Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween from the Good Witch!

The Good Witch wishes everyone a happy Halloween!

She is getting ready to fly off on her broomstick tonight, to Nepal, India and Dubai. She is totes excited about this and is having trouble holding it all inside.

It's the reason her icing is more of a maroon than a purple - when she was putting her dress on last night she DID NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE to get the colour exactly right, because she was TOO EXCITED TO THINK STRAIGHT and wanted to get back to her packing. Packing is important.

She spent a good fifteen minutes arsing about with five drops of this and ten drops of that, and fifteen more drops of this and twenty more drops of that - and all to no avail. So she knocked it on the head and spent a far more enjoyable hour considering the merits of dotted swiss voile over cotton poplin. Even witches have to have some down time.

So she does not consider this cake her best work. But she does not care because soon she will be on holiday! With dotted swiss voile!

The Good Witch is at work today but is so on edge that she may need to go outside at some point and screech with excitement to relieve the tension.

The Good Witch will be gone for nearly a month, but fear not - she has cast a spell and blog posts will appear by magic while she is away.

For cakey goodness, keep reading this blog (of course!).

For all the tales of her travels, check out All Toile And No Reward.....

Friday, 19 October 2012

I Caked It Myself: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery .....

..... or is it? That's the question posed by today's submission to I Caked It Myself, which comes from my friend Tam.

Tam writes: 

 Nine years ago I decided to decorate my birthday cake with buttercream flowers. I'd seen a picture in a magazine and when I saw a packet of icing tips (plastic!) at my local Coles I thought I'd give it a try. 

I had a few tubs of food colour paste at home (pinky-red, yellow and green) and my trusty WW buttercream recipe on hand, so I made up a big batch of icing and after a few practise rounds on baking paper I came up with this:

 (Made in 2003, uploaded onto Flickr in 2007)
I was fairly proud of it at the time (Ed: I am proud of it too. Your flowers are wonderful, especially for a first-timer! I actually thought they were real when I saw the picture for the first time. You will have to give me lessons. My flowers are rubbish.), but a few years later - after purchasing stainless steel decorating tips and a greater range of food paste colours - I decided to make another ranunculus flower cake for myself [not so much through lack of imagination, but because ranunculi flower profusely in my garden around the time of my birthday].
Keen to improve on my original design, I looked to Google for inspiration, and was shocked to find the following image:

The cheating copy

(spotted on the Amphora bakery website in 2009)

It's still there! Check out (page 4).
It was like looking at one of those puzzles in the newspaper where you try to find the difference between the two pictures. Oh sure, the serving dish was different, but those colours? the amateurish petals? This was a copy of MY CAKE! (Yes! It is practically a carbon copy of your cake!)
At first I was miffed that I wasn't given credit for the idea (even though by posting a photo of my original cake on Flickr I pretty much lost control over any copyright of the artwork etc).  

On the other hand, I'm flattered, as this was the first cake I'd ever decorated with a piping bag and tips. And someone thought it was worth copying. (I hear you, Tam, I hear you.) 

I also smugly know that I have moved on in my portrayal of ranunculi on my birthday cakes:

So therein lies the question .... is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Perhaps, if it is imitation with a proper attribution to the author, the university student in me would say. 

I would have been absolutely gleeful to find that someone had copied a cake of mine. And then a bit ropable. After all, my entire project is about copying, so I could hardly get cranky with someone else for doing the same thing! 

But then, if I'd actually come up with the idea myself, like Tam did, then maybe I would think differently .....

What do you think?


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Sorry About Dead People

Yep, I'm as dumbstruck as you are.

What I do know though,  is that sometimes in life, you gotta break the rules.

This project is all about making cakes from The Book, of course - one hundred and eight of them. That's a lot of Women's Weekly in my life.

So when I was extra-specially-requested to make *this* cake for a colleague, of course I jumped at the chance.

Not just because it is about as far from the Women's Weekly as you can get. And not just because it would give me a chance to finally try out my piping skills and all those icing nozzles I over-enthusiastically bought when I first set sail on this ship.

