If you read my midweek post last week, then you will have seen that, at the weekend, I was invited to attend the very first CAKE LIVE Demonstration Day, hosted by FMM Sugarcraft and Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine. If you missed it, fear not because I’ve got you covered…
Taking place at the stunning Chateau Impney Hotel & Exhibition Centre, near Droitwich Spa, the day, which will hopefully be the first of many, promised us a masterclass in cake decorating, from caking legends Cassie Brown and Carol Haycox.
As the day dawned bright and early, I jumped in the car and made the journey up to Droitwich Spa, finding the hotel nice and easily. There was ample free parking, which is always a nice touch and I was greeted at the door by the lovely team from Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine.
Proper attendees (i.e. paying guests, rather than bloggers who had snuck their way in) were presented with a bumper-stuffed goodie bag, which contained a whole host of exciting products, including a voucher to pick up three FMM products of your choice from their stand, a cake board and box, two food-grade cake decorating stencils from Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine, some Jem flower stamens, the two most recent copies of Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine (including the Bumper Christmas Issue), some Foodie Flavours extract, some Renshaw Ready to Roll Icing in their Colour of the Year 2019, Cassis, a Renshaw pen and tote bag, some Magic Colours gel colour, a delicious piece of vanilla madeira cake from Sweet Success, a cake tool and even more besides. If you caught my Facebook Live from the event, you might have seen that I didn’t get one… *sad face* …but more on that later.
As we arrived, we were served tea and coffee, alongside a huge selection of hot and tasty pastries (I do love a pastry) and there was ample time to check out the various shopping opportunities – with a huge array of products available from our hosts, FMM Sugarcraft (all available at 50% off!!), including an exclusive first chance to buy their two newest cutters.
Cassie also had a stand selling her books (including her latest stunning publication, The Kew Book of Sugar Flowers), her huge range of flower cutters and her new set of metal tools, while Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine were also on hand with some fabulous subscription deals – including some that would be perfect for Christmas presents for the cake decorators in your life.
I was also really excited to see that Cassie had some of the aprons with her that we had seen the incredible airbrush artist Giorgio Uccellini painting at Cake International earlier this month. Priced at just £20, it was an incredible opportunity to own a unique piece of fabulous art and ALL of the proceeds from the sales of the aprons was being donated to charity too. I may have had to pick one up – got to do my bit for charity… 😉
Once we were all assembled, the day started with a demonstration from Carol Haycox, who I am embarrassed to admit I did not know of before this event. Carol has been working in the industry for 38 years and with FMM Sugarcraft for a significant period of that time. She is also an absolute scream! If you ever get the chance to see her demonstrate, you must must must do it. I’m pretty gutted that it has taken me this long to meet her!
During the demonstration, Carol showed us how she bakes, fills and covers her buttercream cakes, using real cakes that she had baked for the event, flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavoured Icing Sugars. She then went on to show us how she uses some of the FMM Sugarcraft range to achieve some very quick, simple and effective finishes – including a Hawaiian floral cake tier, some intricate-looking borders and a leaf pattern with the new Totally Tropical Leaves cutters.
What I loved the most about Carol’s demonstration was how, at every stage of the process, she was showing people how they can work quickly and efficiently to ensure that no time is wasted – very important when you are making cakes and charging for your time. Her no-nonsense approach to cake decorating was clearly very gratefully received by the assembled attendees, but she still managed to combine her very sound advice with the perfect dose of fun and humour too. The small and intimate setting also meant that everyone had the chance to ask their questions and even grab some one-on-one time between the demonstrations too.
After Carol was finished, we broke for more coffee and tea – plus snacks, which included the cake that Carol had just decorated (a delicious lemon and lime cake) – and more shopping time, before it was time for our first demonstration from Cassie.
Sticking with the tropical theme, Cassie showed us how we can use the same FMM cutters to create stunning 3D wired Hawaiian flowers in either sugar or cold porcelain. As someone who hasn’t got a great deal of experience with sugar floristry, I was particularly interested in this and may have picked up the all-important cutters that Cassie used to have a go at these myself. I have never worked with cold porcelain either, so I was eager to check that out too. I couldn’t believe how light it was!
