All Content, Blog

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, it’s that dreaded day once again. Not because I fear getting older, you understand – I think I’ve been prematurely middle-aged since my mid-twenties – it’s more like there is nothing drearier than an end of January birthday. Everybody is skint, they’re all on post-Christmas diets and it’s all just a bit blah.Unfortunately, I’m one of those irritating people for whom birthdays are a really big deal. Yours, mine and even strangers’. I love that we all have a special day that’s all about us – I think that’s why I love making birthday cakes for people so much. It’s wonderful to be able to add a bit of sparkle to someone’s special day.This year, after a few too many years of blah-ness, I decided that today was going to be a good day – mind over matter and all that. And do you know what? It really has been. I got to spend the day with 28 over-excited six and seven year olds who I think were even more excited about my birthday than I was, I have been spoiled rotten by my family and colleagues with beautiful, thoughtful tokens (many of which were handmade and gorgeous) AND I got to treat them all to a lovely cake.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t yet discovered the wonder of Jane’s Patisserie, you must look her up! Jane is an absolutely lovely friend of mine who spends her free time dreaming up wonderful recipes and sharing them all for free over on her blog. She’s far better at it than I am (I have no shame in admitting that) and I always know that I can find something delicious over there.Today’s ‘work birthday cake’ was her newest creation: a stunning lemon and blueberry cake, with a light lemon buttercream, blueberry jam and fresh blueberries to garnish. I have to say, the balance of flavours was just perfect and it was a real hit at school.I also started the day by sharing a recipe of my own – Mr Baker’s Foolproof Ganache. I won’t repeat myself here harping on about how much I love ganache, but do check it out in my recipes section. Hopefully it will help out those who are plagued by the ganache demons.I’ve spent the rest of the evening cracking on with the cake that we designed over on Facebook Live on Monday. No rest for the wicked, eh? It’s coming along well, so hopefully I shall be able to share my right royal Murder Mystery cake with you all this weekend.

Oh and in other news, the other half treated me to a lovely new camera lens for my birthday too, so hopefully I shall be stepping up my photography game now.

Finally, just a quick thank you for all the lovely messages and birthday wishes today. I really do appreciate each and every one and will endeavour to reply to them all over the next few days.

Much love! x

All Content, Blog

“A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul.”

So this week gave me a real opportunity for some personal growth. If you caught my last post, you will know that I have been working on a cake for my friend’s birthday. Paris was turning 30 and he is a huge Star Wars fan. I’d had a certain Star Wars-themed cake languishing on my bucket list for ages and had decided that now was the time – I was finally going to get to make a BB8 cake!

I love BB8. He holds a special place in my heart – not just because he is soooo adorable and he is – but also because he was actually designed by the uncle of one of my former pupils. But wait! There’s more! My pupil’s mum and aforementioned uncle managed to conspire together to make something amazing happen last year – with special permission from Disney, they were allowed to bring him to school. Not a model! Not a replica! The real BB8 robot from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was a truly magical experience seeing him bring joy to the faces of our 632 pupils (and the adults too!) and it made for a day I will never forget…

IMG_8760.jpg

As such, I had a very clear idea in my head for how this cake would look and as you saw in the previous post, it didn’t go to plan.

If you’ll forgive the temporary narcissism of quoting oneself, I declared in my last post,

“However, every now and then, as cakers, I think we have to be realistic about the state of play with a particular project and decide whether a piece can be salvaged or whether it is time to jack it in and start again. I think I’m going to have to face the fact that today is one of those days where it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s happened before and I’m sure it’ll happen again.

Unfortunately, this is where being a part-time cake artist and a full-time teacher has its drawbacks, because there simply isn’t time to start again and still pull off my vision for this cake. And if a bucket list cake isn’t living up to my vision, then it isn’t leaving my kitchen.”

But the following day, I couldn’t help but think, what would bring more excitement to Paris’ birthday? A slightly less-than-perfect BB8 cake (in MY opinion) or a quick bashed-together round Star Wars cake with no real thought or emotion behind it? I think I allowed myself to get a bit caught up in my ego there – I think I got a bit too hung up on the ‘artist’ part of Cake Artist and forgot the first part for a moment.

Luckily, I had told the Other Half to hold off eating the BB8 cake and came home from work on Friday with a renewed sense of determination. This isn’t about creating my chef-d’œuvre – it’s about making a cake that my friend will love. And isn’t it true that as Cake Artists, our own greatest critics are ourselves anyway? I’ve lost count of the times that I haven’t been happy with a finished cake, only for the recipient to be absolutely blown away by it. We see flaws because we have the image in our minds of what we wanted it to look like. Nobody else can see that – they just see the cake in front of them.

As I started to add detail (and using them to hide the ‘problem areas’), I started to feel a bit more confident with him again. And as with most cake projects, I faced additional crises – like when I was a bit heavy-handed with my ‘dirt’ on the bottom tier. But I didn’t mind anymore. It will still be an awesome surprise for my friend. I didn’t even mind when I got the usual, “Did you mean to do that?” comment, when the Other Half immediately picked up on the fact that I was a bit heavy handed with my ‘dirt’ on the bottom tier. How do they always do that?

final

As I was walking into the restaurant tonight to surprise Paris with his special gift, not once did I think, “Oh gosh. Look at the state of this cake.” I just enjoyed being able to bring a bit of extra sparkle to my friend’s day and I feel quite silly now for my earlier freak out. In fact, I genuinely feel like this little chap has taken me on a bit of a learning journey this week. Is he the best BB8 cake ever created? Certainly not. But is he the best BB8 cake Paris has ever been given for his birthday? I think so.

And isn’t that what really matters?