I have been watching the events at Cake International, from Australia, with great interest.Obviously, being a past winner of one of the categories at the National Cupcake Championship, I look back on the competition with great nostalgia.
I was also thrilled to see not only a lovely lady back in the finals again for the 3rd time since I met her there in 2011, but also a past student of mine who was in the finals for the second year running. Well done, ladies, on this achievement!
So what about such competitions in Australia?
Sadly, I have yet to see a national cupcake competition being organised. Indeed, with such a large country, these sorts of contests are run more locally, as cities and towns can be so far away from each other for travelling to. I described in an earlier blog how many districts hold shows which are similar to the British agricultural shows, and these seem to be the main competing grounds for cake decorating and baking prowess.
As far as cake exhibitions, I unfortunately missed the Cake, Bake and Sugar Arts show this July in Campbelltown, but the event that is buzzing around at the moment is set for March 2014 and is the Cake, Bake and Sweets show. This is promising to be the biggest ever live event for baking and cake decorating enthusiasts in Australia, and will be held at the Sydney Showground.
In the meantime, I have been out and about at the very new Freshbake Show. This was a very sweet, small expo which showcased baking in general. Demonstrations were given by some of the competitors (including the winner) of The Great Australian Bake Off (you can guess what that is!), including another ex-student of mine who made it through to week 4 of the series. I hope this event grows next year, the baking products on show, including artisan bread mixes and specialist cookies were fascinating.
I also spent a good day wandering around the Fine Food Show, which was held a couple of months ago in Darling Harbour, Sydney. Although this event was very much aimed at the food industry on a larger scale than the home cake decorator, there was a large bakery section. I managed to pick up some interesting samples of biodegradable piping bags (easing my conscience, as I tend to use the disposable ones, never happy with the cleanliness of the washable bags) and watch a demonstration of FONDX which is establishing its place in Australia, next to the other 2 main brands of ready to roll icings, Bakels and Satin Ice.
Alongside this was a mirror glaze product, which was displayed to show its versatility on large cakes and cupcakes, bringing in a very French feel to cake decoration, and a good alternative to a fondant covered cake, especially if couples are looking to use their wedding cake as dessert, as so many do these days.
Finally, another interesting product was displayed by Rich Products, which was their non-dairy cream alternative. This product is shelf stable, and seemingly able to the sculpted into any design you like on top of a cake. This could be a great alternative for anyone who has dairy food intolerances, or as sometimes happens in Australia, your local food safety regulations stop from working with fresh cream.
I can’t wait to visit the Cake, Bake and Sweets show in March, but in the meantime, these events have definitely opened my eyes to the variations and alternatives in cake decorating to the normal sugarpaste or buttercream options.
About Victoria Forward
Victoria Forward has just returned to the UK after two years in Australia, and is setting up cake business "Victoria Sponge", in Buckinghamshire. She previously ran Let Them Eat Cake in the UK for six years providing celebration cakes / cupcakes, cake decorating courses and workshops. In 2012 she won the award for Best Presented Cupcake at the British Baker National Cupcake Championships. Victoria is married with 2 children.