YOU could almost taste the sugar in the air as thousands of cupcakes in every design under the sun arrived for Bournemouth Cupcake Camp.

Professional and amateur bakers who had spent hours in the kitchen shipped around 2,700 of the mini-masterpieces into the Pavilion for an eagerly-awaited competition.

Pints of Guinness, Red Arrows, a Spaghetti Bolognese, a tiny Mona Lisa, Olympic torches and a spread of ice-cream cone shaped cakes were among the saccharine offerings.

Following a stampede of sweet-toothed visitors to last year’s inaugural camp in Poole, organisers spent months planning the free event in aid of the NSPCC.

ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen was enlisted to judge the competition’s 13 categories. “I knew I was exactly the right person for this job,” she said.

“I’m a hearty, expert cupcake eater. I may be a hopeless cupcake maker, but I’m a wonderful eater of cupcakes. I just haven’t got this brilliant artistry.”

As she browsed the array, Esther admitted her all-time favourite is carrot cake.

“I’ve just spotted a carrot cupcake over here so will definitely be trying one of those later,” she drooled.

“These cakes are just making my mouth water. Anything with chocolate in the title is a good shout, and there’s spiced cakes, and ones with secret fillings.

“I’m going to have to try that. I think I may be here some time, and leave two stone heavier than I arrived.”

Fellow judge Ms Cupcake – aka Mellissa Morgan, who has a bakery in Brixton, London and an international publishing deal – said competition was fierce.

“People have spent days making these, I can tell they have been planning for a year and doing trials,” she said.

“You start to eat before you even bite into a cupcake.

“Innovation, creativity and a flavour of the dramatic is always lovely. Love has to be baked into every single cake,” she added.

Organisers Margaret Hitchman, from Cake Heaven, and Melanie Kiani, of Simply Events, laid on a stage show, a raffle for Diverse Abilities Plus, and a crèche.

“We’ve tried to make it bigger and more exciting, with reasons for people to stay for the whole three hours,” Melanie, 36, said.

Maisie Costin, seven, entered Buckingham Palace cupcakes inspired by the Diamond Jubilee.

The young baker said: “They took me two or three hours.

“I made one, which went OK and then I had to make all six.

“The palace is made out of petal paste. I normally make cakes for home.”