Competition cakes are extremely impressive in their own right. But perhaps even more impressive is the effort expended to get them to competition!
Ever wonder how, exactly, cake decorators transport their precious creations? Karen Keaney, of Roses and Bows Cakery, shared the tale of traveling with her Cake International entry, Puss in Boots, in all its nerve-wracking glory!
When I decided to enter Cake International in Manchester I was still on a high from winning gold at Birmingham and I had kind of forgotten the pain of the journey itself, not unlike childbirth. So I quickly sent in my entry in case I would change my mind. I then decided for some unknown reason I wanted to make Puss in Boots. I’m not a cat lover so I’m not sure why I chose him as my subject matter. Shortly after Christmas I started to construct him, always thinking ahead to the travel arrangements. I made sure the dimensions were no bigger than what was allowed for cabin baggage and I also had my sister measure her cat (now that’s being thorough!).
A lot of modelling chocolate, 2 different heads and a lot of late nights later, Puss in Boots was ready for his first flight.
I ordered 2 strong 10″ boxes which I taped together to make one, ensuring he couldn’t move around inside we set off for the airport.
Check in, no problem then we move to security, well, Puss couldn’t fit in the ordinary scanning machine so he had to be transferred to the larger one. We were separated. I broke out in a cold sweat at this point, I quickly made my way through security, gathered my things and raced to the machine where he was about to be put through on the belt. Waiiiiitttttt I shouted to the lady, her finger on the button!!!! Because of his height I asked them to put some empty bins on either side so he wouldn’t topple over.
At this point I became the crazy lady with the cake.
Anyway we got him through and I apologised for my anxiousness and showed them pics of Puss, they understood and wished me well, off I went to my gate.
We were both feeling quite stressed at this point so we had a quick coffee break. I had a little peek in at him and he looked fine. By the way, you get really odd looks walking around with a box with about 2 rolls of parcel tape wrapped around it….
We arrived at the gate and one lady crept up behind me and whispered in my ear, “Have you a cake in that box?”
I wasn’t alone, there were other cakers making their way across to CI for the weekend. I always book a middle seat upfront in the hope the seat beside me is free and I get to put the cake on it. It’s luck of the draw, you may be allowed to put it there but if there’s no room you may also be told he has to go in the hold and well, that could be the end of him.
Boarding started, shortly followed by palpitations, this is the toughest bit, finding out whether your gamble pays off or not. I boarded, no one either side of me..RESULT. Really nice staff on board, all wanting to see the cake. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I strapped him into the seat, this too will get you some really strange looks,
We were on our way.
We landed, gently, disembarked without incident and I picked up my suitcase and grabbed the first taxi I could, arrived at the hotel. Raced to the room to check him and phew, he was unscathed! I booked a taxi to take me across the the Excel in the morning and settled down for the night.
I never sleep well the night before a competition, I have the fear I’ll sleep in, totally irrational but it’s there, every time…
Got to the Excel, no queue, great, got to the table, registered and began unwrapping the box. I couldn’t get him out, ahhhh, panic set in! With one foul swoop of my hand I broke all the whiskers off one side of his face, more panic……luckily I over prepare for everything, I had lots of spare whiskers and with the worst case of the shakes since my driving test I re inserted all 6 whiskers. I probably had enough supplies to make a whole new cat but stuff like this is not what you want after coming such a distance with a cake. I placed him on his designated spot, took a few photos and skipped out of there without a care in the world, it was now out of my hands.
Saturday arrived and I queued with the crowds to enter the exhibition hall, this bit too gets you every time, nerves, anxiety, did I get something? Did I mess up and get disqualified? As I walked towards him I could see there was something sitting in front of him, so he’s not been disqualified, I’ve gotten something, yay, gold!!! I was thrilled!
The gamble payed off! I quickly rang home to tell them the good news and then started thinking about Birmingham in November, yes, crazy I am……..