Piece of cake

Posted On December 5, 2011

Filed under Baking, cakes, home, Life, Uncategorized
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So in my wee Bio bit, I said I like to cook and bake. I should have said that I love to cook and bake. I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. I have always been intrigued by baking. I took every opportunity I could to bake. In Primary school, an afternoon club scheme was introduced. All classes were cancelled on Wednesday afternoons and all students would attend a club for the afternoon. Each student had to pick three clubs to do throughout the year, obviously the first club I picked was the cookery club, and I loved it. I remember making fruit salad, top-hats, rice crispie buns and 15s. Looking back, all of these were easy, but for students aged 7-11 (as each group had students from all the diff year groups) they were appropriate. I loved helping my folks cooking, and remember that my mum, dad and granny all cooked things in different ways. This made me aware that there was not only one way of cooking the same thing. It was my dad that got me into baking. He loved to bake and I always helped him. The first baking book I owned (which I still have) was Fast Cakes by Mary Berry. This book is a must for anyone who wants to start baking, although there are no pics, but the recipes are so easy. The first cake that baked solo was a pineapple upside-down cake, and I remember the simple mistake I made, I forgot to sprinkle the bottom of the cake tin with brown sugar, the pineapples weren’t caramelised. I didn’t make that mistake again. From there I moved onto Madeira cakes and different types of chocolate cakes. The Madeira cake was always popular at home, and I was soon getting requests for it from family members. By the time I hit exam time at secondary school (GCSEs and A-Levels) the baking was put on hold for several reasons which I may or may not go into in later posts. When I got to Uni, I had some more time and rediscovered my love of baking, but it was to take a twist. I was asked to make a Madeira cake by a friend for her daughter’s birthday. I had picked up a book (No Time Party Cakes) and decided to give making a novelty cake a go. The cake was of a Princess and was a success (for a first attempt). I enjoyed baking the cakes, and I enjoyed decorating them. I decided to make and decorate more. I was giving them as gifts to friends who either had kids themselves or younger brothers or sisters. I was making cakes and giving them as birthday presents to friends (being a poor student, saving money was a bonus). I had a placement year which was pretty eventful for numerous reasons, but I still enjoyed baking. I was working alongside people who greatly appreciated my baking experiments. One of the girls ‘J’, with whom I became close friends, was celebrating her birthday towards the end of the placement. I decided to bake her a cake. I remember it well, it was a mocha cake (she was a chocolate and coffee fan; I thought it was appropriate for her. She loved it, it actually brought a tear to her eye, she was so happy that someone would take time to bake her something. She later told me that it was the first ever birthday cake she had and he was overwhelmed with it. At that point I realised how something (which I was taking for granted, being able to bake) could make someone else feel so happy. I found a new reason to enjoy baking for others. In the final year of Uni, my nephew was born, my class mates started calling me uncle B, and one of the tutors heard about my cakes and wanted to make me a website, “Uncle Bernard’s Cakes”. I was flattered and a bit embarrassed as it was a hobby. The cakes then took a backseat as I was concentrating on exams again and then possible careers. A few years passed and I found myself moving to the Isle of Man to pursue my chosen career. I didn’t have any friends for my first year there, it was tough, so I found comfort in cake decorating, I was doing more cakes, and experimenting more. It was still just a hobby; I was ok at it, never thought of it as anything serious. I was being asked by work colleagues to do cakes for big events, I was asked to do a cupcake tower for a quadruple christening. And was honoured when a very close friend asked me to decorate her wedding cake. I remember the stress, it was the first time I was to work with royal icing, total nightmare, but I got through it, and it turned out well. After 3 years on the IOM I moved back home (not with my mum, I’d like to point out). I was still baking and making cakes. I was meeting up with old friends, they had seen my cakes on my bebo, and I was getting more requests.

As most of my friends still lived here, and were having families of their own, I had more and more cakes to do, I was loving it, I was getting to do more cakes, for all occasions and all different types, novelty sculpted cakes, plain cakes, christening cakes, and even wedding cakes. One of the ladies I worked with heard about my cakes and asked me to make her daughter’s wedding cake, again, stress, but I rarely back down from a challenge. The challenge this time was sugar flowers, something which I knew I was going to have to do at some point, and why not then. The feedback was amazing, the guests thought that the flowers were real; they all said the cake was amazing, and from it I got more and more requests for wedding cakes. I’m now back here going on five years, and I have had a constant stream of cakes to do for family, friends and work colleagues. There have been disasters; I will do a post about those separately. I never get too comfortable doing cakes, there is always an element of stress, but I think that’s part of the buzz.