Celtic Cakers

We are currently clued to the screen every Tuesday evening loudly encouraging our favourite bakers on in their Great British Bake Off challenges. The painstaking level of detail and imagination deployed by the contestants under pressure and against the clock makes for riveting television. The high levels of skill in cake decoration and sugarcraft is particularly enjoyable to watch and contributes in large part to the appeal of the show.

Revival in Home Baking

There is no doubt that the GBBO has revived interest in home baking which has seen a resurgence in appeal in the last few years. In the last series on the BBC in 2016, nine of the top ten most-watched programmes of the year were episodes of the show, with an extraordinary 16.03 million viewers watching the finale. Figures for Channel 4 (now in the second year of airing the series) have dipped somewhat but still attract a more than respectable average of 9 million viewers per episode.

It is of course the season for baking as the autumnal chill sets in. The cake trade show season is in full swing in the UK with The Cake and Bake Show taking place in London’s Excel on October 5-7th and Cake International in the Birmingham NEC on November 2-4th.

At these shows the art (for it is an art) of sculpting, modelling, stencilling, shaping, garnishing and piping is imparted through demonstrations, workshops and knowledge sharing. Flowers, people, clothes, animals, seasonal decorations – literally anything that can be shaped and moulded is up for grabs. Such is the current interest in cake decorating, that enthuasiasts can now even subscribe to a dedicated channel Cake Decorating TV where experts deliver a series of online cake making tutorials, suitable for both beginner and professional cake decorators.

Sugarcraft in particular has an appeal that reaches hobbyist, home bakers, retailers, manufacturers and professionals alike. It is a relatively easy and inexpensive craft to learn. My own modest efforts (do cake pops count?) have provided a sense of satisfaction that is hard to equal!

Celtic Cakers

 

Celtic-Cakers-Cover-700x700And so to this wonderful Celtic Cakers book, which was compiled and launched earlier this year by Corinna Maguire, an award winning cake decorator. It is a beautifully photographed and illustrated photo tutorial book which features some of Ireland’s top cake decorators with their wealth of styles and techniques.

Not just for the more accomplished “caker”, the book is accessible to all skill levels with several beginners tutorials providing step by step, photographed instructions. The Seaside Wedding (above) is on the more challenging end of the scale with quite exquisite ropework. The Wooly Lamb (below, intermediate level) is simply adorable.

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More than a guide, the book is also a showcase of Ireland’s considerable talent in cake decorating, taking us on a journey around Ireland, its fabulous landscapes and introducing the Celtic Cakers and their stories. Corinna hails from Alberta originally and credits an “Away with the Fairies” collaboration at the Dublin Sugarcraft Cake Competition in 2016 with her inspiration for this book.

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Corinna Maguire

Among the other bakers featured in this book are Caryna Camerino, co-incidentally also Canadian, who runs Camerino Bakery in Dublin’s Capel Street. Specialising in cookies, brownies and tray bakes, Camerino recently opened a second outlet on Merrion Square East in Dublin.

Also included is Dublin based Karen Geraghty, a self-taught cake maker and decorator, of Bake Cake Create and South African born Tanya Ross, who runs Novel-T School of Cake in Moate, Co Westmeath, making cakes to order and teaching sugarcraft.

The Celtic Cakers book is available in good book stores or on Amazon.

Doughnuts on the Run

West Dublin was whipped up into doughnut frenzy this week as international doughnut chain Krispy Kreme finally opened its doors in Blanchardstown, bringing a slice of Americana to Dublin’s suburbs. At one stage on the opening day on Wednesday 26th September, up to 30 cars queued at the drive thru.

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Many will remember Dunkin Donuts relatively brief presence in Ireland some years ago, so this isn’t the first foray for an international doughnut brand in this country. It is however the first sizeable operation to set up shop in Ireland with Blanchardstown one of the chain’s largest outlets in Europe.

Located adjacent to Ireland’s largest shopping centre, the outlet seats up to 75 people and boasts a 24 hour drive thru. The company claims that it will create 150 jobs in Ireland across multiple disciplines including retail, logistics, administration and management.

Set up by Vernon Rudolph in the late 1930’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Krispy Kreme grew rapidly in the south eastern states throughout the 50’s and 60’s, eventually becoming a nationwide brand. The first outlet outside of the US opened in Canada in 2001. In 2016 the company was purchased for $1.35bn by JAB, the investment vehicle for Germany’s billionaire Reimann family, which continues to build its global coffee empire.

With 1,300 outlets in 31 countries internationally, Ireland is the latest international location for the company, although it has been present in the UK for more than a decade with over 50 outlets.

This is a well marketed brand which has benefited from near iconic status in terms of its celebrity associations. High profile fans include Madonna, Jimmy Carr and Beyonce. Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal – a franchisee and brand ambassador for the company went so far as to claim Irish heritage this week in a video message to promote the brand’s opening.

A Krispy Kreme doughnut is an unashamed indulgence and exercise in self treating. The company has traditionally excelled in upselling and bulk buy incentives. The doughnuts themselves are slickly merchandised and displayed in signature glass cabinets. Flavours include the classic Original Glazed and others with waistband busting monikers such as Chocolate Dreamcake and Reeses Peanut Butter Kreme. The Krispy Kreme brand design has changed little in the past 80 years with a consistent look and feel that positions itself perfectly as a comfort food.

Pre-launch publicity included a temporary pop up store in Dublin’s South William Street over the weekend of August 10th-12th which featured the Krispy Kreme Hotlight, which lights up when warm donuts are available. Curious passersby and fans alike queued at the hatch to collect a complimentary hot doughnut.

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Some might regard Ireland as a saturated market for doughnuts. In the last few years, several indigenous doughnut chains such as Off Beat, Boston Donuts and Aungier Danger (now closed) have opened outlets in Dublin, joining longstanding sellers such as Rolling Donut in a bid to capture the capitol’s sweet tooth. While the doughnut trend may have peaked in urban centres, coverage further afield however is relatively sparse.

Highly Instagrammable, doughnut makers have taken full advantage of people’s interest in and delight for colour and playfulness in food choices. Doughnut walls have even become a thing recently at weddings as an alternative to a traditional wedding cake (a hole lotta love?). Check out this trend on One Fab Day.

Further information on Krispy Kreme in Ireland is available here.