I attended two different shows this month which were a really interesting snapshot as to how baking shows are working these days – I thought the comparisons between the Cake and Bake Show and the Happy Foodies Festival were really revealing for anyone who likes attending baking related events.
The Cake and Bake Show
After a stop in Manchester, the Cake and Bake Show returned to London, where I was flabbergasted by the massive queue which had amassed out front. The Manchester show had a healthy amount of people, but the London one – just absolutely jammers. I was one of the first people in the door and this was a taste of the steady stream ten seconds after opening!
One of the big things that struck me was the prevalence of Wilton equipment and products. Indisputably the biggest name in novelty bakeware and cake decorating, the quirky unique products that I love buying in America from places like JoAnn’s Fabrics are making it across the pond.
Check out these doughnut twist pans – I think they’re cute and would be great for apple cider donuts (which I’m planning on trying soon!) One of the cool displays was the Cake Catwalk – where different cakes were modelled into various fashion – how cute is this steampunk dress?
There was a stall from one of my baking provider secrets – Costco. The entire Beardy family has memberships (my parents on East Coast US, my sister on the West Coast) and us in London. Like most bakers, I go through a LOT of ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs and butters, so I regularly make the trip to Costco to stack up on these staples cheaper (as wholesale.) They were there signing people up, but if you qualify and have access to a car to get to a Costco near you, I’d recommend it.
I loved the wide variety of creative fudges from Tom’s Fudge (Cherry Bakewell anyone?)
There were a lot of sweets floating around on the day, but the thing I really enjoyed was the almond croissant from The Flour Station – really moist and deliciously fresh bread surrounding the sweet marzipan.
But the best sweet I got to try, hands down, was this butterscotch and dark chocolate tart – it was incredibly rich and filling and I want more. Now. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it (thank you, Little Round Cake Company.)
The Cake and Bake Show has a lot of links to the Great British Bake Off and so there were many stars of the former and current seasons there to do demonstration. I managed to grab James Morton, my favourite from last season (read: interrupted him when he was trying to catch up with his friend and forced him to take a photo of us before he went on stage to make madeleines.)
The demos were really interesting – unfortunately, most sold out long before the day, but the one we were able to attend (on basic sugarcraft work) was really interesting – the one complaint would be again, that it was just so packed! It was hard to get close to stalls and browse, and although Lakeland in particular had a great selection, the queues were so long that I noted down products I liked to buy online later. But the show really was a massive celebration of people who love baking and a chance to introduce me to some great new venues and I’d recommend to get the most out of it, that you treat it similarly – a chance to open up your mind a bit and definitely plan ahead!
The Happy Foodies Festival
On the other hand, the Happy Foodies Festival was purely based on demonstrations and food. Held slightly outside of London in Rickmansworth, it was a far more intimate setting. The name of the day was cookbooks – instead of a wide variety of stalls to interest bakers, there was one stall from a local bookshop offering books from the speakers and a large stage where there were interviews and food demos. It was certainly a very specific place (for those who love cookbooks), but the trade off was the absolute benefit conferred by the small size.
And here’s James Morton, attending a bread-making demo and mingling with the crowd – a bit different from other events!
There’s the lovely Ms Cupcake giving a talk about the uprise in vegan baking. One of the most touching parts of her speech (to me) was when she spoke about children with dairy allergies being able to enjoy all the cakes at her shop! She talked about how vegan food often gets the reputation as being dull and boring, but she wanted to make gourmet, delectable vegan food which would draw in non-vegans (and as a fan of hers, I can admit she has achieved.) She also spoke approvingly of the move of many non vegans towards eating less meat, but better quality meat.
I was tempted enough to buy two cookbooks – Sunshine on a Plate and Alexis Gauthier’s Vegetronic. Gauthier, who is not a vegetarian, wanted to eat a more healthy, balanced diet (pretty much where myself and Beardy Fiance are at right now) and so wanted to focus on meals, vegetarian or not, which highlighted vegetables. I love the idea of focusing more on making vegetables delicious (and edible in this house!).
Both events were really worth going to, but I have to admit, I got very different things out of both of them! So think carefully about why you’re attending and what you’d like to leave with – and enjoy.
Leave me a comment if you attended either and tell me what you think.
I received complementary tickets to both events, but all opinions are my own.