Monday, June 29, 2009
It is cake season! This weekend I delivered three graduation cakes. The first one was for my nephew and godson Ben, who graduated from Marist in May. I put an edible photo of Ben and his long-time girlfriend Megan (also Marist ’09) on the cake. We cut around the photo so all that was left was the picture, but then I noticed someone ate Ben’s right leg! It was all over after that! The second cake was for twins Emmet and Jesse, sons of my friends Catherine and Michael. Emmet and Jesse graduated from Saratoga High this weekend and are on their way to Brown University in the fall. Their cake had Brown University’s logo as the design. The third was for a woman at work whose daughter graduated from Lake George High School, also this weekend, and hers was done in the school’s colors, blue and white. Luckily, the cakes were for parties on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I was able to pace myself and get it all done. I can’t say I was fully functional by the time it was all over. After I was done baking Saturday night, I realized I needed more ingredients for Sunday’s baking. I went to Walmart after midnight, realizing I was wearing flour and sugar on my black shirt. I didn’t think too much of it. It was Walmart, after all, and it was after midnight. People were friendly and smiled as we passed in the aisles. When I got back to my sister Patsy’s house, I said “Yeah, I am a mess but I had to go to the store anyway.” She pointed to my shirt. I was unaware that I was sporting a good 2-inch circle of white frosting dead center on the right side of my chest – right there!!!! No wonder I got smiles in Walmart! Yikes.
I know a number of people who, when they hear I bake cakes, say “Oh, I used to do that.” Or “My mother used to bake cakes.” For a lot of people, baking party cakes seems to be something that used to be done. It’s a lot of work and takes precious time, and can be an expensive hobby. Still, I don’t see myself ever stopping this practice of baking cakes for people as long as I can make the time to do it (not always possible). It is a very big part of my life. I love to participate in celebrating important milestones in life. The actual design and decorating of the cake is usually an act of inspiration and based on impressions of the guests of honor, with knowledge of their particular personalities and passions. It’s that personal touch that seems to mean the most.
I watch cake TV: Duff and his Charm City Cakes, Food Network cake challenges, and now the Cake Boss on TLC (something has to take the heat off Jon and Kate!). If there’s batter going into a pan and fondant being rolled out, I’m hooked. It’s like cake school. I have learned so much just by watching these people work. You realize that baking cakes is a matter of consecutive steps. If you can follow through from A to Z, you can bake and assemble a cake. It helps to have some artistic inclination. I used to paint in oils and watercolors. Early in my twenties my artistic direction changed from paint and canvas to food coloring and blank cakes. Sometimes I think that I don’t want to bake cakes anymore. I want a break – nights to watch Law and Order or the Food Network, time to read a book for pleasure, or time to do nothing and be fine about it. I don’t see that day coming any time soon. As soon as I sit down, I start to think about the next cake, and then it starts all over again.