Crowds of visitors from across the country made the trip to Newbury Racecourse on Sunday 10 April, for what was a very successful Bakers’ Fair Spring. Despite the sunny weather outside, the exhibition hall was packed, with The Stage drawing a large audience for its programme of talks and demonstrations.

Celebrity Linda Lusardi went down a storm with the visitors and exhibitors at the show. She took a tour of the exhibition hall, meeting people and signing photos, before announcing the winners of the National Association of Master Bakers’ (NAMB) Competitions, and the bakers versus butchers classes, alongside NAMB president Ian Storey, and handing out the trophies.

Baking Industry Awards Confectioner of the Year Mark Legg, Dunn’s Bakery, kicked off proceedings on The Stage with his talk ’Taste and Texture watch innovative recipes take shape’. He encouraged bakers to make the most of popular events, not just Christmas and Easter, but St George’s and St Patrick’s Day, Red Nose Day, and the Royal wedding, for example, as opportunities to create tempting window displays. He then talked the crowds through a few of the products Dunn’s will be making this Easter, along with some tips and trends. Products include low-GI hot cross buns, to cater for the trend for healthier treats, chicks, chocolate bunnies, Simnel cake and meringues. Legg recommended warming your egg whites with the sugar for eight minutes, before whisking for another eight minutes in order to get a good shine on your meringue. He said it was important to change with the times and listen to your customers, encouraging them to share their views.

Sara Reid, marketing manager, Rank Hovis spoke about ’Ideas to improve your bakery range and growth’. She commented on the growth of the ISB morning goods category, and told visitors not to always think of supermarkets as competitors. "You can do it better by making fresh, handcrafted bread," she said. Another way to potentially grow sales is to embrace new trends, such as cake pops and whoopie pies. She explained that there was real mileage in marketing your craft. "If you make something handcrafted then make sure you tell people about it," she said. It’s also about word of mouse, not just word of mouth, she said, so embrace social networking, for example.

Baking Industry Awards Cele-bration Cake Maker of the Year Amelia Nutting of Shugabudz demonstrated the techniques used to create her award-winning cake last year. She had a mock-up of a section of the cake to show how she went about painting the faces of her clowns, as well as making hair and hats. Her tips included drawing a backwards six to get the shape of the clown’s eyes, using a small rolling pin to get the round shape in the icing needed for a hat, and using particular nozzles to do the hair.

National Cupcake Champion 2009 Kevin Sibley, of Mama’s Cupcakes demonstrated how to make his winning Black Forest gateau cupcakes. And Colin Lomax, technical sales manager at Rank Hovis, discussed how bakers can make the most of the deregulation of bread weights on wrapped/unwrapped bread. He spoke of the advantages to bakers of making different sizes more choice for the customer, and potentially more sales for the baker. It also gives the baker an opportunity for greater innovation, by using different additions such as poppy seeds, and different cuts to offer new shapes and looks from the same base dough.

The only disappointment was the fact the butchers, from the adjoining Butchers’ Fair, triumphed in all three of the joint classes, but there was a huge number of fantastic entries from bakers across all the classes.

Exhibitor comments

Ian Storey, president, National Association of Master Bakers: "It has been a very well-organised and produced show. It has been very busy this morning, and we’ve picked leads for new members. Our Wallace & Gromit T-shirts have been really popular the 300 we came with have almost gone."

Steven Newton, Wessex Flour Mill: "The show has been good for us. We’ve actually had more interest from butchers than bakers. I’ve been surprised at how busy it is. Definitely worth us attending."

Paul Gosney, technical sales manager, Dawn Foods: "We’ve seen a lot of new business start-ups, and businesses needing technical help. There have also been a number of people with cafés and butcheries who are interested in diversifying their ranges."

Deborah Raudin-Clarke, product manager, Dawn Foods: "We’ve seen a lot of people who are interested in how they can make their business easier for example by using pre-mixes and frozen cupcake bases."

Glenn Jeffery, Reynards Packaging: "We’ve had a lot of interest from people, and got a number of new leads. A number of existing customers have been here as well, so it has been good to see them. It’s been very successful for us and we’re pleased with it."

Martin Coyle, sales manager, Cybake: "It has been good just to have a presence, as a lot of our competitors are not here. We’ve seen a lot of new businesses, and it has been good to have the Butchers’ Fair as part of it, as it helps us to move into other areas and diversify."

Nic Hemming, business development and technical sales manager, Renshaw: "We had an interesting mix of people. We’ve done well to get everyone here on such a nice day, and keep them here. There has been lots of interest in our Royal wedding decorated products. We’ve also been promoting our new RegalIce colours, which we will be launching at the end of May/June."

Visitor comments

Alan Waring, Warings of Reading: "It’s a good show. I like the fact it is small and local and you can meet fellow bakers. We decided to invest in a demonstration bakery to show adults and children how good bread and cakes are made. We have been going for 79 years, but feel we have lost a connection with the younger generation, so the demos will help. We’ve already got Tom Chandley, Rondo and Koma equipment and are having a good look round."

Ray Grace, owner, Market Square Bakery of Higham Ferres, Northants: "I’ve got one shop and I wholesale. The show is small, but good. I’ve had my bakery for 26 years. It was really great to come here and meet Rank’s Colin Lomax again, judging the competition entries and giving a talk. I’m looking for printing equipment for labelling and have found some useful companies."

Jean Bernard Dubois, bakery supervisor of Paul UK group: "I am looking for organic flours, cake ideas and, on the machinery side, ovens, mixers and dough dividers. It is the first time I have been to a small regional show. I like the fact I can bring the family."