I became a baker for a day at the Big Birmingham Bake and had a blast

I joined a pop-up bake off in Digbeth, where I had 90 minutes to make a vintage-themed cake and learned how to bake, decorate and compete.

Do you love baking shows, but feel daunted by the idea of baking a cake yourself? If so, you might enjoy the Big Birmingham Bake, a fun and easy event that happens in a huge tent in Digbeth.

The Big Birmingham Bake is a pop-up bake off, where you and your baking buddy have 90 minutes to make a yummy cake, following a monthly theme, with the help of a head baker and all the ingredients and tools you need. You can also have drinks and snacks while you bake, and compete for the prize of the best cake.

I decided to try it out, as I wanted to test my baking skills and challenge myself. The theme for the month was Vintage cake, and I had never baked a cake before, so I was curious to see if I could pull it off, and have some fun along the way.

With my apron on and a sense of adventure, I looked at the long wooden tables full of ingredients. Flour, eggs, sugar, and butter called out, waiting to be turned into a masterpiece.

I decided to go solo for this challenge, with a recipe card and a dream of a perfectly layered sponge, I got to work. My chosen flavours? Banana and rum raisin. The thought of mixing these two seemed like a flavour between tropical sweetness and boozy nostalgia.

My cake batter was smooth and silky, and I couldn’t resist tasting a bit. It was heavenly—light, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweetness. I put my cake in the oven and waited for 23 minutes—a golden beauty with a soft crumb came out.

Ah, but here came the challenge. My cake’s destiny changed when it came to decorating. I looked at the blank canvas in front of me, wondering how to make it into a vintage masterpiece.  Panic set in. Would my cake be a flop?

That’s when the staff came to the rescue.

The friendly staff at the Big Birmingham Bake were more than just hosts — they were my cake whispers. With kind words, they gave me tips on piping, fondant and edible art. With new knowledge, I got to work. 

As I piped lovely roses and sprinkled my cake with edible beads, I looked around. Other bakers—some with partners, others with friends—were busy with their own sweet magic. Laughter filled the air, and flour-covered aprons told stories of shared joy. 

My vintage-themed cake might not have made it to the front page of a baking magazine, but it had character—a testament to my first solo baking adventure. The taste? Divine. The decoration? A work in progress. But the experience? Totally wonderful. 

The event ended with the announcement of the winner. The head baker and the other judges went on a stage, and thanked everyone for their involvement and their awesome cakes. They said that it was a very hard choice, as all the cakes were great and unique. They then revealed the winner, and it was… not me.

It was friends who made a Valentine themed cake, with a sugary pink filling and candy toppings. Their cake looked gorgeous. They got a cake slice trophy, and a round of applause. I cheered for them, and clapped along. I was not disappointed, as I knew that they deserved to win, and that I had done my best. 

I left the tent with a smile on my face, and a cake in a box, a rose and a goodie bag. I had a fantastic time at the Big Birmingham Bake, and was very happy with my experience. I learned how to bake a cake, and had fun doing it. 

So, if you are in Birmingham, and want a baking adventure, go to Floodgate Street, Digbeth. Whether you’re a skilled baker or a beginner, the Big Birmingham Bake promises laughter, floury high-fives, and a chance to make memories—one cake slice at a time.

If you want to know more about the Big Birmingham Bake, visit their website

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