Cake Fest is returning to Perth and it’s going to be sweet! I think it’s fair to say most people love a bit of cake, and for the third year running the people of our Small City have the chance to immortalise Perth’s most famous landmarks in delicious fashion!
From Perth Leisure Pool to Scone Palace, Kinnoull Hill to the Hermitage, the iconic places of Perthshire will be pulled together for one gigantic cakey map and unveiled at the Cake Fest event on Sunday 17th November, as part of Perth’s Winter Festival. And we're calling on YOU to take part!
Simon Preston, the head baker for Cake Fest, is in charge of his 13th version of the baking bonanza and having worked on cities such as Edinburgh in the past, he’s consistently amazed by just how much the people of Perth like to get involved.
It’s not about creating a masterpiece, it’s all about being adventurous, having fun and loving where you live! “Perth and Kinross bakers are certainly up for a food adventure. We’ve got 25 teams of community bakers already signed up to put spoon to bowl and we’ve got several more just waiting to make up their minds about which landmark to create. We'd love to host as many buildings as we can so if you fancy having a go, get in touch!”
Nadia Cassar has been involved since the first event in 2017. She commented:
“I am really excited to be taking part in my third Perth Cake Fest. It’s such an amazing experience with an incredible group of people. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys baking and creating. It doesn’t matter if you’re experienced or amateur, it’s a whole lot of fun and we all help each other out with tips and ideas!
“Watching the map take shape on the day is fantastic - there is such a buzz! My first cake was Pitlochry Festival Theatre, and last year I did the Crannog. This year I have chosen the Enchanted Forest. My top tip would be not to be afraid to try and just enjoy the experience; we are all in it together, for the love of cake!”
Perthshire's magnificent buildings and stunning locations are going to take some serious creativity and talent to sculpt; our minds are boggling at the idea of something like St Matthew’s Church made out of sponge and icing.
So with that in mind, Simon recommends people get started soon and practise, practise, practise (Team Small City will happily volunteer as willing guinea pigs for tasting!)
“The most important thing is that those taking part enjoy themselves and have fun – this is not a competition, it’s a fantastic communal project. It’s a good idea though to give yourself plenty of time to plan and practise.
“Every cake and building is challenging in its own way but it really depends how bakers decide to tackle it. They can keep it simple or make it as complicated as they like.
“There are quite a few in Perth that could be tricky; we’ve got three groups already signed up to make notable bridges and keeping these up are always a challenge! It’s an area ripe with castles and grand buildings which bring certain challenges with lots of windows and fiddly details.
“Plus there are lots of tall landmarks to be included in the map too. The Tower of Kinnoull Hill was one of the earliest cakes to be claimed and I sincerely hope that the baking team responsible won’t regret it!”
It all sounds very tasty and it looks like it’s caught the imagination of the public as they aim to make Perth’s third Cake Fest the best yet. And, with the nation’s favourite – The Great British Bake Off – back on telly, what more inspiration do you need?
It’s free to take part, and the organisers will even support the cost of cake ingredients where possible. Anyone can get involved regardless of baking and decorating ability. It’s not about creating a masterpiece, it’s all about being adventurous, having fun and loving where you live - as shown by these gorgeous cakes from Perthshire bakers created for the 2018 Cake Fest.
We asked the talented people at Celebration Station for a helping hand and expert Angela has enlightened us with her top tips for anyone looking to tackle tall buildings or recreate a running river.
"There are a few things you can do to create cakes in specific shapes," Angela told us.
"We have polystyrene models which can be used as support to build the cake around and you can buy these online too. Alternatively, you can get cake tins which are in different shapes such as domes or balls and we have these available to hire out. They're often used as one-offs to create specific cakes so people don't always like buying these things as they're rarely used - that's why we offer them out on hire."
And where should you start? If you're thinking of trying to bake something tall like St. Matthew's Church or something grand like Scone Palace, what's the first thing to do and what kind of cake should you be baking?
"Definitely go for a sponge cake - they're the best for this type of thing. You want something that you can easily carve and cut into different shapes. Something like a Victoria sponge, or a Madeira cake would be what I'd recommend.
For the really tall structures you might want to purchase a dowel rod to stick through the middle of the cake - this will keep it stable and most importantly, keep it up."As for where to start, well it really depends on the building. You'd probably start by creating the base - a good, solid base on a cake board for support. For the larger buildings you're better to bake different parts separately before bringing it all together at the end.
"I'd leave the separate parts overnight to allow them to set before sandwiching it all together and covering it with sugar paste. For the really tall structures you might want to purchase a dowel rod to stick through the middle of the cake - this will keep it stable and, most importantly, keep it up!"
Some of the landmarks have small, intricate details which will need to be featured. Something like the flumes at Perth Leisure Pool, or boats on the River Tay may have to be created, so what's the best way to go about that?
"For smaller details you'd probably be best to use modelling paste - that's what we'd use to add things to the top of a cake that stand out in 3D. So for the boats or for cars, that would definitely be the way to go.
"Perth Leisure Pool is probably one of the trickier buildings just because of the flumes. You'd probably use the paste but dry it over a tube shape or build it round something non-edible that you can use for support, but it's definitely quite a difficult one!"
Even just writing this article has made me hungry, so imagine what it would be like actually baking! Angela has some advice for anyone who thinks they might be tempted to eat as they bake...
If you'd like to get involved, email Simon with your idea or choose from the list of available landmarks just waiting to be baked! "We get asked all of the time how we manage to refrain from eating while we're baking! As we're around cake and the sweet, sugary smells all day every day, we're not actually that tempted to be honest.
"For those that are partial to having a bite before it's all finished, just make sure you're only baking exactly what you need. That way even if you're tempted, you know that it's a vital piece of the final product and you can't eat it!"
And the following ones have already been chosen so make sure your landmark isn't listed here:
• Crannog Centre
• McDiarmid Park
• Beatrix Potter Garden
• MacRosty Bandstand Crieff
• Fergusson Gallery
• Balado Golf Ball
• Enchanted Forest
• Loch Leven Castle
• Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery
• St Paul's Church
• Ossian's Hall
• Huntingtower Castle
• River Tay and Perth Bridge
• Norrie Miller Park
• Innerpeffery Library
• Playhouse Cinema
• Kinnoull Hill Tower
• Cultybraggan POW Camp
• Perth Sheriff Court
• PRI – Maternity Unit
• Elcho Castle
• Kenmore Parish Church
• Glendoick House/Garden Centre
• The Beech Hedge at Meiklour
• Cherrybank House
For advice and info on different products that may come in handy for Cake Fest, visit Angela and her team at Celebration Station. You can contact them on 01738 625886 or visit their website.
For more information on Perth Cake Fest contact the head baker, Simon Preston at email@example.com.