Today I've been at the Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court. The Cake and Bake Show is apparently the 'first live event dedicated to cakes, breads and the art of baking!' As I'm in the midst of moving house at the moment I thought I'd just pop down for a couple of hours and then get back to my packing...but six hours later I was still there and the packing had fallen by the wayside.
After a less than auspicious start, there was a bit of a queue debacle outside, I had a great day! When I arrived at 10am there was a MASSIVE queue to get in but that is probably testament to how popular baking has become in the last few years. In the Cake and Bake programme official statistics indicate that the market has almost doubled in the last 5 years and is up nearly 20% in the last year alone.
So what did I get up to at the show? Well on arrival I was lucky enough to get a seat in the 'Cake Kitchen to watch Eric Lanlard create a Carribean Chocolate Tart from his latest book - Tart it Up! Eric's top tips were as follows:
- Make sure you have an oven thermometre as ovens can be 20-30 degrees off
- Add a little glucose syrup to your ganache to give it a nice smooth finish.
- You can flavour your ganache, Eric added vanilla, cinnamon and star anise but you can add anything you like...I quite fancy orange.
- You can buy ovenproof clingfilm which is better than greaseproof paper for lining a pastry case as it gets into the corners and doesn't cut or indent the pastry.
After Eric I had a ticket for a classroom session with Paul Barker from Cinnamon Square. Cinnamon Square is a bakery offering bread and cake classes in Hertfordshire. Paul demonstrated a Panetonne for us. It turns out panetonne is quite difficult and time consuming to make...about 4 hours in real time! It also involves different kneading techniques due to the fact that the dough starts of quite dry and then becomes a wet dough with the addition of sugar and eggs. Paul's top tips:
- If a recipe indicates that you need fresh yeast, you can use half the quantity of dry yeast (e.g. 40g fresh = 20g dry). Doves Farm do a good quick yeast.
- When kneading a white bread it will need 10-12 minutes of good kneading. Wholemeal will need longer.
- To test if you're dough is sufficiently kneaded do the 'Window Pane' test. If you can stretch your dough thin enough to see your finger through without tearing then it's ready.
- Soak an old tea towel in water and then pin it around the outside of your cake tin, this will help the cake to rise evenly.
After Betty it was on to probably my favourite session of the day with Mich Turner of the 'Little Venice Cake Company'. This was yet another chocolate recipe involving ganache...as the Cake Kitchen host Alistair Appleton (him off Cash in the Attic) pointed out, today was an 'extravaganza of ganaches'. Mich made a 'Chocolatey Cherry Cake' using the Little Venice recipe which they use in all their celebration cakes...I'll definitely be giving this one a go! Mich's top tips:
- Take your time when making cakes. You can't overbeat the sugar and the butter whilst creaming...the fluffier the better...this could take 10 minutes or more. Then add your eggs really slowly a bit at a time.
- If you make ganache you can leave it to set. This can then be whipped in a mixer and piped. If it's a bit too rich or to sweeten it up you can add ganache to buttercream for piping or filling cakes.
- If you want a deeper vanilla flavour, use vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract.
- Use the best quality ingredients you can afford.
- Invest in a bread scraper as they're invaluable and only cost about 2 to 3 pounds.
'Great Cake Places in London'. It's got sections on Cupcakes & Bakeries, Coffee & Cake, Afternoon Tea, Wedding Cakes and Chocolate & Sweets, not to mention a section of recipes. I will now have to start working my way through!
The Cake and Bake Show was certainly worth a visit and if you couldn't make it or don't live near London then the good news is there will be a Cake and Bake Show in Manchester in April 2013! Top tips for anyone going tomorrow:
- Take your own lunch and drinks
- Be prepared for the queues outside upon arrival
- If you want to join in with a Betty Crocker baking session head straight there when you arrive to register for one of the 5 sessions throughout the day...they book up quickly.
- If you can't get a seat in one of the demonstration theatres...just sit on the floor at the front...that's what everyone did today.