I’m still on a high after Cake International! The first weekend in November thousands of cake decorators and enthusiasts from all across the world descend upon Birmingham to attend the world’s largest cake show at the NEC. This year was no exception – there was a buzzing crowd and the latest trends in new supplies and tools were available to buy. There were even amazing workshops and demos too and not forgetting the globally recognised Cake International competition display… but more on that later.
The first Cake International I attended was in 2006, unknown to me at the time I was pregnant with my first daughter and wondering why the smell of freshly baked cakes from the demo kitchen was making me feel nauseous. I remember attending that show with my mum and sister and us being amazed at the competition entries – stunning works of art made from sugar. This was very early on in my cake decorating journey but even then I knew that I would enter a piece into the competition myself one day.
My first entry was in 2011 in the wedding cakes category and I was absolutely speechless when I got a silver award for my piece.
Six years on and Cake International is still an amazing event to be a part of. This year I decided to submit a competition piece in a category completely new to me, that of small decorative exhibit. There were a few reasons for me switching to this category: I’d only ever submitted pieces in the wedding cake category so I wanted to try something different and out of my comfort zone. I was also contributing a display piece to the Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School Display (pictured below), so having two pieces to complete, I really couldn’t afford to commit to a multi tiered cake (which is one of the criteria for the wedding cake category). On a more personal note, this year my family had experienced two bereavements, so I had this idea that my piece would in some ways be a commerative piece for the loved ones that had passed.
My piece, a flower planter filled with a variety of sugar flowers, really came together the day before it was due at the competition. I had already made the sugar flowers, a selection of roses, sweet peas, freesias and blossoms over a period of a couple of weeks, but at this stage I had nothing to present them on /in. Years ago at a previous Cake International, I had purchased an airbrush and probably used it less than a dozen times in about five years. So what better way to experiment with a relatively new piece of equipment and technique, than on a piece that would be judged! Not! Luckily I had the right airbrush colours and got to work spraying my cake, which I was able to complete in under an hour. Thankfully it turned out quite well and after reviewing the competition rules for about the 20th time I was more or less happy with it.
So I was delighted and pleasantly surprised when I went on to receive a bronze award for my piece and what’s more, the judges’ feedback was really helpful.
Every year the standard of competition entries gets more and more amazing. This year there were over 1500 entries and the judging criteria stricter than ever before, with many entries not receiving an award, as the competition rules weren’t followed.
In my opinion this strict approach pushes us cake decorators to step out of our comfort zones and try new techniques. Only next year I won’t be as experimental so close to the day of the actual competition…
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Until next time…