rather zen about everything.

Once my competition piece was on the table, it was time to Dragon! Revealing this awesome collaboration, after almost a year of planning, organisation and more, was amazing. Our cast of tinkers, critters and florals are simply delightful and when coupled with the dragon in all his moving, flapping and smoke-breathing glory, the wonderful projections by the amazing Stu Harris of Motion Mapping and the Stomp-esque soundtrack, it’s simply breathtaking. Do make sure you swing by The Magical Dragon Machine Facebook page to see everything that we’re sharing across the weekend.

We also feature at the end of Cake Masters Magazine’s Facebook Live walkaround video where I tell them all about the project and you can also see a lot more of the display, so feel free to go check it out here.

Of course, across the day, there have been a multitude of fantastic demos, classes and tutorials by all sorts of wonderful talents too!

A personal highlight for me was watching my ‘cakebro’ Ben Cullen, The BakeKing complete his first ever demonstration.

Cake International had challenged Ben to create one of his signature head cakes in only 45 minutes. Only 45 MINUTES! He coped admirably with the pressure, until rather meanly, they then surprised him with an appearance from his muse, the legendary Karen Portaleo herself! In our completely unbiased opinion, we think Ben smashed it – but what do you think?

To be honest, I could write and write and write about the excitement of the day, but I think I need to ration myself – we still have two more days to go! Instead, I’ll end with my other best part of the first show day – the chance to catch up with the whole host of wonderful cake friends that travel here from across the globe. It really is lovely to see everyone and I can’t wait to spend the next few days with my bestest cakey chums!

All Content, Blog

GUEST POST: The Magical Dragon Machine

Coming to Cake International at the NEC, Birmingham in November, The Magical Dragon Machine was originally the brain child of The Cake Illusionist, Hannah Edwards. Late in 2016, Hannah had an idea – an idea that quite honestly seemed completely crazy – a giant mechanical dragon to enthral visitors to one of the largest cake shows in the world. Inspired by the mystical, the mythical and the downright weird, the idea evolved and grew and soon Hannah was reaching out to other cake artists, like myself, who soon fell under its wondrous spell. I have been wanting to tell people more about the project for so long, but really it should be Hannah that spills the beans. So after much begging and pleading, Hannah has agreed to pen a guest post here to let you all in on the secret of The Magical Dragon Machine…

Dragon Mouth

The Magical Dragon Machine was imagined with community at its heart and cake art as its soul. It will be a four-dimensional experience, created in delicious cake and sweet edibles and we might have thrown in a little flare and a few tricks with the aim of bringing together something truly magical.

Our scrapyard dragon will stand over seven feet above you and stretches over 17 feet long, from riveted nose to scrap-metal tail. Built around a secret internal structure containing all sorts of wonderful surprises, the dragon will also be filled with around eight hundred servings of delicious cake, donated by the brilliant Sweet Success.

Towering above his scrapyard home, the dragon will be surrounded by a huge array of mystical clockwork creatures rising up out of the scrap itself and all of this wonder is being worked on by a cast of fantastical sugar characters, including our tinker children and the mad inventor.

Ana Mourinho Remigio

Scale and logic are irrelevant when imaginations run wild, so look out for oversized bugs, sea creatures on land, all manner of nuts and bolts floristry and why not see if you can spot the tinker tasked with spray painting the dragon. And don’t forget, all of this will be crafted in sugar and other edible decorations.  You’ll see some of the finest sculpting, the most intricate floral work, amazingly detailed modelling and all the other sugar specialisms that the cake world has to offer.

To bring our magical friends to life, we have been so incredibly fortunate to receive help from a whole host of wonderful individuals and organisations and must offer our sincere thanks to Renshaw Baking, Rainbow Dust, Dummies Direct (who crafted our head, feet and tail), Sweet Success, Mr. Blister and Caterline, The Old Piping Bag, dragéekíss™, Cake Dutchess, Platinum Paste, The Black Horse Pub, Atherstone and, of course, Cake International. We couldn’t have done this without them – or the 60 artists all pulling together to make this happen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to creating a stunning sugar experience, this project has a few more core aims. One being that it truly is a community-based project, where different artists at varying stages of their journey all take part as equals. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity and platform to shine.  Secondly it was of paramount importance to us all to ensure there was considerable amounts of real cake involved – what can we say, we’re cake purists – and thanks to Sweet Success, our dragon is chock full of it. Sure, this brings with it extra challenges most definitely: it shortens the amount of time we have to build the dragon and means we have to ensure that food safety is front and centre of everything we do. It also creates considerable weight issues! But these are challenges we are more than happy to face to ensure we can stay true to the art of cake.

Teaser

Finally, mindful of the problems with excess and waste in westernised countries, particularly while others struggle to get by, we wanted to ensure that a worthwhile home was found for the considerable amounts of real food that are enabling us to play our arty games. We were so fortunate to be able to find our sponsors, Mr. Blister and Caterline, who have donated enough sealed plastic containers and forks for every single serving of dragon cake. These will be donated to Coffee4Craig, a charity for the homeless, who run mobile kitchens three times a week and will be able to distribute the cake to those that need it most.

We’ve been working on this project for almost a year now and it’s truly humbling to see the amount of effort, love, blind faith and dedication people are putting into this. From the artists themselves, to their families and to our sponsors, who continue to surprise us with their generosity.

I’m so proud of what we are doing. All of it. But don’t just take my word for it – come and see for yourself!

The Magical Dragon Machine and the Mystical Scrapyard will be at Cake International, at the NEC Birmingham from 3-5 November 2017. Come and let your imagination run wild and see the story unfold in front of your eyes.

I look forward to seeing you there…

Hannah  The Cake Illusionist

Tickets for Cake International, Birmingham are available in advance (with an early bird discount) from the Cake International Website or you can buy on arrival at the NEC.

And why not visit The Magical Dragon Machine Facebook Page?