July 2011Subscribe to our RSS feed
Finalists revealed for National Cupcake Championships
British Baker, organisers of National Cupcake Week, are delighted to announce the finalists of the National Cupcake Championships 2011.
The event, now in its third year, pits the best cupcake makers in the country against one another and marks the first milestone in the run up to National Cupcake Week, which takes place 12-18 September.
The finalists - the cream of the UK’s professional cupcake makers - will battle it out for the crown of National Cupcake Champion at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on 15 August.
“The number of entries has nearly doubled each year in the three years that we’ve hosted this event,” said British Baker deputy editor Andrew Williams. “Cupcakes have often been written off as a fad but because the flavours and designs keep evolving, they continue growing in popularity.
“This year we’ve seen a notable shift away from some of the overly sweet cupcakes of the past - a response perhaps to the changing consumers’ palate - and the American style of cupcake that has dominated in recent years.”
He added that the surge in home baking of cupcakes had driven ever higher standards from those who bake professionally.
“Last year the UK witnessed a boom in home-baked cupcakes, accounting for nearly a third of all cupcakes consumed, and helping to push cupcake consumption up by 52%* year on year,” he commented. “Bakers have had to raise their game and really innovate with flavour combinations - using tricks and skilled techniques that are hard to replicate at home - to make sure people keep buying cupcakes.”
* Source: Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e end of Feb 2011
National Cupcake Championships finalists
Beach House Bakery
Call Me Cupcakes
Claire’s Handmade Cakes
Cocktail Couture - CCTreats
Crazy Moose Bakery
Cuppa Cake Company
Eat Me Cupcakes
Frost and Snow
Hey Little Cupcake!
House of Cakes by Helena Costa
Ice Maiden Cakes
Iced Gems of Swanage
Kimmy Loves Cake
Lady Jayne’s Cakes
Let them Eat Cake
Little Suzi’s Kitchen
Love Cakes London
Rhubarb & Raspberry
Sweet & Wicked Cupcakes
Tea Loves Cake
The Beehive Bakery
The Cupcake Bakery
The Little House of Cupcakes
The Penny Lane Baker
British Baker would like to thank everybody who took the time and effort to enter this year and hopes that those who missed out on a final place will try again in 2012.
Q&A with Fiona Cairns: my career
How did you get into the baking industry?
I did graphic design at college, spent a few years as a freelance illustrator and then took a cookery course when nouvelle cuisine was very popular. I got a job at Hambleton Hall in Rutland, where I specialised in cakes and patisseries, but started making cakes in my kitchen at home for friends' birthdays and weddings. My cakes were quite experimental and I got my first commercial order for miniature Christmas cakes from the Conran Shop.
How has the business grown?
It has changed out of all recognition. I started off with one part-time lady helping me and staff numbers increased when I moved to a converted building in our garden. I used to ring people up I had a lot of audacity then and got contracts with The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason among others, while we also got lots of orders for bespoke cakes. In the early days I'd often work seven days a week and did everything including the paperwork. I'm a creative person, not business-minded, but my husband, Kishore, saw the potential of the company and joined us full-time 11 years ago to run the business side. We've got 76 staff now and are based at a bakery in Fleckney, Leicestershire.
Has your role evolved?
I used to find it difficult to delegate as I didn't think anyone else had the same passion, but now that doesn't worry me as much, because we've got such a good team. I also used to do all the NPD but now there's someone who does a lot of that. I love my job and can concentrate on being creative. But if it weren't for my husband's involvement I would still be making cakes at the kitchen table!
What impact has making the Royal Wedding cake had on the business?
Our name has become much more well-known. We've had thousands of emails since the Royal Wedding from all over the world and from very unlikely places huge interest from Brazil, for example. We won't be doing anything overseas, though, apart from possibly selling cakes in Japan for Christmas. I've also had lots of offers to do talks, demonstrations and teaching but I can't do everything. I plan to keep moving the business forward which is challenging, but I like to think I have grasped opportunities, made the right decisions and always been a perfectionist I don't compromise.
* Interview originally published in British Baker, 15 July, 2011
Judging under way!
Entries are now closed for the National Cupcake Championships 2011 and the judging process has begun.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time and effort to enter this year. All applicants will be notified as to whether they have made the shortlist or not by 29 July.
Shortlisted candidates will be required to attend the final judging and tasting at a special event to be held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 15 August.
Best of luck, cupcakers!