Monday, October 29, 2012

Baking is a cruel mistress

There was no way I was going to cry over a cake, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it came pretty close. More on that in a moment. After two days of solid baking for my niece's pre-wedding Afternoon Tea for 20, I have a new admiration for people who cook/bake and generally spend a lot of time in their kitchens cooking for the people they love. I also discovered the awful truth, that despite my many indignant protests over the years, I am indeed a Very Messy Cook. Whatevs. Last Thursday I got up a made the dough for the heart shaped thank you cookies that sat snuggly in their individual homemade boxes thanks to the Martha Stewart Scoreboard. Have you used that thing? Amazing. Next was a batch of pop-cakes. Not wild about them, but they looked great. Pastry casings for the savoury tarts (parmesan, basil, tomato). Friday was cupcakes, pork sausage rolls straight from What Katie Ate. Love that book. Have been pouring over it for days. A great blend of compelling photography, good writing and solid recipes. Later that afternoon I spontaneously decided to make a Rainbow Cake. You've probably seen them around - the five layers of different coloured sponges covered in a cream cheese frosting (with tiny bunting on top) and when you cut the cake, you get a pretty (some might say startling) piece of cake. It's not a demure cake. It's a LOOK AT ME, DAMIT IT cake. An attention seeking cake. The first four layers were fine, but I pulled out two layers just a fraction too early so while I was mentally congratulating myself on a job well done, the two cakes were quietly sinking, resulting in a pronounced slump. I tried to gently remove them from the tin (they were cold) and then one broke in half. Why I didn't just abandon the entire exercise right then is a mystery I'll never fully understand. Instead I went against the universally accepted baking Laws of Nature and PLOUGHED ON. Disaster. I was clearly deluded, probably due the large amounts of icing sugar I'd accidentally mainlining for the previous 24hours. As I forged on, stacking the cakes on top of each other, the slump turned into a one of those sink holes you sometimes see in a National Geographic magazine. Again with the delusion. Maybe I had to see the entire catastrophe before I accepted failure? I turned up Casey Chambers new CD and covered the entire mess with cream cheese frosting until I realised that NO AMOUNT OF ICING was ever going to the disaster within. Just to make sure, and probably out of some morbid curiosity, I cut the cake in half to check out the 'effect'. No rainbow people. It looked like a hippie threw up. I'm going to fast forward now, to me driving down the shops (swearing) with icing in my hair and crazy look in my eye - but I came back started all over again - with a great result. I don't know what any of this proves and I'm not going to over think it. All I know is that I made the freaking Rainbow Cake and people ate it, so I win.

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Some Books I've Really Enjoyed

  • Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion
  • The Bell Jar by Syliva Plath
  • Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
  • Stasiland by Anna Funder

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Living, reading, crafting, taking photos, writing.