No, I agreed to do it because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS CAKE MEANS. And that fascinates me.

It fascinates my colleague, too. She has had the picture up on her wall for ages, and for the Festival Of Jess  this week she made a special request. Months ago, in fact, she very politely asked if it would be possible for me to recreate the cake for her birthday even though it is not from The Book. And I just couldn't refuse, could I? This is the sort of chance you don't often get in life. You've got to grab those moments when they present themselves.

It's from the Cakewrecks book. I can't find the post on the website unfortunately, because I was hoping it might be able to shed some light on things.

Is it a funeral cake? A "wake cake"? God forbid.

Consensus in the office is that maybe someone spoiled the ending to The Sixth Sense and felt they needed to have a cake made to say sorry. I don't buy it.

The possibilities are endless.  It could be a poor translation of a Chinese saying you use when someone dies (does such a saying exist?). Or a housewife politely apologising for the untidy dead people at her party. Or a forbidding portent of the upcoming murder of the PERSON THIS CAKE WAS MADE FOR. Wouldn't that be creepy .... opening the box, seeing the cake, and realising your friendly baker person was about to kill you. Very Alfred Hitchock Presents.

And while the thought of what it means is terribly morbidly fascinating, it's not nearly as morbidly fascinating as the decoration on the actual cake itself.

Those pink scalloped edges took me ages to get right. That particular shade of fluorescent yellow icing is right on trend for the current fashion season. And the wiggly poo-esque shape of the white and yellow ribbons just tops everything off.

I hope you appreciate my attention to detail in this cake. It was quite hard to get it just as horrible as the original. I tried really hard on the writing but couldn't quite replicate the heavy hand and lack of attention to detail. So I made up for it by going to the extent of making sure the coloured flower decoration things were (mostly) in exactly the right place.

After you have oohed and aahed over the awfulness of this particular baked treat, I would love to hear your theories on what it could mean ......!

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Telephone Cake: or, explaining the Bakers' Ennui


Picture this imaginary exchange ......

Ring ring! Ring ring!

Me: Hello?  

Them: Hello, it's the Cake Police here.

Me: The cake police?  Really? Like the little toppers on top of wedding cakes? How ever did you come to life?

Cake Police: No funny business thanks very much. We police baking. To be specific, we police Not Baking. And it has come to our attention, missy, that you have Not Been Baking. One might say you have Slacked Off.

Me: Indeed, one might say that. Are you saying that?

Cake Police: We are. According to your blog, which we are monitoring, you have not baked a cake for weeks. Is this true? How do you answer to this charge?

Me: It is true to some extent. I have baked cakes but I have not blogged them. Why are you monitoring my website?

Cake Police: That's classified ma'am. Your behaviour is unacceptable. It cannot continue.

Me: I'm sorry officer. I have been experiencing sugar overload. Flour elbow. I have Bakers' Ennui. You see, that duck cake was so good that I don't know how I am going to follow it.

Cake Police: We don't care. Neither do your readers. Get back on the horse!

Me: If only there was a horse cake, I would bake that in homage to your order.

Cake Police: Whatever. Do we have your word that this episode ends here?

Me: You do. I solemnly vow to blog the backlog. By the way, have you even noticed seen the telephone cake in this post? The coloured smarties and lifesavers are placed EXACTLY the same as the ones in The Book. Now that is attention to detail! Although I did struggle with the black licorice. For the life of me I couldn't make it stay curled up like they did in their photo. I bet the stylist used glue, or hairspray or something, to hold it in place. But my cake had to be eaten, so I could not use those tricks of the trade. And do you know how hard it is to even *find* Lifesavers these days? They come in an entirely differently-sized packet! And they are stuck way down on the bottom shelves of shops, along with the dust bunnies and the ladybirds made of chocolate. No one loves Lifesavers anymore.

Cake Police: We know. They are the poor cousin of today's Skittle. But don't try to distract us. We'll let you off with a warning this time, but next time don't expect such sweet treatment.

Me: thank you officer. Let the blogging begin again.