Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Are You looking at my Blitz??

I really want to get us in the mood for this next post (and cake, for a change...) so get ready, here’s the science bit...
Turn the volume up on your PC\Mac\iPad\chalk board etc., but not too loud, I want us to be able to have a civilised conversation after all. Think ‘classy rooftop terrace bar, playing "Ibiza Chillout" as we sip Sancerre’ volume and we should be fine...now right click on the link below and open the page in a new tab - no need to leave this page it should start all by itself....now you have exactly 2 minutes and 34 seconds to get through this or I’m breaking out the Vera Lynn, fair warning...


Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - The Puppini Sisters (who, by the way, are amazing)

Some of my very favourite words grouped together are "make whatever you like, I'm sure it will be gorgeous" - I don’t hear them very often but when I do I can barely contain my excitement. So as you can imagine I very nearly expired with glee when my gorgeous pal not only uttered the magic phrase but also added that the cake was for a 1940's themed affair and I was invited!! "Tally Ho" Indeed!

After my initial lindy hop for joy the terror set in…At first glance much of the 40's were really given over to fighting (on very large scales) bombing (even larger) and a severe lack of bananas. There is a lot more I would love to delve into here but a) we have so little time before the song ends and b) I would be reprimanded by all for being depressing and wartime misery obsessed.

With such an exciting decade to be given as a set off point I can honestly say my poor tiny mind was somewhat blown. So much going on but is Wartime really an appropriate theme for a celebratory cake? I guess that would depend on who wins. Well, in true GP spirit I set about hours of architectural, period and design research before the blackout curtains were drawn and the metaphorical searchlights flickered on. My extensive research* into Burlesque would win the day and lift this cake out of a depression and into the boudoir. *(Extensive Research may be broken down as follows….I have been drunk in Volupte many, many times. I follow the fabulously sexy Polly Rae on Twitter and I have – huge overflowing shelves of books covering every tassel shake from American Burlesque Queens of the 50's through Dita VT and everything and everyone imaginable in between – over qualified some may say…)

As you may recall from http://gpcakes.blogspot.com/2010/05/quils-mangent-de-la-brioche.html
what I lack in historical fact I am more than happy to invent, and what I don’t make up myself I learn from West End shows (OMG you guys , I’m like totally all set to take my Bar exam from what I've learnt at Legally Blonde)!! So whilst I am not suggesting my creation accurately depicts the horrors and devastation of wartime I do like to think it captures, if not the mood of a decade then certainly the mood of us Brits and our fighting spirit.

The "We Can Do It" poster gal became my muse and constant companion for this project although by the end of it I must have exhausted her as she wound up looking slightly more 'man in Amy Winehouse drag' than I had intended....! C'est La Vie. And speaking of France...(or speaking in French I should say...) I figured that too much bunting and stiff (steady) upper lips may be too much for a ripping 40's party - so this cake is very much a game of two halves. Concentrating on the "make do and mend" attitude of the period I wanted some of the cake to have an almost rough around the edges feel in muted, sepia tones but I wanted some real pizazz from somewhere, but where?? Whilst Londoners were picking bits of ceiling from their china tea cups and painting their legs with gravy browning, I imagine Chic Parisian’s sipping champagne and falling in love as they stroke their nylon covered thighs, ah l'amour. So turning the cake around we are greeted with an explosion of colour, glamour and of course the obligatory tassel or two.

The party itself was a spiffing success with some fabulously un wartime pairings. Whilst standing with three members of the "French Resistance" I spotted Hitler chatting with a slightly un-pc (and disturbing) "Golly"! Anyway to protect the innocent I won’t show you the photos - just feast your eyes on the edible.....

