Category: baking kits

Cake International 2013

Yesterday I went to the second ever Cake International show at Excel in London. I have it on good authority that the show has had a 70% increase on last years attendance proving that the baking bug is still alive and strong. And as you walk around the show you can see why.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood opened the show and when my mum and I arrived they were busy doing demonstrations and a Q and A session in the Bakery theatre. Mary looked her lovely self and Paul had a constant cheeky grin on his face. He does make me laugh. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry open Cake International at Excel, London




The show has over 80 exhibitors offering all the latest in sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking supplies, but it’s the very talented cake decorators on these stalls showing how to get different techniques that makes this such a valuable show to attend.  I loved how this decorator showed us ruffles. She also had some cakes entered into the competitions. She’s one talented lady! Cake International 2013



The first area we headed for were the competition cakes. The judges were all in action- as it was the first day and the tables were sectioned off which meant we couldn’t get too close to all the cakes.  There are loads of categories and the criteria is very seriously looked at. If you do one thing incorrectly you can get disqualified. Some must be made of all edible ingredients – no supports or ‘props’, some are allowed to be fake cakes as the judging is on the sugarcrafting talent. The bakers dozen cupcakes are cut open and tasted and judged on that as well as how they look. One judge told us that the children’s cakes are looked at with a sympathetic eye. If a cake made by someone under 12 has a little crack in the sugarpaste “we might turn a blind eye”. To be honest these kids cakes were amazing! I mean they are under 12!!

Cake International 2013
The judges in action


While we were looking at some of the novelty cakes a full size head from a Terminator cake came toppling off it’s shoulders. Someone must have knocked the table it was on to get a closer look. Mum and I have never been so pleased to have been so far away that we knew it wasn’t us who wobbled that table!  A judge had to come over and pick the head up off the floor. Poor Arnie’s sugarpaste nose was all squashed in and dented. We felt so bad for the cake decorator. It must have been devastating to see that your cake had been damaged before it had even been judged.

Cake International 2013
One of the under 12’s cakes


The Cupcakes

The cupcakes in the competition were beautiful and displayed in the most amazing ways.

Cake International 2013

This is the cupcake entry by the ruffle cake decorator lady (I wish I got her name!) She incorporated her cupcakes into this face design which she told us only took 6 hours to do the day before! Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Mmmmm maggots in your cupcake!


Cake International 2013

The display for this Magic Roundabout cupcake entry was brilliant, but why did the judges have to cut poor Dougal in half to taste test… especially with that jam filling in the centre!

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

These tiny models on these cupcakes were amazingly intricate


Cake International 2013

We loved the birds and flowers on these cupcakesCake International 2013


Novelty cakes

The novelty cakes were just amazing. The details that people can achieve is just awe inspiring.

Cake International 2013

I would love to be able to do airbrushing like this!Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

I love the simplicity on the side of this cake.Cake International 2013

Beau asked if this Rocking horse cake actually rocked. It looked so real I almost think it could!

Cake International 2013

That apple is sugarpaste! Amazing!Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

The detail in this house was outstanding. Just look at the bottles in the room below. Not only is this an amazing thing to make, but the fact that it could be transported without getting broken – like so many others is a feat in itself!


Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Tiered cakes

The tiered cakes were really beautiful. Some had such simple designs that were so effective, some had really garish colour combinations but in all they were fantastic. 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013



So, in all it is a pretty great show with tons of interactive workshops, demonstration theatres and lots to buy! The show is on till Sunday 14th April. Visit more information.

Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show

ExCeL, London
12-14 April 2013

Ticket Prices:
Adult £14.00
Senior £13.00
Children free if accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, otherwise £5.00


Be bold and bright or pale and pastel with new food colours

Dr Oetker food colour

Have you seen these Dr Oetker gel food colours on the supermarket shelves yet? They’re available in these really handy squeezy tubes. Nice and neat and easy to use and what’s more they don’t make your icing go all runny. Each 10g tube of gel can be used to colour enough icing to cover 24 cupcakes in a really bright neon colour or a whopping 200 pastel coloured ones.

Dr Oetker

The range is available in Bright red, Sky Blue, Sunshine Yellow, Lime Green, Hot Pink, Ultra Violet, Neon Orange and Jet Black and is perfect for wet icing. It’s a bit too runny to colour sugarpaste as it makes it super sticky but it’s perfect for colouring royal icing whether for writing or flooding cookies. I wanted to give the tubes a test run and my two little helpers wanted to play too.  We mixed up some icing sugar and I let them colour it. Let’s just say that we started with four colours then they created their own mix match colours and both added every colour gel we had into one bowl. The end result wasn’t quite what I expected. Usually when you add black colouring you end up with a dark gloomy colour but both Beau and Darcey created khaki green colours.

