Saturday, 30 January 2010

My mum's birthday cake

I'm a little behind with my blogging! I have cultivated the bad habit of turning to Facebook whenever I had the time, to check on how my cooking is doing in my virtual kitchen or how my virtual businesses are making me a tycoon. I'm determined to make myself more disciplined this week.

Last weekend, we celebrated my mum's birthday. I was rather tied up with preparations for my cake decoration class, but I did not want to miss out this opportunity to make her a cake. 

I cracked my head over what to do. I had initially wanted to make a chocolate banana layered cake, like the one I did before, and make it look nicer this time. In the end, I decided against it, because many of our relatives are not that young anymore and would be cautiously watching their intake of chocolate, sugar and cream! Besides, I predicted that everyone would be full from the dinner spread, so that cake might be a little too heavy for them.

At the same time, I really wanted to put what I have learnt so far in cake decoration, to good use. I know my mum would have liked the flower basket cake that I did in one of my class. That would however, mean I need to use buttercream or royal icing or fondant for that whole effect of the weaving and flowers, and that would not suit the palate of the people who would be there. 

I considered covering the cake with fruits, but I really wanted to make some flowers, so I finally decided on using fresh (whipped) cream to cover the cake and pipe some simple swirl flowers. Between the layers, I spread a little cream and put slices of canned peach. I still am not able to cover the cake perfectly smooth and my writings could be better, but it definitely looked better than my father's birthday cake from 2 years ago. The top of my sponge cake was even a little a bit burnt, though it did not give a burnt taste. I was afraid on how it would be received and was glad that they liked that the sponge was light and not too sweet. Phew!

I had an observation though...that none of them seem to take notice of how the cake looked. Perhaps it was too simple and they had nothing to comment on. I seem to find it a common scene among the celebrations in the family - that they do not generally notice how the cake is decorated, the emphasis is more on the taste. Perhaps they would, if the cake was made more stunningly and elegant...but I find it quite a waste, because cake decorators (not that I am calling myself one though) do spend a lot of time and effort on planning how a cake is going to look and a lot of hard work goes into the small details. 

I do usually take some time to look at every detail of my birthday cake, not only because I have an interest in it and I will always remember what my instructor mentioned in class - that sometimes we (the ones decorating) can be too hard on ourselves. We might wish we made our flowers a little nicer, leaves a little more pointed, the piping a little smoother and icing a little more evenly spreaded etc....but at the end of the day, the ones who notice it might be only ourselves. Perhaps, perhaps this is why most of the cakes sitting in our bakeries are usually decorated in "simple and safe" designs and it's sad!

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