Cake International – Birmingham is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions where cake artists across the globe come together under one roof to showcase their skills and talents. This year, I’ve been in that number and feel so UNBELIEVABLY blessed to have been a part of such a magical event.
Exactly two years ago, almost to the date, I created my very first carved cake in the form of a Jack Skellington inspired Jack-o-Lantern. I was asked by my bestie to make it for her Halloween party and I somehow managed to create it. Two years on, I’ve come away from Cake International as Gold Award Winner with ‘The Unbearable Hangover’! I am completely chuffed to bits and I still don’t think it’s quite sunken in. But not only have I won a Gold Award, but I was offered an opportunity to assist Daniel Dieguez on his Chocolate Magic exhibition (who is quite frankly a mad genius and utterly brilliant!) which involved some hard graft but also the incredible experience of working with such talented artists who collaborated on his exhibition.
Two years ago, it was so daunting and terrifying taking a carving knife to any of beautifully baked cakes. Now it’s second nature. I love to create cakes that DON’T look like cake. I know that that sounds weird but hang on a mo, bro, bear with me (haha, get it?!). We’re talking show stoppers, centre pieces of the party that WOW your guests, friends and family. A talking point and a ‘WHAT!? That’s CAKE!?’ comment slung across the room from Uncle John who’s already on his third pint and has only just clocked it.
I’ve learnt so much in the last couple of years and founded Cabbage Patch Bakery almost a year ago. We’re still very much a fledgling bakery but we’re developing and honing our skills, ready to
take over the world launch fully next year. I keep my eye out for inspiration from other cake artists (who one day I hope and aspire to be!) and follow them in all the usual places (not creeping around down dodgy back alleys, I mean on social ha!). Each year they descend upon Birmingham and showcase their amazing talent at the NEC’s Cake International event, and this year I thought I’d give it a go entering the competition!
The competition is stiff and the competitors here mean business. Prior to this year, I have never entered a competition ANYWHERE, not even at my local village hall. Nervous? An understatement! I genuinely had no idea quite what to expect and what the judge’s would think of my cake.
I decided to enter the sculpted/carved cake category – the rules call for 100% cake to be used with no internal supports (no dowels, no boards, no rice krispie treats) and everything used to decorate the whole piece to be edible. For a girl who uses a lot of homemade armature, it was tricky to come up with a design that I knew would be solid and survive the 130 mile journey to Brum’.
On the run up to the competition, long days and sleepless nights were the making of this cake. With days rapidly flying by, I got to a stage where I was ‘almost’ there with the final piece. [Enter Daniel]. I bumped into him in my local cake supply shop, from where he was working on the week running up to Cake International. After a quick hello and an attempt to not fan girl on him too much, I left feeling proud as punch.
“You’ll never guess who I’ve just seen!?” I screamed in delight as soon as I crossed the threshold at home. “‘This Awesome Cake Dude’ Come have a look at his Insta!” It was here I noticed he was looking for a volunteer assistant to work on his project for CI. And, as they say, Ladies and Gents, the rest is history. 4 days working in Leeds and 4 days in Birmingham, I was able to meet some of THE most wonderful people who are so insanely talented, kind and welcoming.
In between helping Daniel in Leeds and Birmingham, I still needed to finish my cake for the competition. Nerves and cold feet had well and truly set in now. Even now as I type, I can see all the flaws and imperfections in my cake – the ‘Oh I should have redone that’, ‘That could be wayyyy better’ and the ‘I should have done this like that’s. With a sprint finish on Wednesday and last minute touches on the Thursday morning, we set off from Leeds on Thursday afternoon and made our arduous journey south.
I’m 100% certain every single competitor felt the same. Shakey hands. Dry mouth. The secret prayer to the Cake Gods to deliver it in one piece if only for enough time for it to be judged whole without that one dodgy bit falling off. And I can imagine it doesn’t get any easier as the years go by.
The whole experience has been MENTAL. I’m so delighted and thrilled to have achieved an award for my piece – call me Arnie, because I’LL BE BACK!