Sunday, 11 July 2010

'Oh! Cakes again? How... thoughtful'

Hello, how have you been?

I've been on a workshop.

Well, I say a workshop. More of an evening class. There's some immense feat of endurance implied in the words evening class, though – all term-long commitment, chilly school corridors and winter colds. This was just a one-night stand, and 'workshop' has a pleasing one-offness about it, as well as a whiff of either sawdust or the sweat of improv, depending on which particular pastoral GCSEs you did.

So Simmo and I learnt to decorate cupcakes. We did actual piping. We rolled our own sugar roses, if you can believe such a thing. We are now highly-skilled sugarcraft ninjas. Or, more accurately, we have learned a small and simple range of devastatingly effective techniques, which is the closely-guarded secret of all ninjas. Most of it is just costume and theatrics. And having the right equipment – ceremonial sword, nunchucks, the right diameter of piping nozzle...

The fact remains, though, that piping buttercream icing is still tricksy. Like milking a fat eel in a plastic bag.

(Milking a cow, meanwhile, is something I enduringly believe I'd be good at. This is because I always have warm hands. Which may or may not be because MY HEART IS STONY COLD. In reality, if I was confronted with a cow needing to be milked, I would probably just start edging away, flinching at a volley of imaginary kicks. Or simply start crying. Other things I think I would be good at include playing the xylophone and plastering. Things I am resolutely sure I would not be good at include the entire range of 'action' sports.)

Anyway, in the picture above, bottom left is my favourite. Top left is a bit shit. But still, these were my first and only attempts. There was no scraping of icing into a nearby pot plant, or surreptitious sliding of botched cupcake into wastebasket. This is raw and uncensored cake craft I am presenting to you. In any case, I always feel a fondness for the runts of the litter. This is not just because of Charlotte's Web, but also because once upon a time, a few years ago, I baked 100 cupcakes, for free, for a charity event. It took me bloody ages, and they really didn't look too shabby, with their near-perfect pink ribbons that I had painstakingly iced on. Flour-streaked and exhausted, I took them along to the event, as they were setting up chairs and tables. As I presented them to one of the organisers, her idiot boyfriend, leaning over her shoulder, pointed at one of my cakes and said, 'That one's a bit small.'

I could honestly have killed him, at that moment. I was a lioness protecting my cakey cubs.

So anyway, my new-found icing smarts spell bad news for my friends, since I am now even more likely to pitch up at social events wielding some freshly baked batch or other, while they offer a weak smile of 'Oh, more cakes? Great', their expressions just like the Leadbeatters being presented with a gift of handmade trousers by the Goods, of which the legs are different colours. This in turn ensures the weather will be abominable, since whenever I am carrying a box of delicately iced cakes anywhere, it is guaranteed to be pouring with rain, the wind catching underneath the box, and threatening to wrench it out of my sodden grip and toss it upturned onto the pavement. I turn up at the event bedraggled, corned-beef fingers frozen solid from clutching the box in front of me, the contents resembling some kind of WI show styled by Jackson Pollock.

Still, since the cupcake market is apparently immune to saturation – it is an urban truth that in London now you are never more than 12 feet from a cupcake concession – this could prove to be a lucrative new venture, just as it has for all the other women who've gone before and now appear in Red magazine talking about it.

Starting my own small business is surely only the-financial-support-of-my-husband-who-happens-to-work-in-banking away.

I honestly can't see any flaw in this plan.

1 comment:

Alison Cross said...

These look BRILLIANT!

If you have friends who go a bit weak and poofy when faced with More Cakes, you have the wrong friends!

Send me all your superfluous cakes and I will follow you around like a spaniel for the rest of my life ;-)

Ali x