Tuesday, June 14, 2005

come fly with me....

Well, it has been a mega crazy weekend. So much fun I feel quite manic... Among many exciting happenings was my first decorated cake experience.

It was Marion's 30th birthday party on Sunday so I offered to make a cake. I was shocked when she said that Andy, her "I can't cook" boyf, claimed to have it "under control."

The next day I had about 5 phone calls from Andy looking for help and advice. He wanted to do a cake that showed Marion in either a sports car or a plane and he was thinking of just buying cakes and icing from Safeway. "Safeway? Nooooo!" I screamed, knowing that Marion would be very unhappy to cut open her cake and find it bland and foamy. So I stupidly offered to make the cakes and help him put it together.

5 cake batters, 4 bowls of icing and hours of gruelling labour later we had a cake that looked a bit like a 5 year old had designed it.

But Marion and the crowd were suitably impressed and at least it tasted delicious. For the fusillage I used 3 lemon cakes and the icing was flavoured with fresh lime juice. The wings are a simple chocolate cake with a thick icing made from real chocolate. Luckily both the cakes were pretty solid and easily carved by Andy, who did do a good job of wielding the knife. And the punters were more than happy to gobble it all up, leaving things looking a little sad.

Making the cake made me realise how the woman in The Hoursfeels when she gets all the crumbs in her icing. I'm sooo not a perfectionist but I was incredibly frustrated by how the icing dripped everywhere, fell off and generally looked a bit wrong. Luckily we served the cake in a dimly lit bar. Still, this decorating business sure is hard work and it gave me a heap more respect for my old housie Nat, aka The Cake Lady (scroll down for a pic), who used to spend weeks putting together her detailed little cake sculptures.

If anyone wants to cake recipes let me know and I'll post them. I mainly chose them because they are really easy to make and quite firm, but they're definitely good stand-by cakes to have in your repertoire.


gaylourdes said...

No way man, that cake looks fantastic! The lines of smarties and silvers balls are tops, and there is some very nice piping action on the sleeves (this is a hard thing to do). Totally rivalling the Women's Weekly Kids Birthday Cake Cookbook published by Family Circle sometime in the mid-80s!
While binary oppositions are problematic, I think there are basically two kinds of cake. the first is yummy desserty cakes that could have an infinite amount of variation in flavour texture colour smell etc but are pretty similar when it comes to shapes. (lets call those the sensually-defined cakes, from the senses).
the other kind of cake is the birthday cake (a la above mentioned cookbook) which is defined primarily by shape. and the more outlandish/ gravity defying the better.
it was in the search for a dolly varden cake tin for em's birthday cake last year that prompted my current interest in baking. i couldn't find one and totally hear your pain at crumbs in the icing.
I remember my mum also getting incredibly stressed pre-birthday occasions valiantly struggling with slabs of cake held together with toothpicks, skewers and icing. (I think for a while when i was young the only time i ever heard mum swear was when she was icing birthday cakes). But she always managed to do it, and i would like more opportunities for shape cakes.
a note though, the later versions of the women's weekly cookbook are not so good; while raver-goth chicks have entered the canon of character cakes, they've done away with most of the innovative charm of 80's creative garnish and decoration, and nearly all the cakes are covered in that super-boring thick goopy plastic icing.
gee i've become verbose lately!

Niki said...

It looks pretty darn impressive, and I can understand how many hours it would have taken and the sore feet you would have had at the end. It tiring stuff, this cake decorating!
We had that women's weekly kids birthday cake when I was a child too, and I have memories of mum making all kinds of creations. Seems most people my age I speak with have the same memories.

esther said...

thanks folks for your nice words... i do feel pretty proud of it now.

liz i agree about the binary.. i guess maybe by using yummy cakes to make the plane i was trying to destabilise that dichotomy? he hee.

and yeah, what has happened to the WW book? now they all look so smooth and bland.. no more cakes covered in chips (i think that was donald duck's feathers... so weird)

i love yr verbosity. don't stop.

gaylourdes said...

aha! it's a false bake-otomy!
oh yeah! i'd forgotten about the chip-cake! i loved the weird decorating ideas. and also, when you're little, you don't necessarily understand photographic demonstrations. so i always felt dubious about the humpty dumpty cake because it looked like the lady was inserting matchboxes into the actual cake, instead of making a brick pattern.