Have you been to Cake International? It’s been running for many years, but I’ve been to the Birmingham one for the last three years. The first one, I drove there from Manchester with my mum, spent a fortune on goodies and came home full of ideas, and totally in awe of anyone who entered the competition, thinking it wasn’t anything that I’d ever do myself.
The second and third years I went with cake friends and stayed over near the NEC. It was a really social experience, spending time in person with ‘real live’ cake friends, not just chatting to them over the internet! Each year different friends entered the competition and, with them, I lived through their anguish beforehand whilst making their competition piece, their nerves when waiting for the judges to announce who had been awarded what grades, and their joy and sometimes disappointments at how they had been scored.
But I hadn’t ever entered the competition myself. Well, I lived in Manchester, and the cake had to be delivered to Birmingham before 8.45am on a Friday morning, and I had work, or had to take the children to school, so I couldn’t possibly get it there, could I?
Good enough excuse I thought.
Then Cake International moved to Manchester. And not just Manchester- to Event City, which is less than ten minutes away from where I live in Urmston. So the ‘I can’t get it there’ excuse was no longer relevant. Hmmmmmmmm.
So, when the time came to think about buying my tickets for CI, it was crunch time. Was I going to buy a three day pass? Or enter the competition and have a three day pass because of it? So I entered the competition. I read through the rules of each class and decided on Class B: Celebration cake with all edible decoration.
I decided to stick with something I knew I could do. Some people enter CI to really challenge themselves, and hats off to them for doing it. There are some absolutely fantastic pieces there, such as this amazing piece from Rhu at Pimp My Cake By Mama Rhu. But I thought I’d make a cake which I’d make for a customer, and just have fun making a cake I enjoyed. Which is exactly what I did.
I like making cakes with lots of detail. Cakes which make you look a little bit closer. Cakes which have decoration at the back as well as at the front. So I kind of went to town with it on this cake. I didn’t stress, I didn’t worry, I just enjoyed making a cake that I wanted to make. So far so good I thought.
On the morning of delivery I was still fairly relaxed about the whole thing. Until the point of putting it on the table. Then I started to feel nervous. Lots of people would be looking at my cake over the next three days. The judges would be scrutinising it in a matter of hours. People might wander past it and criticise it. I might be there and hear them! Suddenly I wasn’t quite so calm! But I felt confident enough in my cake to think I might be awarded a merit, and if I was lucky enough to get a bronze, then I’d be thrilled.
After taking the children to school, and going home to bake for a order, I returned to CI at about 11am. As soon as I arrived I went to the competition area and saw a judge with my cake! Suddenly I felt very sick. Suddenly it really mattered to me what this person thought of my cake, and I needed to know as soon as possible.
Then I, and other cake friends, waited for the results to be announced. And waited and waited and waited. Three o’clock came round and I had to leave to collect my children from school. On returning home I was glued to my laptop, waiting for Rhu to let me know what the results were. Then Rhu posted a picture for me.