05 Oct The Cake and Bake Show 2018 review
Today I visited the Cake and Bake Show with a friend. She makes vintage and ‘naked’ cakes for a living, but apart from the healthy treats I make for my boys (usually sweetened with banana or dates) I haven’t got much experience in baking cakes myself. After today I’ve been inspired to do some real cake baking. I bought some really nice bits and pieces from the stalls, I can’t wait to get started and hopefully wow my friends with my cakes. I don’t think my decorating will be a patch on some of the styles I saw today though. There was a real mix of decoration techniques including traditional fondant covered cakes and more modern such as airbrushed cakes. One of my favourite cakes of the day, because of how un-cake like it looks was this gruesomely realistic severed hand by Spectrum Flow.
I usually get the train when I go into London but when I looked into it, it would have taken two and a half hours to get to the Excel by public transport and that included a bus, a train, the tube, the DLR and 14 minutes of walking in total – not fun with a buggy! If I wanted to get there for 10am when it opened then I would’ve had to leave during peak time which meant it would cost considerably more and I’d be on a packed commuter train.
I was surprised when I looked into driving that the Excel was only 50 minutes from my house in Essex, just off the A13 into London, and not in the congestion zone, so I decided to drive. We hit a few brief traffic jams and stopped for a coffee on the way (baby Charlie had us up at 4am!) but we still got there in exactly an hour, door to door. The carpark was easy to find and there were lots of spaces. Parking was quite expensive at £20 but I suppose that’s par for the course in London, and it was still cheaper than getting the train.
There were lots of demonstrations at the show, some you had to pay for and others which were free to attend. The Dr. Oetker cake decorating workshops was free of charge and on every hour. They alternate between making mermaid and monster cupcakes. They provided all of the products I needed to decorate a cupcake, and the product I had left afterwards I was welcome to take home. I made the monster eyeball cupcake and followed the demonstration on a large screen so I could see what to do and there were plenty of Dr. Oetker people staff to help too. There wasn’t too much of a queue when we went, but they seemed to get busier throughout the day and were turning people away by the time we left so it’s definitely worth getting there early to secure a place in the queue if you do want to do it.
The ladies at Bacofoil made us a cuppa whilst we watched a muffin demonstration where we were shown how to make our own cupcake cases from their special greaseproof paper using a cup. They made muffins which they shared with the audience and the non-stick paper did actually work better than some of the paper muffin cases I’ve used in the past – I didn’t loose half of my muffin by it being stuck to the paper like normal.
I attended a taster workshop hosted by Le Cordon Bleu where I made a Pear and Chocolate Dacquoise. They did a live demonstration and provided all of the ingredients pre measured and the equipment needed. I shared a bench with a lovely girl and we worked together to make our ganache, the red wine and chocolate drizzling sauce and prepare our pears and then we assembled our own dacquoises. The demonstration was really detailed the chef was explaining what she was doing and why she was doing it as she went along and there were plenty of Le Cordon Bleu members of staff around to help. If, like me, you’ve always wanted to do a professional workshop or do a course at Le Cordon Bleu then I think £10 is good value for a taster workshop. It lasted for 45 minutes, the chef was on hand afterwards to answer questions, you got a recipe card to take away with you so you could recreate it at home and you could either eat it then and there or they provide you with a box to take it away.
As well as the shows and demonstrations there were plenty of stalls in the Market Stands and Shopping Arcade selling everything you could possibly need to bake, not just cakes but anything. There were cooking aprons, flavoured icing sugar, numerous sugarcraft stalls, The show had numerous places to try and buy cupcakes of every single flavour I could imagine, there were stalls for vegan, gluten free and dairy free so most dietary needs seemed to be catered for.
One of the things I was most looking forward to was the competition cakes. The entries ranged from quite basic, (I thought some of the designs I could have achieved as a novice with a little thought and time) to downright jaw dropping and complicated intricately designed tired cakes and cupcakes. Some of these cakes must have taken weeks of planning, hours of crafting and not to mention probably hundreds of pounds spent on their creation. The entries were all on display to the public so if you go to the show these are definitely worth checking out. The cakes below are a selection of my favourite competition cakes.
I don’t normally buy programmes; they’re usually full of adverts and not much else. The Cake and Bake Show programme does contain adverts, but it also contains biographies for all the guest speakers, timetables for the various stages, interviews with industry experts, special offers and lots of recipes, from beginner (how to get the perfect buttercream) to expert (back to front chocolate and pear profiteroles). The show guide costs £5 and with it you get a free goodie bag, which is definitely worth it, especially if you like tea and chocolate.
I got to the show at 10am and left at 3.30pm as I had to pick Oliver up from nursery (the show closed at 5pm). I did a free workshop, a pre-booked paid for workshop, watched a few demonstrations at various stands throughout the day, had a good look around the market, shop stalls and saw the competition cakes, but I left wishing I’d had more time! There were whole sections that I just didn’t get time to see or do – a Kids’ Zone, celebrity expert speakers, the Champagne bar, the wedding and birthday cake display tables or visit the nail bar.
If you’re at a loose end this weekend and are looking for something to do, looking for inspiration for wedding or birthday cakes either to make yourself as a maker or for your own wedding, to buy bits and pieces or just want a fun day out I can highly recommend the Cake and Bake Show. It started today (Friday 5th October 2018) and is on until Sunday. It’s not too late to buy tickets online, use code HK9 to pay just £9 and save £8 off the on the door price, but check the terms and conditions* as you MUST buy them before the 6th, or you can buy them on the door if you’re too late to buy online.
*T&Cs: Book before 6 October 2018. Save up to £8 off the on the door ticket price (£17). Concessions not included. £1.75 transaction fee applies per order. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.