Cassie went on to assemble her blooms together with some tropical leaves (yup, using the same FMM cutters as Carol) and some bamboo to create a beautiful spray, which would be perfect to adorn a modern, tropical-themed wedding cake and I am itching to have a go at it myself…
After that, it was time for lunch, during which we were served a delicious hot and cold buffet, and I took the time to get to know some of the day’s attendees a little better. There were a huge variety of visitors to the CAKE LIVE Demonstration Day, with everyone from grandmothers who just make their family’s birthday cakes, right through to professionals who are churning out celebration and wedding cakes, week after week. I was also struck by just how far people had travelled to attend the day, with just my lunch table containing people from Kent, Lincolnshire, West Sussex, Hampshire and even more besides! It was great getting to know all of the lovely ladies (there were some chaps there too though) and I must thank them for their company and willingness to speak to me while they enjoyed their tasty lunch.
In the afternoon, we were talking Christmas cakes, with Carol teaching us how to properly cover a cake with sugarpaste, achieving a smooth and professional finish every single time, before using the Press-Ice to mark out a pattern, which she then piped using royal icing.
FMM cutters were used to create a variety of festive finishes, including snowflakes, delicate reindeer, icicles and snowy grass and my biggest takeaway here was her simple way of removing even the most intricate shapes from Tappits – something I know that many of us find tricky! I would tell you what it is, but I feel like you should learn it from Carol herself… 😉
Then, after more snacks, coffee and tea, we were back to Cassie, who got us all inspired to create a variety of flowers to create a stunning festive display, using dahlias, filler flowers, chilli peppers, and leaves. As Cassie explained, why limit ourselves to only certain types of flowers and sprays for our Christmas cakes? We can create a whole multitude of stunning Christmassy finishes if we think outside the box a little.
I have to say, I left the day feeling incredibly inspired by what I had seen. Carol and Cassie summed it up perfectly: for those who make simple cakes at home, Carol shared some top tips on how you can enhance what you are doing, using some shortcuts that will enable you to work quickly and efficiently, and how to use the range of FMM cutters in a variety of different ways to get the best value for money from them.
Cassie then provided us with the aspirations to take our creations to the next level, using more complex skills, but that are still achievable with a bit of practice.
I think everyone who attended the day left feeling like they had learnt something new and, between Carol and Cassie’s banter and the special exclusive offers available on the day, we definitely had all had a fantastic time!
As I mentioned above, FMM Sugarcraft and Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine are hoping that the CAKE LIVE Demonstration Day will be the first of many, so if you missed out this time and would be interested in attending a future event, FMM Sugarcraft want to hear from you! Who would you want to learn from? What would you want to see? To let them know, you can either get in touch with them directly, via their Facebook page or, if you’d prefer to contact me through the usual channels, I’ll be happy to pass your comments on. You can reach me by commenting below, messaging my Facebook page, posting in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by emailing me directly.
Oh, and as I was helping pack up the day, I was delighted to be presented with my very own GOODIE BAG!!
What’s more, they even gave me two extra bags to share with my subscribers – which means you! While not as stuffed as those given out on the day (you won’t get to choose some FMM Sugarcraft products, I’m afraid), they still have a lovely selection of goodies for you to play with.
To get your hands on one, just get in touch and tell me who would be your dream demonstrator. If you could spend a day learning from any cake artist, who would it be and why? Post your answers in the comments below and I’ll pick two at random to receive the goodies. You’ve got until this time next week – Wednesday 28th November – to get your responses in.
I would like to say a huge thank you to FMM Sugarcraft and Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft Magazine for inviting me to attend their first CAKE LOVE Demonstration Day and also to Cassie and Carol for giving us all a fabulous learning experience. I hope that this will be the first of many wonderful Demonstration Days to come, because I will definitely be back for more!