Review: Cake International - Part #1 - The Baking Explorer

Review: Cake International – Part #1



Last weekend I attended the 18th Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show – at EventCity in Manchester. It is the first time that the show, the largest of its kind in the world, has come to Manchester and there are over 70,000 people expected to attend it this year across four venues in the UK.

I have a lot to tell you and show you about my Cake International experience, so I am going to have to divide it into two posts!

Review Part #1
Competition Cakes
Mary Berry


 Review Part #2 (Click to read)

John Whaite



There was a vast variety of exhibitors selling their cake, chocolate and sugarpaste goods at Cake International. There were some amazing new products that I had never seen before and some definite product trends throughout the stalls.
The first stall I noticed was a familiar face – Sugar & Crumbs. I did a review on their flavoured icing sugar, which you can read here, and it was great to see the full range of their products such as chocolate orange cocoa powder, chocolate cherry cocoa powder, and lemon drizzle icing sugar.

I thought these cute mini glass domes at the Cake Decorating Company‘s stand were so gorgeous and cute!


They also sold LorAnn Oils, which are super strength flavourings. Three to four times stronger than the extracts you find in the supermarket. They withstand heat and can be added to chocolate, sponges, icing and fudge. They come in a massive range of flavours including Cola, Key Lime, Peanut Butter and Butterscotch.


Sugarveil is an amazing product that creates an edible lace which can be used to add texture when decorating cakes. The effects it can create are absolutely stunning and despite looking very fragile it is quite sturdy and flexible.


Tracey’s Cakes sell this chocolate paste, which can be used to cover cakes, or moulded and shaped into cake decorations. It is made purely of chocolate and is not sugarpaste, so tastes like chocolate too!


 As you can see above, it can be made into beautiful flowers!


Tracey’s Cakes made all of the decorations on this 4 1/2 foot ‘Under The Sea’ cake out of chocolate paste! It was moulded with white chocolate paste and then airbrushed to add colour. Airbrushing was a popular trend and I saw exhibitors demonstrating it on a few stalls


Cake Stand Solutions had some gorgeous and unique cake stands on display. They have created some very detailed and pretty ways of displaying cakes.


I really liked the carousel cake stand!


D G Films Ltd edible printing absolutely amazed me. They print images from photos, to logos and cartoons onto edible wafer paper using ink which is essentially made from similar ingredients to food colourings. Just imagine what you could do with this!


The image above is an example of what can be achieved with these printers.


The edible inks used in the printers. I purchased some Red Nose Day logos to stick on my Comic Relief cake sale cupcakes from them!


Another popular trend I noticed at Cake International were ready made fruit cakes. The picture above are the offerings from Sugar and Spice, who supply rich rum fruit cake bases ready for decorating with sugarpaste. These cakes are definitely aimed at dedicated cake decorators who perhaps don’t have time to make the cake as well as do their intricate sugarpaste designs.


Cake pops have increased in popularity over recent months and Cake Pop Heaven‘s Starter Kit contains all you need to make 15 cake pops and is a great way to try out the trend.


The Fudge Factory had an amazing range of flavours available including classics like Rum & Raisin, Chocolate and Vanilla. And some more interesting flavours like Jammie Dodger, Vimto, Iron Bru and Jack Daniels. I purchased three boxes for £5, which I thought was a great bargain!


I just had to show you these gorgeous cupcakes that were on FPC Sugarcrafts‘ stand. So pretty!


I was immediately sold on the Whizzy Whisk after seeing the demonstration of how it makes milk super frothy (see above photo!) with only manual use, no batteries included. You just push the top and in only a couple of minutes, milk froths up ready for a hot chocolate or a cappuccino. It also works on pancake batter, cream and eggs. I tested it when I got home and loved it!


Competition Cakes


Cake International holds competitions at each show. There were fifteen categories at the Manchester event, including Floral Sugarcraft, Yeast Cookery, Novelty Cake, Wedding Cake, Cupcakes and Decorated Celebration Cake. All the beautifully decorated and designed cakes were displayed for visitors to view. This was definitely one of the popular parts of the show, there were so many cakes to see and be amazed at! I hope you enjoy the following photos of some of my favourites….







Yes these are not real flowers, they are made from sugarcraft!


















































And finally, a simple yet stunning design that I really loved…


Mary Berry


Without a doubt my personal highlight of the show. It is the first time I have seen Mary in person, and she exudes warmth and kindness. She started her time on the Bakery Theatre stage by talking about a little girl who had won gold in one of the cake competitions, and she wanted to know if the girl was in the crowd so she could invite her up on stage. Unfortunately the girl wasn’t there but it was such a thoughtful gesture. She then went on to make a joke about how her and Paul have been named some of TV’s best presenters and “Simon Cowell better watch out!”


