The Magic of Cakes
What is it about cakes and bakes that mystifies and delights us so? More than a steak or some roast veg, sweet treats seem to entice more than just our taste buds. Have you ever found yourself watching an Instagram video or a GIF of someone piping buttercream onto a cake? What about videos of street vendors making sculpted candy floss or intricate sugar dragons? 🙋♀️Guilty as charged on all accounts. It’s not rare for me to be baking while watching a show about cake decorating and researching cookie designs online. It’s total baking inception.
I first fell in love with baking because it seemed magical. Take a few ordinary ingredients and create something that embodied joy, celebration, and happiness. Plus, people always seem happy about cake. No one sees a cake and cries out in anguish, “No! Not cake!” Well, maybe someone just onto their diet but even then, they secretly love it. Put the raw ingredients of the cake in front of them and they wouldn’t be fussed…but combined and baked and whoa!
Next, I fell in love with the artistry. A doodler, painter, and crafter for as long as I remember, I leaped at the chance to work with another medium, especially one I loved eating. These hips don’t lie! 💃 The impermanent nature of the final creation makes it more precious. I might spend hours perfecting a cake only for it to be sliced and consumed in a matter of minutes and yet, that somehow makes it more satisfying. A lover of magical realism in literature and authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Laura Esquivel, I imagine that as people eat the cake I lovingly baked and decorated, they absorb the joy, pride, and care I put into it. Hopefully, they absorb less of the angst from those nights when I am up to 3 a.m. finishing 🙄😴😉
As I got older, and even nerdier, the science of baking entranced me. I had been a mediocre science-student throughout school, but suddenly, protein structures, chemical reactions, and the affect of molecule composition and size on taste receptors fascinated me. I didn’t just want to make something that tasted and looked amazing. I wanted to know WHY it tasted and looked amazing…and often I wanted to know why it didn’t. Cake fails anyone? 😪Happens to all of us.
Baking is the perfect trifecta for me: It’s science. It’s artistry. And, it’s a touch of magic. The last one is especially important, in my opinion. It is the difference between good baking and great baking. It’s what compels bread bakers to get up at the butt-crack of dawn and cake decorators to labour through the night. While the science and artistry form the foundation of great bakes, the magic is like the icing on the cake (pun very much intended). Seeing the delight on client’s face when they see their cake for the first time or the astonishment of a surprise cake revealed still makes my heart flutter.
In the following posts to come, I hope to demystify cakes and bakes for you, all the while letting them enrapture you even more! If you have specific questions or queries, just pop them in the comments below. ❤