JUNE 02, 2014 AT 2:00 PM
Of Course...No Problem!
So picture the scene of a wedding cake consultation held in the beautiful setting of a five star country hotel. Peacocks are strutting about outside preening their feathers, and the hotel staff are wandering around inside with a selection of 25 different teas to choose from their menu. The bride and her mother are in a whirl of excitement about the upcoming wedding and have really given some thought as to what they would like for their show stopping cake. “OK” the bride tells me, “what I really want for my wedding is to have a cake with twenty five tiers, all interlinked with hand made sugar bridges, a chocolate fountain sitting underneath the biggest cake, and all suspended from the ceiling with invisible wires”
And who am I to crush a bride’s deams? “Of course!” I tell her, “No Problem!
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I seem to have cake tourettes, in that whatever wild and wacky idea someone has for their cake, I just shout out “YES!” I literally cannot help myself. I don’t know if it’s because I like the challenge, or whether I hate to turn work down, or whether I just refuse to be defeated. Whatever the reason, there doesn’t seem to be a cure for it as yet.
One particular challenge that was placed firmly in my hands a while ago, was to make a birthday cake on which I had to incorporate skydiving. Of course I could have kept it simple and made a little character that lay flat on the cake in a spread eagled position, as if falling through the sky. But that would have been far too easy. Instead, determined to make the cake truly magnificent, I devised a way for the little figure to actually float above the cake. It took quite a bit of thinking, a couple of sky diving prototypes, and just a small amount of profanity, but eventually I had my hovering sky diver who was suspended in the air using several clear dowels. I have to say that even though the cake took me probably three times as long to make as it should have, it was totally worth the extra effort to see the absolute joy on my customer’s face when she picked it up.
It is very easy to get carried away by your customer’s excitement about a cake design though; in fact I quite often just get carried away by myself, and even start suggesting things that are outside the realms of possibility. I even started quoting “anything is possible” to my customers at one stage. Oh, such stupidity! Of course, they will take you completely literally when you blurt out something so ridiculous, and then ask if you could maybe carve a life size tractor out of carrot cake for them. And technically, yes, it is possible, but by the time its finished it could be a little bit on the stale side, the cost is going to be exorbitant, and well…really?
Another thing that we all tend to do when there is a particularly challenging design to put together, is to tell ourselves, I’ll worry about that later. I don’t know about you, but sadly, I haven’t yet learnt the art of stopping time just yet, so ‘later’ does eventually come around.
One particular example of this was when I agreed to make a wedding cake shaped like a sandcastle. This yet again was completely my own fault, as it was for a couple of friends of mine who were getting married abroad on a beach and then coming home for their reception. I had recently seen a picture on line of a cake made by a big American company, which looked as if it was completely made of sand, and I was inspired to say the least. I put the idea to my friends and they ran with it. We were all very excited, and I wasn’t worried as the wedding was a year away and I had plenty of time to work out how I was going to make my masterpiece.
However, as we all know by now, time passes far too quickly and before I knew it, the wedding was only a week away and it was time to put my (or rather, their) money where my mouth was. Thankfully this particular tale does end happily with a sand castle made of chocolate cake, covered in edible shells, sand and seaweed. I learned a valuable life lesson, in that I should prepare myself much better in advance in the art of making edible sand, and the bride and groom, who loved their cake, lived happily ever after in their sand castle.
Of course sometimes the greatest challenge is just to make someone’s idea look more appealing than it actually is in reality. A good example of this failing dramatically is the classic armadillo grooms cake in ‘Steel Magnolias’. A very unattractive shade of grey, which when cut into revealed the red velvet cake underneath, which made it look like the poor thing was bleeding. To be honest, I’m personally not a great fan of making cakes which are shaped like animals at all, as do you really want to cut into a replica of a treasured pet? Much more humane to model them out of sugarpaste to sit on or around the cake instead.
Anyway, the moral of these tales should be to always stretch your creativity as much as possible to keep your cake decorating interesting, but to also realize that sometimes there are limits to what we can do. Sadly, I am still grappling with coming to terms with this whole idea myself, as for some reason I’ve agreed yet again to the impossible. Here I am lying awake at night wondering exactly how on earth I am going to be able to train actual butterflies to carry a cake into a wedding reception.