Dr Oetker food colour

We had been out to a farm on the day we did the colouring and it was freezing outside. When we got home they both shot upstairs and came down in their onsies. I can’t seem to get them out of them if they are at home!

kids colouring

The icing was used to first put together this gingerbread house from Christmas (which has made the whole kitchen smell divine). For this they used lots of pretty coloured icing which is mainly on the inside. Then the fun really began. Beau grabbed our Friday night sweets, put them all in separate bowls and started piling them on with the khaki coloured icing. Let’s just say they brushed their teeth REALLY well that night!

Gingerbread house

And here’s the mess that the girls made with this little gingerbread house. I turned my back for two minutes! I don’t think we had any small bowls left in the cupboard!Gingerbread house mess

Dr Oetker Gel Food colours are available from major supermarkets from £1.29 for a 10g tube. For more information and some lovely recipes check out the website

Excited about sprinkles. And sauces. And ganache!

Tesco Sprinkles

Just before Christmas I received one of those emails that makes you feel like the pounds instantly go from your Mac straight onto your hips! Tesco’s are launching a great new range of ice cream accessories and Finest* desserts and they wanted to know if I would like to ‘test them’? I mean it would be rude not to, don’t you think? So I carefully made a small selection from the fantastic range which will be instore from next week (14th January to be precise)

Mr Nice Cream

The ‘Mr Nice Cream’ Ice cream range includes cones, sponge cookies -now they sound fab and fan wafers (I love those things. When I was little I used to make sandwiches out of them with jam and cream).

I requested to test the squeezy sauces. Strawberry -which tastes like jam without the annoying lumps of fruit (I’ve been putting it on my toast!), Chocolate sauce which is made with Belgian milk chocolate and British cream (deelish) and Toffee sauce which is made with British double cream, British butter and golden syrup (Sorry but I can’t do the toffee sauce but that didn’t stop Beau and Darcey demolishing it on their ice cream. Are you supposed to squeeze it directly onto a spoon before you put it on your gob? No, I didn’t think so, but that’s what I found them doing one afternoon during the Christmas holidays- I hope our dentist isn’t reading this!)

There’s also a mango and passionfruit sauce. How did I miss that off my list?

To top it all off.

Don’t you just love these cell sprinkles with the 3-4 compartments with different colours and designs? They’re the perfect store cupboard essential. I tested the Princess ice cream sprinkles with pink hearts and dots sprinkles (my fav) and the mixed sprinkles with mini chocolate sweets and 100’s and thousands. Although they are ice cream toppers, they obviously make perfect cupcake and cookie toppers too.

I tested just two types of sprinkles but there are tons in the range, including the mini pots of toppers (see below). This is where you can really go to town. There’s micro marshmallows, jelly beans (in cherry, lemon & lime, banana, raspberry, strawberry and orange flavours), mini meringues, chocolate orange fudge, shortcake balls, caramel fudge…..shall I go on? There’s more! The world is your ice cream oyster.

Chocolate heaven

The only things I haven’t tried out yet are the Morello Cherry & William pear compote and the Belgian chocolate ganache sauce. I’m saving them for a cake I am making next week. I can’t wait. They look so good.

Tesco Sprinkles

Sprinkle trouble

Now, when these arrived Beau helped me open the package up. That’s where I went wrong. Letting a 9 year old see a small tub of jelly beans and chocolate covered shortbread would be pester power out of control enough, but when it came to the micro marshmallows I was in big trouble. You see I had lots of baking to do for Christmas and I wasn’t going to have five minutes to do any additional blogging, so the whole collection just sat on the kitchen worktop (accidentally) teasing her. Every single day she asked if she could have them. “Not until I have taken shots of them and done some baking with them” I would say. To which I was greeted with a lot of huffing and puffiing!  Then on Christmas day I broke my camera! More delay!

Beau had to wait a WHOLE WEEK! to eat them!!! I think it’s a new form of kiddie torture!  Just look at what happened the day we were due to bake with them. I borrowed my sisters camera (thanks Shell) and her son and we made biscuits. The shot below was taken before any biscuits went into the oven. Beau just couldn’t wait any longer! What a cruel Mamma I am.

Needless to say I used about 5 micro marshmallows on one cookie and she ate the rest! I think they were a hit!

Tesco sprinkles

We made vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies and I let Beau, Darcey and my nephew Asher go to town with the icing. Then the toppers came out to play. This is when the fun really started. Here are just a few that they made. (there were over 50) A good time was had by all, but I think I shall ‘play’ with the chocolate ganache and compote when the kids are in bed. I’m not sharing that!

Beau's cookies

Ice cream sauces are £ 1.49 each, Ice cream sprinkles from £ 2.19, Mini topper tubs 89p each, Chocolate ganache £ 2, Compote, £2, all available from from January 14th. Enjoy.


