Truth be told, I do not often bake. There are plenty of reasons for this: I lack patience, for one thing, finding it fairly tiresome to even weigh things out, let alone spend a couple of hours carefully crafting roses from sugar paste. For another, I am prone to eating pretty much whole batches of raw cake mixture before they ever reach the oven, thus having to feign a perplexed, puzzled sort of face when Mr Liz enquires why the recipe promised 24 cakes and yet I only appear to have made five.
Still, that's not to say that I don't enjoy a nice slice of cake from time to time, and was most excited when the Cake and Bake Show rolled into Manchester yesterday, bringing with it the prospect of a whole, happy day filled entirely with simple carbohydrates and good honest sugar rushes. And clearly many others were excited too - if the huge queues waiting for Manchester Central to open at 11am were anything to go by, only about twelve people in the whole of the North West were actually at work yesterday; the others were all running amok round gingerbread villages and gawping lustily at Eric Landlard (who, you note, is looking straight at ME in the photo you see below) whilst trying to maintain a composure that suggested they were honestly only interested in his baking tips.
The Cake and Bake Show is the only live experiential event in the UK dedicated to cakes, bread and baking; in other words, as well as wandering round myriad stalls offering all kinds of beautiful baked goods and trying to nonchalantly cram as many of the free samples into your mouth as possible without being physically thrown out, you can also stop by one of the many demonstration areas and watch people who actually know what they're doing whip up a few choice items. The line-up across the whole weekend is impressive - yesterday we saw John Whaite, Cathryn Dresser and Brendan Lynch from the most recent series of the Great British Bake Off, Dan Lepard, Eric Lanlard, Simon Rimmer (who has grown a beard, and made three items in the same time it took everyone else to do one) as well as baking royalty Paul Hollywood, King of the Baked Good (who, sadly, was too far away to photograph).
It WAS all pretty busy - you have to be quick to get seating in the demonstration areas, and some of the stalls had pretty much run out of stock by early afternoon (Mr Liz was saddened, for example, that his tardy wife was not in time to get him a pie from Bradleys Bakery, although he did proclaim the hastily purchased substitute from Pryces the Bakers a very tasty 8.5 out of 10 *wipes brow in relief at avoidance of pie-related rampage*). The trick seems to be to go early and plan what you really want to look at or purchase; still, the day offers excellent value with tickets priced at £14.50, which includes all the demonstrations I've mentioned. The Cake and Bake Show runs until 8pm tonight (Saturday) and from 10-5 tomorrow - it's well worth going along; indeed, I haven't entirely ruled out going along again tomorrow for me vs. cake round two...