Transporting cakes and demystifying the competition!

Entering competitions is always a nerve wrecking process but having to travel with your cake especially from abroad makes it even more tricky. There are a few things you need to consider if you have to transport your cake from abroad. First of all you have to consider what category to enter. For example if you are travelling by plane you may choose one of the categories that have smaller entries like small decorative exhibit or floral category. It is possible to transport larger pieces but you need to be prepared to repair damage once they arrive. 

You need to think about what way you are going to pack your cake. When packing my cake I always purchase a heavy duty stacked cake box. I will check the base size of my cake and order the corresponding size box. Once the box and board are the same size there is little chance that your cake can move once packed snugly inside. I always line my box with a double layer of bubble wrap, this is just an extra safety mechanism so that if my cake were to take a knock the damage would be minimal. I then tie string around the box to make it easy to carry. When you are on your own and have a suitcase and a cake it's quite difficult to move around. 

The next thing to consider is your mode of transport. Are you arriving by plane, boat, train etc?

Do you need to change trains or flights? How much luggage will you have with you? What baggage allowance do you have? How will you manage to carry everything by yourself? These are all things that need to be considered. If travelling by plane you can choose to check your bag into the hold and bring your cake by hand carrying it. I have done this quite successfully on a few occasions. If you choose this method you will need to think about the security check at the airport, your cake will have to go through the scanning machine. It is important that your cake fits the size of baggage that is allowed in the overhead locker, although in my experience the cabin crew usually allow you to put it on an empty seat. However, this is at their discretion, so you need to be prepared if they say it needs to go overhead. I always carry a photo of my cake on my phone so that I can easily show airport staff what is in the box, if you say a cake they may well think it's a Victoria sponge with cream and jam! If you choose to check your cake into the hold I would advise to bring any delicate pieces with you by hand and attach them once you arrive. No matter how many fragile labels are on there it will get damaged.

If you are travelling by boat and your cake will be in your car for a long period of time you need to think about the humidity level in your car, especially if you do have decorations such as flowers etc. There is a danger that these could be damaged by humidity. If this is the case you can pack silica gel packs with your cake to combat the humidity or a moisture trap in the car will also help. If you are arriving the night before the competition take your cake into the hotel with you, check for any damage. 

One of the most important things to pack with you is a repair kit. As I start making my competition piece I will have a box beside me where I will pack the leftover pieces of sugarpaste so that if I need to do a repair I have the right colour. If you are making flowers, or any decorative additions to your piece make extra, I always make 30% extra of any decoration and pack it in the box. For example, when I entered Cake International in Manchester in 2014 with Puss in Boots I had to set up at the table. When I went to pick him up to move him to the designated spot in the competition area, I broke all the whiskers off one side of his face in one foul swoop. Luckily, I had packed lots of spares so it wasn't a big deal to replace them. But, so often I see people on the morning running around stressed out looking for edible glue, a knife, ribbon, really basic stuff. You can avoid this extra stress if you pack a repair kit. Here is an idea of what I bring in mine.

 

Repair kit

Scissors

Knife

Edible glue

Royal icing

Spare sugarpaste

Ribbon

Dresden tool

Paintbrushes

Tweezers

Rolling pin

Alcohol

Baby wipes

Colours (dusts or airbrush)

Airbrush (if you used one)

Spare decorative pieces

Cocktail sticks

On the morning of the competition you will arrive at the venue, follow the directions on the email you received after you enter the competition online. Once you enter the hall, you need to register, pick up your competitor badge and an envelope with two stickers inside which will correspond with a number on a table in the competition area. This is your designated competition display spot. You can then proceed to the set up area where you can unbox your cake. Always be mindful of other competitors and leave plenty of space each side of you. Once you've added any finishing touches you can place one sticker underneath your entry and one on the front. You can then move your competition piece to the corresponding number on the table in the competition display area. Once you have done that you're free! Pick up your box, tools and enjoy a well deserved breakfast. 

Entering competitions isn't for the faint hearted, it's stressful and nerve wrecking, but it's also exciting, exhilarating and worth it all. It's the best way to push yourself forward as a crafts person/artist. You get to make beautiful creations just for YOU. That hardly ever happens so enjoy every second. Remember to get feedback from the judges. Whether it is good or bad, it is all useful information to have and will only help you with future entries. Cake International is a very special competition and it's even more special when you enter, you're then really part of it. 

 

Good luck everyone!