Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cake & Bake Show

Today I've been at the Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court. The Cake and Bake Show is apparently the 'first live event dedicated to cakes, breads and the art of baking!' As I'm in the midst of moving house at the moment I thought I'd just pop down for a couple of hours and then get back to my packing...but six hours later I was still there and the packing had fallen by the wayside.
After a less than auspicious start, there was a bit of a queue debacle outside, I had a great day! When I arrived at 10am there was a MASSIVE queue to get in but that is probably testament to how popular baking has become in the last few years. In the Cake and Bake programme official statistics indicate that the market has almost doubled in the last 5 years and is up nearly 20% in the last year alone.
So what did I get up to at the show? Well on arrival I was lucky enough to get a seat in the 'Cake Kitchen to watch Eric Lanlard create a Carribean Chocolate Tart from his latest book - Tart it Up! Eric's top tips were as follows:
  1. Make sure you have an oven thermometre as ovens can be 20-30 degrees off
  2. Add a little glucose syrup to your ganache to give it a nice smooth finish.
  3. You can flavour your ganache, Eric added vanilla, cinnamon and star anise but you can add anything you like...I quite fancy orange.
  4. You can buy ovenproof clingfilm which is better than greaseproof paper for lining a pastry case as it gets into the corners and doesn't cut or indent the pastry.
After Eric I had a ticket for a classroom session with Paul Barker from Cinnamon Square. Cinnamon Square is a bakery offering bread and cake classes in Hertfordshire. Paul demonstrated a Panetonne for us. It turns out panetonne is quite difficult and time consuming to make...about 4 hours in real time! It also involves different kneading techniques due to the fact that the dough starts of quite dry and then becomes a wet dough with the addition of sugar and eggs. Paul's top tips:
  1. If a recipe indicates that you need fresh yeast, you can use half the quantity of dry yeast (e.g. 40g fresh = 20g dry). Doves Farm do a good quick yeast.
  2. When kneading a white bread it will need 10-12 minutes of good kneading. Wholemeal will need longer.
  3. To test if you're dough is sufficiently kneaded do the 'Window Pane' test. If you can stretch your dough thin enough to see your finger through without tearing then it's ready.
Next up was Jo Wheatley, winner of the Great British Bake Off. Jo demonstrated a Chocolate Mud cake from her recent book - A Passion for Baking. Jo did seem a little nervous which is hardly surprising given the number of people watching. Jo demonstrated a variety of ways to decorate her mud cake including standing matchmakers or chocolate fingers around the sides and topping with raspberries, malteasers or smarties. Jo's top tip:
  1. Soak an old tea towel in water and then pin it around the outside of your cake tin, this will help the cake to rise evenly.
After three demonstrations it was time for something a little bit different - a Betty's Baking Bliss session. The Betty Crocker team had their own baking area where visitors could bake along using Betty Crocker products. I joined a Caramel Cupcake session. We used the packet mix to make the cupcakes and then watched a piping demonstration. Although this was really simple stuff and there is no substitute for baking from scratch, this was a fun session as it was a chance to get hands on...the finished product didn't taste too bad either!
After Betty it was on to probably my favourite session of the day with Mich Turner of the 'Little Venice Cake Company'. This was yet another chocolate recipe involving the Cake Kitchen host Alistair Appleton (him off Cash in the Attic) pointed out, today was an 'extravaganza of ganaches'. Mich made a 'Chocolatey Cherry Cake' using the Little Venice recipe which they use in all their celebration cakes...I'll definitely be giving this one a go! Mich's top tips:
  1. Take your time when making cakes. You can't overbeat the sugar and the butter whilst creaming...the fluffier the better...this could take 10 minutes or more. Then add your eggs really slowly a bit at a time.
  2. If you make ganache you can leave it to set. This can then be whipped in a mixer and piped. If it's a bit too rich or to sweeten it up you can add ganache to buttercream for piping or filling cakes.
  3. If you want a deeper vanilla flavour, use vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract.
After Mich Turner I was starting to think about heading home...partly due to the fact that I was so hungry and thristy. The queues for the food stalls were also huge and I didn't really fancy spending half an hour waiting. However, when I was heading towards the door I happened upon Tom Herbet's session in 'The Bakery'. I'm glad I stayed as he was really entertaining and I've never really had the urge to make a sour dough loaf before but after his demonstration I think I might give it a go. I also ended up sitting next to Cathryn, John and Sarah-Jane from this year's Great British Bake Off. In the next couple of months keep your eyes peeled for Tom's new baking and butchery school which he is opening along with his brother Henry in the new year. By this time I was a bit tired for top tips but here are two:
  1. Use the best quality ingredients you can afford.
  2. Invest in a bread scraper as they're invaluable and only cost about 2 to 3 pounds.
Other than the demonstrations and classes there were also wedding cakes on display such as the one above from Rachelle's Beautiful Bespoke Cakes, an edible beach competition where all the competition entries were on display, book signings and exhibitors from all sorts of cakey companies. Other famous names at the show included Peggy Porshen, Paul Hollywood, Richard Bertinet and Edd Kimber. Sadly there wasn't time to see them all. Mary Berry is also the star attraction tomorrow.
There were plenty of exhibitors ready to help you part with your money...but I came over unusually frugal and bought very little. I did however invest in a fab book called 'Great Cake Places in London'. It's got sections on Cupcakes & Bakeries, Coffee & Cake, Afternoon Tea, Wedding Cakes and Chocolate & Sweets, not to mention a section of recipes. I will now have to start working my way through!

The Cake and Bake Show was certainly worth a visit and if you couldn't make it or don't live near London then the good news is there will be a Cake and Bake Show in Manchester in April 2013! Top tips for anyone going tomorrow:
  1. Take your own lunch and drinks
  2. Be prepared for the queues outside upon arrival
  3. If you want to join in with a Betty Crocker baking session head straight there when you arrive to register for one of the 5 sessions throughout the day...they book up quickly.
  4. If you can't get a seat in one of the demonstration theatres...just sit on the floor at the front...that's what everyone did today.
Have fun! :-)


  1. Thanks for sharing your visit, it was almost like being there!

  2. wow..sounds like you had a quality fun time taking in all the tips..lucky you..:)

  3. Unfortunately I'm oncall at the hospital all weekend and unable to go, although I've been following avidly via twitter when I can...but it sounds great, great day out Laura and thank you ever so much for taking the time to share the tips and your experiences- and good luck with the packing today!

  4. Wow! Wish I could've been there. Thank you for this lovely post its as though I was, like Janice said. I'm gonna have to go to the book shoppe and preview your new book purchase. Have a nice day Laura : )

  5. I agree with what you've said - it was a great show but the queueing and bad organisation on arrival almost spoiled it for me.

  6. I really enjoyed this post! I went and did enjoy it but agree with the points about the appalling organisation, and there were so many people I couldn't get near the stands :[

  7. interesting show. Shame about the bad organisation. I loved the pictures. There is always something to learn at this shows.

  8. Perfect breakdown of the day. I went and it was hard work to be honest, I wasn't expecting that many people to be there! :)


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