Competitive Baking (Disasters)

Despite all my attempts at trying to hide it, I've finally realised that I do actually care about baking a good cake



This 'edible epiphany' struck me quite suddenly this weekend when, on the strength of my previous efforts (springy sponges, creamy cupcakes etc.) I was asked to bake two show stopping Victoria sponges for my beloved sister in law, who was throwing a fabulous girly pink party to celebrate the birth of her baby daughter (my new niece).

A chance for my baking to impress

My mind ran riot. I envisaged two sky high sponges, lavishly decorated, oozing cream and raspberry jam and topped with the creamiest, smoothest baby pink buttercream icing.

I contemplated sticking in a couple of sparklers to complete the look but decided to play it safe, (there was the baby to think of), and instead settled on white chocolate buttons to compliment the pink and polka dot party theme.

Ignoring the fact that my oven was playing up a bit (it wouldn't dare let me down when it mattered), I dug out my trusty, buckled 7" cake tins and set to work.

Two hours later and three cakes down, with no eggs, butter or sugar left in the house, covered in flour and icing sugar and with buttercream and raspberry jam sticking one side of my hair together - I finally admitted defeat. The oven had decided not to be my friend any more.

Cake disaster!

They were, without doubt the worst, most amateurish, schoolgirl cookery club atrocities I'd ever seen.

The first was a complete write off; burnt, flat and only worth playing Frisbee with. The second and third I managed to scrape off the burnt bits and decided I would cleverly disguise any visible damage by hiding the whole thing under a blanket of pink icing. The sponges were a disaster but surely I could wrestle back some kudos by producing a perfect buttercream? No.

With my back aching, despair had set in and thrown me off kilter.

Burn batter burn

What I wished my cakes looked like!The butter was too hard and I was starting to lose the will to live, so ignoring the pitiful sound of my mum's old electric whisk as its burning motors battled with the rock hard butter I whisked up the mixture way too early, resulting in a grainy, lumpy slop which I smothered over the burnt offerings.

A few strategically placed white buttons and I was done.

Slumped on my kitchen bar stool with a glass of wine in my hand I comforted myself with the thought that at least I'd tried. Pah. Or I could just go and buy some cakes.

Unconditional family love

I needn't have worried. My wonderful sister in law graciously accepted the bricks, sorry cakes, and we had a good laugh about it.

The party was a huge success, the pink bubbly flowed and everyone was on sparkling form.

Best of all, as we were about to leave I took a last look at 'them' and saw that at least two brave people had actually had a slice! Yes they were drunk and had the munchies but who cares? My worst effort at cake making was over.

Surely it could only get better from here....?

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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