Hey everyone, so last week was a first for me - I went to the London Cake & Bake Show! Me and my baking-mad friend Mary usually go to two cake shows a year - Squire's Exhibition (because it's just such a LOVELY venue, everything's pretty and it's only an hour away from my house) and Cake International Birmingham (because it's the biggest and the best so they say, and, erm, that's where Mary lives!). So, a random visit announcement from Mary prompted me to see if there were any cake shows and lo-and-behold, the Cake & Bake was on! We'd often considered it but never quite got around to it, so we decided it would be a fab day out and also a great opportunity to take my 4yr old along for her first ever cake show (she was very excited).
So, I was expecting pretty much the same type of thing as CI if I'm honest and was pleasantly surprised at just how different it was! I thought I'd do a bit of a comparison for you to show how the shows differed and what my personal views were:
Layout: For starters, the C&B show has PINK CARPET throughout, which is obviosuly a winner to begin with! The stands seem to be more spacious and there was definitely room for browsing. CI tends to feel a little more crowded in with smaller stands - I kept warning my little'un that it would be VERY busy and VERY crowded and she HAD to hold my hand the whole time - turned out that she managed to do happy little dances all the way around and I never lost her ;)
Stalls: C&B had an ENORMOUS amount of actual cakes-you-can-buy-and-eat stalls. You might wonder why I think that's weird - at CI there are virtually NO cake stalls just selling yummy stuff to eat so we were very impressed that we could actaully eat cake all day at a cake show for once!
There was a lovely little market area for these stalls and they were selling all sorts from cake pops, cupcakes, chocolate, macarons to savoury stuff like bruschetta, cheese and sausage rolls - this was awesome (particularly for the little'un, who managed to taste something from every stall she saw).
I also wanted to buy lots of cake decorating stuff (of course) but I did find that there weren't actually that many stalls selling cake decorating specific things - at CI there are so many stalls selling equiment that people bring suitcases with them, there are also a large number of international stalls with new and interesting products - at C&B, whilst there were stalls, there was nothing new or exciting to me from a decorating perspective. This might be because I'm so familiar with the huge range of products on the market (and own most of them already!) - if you are new to cake decorating, I imagine you would have a slightly different experience to me and would find lots of things that would interest you :) Mary was disappointed that there weren't more 'baking' stalls - she is a very keen bread maker and there wasn't anything specific to that at the C&B, which surprised us.
Demonstrations: the C&B demo theatres were lovely - pink, branded, comfy looking seatng areas and they even had see-through segments in the walls so that you could watch from outside which I really liked. There were also two larger open theatres for watching demos - the Bake-Off area and the main theatre - both were lovely and big and really nicely laid out. I think I preferred this aspect of C&B compared to CI as it was a very inclusive set-up and nice and spacious.
Cake Competition: At CI, about 1/4 of the entire show is the cake competitions, so I guess I was expecting something similar at C&B. However, C&B just had two long tables for the competition cakes, so it was a huge difference (even the little'un asked why there weren't more cakes to look at!). I was genuinely a bit disappointed in this and there was also a really random queue to see the cakes so everyone was going around the display in a kind of snake making it hard to have a good look, take photos or just view particular pieces. Some of the cakes were beautifully made and there were some lovely entries in the junior categories (I love to see kids decorating) but on average I would say the standard of decorating was significantly different to what you would see at CI. This might be just because there were so few cakes in comparison though but I guess I just thought that it would be bigger (Mary was fine with this as she pointed out that the show is more focused on baking than decorating, which is probably true, so it's just my own feeling really).
Children: There were lots of children visiting the show and I loved how welcome my little'un was made to feel (you get way more samples when you have a cute child with you) - she really enjoyed it and found all the stalls really interesting, I probably won't ever take her to CI as I feel it's a much more crowded show...
So in general, a very different experience to what I had expected. I loved the Cake & Bake Show for a fun day out - the whole day was fun, relaxed and easy to get around. I think if I'm honest though, I personally prefer Cake International - probably because I am more of a decorater than a baker and I guess I look to these shows to teach me something new or show me new techniques / products and I didn't feel the Cake & Bake did that for me on this occasion.
I'd love to hear your own comments and experiences