Finding out about the time, effort and precision involved in making food just slightly imperfect so it looks even tastier can been a rude awakening. It’s a little like finding out, as a teenager, that those glamorous women who look like they don’t wear any make up really are wearing make-up, and that to apply it to such effect requires so much time, effort and precision that it’s much easier to just wear an awful lot of black eyeliner and grin and bear it. I don’t yet know what the baking equivalent of grinning and wearing black eyeliner is (I’m hoping there is one, and that it’s not quite such a lowest common denominator as giving up and getting something ready made).
After you know about the details, it makes you wonder how they ever eluded you before. At least it suggests that hard work and practice can take you some of the way to achieving comparable results, rather than their being the sole province of those preternaturally talented with a piping bag or knife.
Picture: Donna Hay... the Donna Hay buttermilk four tier layer cake
The styling behind some of Donna Hay’s cakes should come as no surprise whatsoever given how simple but undeniably flawless her food always looks. Discovering how some of it is done is equal parts epiphany and frustration (two ingredients that I suspect have no place in a well made layer cake). In particular, the idea of measuring an equal height at intervals around your cake before you slice it into layers, so that they come out even and symmetrical, and of measuring the filling into a cup before applying it so that, once you figure out how much one layer requires, you can use an equal amount on the other layers, were so logical it almost hurt. But they’d never occurred to a rustic baker, who takes to her cakes with knives and gay abandon, and slaps on buttercream like she’s whitewashing a shed.
Picture: Donna Hay via iSubscribe... the full effect of the cake, measured layers and all...
When the cheflings on Junior Masterchef can twirl pasta into nests as easily as cracking an egg, though, you know it’s time to think about lifting your game. Being out-cooked by somebody a third of my age is just as depressingly possible as being out-danced by them. As long as it’s not the same person. That would just be unspeakably unfair!
Picture: Grace's Sweet Life (and those mini chocolate cakes with ganache and cherries are just so lovely...), demonstrating a very important advantage of all that icing styling - lots of spoons to lick!