And now it’s onto the next...........I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently well time travelled! x

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

"Box"ing Contest

They say that a little competition is healthy and a great way to ensure that our ideas (and lives no doubt) do not stagnate...I couldn’t agree less! Seriously, how would feelings of inadequacy, general failure and overwhelming stress be healthy? I am so terrible at rivalry that if challenged on someone else’s terms I would simply have to move out of the area, maybe even leave the country! After all, it was not too many years ago that a simple competition to win the heart, affections and possibly a peek at the ankle of a certain young lady could quickly descend to a gloved slap across the cheek, pistols at dawn and almost certainly a few holes in the losers billowing shirt (possibly even the looser himself)! This, as I'm sure you can appreciate, is hardly for me; can you imagine me being awake before 8.30 much less stood on a misty field with a pistol in my hand at dawn!
Thankfully, these days the closest many of us come to serious duelling is "Regionals" but we all know that New Directions will eventually win over Vocal Adrenaline so it’s hardly worth getting upset over.

I say "many of us" but I myself have recently been embroiled in a bitter 'fight to the death' style tussle and it’s all Peggy Porschens fault!
The second my (still, thankfully) very good friend and I spotted Peggy’s glorious Tiffany Style boxes (yes, hence the title....) in her equally glorious "Romantic Cakes" book, we were hooked! Falling completely head over heels for these sugarpaste cubes brought out the ruthless competitive streak in both of us. The game was well and truly on, the first to complete the frankly Krypton Factor-esque task would be the winner of untold riches and unending praise. So with the required Christmas Green, Baby Blue and heads full of ideas we rushed to our respective test kitchens full of fire and just a touch of cocky swagger, in the hope of emerging victorious.

Our weekly conversations were Tiffany focussed for many, many - oh dear many weeks. Both half-heartedly starting and giving up on a never-ending cycle. My friend came very close...but much like the real Tiffany, our ideas of sugary blue boxes ran straight into the path of a car driven by Frank Butcher - never to be spoken of again...

However, January brought an exciting phone call and a request for a beautiful birthday cake. We bounced ideas back and forth and decided that a stack of gifts would be perfect for the young lady in question. Immediately I saw my chance! What else would be more fitting to top off this cake...of course, it’s the Tiffany box! So I dusted off my "Musicality" by Martine McCutcheon cd, cranked up the volume and got to work with the now if not famous, certainly the most talked about colours in the Cake World; Baby Blue and Christmas Green.

Now as I said earlier, I am not one for competition - it can bring out the worst in people (imagine how many couples divorce after losing at "just one more lap" on Mario Cart - it’s probably thousands or at the very least, one) and I would never gloat over a victory so allow me to simply (and with minimum fuss) present you with the finished cake....

But maybe you would be kind enough to allow a little whisper.... I won ;o)

And now it’s onto the next...........I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently wicked winner......

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Does Your Mother Know That Your Out....?

Finally, three months into the year and the Guilty Pleasures Theatre Tour Bus spluttered into action, kicking out sequins, streamers and glitter like a low rent Priscilla; Destination - Mamma Mia!


Whilst the GP bus is purely a figment of our collective imagination (I don’t have the licence, correct footwear or the required alcohol free bloodstream - to be in charge of a real bus) but this doesn’t make the experience any less extravagant, the seats are always comfortable and the bubbles always chilled. (And just to ensure sure we are all on the same page, my bus is purple...)

Our first stop of the evening, like all good bus tours, was for refreshments and powdering of noses. Now since we were several miles from the Dartford Services Little Chef (and of course, we were not on an actual bus...) we opted for what is thankfully a gloriously un-touristy restaurant situated in the heart of Leicester Square. The aptly named Leicester Square Restaurant and Bar can be found in the elegant Radisson Edwardian Hotel tucked into the corner of the square. This sleek hideaway was perfect for relaxing pre show and après pungent tube ride, where we could sit back in our armchairs taking a few well-earned sips of Sancerre. And, for a change, it wasn’t all about the wine....the organically farmed Scottish salmon with creamed leeks and crushed potatoes was "to die for" as was the an fried sea bass with smoked salmon Risotto, herb oil and cream (not that I ate both before you start thinking I've doubled in size since my "Feeling the Burn" post)!