Mary really interacted with the audience throughout her demonstration, asking about what we thought of Paul Hollywood and his blue eyes. She said he was funny and also talked about Mel and Sue’s great ability to calm all the GBBO contestants nerves. She gave Sue’s new sitcom, Heading Out, a plug too!

Mary showed us how to make three dishes; A pear tart, mini banoffee pies and a Simnel cake. Although I was in awe the whole way through, I felt like the recipes took back stage somewhat to her anecdotes, tips and stories. She used tinned pears for the tart, and said she likes using shortcuts where possible. The filling for the pear tart consisted of cream cheese, lemon curd and lemon zest. Mary always uses full fat cream cheese, and full fat everything else. She told us she would rather have one small slice that tastes really good, than more and it not be as nice.


Mary talked about her appearance on The Graham Norton Show, she said Graham was “quite saucy” and she had trouble deciding what to wear. She found a cardigan that her husband said was over the top, but she decided that Graham was over the top too, so it would be ok! Hugh Jackman was on the show as well, and put his hand on Mary’s knee, which was a highlight for her! It would be for me too! However, as you can see from the photo I found below, it seems Mary was the one with both her hands on Hugh’s knee!

I as mentioned, Mary really likes using shortcuts and making things easier when baking. She said that there was a lot to learn at Cake International from all the new products on offer. For the banoffee pies Mary used another shortcut, the tinned Carnation caramel, she added butter and muscovado sugar to it and heated them together. She also had a handy tip about freezing bananas if they were starting to go brown.


When Mary featured on Desert Island Discs, she told us that the presenter Kirsty Young brought along some biscuits that her 10 year old daughter had made and wanted Mary’s appraisal on. Mary said they were over baked, but tasted delicious. She said she can always find something nice to say, as you have probably noticed on GBBO!

The last thing Mary made was a Simnel Cake. She had a few tips, such as making sure your butter is always at room temperature, greasing the cake tin with butter so the greaseproof paper don’t slip, and microwaving a cut lemon to make juicing it easier. She asked the audience to give her stage assistant Georgia a round of applause which was really nice. Georgia had sieved the apricot jam for the Simnel Cake, but Mary said she wouldn’t do this at home, as she quite likes the bits! She commented on the different styles that her and Paul have. He likes everything to be perfect, whereas she doesn’t mind.

Image Source

As you may know, The Great British Bake Off won a BAFTA award. As the cast were sat in Row H, Sue told Mary they had no chance of winning as they were two far away from the stage. But to their surprise, they did! It is clear that Mary has an interest in fashion as she talked about how excited she was to see what everyone was wearing at the award ceremony. I just had to post the below picture of Mary looking absolutely gorgeous and glamorous at the National Television Awards as soon as I saw it!

Image Source

The final touches to the Simnel cake were using a blowtorch to brown the marzipan on top. Mary said she never had a blowtorch as her naughty children would have ended up chasing each other with it! She also used crystallised primroses to decorate the top. Which you can make by coating the primroses in some beaten egg, sprinkling with sugar and then leaving in a warm place to harden.


As Mary’s time on the Bakery Theatre stage drew to an end, she answered several questions from the audience. She told us that he favourite thing to bake was her mother’s ginger cake with stem ginger, and that for Mother’s Day she would like a Simnel Cake or a Sherry Trifle. She advised us to use good quality cupcake cases, to pre-cook pastry before filling it to avoid soggy bottoms, to cook large cakes for longer on lower temperatures, and finally when a little girl asked for advice on how to make chocolate teacakes, she said “get your mum and dad to help”. At the end Mary signed some autographs and it was children first. Just another example of what a nice lady she is!

If you missed Cake International in Manchester you can catch it again at the ExCeL in London (April 2013) and the NEC, Birmingham (November 2013). Check out the website for more details and to buy tickets!

19 comments / Add your comment below

  1. A day of everything cakes +baked sounds lovely! Those extra strength flavourings sound interesting…have you used any of them before/ what did you think? 🙂

  2. Thanks Kat! I have one correction for you. Our super strength flavors are 3 to 4 times stronger than typical extracts. They are more potent than extracts, but not 8 times stronger. Enjoy!

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