Think you are destined to make bad cakes forever? Well, I’m here to tell you, that if I can improve, advance, and eventually create masterpieces, then you sure can. After all, you should never compare your beginning to someones else’s middle..
No one starts out making a masterpiece. I actually think it’s an important rite of passage, to endure bad cakes, disasters, failures and recipes that taste like you’re feeding your guests cardboard and rubber at the same time. In mean really, it does make a WAY more interesting story.
The first cake I ever made was the ladybird. She is from the Debbie Brown cake book, one of two cake books I purchased in the beginning. I took all day making it. I spent a fortune on supplies, had red and black hands for days, and ended up taking a knife it it about 3 minutes after I took this photo. I was proud to pull it off, but I knew it was never going to see the light of day. I tasted it, and well, while I didn’t give myself food poisoning, I did realise for the first time, that there really was such a thing as a cake I wouldn’t eat. It was like a rock, yet raw in the middle. Maybe it was really a giant lava cake, and I was just too far ahead of the curve. I mean, now everything is giant sized. I really should have perfected this I think. Maybe not..
I made Jon that golf ball cake for his 27th birthday. Yes, I’m giving away his age a little here. I know he still looks 27, but this was a good 14 years ago nearly. Sorry babe! You still look hot!! He loved lemon poppyseed cake, and I still had no idea how to bake, so it was so soft, by the time I’d made all those dents, it was cake crumble in the middle. Oh, and I had no idea what a filling layer was yet either. Yum yum!
The gift boxes were actually when I started turning the corner. I’d decided to just use packet mixes, because I was such a bad baker, and you can’t decorate it, if you can’t eat it. I was pretty damn proud of these. Remember, this was a good 6 years before anyone had discovered you could do a sharp edge. Yay for gigantic square pillow cakes!
The barn was my first big cake. I was terrified. I cried about 4 times during the making of this cake. I still think it was pretty lucky to not have fallen over. Central dowelling a cake was not yet in my vocabulary let alone my skill set. But those hay bales were incredibly fun to make.
I look at all the newbies now, and I’m jealous, and yet I feel for you at the same time. You have videos and classes, and books, and all kinds of people showing you how things are done. I was self-taught back when that truly meant making cakes in the dark. You had absolutely no idea what technique people used, and that’s why my ways are often very different to anyone else’s. In fact, that’s why there are so many different techniques for creating the same effect. We all had to teach ourselves! No internet, no celebrity cakers, no TV shows, and definitely no YouTube. While I’m jealous of you for having all that, I can also see the incredible strain it puts on you all. This race to be perfect. Everyone is watching. Everyone’s judging; picking apart your work and your skills. Comparing you to the greats. Making you feel like you are falling short. No one knew my first cakes were crappy. No one cared. But you guys have the weight of all these expectations from just “every day people”. Even your own Grandma knows you can hang a cake upside down like a chandelier, or make a cake shaped like a bird taking flight, one wing tip on the board.
So I say to you, be gentle with yourselves. Be gentle with each other. Enjoy the process of learning and improving. You’ll be awesome before you know it. In the meantime, make a ladybird cake that looks like it about to lay eggs on a sunflower crossed with a birds nest. Make a golf ball cake that collapses when you slice into it, and most of all, give yourself permission to suck at the start. No good story starts half-way through..