A life-sized model of Swan Lake's Odette alongside a swan in full flight, and a Wallace and Gromit inspired Cake-O-Matic that once activated by a golden coin delivered a freshly baked cake, were among the exhibits at the Cake International exhibition in the NEC, Birmingham last weekend.
These showstoppers wouldn't have rated with Paul and Mary on Bake-Off, however, as this event is all about sugar work and decoration rather than taste.
They were among the highly technical collaborative efforts on display to the more than 50,000 visitors who attended the show, which ran alongside craft, stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts exhibitions.
A group of around 50 Irish sugarcrafters, some professional and some amateur, competed at the show and won more than 60 medals. More than 1,400 entries were received from competitors from all over the world.
The Best in Show award was claimed by Anjali Tambde, who runs her business, Global Cake Toppers, from her home in Knocklyon, Dublin 16.
Tambde, who is from India and has been living in Ireland for eight years, won the Fantasy Flowers category, before her arrangement was named best in show. "I used a technique of adding pattern in the sugar paste that is very unique to me ," she said.
Miriam Pearson, who runs Sweet Creations in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, was also among the successful Irish contingent, winning four awards. The competitors had to get their cakes or displays to the venue in Birmingham in their completed or almost complete state, and were allowed two hours on Friday morning to set up their display for judging.
Pearson, along with other competitors who chose to fly rather than take the ferry across the Irish Sea, had to make advance arrangements to get her entries through security at Dublin airport and onto her Ryanair flight, as the wires used in the construction of the cakes would have set off scanner alerts.
Some competitors opted to take their fully completed cakes on board with them, while others brought delicate component parts, ready to be assembled on site. There was “a lot of bubble wrap involved”, according to Pearson, who said she worked through the night before the judging, to put the finishing touches to her designs.
Cake International is the world’s largest cake decorating show and has been running for 22 years. For more images of the exhibitors and winners, see cakeinternational.co.uk.