Not naked

Saturday May 2, 2020

Last year my daughter in law did me the honour of asking me to make the wedding cake: a naked sponge cake (icing only between the layers) for 120 guests.

Though I am a proficient cake maker, ably taught in youth by my mother, whose ultimate fulfilment I think it was, this was a considerable challenge as I had not hitherto made anything much bigger than an average sized hat.

I sourced a recipe and instructions, borrowed tins, bought shed loads of ingredients and calculated: three tiers of three or four cakes would be required. To complicate matters, I decided to make an orange sponge so there was all the zesting and juicing too. There wasn't always quite room in the oven for two tins simultaneously, as I discovered when I tried to put them in, so some of the cakes were a slightly odd shape and some had rather brown sides.

The instructions said to assemble the cake where it would be consumed, so the day before the wedding I took everything to the kitchen beside the marquee and deliberately slowly began the task of slicing, trimming, icing and assembling the layers. As not all the sides were the same colour and I had made a bucketful of icing, I decided to cover the outsides as well. As the happy couple were fond of blue I put the cake on a royal blue cake board.

After four hours I had a pyramid of cake resembling The Leaning Tower of Pisa. I cleaned up the kitchen and was about to start decorating when the groundsman swept in to announce he was locking up in half an hour!

I did my best to decorate that cake in twenty minutes. I had various little leaves, flowers, ribbons and lacy mesh and an orange-blue colour scheme in mind, but no definite plans. At the end I thought it looked as though it had caught the tail end of a tornado AND I forgot the humorous figure of bride and groom I had bought to put on top AND they didn't like the blue bits much AND it wasn't naked!

What lessons of life can be learned from all this?

You are not going to get a perfect result the first time you try to do something. Probably you are never going to get a perfect result, as defined by my mother. But I tried for many years to be perfect with everything; my wellbeing depended on it but I lost out on joy and spontaneity.

That cake was good enough. It was made with love and received with love, which is forgiving. I forgive myself. It was dismembered in the traditional way and many people commented how good it tasted. Some even thought it looked nice.

A Moodscope member.

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