So revving the engines once more, after a small ticketing mishap, we rush to our seats in the nick of time (I'm told there is nothing like a Stressed Geoff at 19.26 on a Theatre Night). If John Barrowman had to describe the seats I procured he would simply say "Fantastic, Fantastic, Fantastic" as did we all - but this is just the kind of excellent standard you should expect from a GP Tour...

I was a little worried about seeing the show again after scowling my way through the 2008 movie starring the usually wonderful Meryl Streep. Not that I hated it but...(Ok I am well aware that I am in the minority and it’s certainly not as dreadful as the POTO movie). However; and I believe this about almost any live event/performance, when you are faced with an awesome cast putting their soul into their work mere inches from your seat I fail to see how you wouldn’t be transported, uplifted and taken on the emotional journey. The entire cast were fantastic but I feel a special mention should go to the actress who played Donna, Melissa Jacques.(The role is alternated with Linzi Hateley). What an amazing performance!! We were all completely thrilled with the humour, talent and zhuzh that she brought to the character.

Being quite a mixed group I was very glad to note that Mamma Mia has something for everyone, a lot of Abba for the queens (and ladies of a certain age). An extremely foxy (and not unlike a young Joan Collins) Lorraine Chappell as the man eating Tanya, for Mr B. and plenty of semi naked guys in neoprene (proving that it’s not just fries and Coke that can be "Supersized") – again, mainly for the queens and ladies of a certain age....

Oh and for the more energetic (we were) loads of dancing in the aisles for the finale. For those final ten minutes it didn’t matter who, what or why we were all simply "Dancing Queens".

The night was extravagantly rounded off in one of my favourite haunts, The Hampshire (see previous post....)
The mood in the H was, as always, relaxed warm and witty, even if the Pinot did have a rather perplexing aroma of foamy bananas.

And now it’s onto the next...........I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently wicked theatrical ;o) x

Monday, 28 February 2011

Cheeky Cheeky....!

The British are widely mocked for their reserved natures and stiff upper lips, especially by our more liberated European cousins and never more so than when it comes to "l'amour". Ha! Little do they know what goes on behind closed doors! Whilst the Belgians are straightening their cucumbers, the French are passionately cremé-ing their Anglais and the Italians are "Doing It Better", we are invariably (as the News of the World would have us believe) stuffing our mouths with oranges and being spanked by an overweight couple from Wigan whilst "dogging" on the M6.

Now, as I’m sure you can imagine, we at Guilty Pleasures like things a little more risqué than risky (and very very much less revolting...) and as such believe in a much simpler time, a time when it was all about what was hidden behind a fan, feather or tassel and not what was shoved, bounced or slapped surgically, into your face through your 3D TV or monitor.

I was lucky enough to have been brought up on a diet of Benny Hill, Kenny Everett and Carry On films so I worry for today’s kids. In the Age of Instant Gratification, they don’t have to wait until Saturday to buy their Kylie cassettes from the town and they certainly don’t have to tape their favourite tracks from the Sunday afternoon Chart Show. Everything and anything they need can be found online and so there is no innocence and very little "Cheeky" these days, it's all hard-core Hentai midget porn and ITunes for today’s youngsters! They don’t read Just 17 and practice kissing on the back of their hand, in fact they are barely 17 and they practice a lot more than kissing....on each other! I cannot imagine what the kids on my street would make of Benny Hill and I wholeheartedly expect they would describe Kenny's fooling’s dressed as Cupid Stunt, as a bit "battyboy". That said, I could easily spend a rainy Sunday afternoon eating cupcakes and watching Babs expertly fling off a brazier or fire off a minxy giggle but maybe even I would find Ben & Ken slightly odd by today’s standards.

