Cake International at the NEC in Birmingham attracted thousands of visitors over the weekend of 7 November.
Some of them took the passive approach, queuing and patiently thumbing through the show guide. Some of them took the direct approach – belting across the vast car parks with determination etched on their faces.
All of them were descending on the exhibition centre from all over the UK, intent on getting some great bargains and seeing the latest developments in baking and sugarcraft. It represented a further fillip for the industry after another successful season of The Great British Bake Off, which proved itself (twice) to be more popular viewing material than the England football team this year.
As a judge of the National Cupcake Championships, I got to taste a lot of cakes on the Saturday of the show. After the first round of judging, it was almost necessary for a saline drip to be administered just to counteract the sugar rush that threatened to push me into storming the show stage and leading a chorus of ‘The Moomins’.
The high standard was astonishing and I was incredibly lucky to be able to debate and discuss the merits of each creation with previous winners such as Emily Johnson (Made with Alcohol finalist 2012) and Shalini Sriskandarasa (Overall Home Baker Champion 2013) and decorative cake magician Amelia Nutting (Shugabudz, Birmingham).
Another talking point was what comes after the cupcake – a product that has been riding the crest of a wave for the last few years. Seeing the trends showcased at the NEC, it seems there might be something else on the horizon. Cake pops haven’t translated from homebaking into retail as they are too fiddly (and equate to the same value for money as probiotic organic gluten-free saffron strands), so maybe it is one of these hybrid products such as the Cronut, Doissant, Duffin or maybe even the Traykie (tray bake and cookie).
However, the cupcake still remains a very strong format as it allows bakers the opportunity to tailor the flavour, frosting and decorations to suit any event and theme. And, you never know, maybe I will get the chance to judge the cupcake finals again in 2015.