Cookie cutter fun

With the half term school holidays coming up I thought now was a good a time as any to share with you my latest budget baking find! Wilkinson’s have a really great baking section with all sorts of spatulas, mixing bowls, icing bags with a choice of nozzles and this fab box of cookie cutters all at really low, low prices.

I’m a big believer in letting kids make a mess in the kitchen and especially when baking. My two certainly do that. Actually they make a mess everywhere in the house, every day but that’s another story! We decided that it was time to make their favorite Vanilla Cookies.

This box of 24 cutters doesn’t contain the usual shapes and designs you’d expect to find. It’s got a dog, bird, santa, butterfly, horse, fish, music note, rabbit and cat- to mention just a few! I thought I should explain what shapes they are as it’s hard to tell from the photo above once Darcey got her hands on the royal icing and sprinkles!

Once baked you can see how there are imprints on some of the cookies so that you can follow the lines for icing details on them. I have to admit that some of these cookie cutters have quite narrow parts, like dogs tails and legs, which are pretty tricky for little hands to cut out cookies without loosing a limb, especially once the dough had been rolled out a few times and was no longer cold. The up side to this is that that’s where mum’s get to step in and have a play too!

To say Beau and Darcey went a little OTT with the decoration is an understatement, but they loved making the cookies and liked eating them even more!


Now it’s your turn. I have an extra set of these cookie cutters to giveaway. All you have to do it leave a comment over on the Cakes, Bakes and Cookies Facebook page as to why you should be the winner of these cutters and icing set. The winner will be chosen on Friday 12th October 2012. Good luck bakers.


Best for Baking with Tala

I love Tala. It’s so Retro it reminds me of my childhood and baking with my mum. When I think of Tala I think of their metal cone shaped measuring jug as I have one which I use to hold all my cake decorating tools. It’s way too pretty to be used just as a jug!

They have so many more products than I first realised. So, when I was asked if I would like to give a test run on their cupcake tin I obviously jumped at the chance. The tin is really sturdy. It’s professional grade and you can really tell by the weight.  You know it will last and last. It washes up really well too which is a big winner for me! No nooks and crannies to get crumbs stuck in. I hate that!

Tala have kindly given me permission to share with you their Strawberry fairy cake recipe which I used for the last school cake sale. I used gluten-free flour in mine so my little friend (well actually Evie is Darcey’s school friend but she gave me such a lovely unexpected hug at Darcey’s birthday party that I think that makes her my friend too now!) could have something nice to eat too. I couldn’t tell the difference between gluten-free and not gluten-free. They were, as you would expect deeelish!

Strawberry Fairy cakes recipe 

(Makes 8-12)


  • 250g butter-at room temperature
  • 250 Caster sugar
  • 4 small eggs
  • 310g Self Raising Flour


  • 120g butter – at room temperature
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 6 drops of strawberry flavouring
  • A little red colouring
  • A little strawberry jam


Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and flour.

Spoon into cup cake cases and place in the bun tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. When they have cooled a little remove from the tins onto a cooling tray.

To decorate, make a strawberry butter icing by creaming together the butter, icing sugar, strawberry flavouring and colouring. I put jam into the icing too. I also made some just plain old buttercream ones as seen here (as I wasn’t sure about the gluten content in jam/food colouring etc)

When soft and well mixed, spoon into a piping bag. I used a smooth nozzle to get this effect but a star nozzle will work well too! 

When the baking tin arrived I was really surprised to see the cake stand wrapped up too! I didn’t know that Tala did them. It’s so pretty that it came out for Darcey’s birthday party last week. It’s nice and sturdy so it will be making an appearance at Beau’s party in November too! Cute isn’t it?

Here they are boxed up and ready to go. I love the way cupcakes look in a box. All neat and tight and ready to be devoured!

These are seriously easy to make. Go on, give them a go!


Best for baking- silicon pastry mat

I love a good pastry mat !

Ikea baking sheet

I found this pastry mat on a recent trip to IKEA. I wasn’t looking for baking stuff. I was actually buying a mattress, but you know how it is in IKEA, you go in for a box of glasses and come out £100 lighter!

I’ve been meaning to replace my pastry mats for a while now. I have this annoying habit of cutting sugarpaste on them with a scalpel and not surprisingly I slice right through the mat!

This double sided mat is made of silicon and is really easy to clean and use. It has handy weight and temperature conversion chart on one side.  It also comes with a cute heart shaped spatula which has a really thin, flat end- great for picking up small cake decorations. The heart shape can be used to press into cookies or icing to make a pattern. You can also use the shapes and numbers on each side to create more decorations by icing over them, leaving them to dry and popping them onto cakes or cupcakes.

It’s a great buy!

Sockerkaka baking sheet set, £8.99, Ikea


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