September 25, 2012
Chocolate and cake, and chocolate cake, my passions combined in this stand-out show.
It strikes me that I don’t need to tell you about The Cake & Bake Show. Because THE WHOLE WORLD WAS THERE!!! But just on the off chance that you have been in hiding this weekend I will tell you a little about it.
It was a wonderful chance to immerse myself in the twin joys of chocolate and baking at this inaugural show at London’s Earl’s Court. Anyone who was anyone in the world of baking was there. I am talking Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Eric Lanlard and Claire Clarke heading up a cast of stellar bakers and patissiers, Richard Bertinet and Tom Herbert shouting out for bread in all its true glory, and multiple characters from The Great British Bake Off, past and present, headed up by the lovely Edd Kimber. To name but a few!
The event was sold out weeks ago, despite being held in a venue the size of several football pitches. The lucky thousands who did have the hot tickets, and me with my precious press pass, were spoilt for opportunities to watch demonstrations about, have a go at, and buy the equipment for, every possible permutation of all things sweet or baked. It was huge fun!!
But what has this got to do with chocolate? Behind the scenes was the exceptional Kate Johns, she whose brainchild is Chocolate Week, one of the most important dates in my calendar. So chocolate was in evidence here too, in a dedicated area and programme of talks, tastings and hands-on sessions too long to mention in full.
Thanks to the Chocolate Week pedigree the chocolate area had clout. There were talks from the eminent Martin Christy of Seventy% and Sudi Pigott of the wonderful chocolate company Original Beans, both of whose work you will know about if you read this blog regularly.
Jennifer Earle of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours introduced newcomers to the world of fine chocolate with an informed whirlwind tour through tasting techniques and a very generous series of examples. It was gratifying to see how few people took up the offer to taste Bournville (the familiar high-street face of ‘dark’ chocolate, with more sugar in it than cocoa mass at only 39%, and vegetable fat amongst it’s ingredients) having already sampled the house dark from Demarquette and learnt a bit about what goes into fine chocolate.
Paul A Young was a true fine chocolate ambassador. He talked chocolate in the chocolate classroom, gave a series of hands-on truffle workshops to delighted punters, and spread the message to the whole show with a demonstration on the main stage about cooking with chocolate. Paul nattily combined the duel themes of the show and brought the finest chocolate to the attention of any bakers who had yet to be converted.
In a pop-up shop, groaning with his finest wares, Paul also brought British baking most successfully into his oeuvre with his new Bakewell Tart truffle. A happy combination of full flavoured milk chocolate, the fruity tartness of raspberry jam and just the right amount of almond flavour and crunch. It evokes those traditional teatime treats of our childhood, while reworking it for the chocoholics amongst us. And will somebody please surprise me with one of his divinely beautiful real wooden advent calendars that come filled with a different hand made treat for every day. I promise to leap out of bed with enthusiasm every day this advent if I am lucky enough to receive one.
The chocolate area also witnessed the crafting of a chocolate dinosaur excavation by the charming chocolatier Aneesh Popat. His chocolates have a deftness and confidence with spices that owes something to his Indian heritage. The chilli and lime chocolate shows no cowardice in handling such intense ingredients. There is no stinting on the spicy heat. I was thrilled not to have to ask where the chilli was, a question often on my lips despite its declared inclusion on many a label. The heat is balanced and complimented by the citrus acidity and fruity notes of lime, and the excellent choice of the complex Cru Virunga couverture from Original Beans. I loved it. If you prefer things with a little less heat do try his Chai Tea Almonds, another treat full of interesting complimentary flavours.
Elsewhere in the show there was chocolate in evidence on plenty of stands in the form of properly indulgent brownies, cookies and cakes. And chocolatier Mark Tilling, two-time UK Chocolate Master, was showing his technical expertise with chocolate decorating demonstrations in the central area inhabited by Squires Kitchen International School.
So, there was enough chocolate to justify my presence and a mention here. And enough to have satisfied you if are a cake decorating, baking, sweet or real bread enthusiast, amateur, professional or eater. A weekend orgy of talent and deliciousness!