The Cake and Bake Show promised “inspiration and baking madness”. But did it deliver?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I entered the huge exhibition centre at Earls Court housing this year’s Cake and Bake Show, but I’ve got to say, I was excited. On arrival, I was offered a program listing all the stalls and where to find them. This would have been a useful purchase because the fair was a sprawling mass of baked delights, but at £5 a pop, I politely declined. I think it would have been a nice touch to include the programs (and “free” bag) in the £14.50 advance ticket price (plus £1.50 booking fee), but I haven’t been to an event like this before, so perhaps that’s just how it’s done.
The fair itself was a mecca of stalls for the avid home baker (mere dabblers would have been bored as the many boyfriends who had been dragged along would tell you) and products ranged from kitchenware to savoury treats and, of course, cakes. Oh, the cakes: cakes of all colours and sizes adorned each laden table with the kind of tempting iced tops to bring out the inner glutton in even the most self-controlled visitor. Despite the mouthwatering presentation, I was somewhat surprised at the lack of imagination when it came to flavour combinations, particularly at an event such as this where your competitor is at the stall next to you. Unique selling points were hard to discover, but the following six really stuck out for me:
- The Little Round Cake Company (@littleroundcake): You’d be seriously hard pressed to find a better, more colourful display than this one. The size of their “little cakes” alone were enough to cause shock and awe. Always a busy stall, I wish I’d left room for their Caramel Latte Tweener, but alas, I was forced to make do by feasting on their decadent stall with hungry eyes and a very full stomach. I only wish they’d had some samples out…
- Ms Cupcake (@MsCupcakeUK): Friendly staff who were passionate about their fully vegan bakes are what made this one memorable for me: the cakes looked inviting enough and their cookery book really was gorgeous. I was a little disappointed with the Red Velvet Cupcake as the icing was far too sweet for my taste. However, the girls there were so welcoming, I’ll be sure to pay them a visit next time I’m in Brixton.
- Black Mountain Gold Chocolate (@WELSHCHOCS): As far as pushing the boat out flavour wise, these folks have my vote. They had plenty of samples out of their innovative chocolate concoctions and the team really knew their stuff. I particularly liked their “Thai” chocolate bar flavoured with lime and chilli. Yum!
- The Cheshire Cheese Company (@1CheshireCheese) : Still in the creative flavours department, The Cheshire Cheese Company really outdid themselves. I work in a deli that sells specialist cheeses, but even I hadn’t had the pleasure of trying a Sticky Toffee Heaven waxed, soft cheddar before and it was a true delight. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for Christmas!
- The Sausage Club (@Supreme Sausages): Passion for their product was in abundance here. Not only did The Sausage Club offer free samples (I may have mentioned this a huge tick in my book), they were selling their sausages as hot dogs as well as offering packs of six sausages at a reduced Cake and Bake Show rate. The flavour combinations were simple but delicious (red wine and garlic anyone?), and I was more than happy with my Wild Boar and Apple hot dog for lunch.
- Sponge (@SpongeCakesLtd): Not necessarily the most exciting of flavours, but their packaging idea of boxing up slider-sized cakes was definitely unique. They recommend their tiny creations for party boxes or baby gifts, but they would also make great little stocking fillers.
Much like my appetite, the exhibition had pretty much died down by 4pm and most of the remaining visitors seemed to be in some kind of sugar-induced stupor. The cooking demonstrations I saw were good but really, most people were just there to spend money.
To be honest, I was expecting the event to be more about sharing a love of baking than sellers trying shifting their stock, but I had a great time nonetheless. I would recommend The Cake and Bake Show to those looking for specialist baking bits and bobs at competitive prices and those with an extremely sweet tooth and larger than average appetite.