And so, to the point! The Brits like all great sexually repressed nationalities were masters of the naughty, the "tongue in cheek" if you pardon the blatant innuendo. Growing up, as I did very close to the South Seas (ok that sounds all very South Pacific doesn’t it? Maybe it’s closer to the truth if we just say Southsea....) life was all candyfloss; kiss me quick hats and Seaside Sauciness - in the form of postcards rather than sailors I should add!

A friend had asked me to create a cake that she could take to a celebration at the beach last September. Now at that time we were still basking in the 4 minutes of sun that our summers allow and it got me thinking back to my youth and giggling at the large breasted "dolly birds" and skinny little guys on the postcards we used to receive and send to our friends. I remembered the vibrant colours and bawdy humour and desperately wanted to transfer the feeling to the cake.

Luckily, this lovely lady always gives me a free reign to design anything I desire and thankfully, she is not so easily offended! (Check back soon as I have been re-commissioned for a Line Dancing Extravaganza and I've been told I can make the chest as big as I like!!)

So here is the Seaside Sauciness cake in all its bawdy, rock sucking glory!

And remember boys and girls in the words of the Transylvanian ambassadors to excellent pop tunes...

"Come and smile, don't be shy
Touch my bum, this is life
Cheeky Cheeky
We are the cheeky girls
We are the cheeky girls
You are the cheeky boys
You are the cheeky boys
Cheeky Cheeky"

And now it’s onto the next...........I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently wicked cheeky ;o) x

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Feeling The Burn.....

Having grown up with a figure that Posh Spice and Skeletor would kill for; I have never felt the need to jump on the fad diet bandwagon (although I did have to be rather careful during severe gusts of wind and whilst walking over cattle grids)! Those were the days, thinking I could stuff myself until the ends of time with Sara Lee frozen chocolate gateaux and RingPops. But our crazy youthful decisions always come back to haunt us and as time has crept steadily onwards, I’ve been growing steadily outwards.

Summer and Streisand once said, "Enough is Enough", and taking their harmonius advice, a friend and I ceremoniously dumped our Sara Lees, spent a fortune in Lillywhites and joined the local gym. Now this all seemed great at first, a real honeymoon period for us all but after a few bad episodes involving a yoga teacher who was clearly basing her classes on Victoria Wood basing a sketch on a Hippy Commune pretending to be trees - we, like 80% of people who join Gyms, stopped attending. We didn’t call, we didn’t write and we certainly did not "Poke" the gym. Our beautiful relationship was over. It was dead to us... (Well I should say dead to me really, my friend did allegedly continue in the mornings but since I wouldn’t get out of bed before 8.30, I really have no proof).

During my period of relative inactivity, (unless you count paying for the gym as similar to going to the gym...) my neighbour invited me to try her PowerPlate. Now these machines are essentially a vibrating platform, originally designed to stop astronaut’s muscle mass wasting away whilst in space. However, after three organ-dislodging, eye shaking and headache inducing minutes I confirm I shall not be exploring space or indeed the PowerPlate section of the gym any time soon. This is something I will not be attempting again until there is a Sancerre holder attached to avoid accidental spillage and or electrocution. Meanwhile my neighbour is happily bouncing pennies of her stomach and is discovering that her old clothes fit better than ever.

Like the rest of the nation, January saw the return of us, to the gym and although we are only 2 months in to the New Year, I am loving it!! The great news is in just 2 months’ time a brand new exercise plan will be sweeping the county, hot from the US. "Booooorrrring" I hear you say, but no. You have never been so wrong (I have but that another story and I'm conscious that I’ve taken a lot of your time already..!)


For the past 11 Years Willpower and Grace Training has been taking the USA by storm and is a fantastic fusion of postures (a la Yoga and mat work Pilates) with a barefoot cardio workout. Speaking of barefoot last week I had quite an embarrassing gym kit incident (don’t worry this isn’t a "do it in your vest and pants" story.....) So I'm all changed for Pilates and having a good root* around in my bag for my second trainer.
* For the benefit of my Australian readers please replace the word "Root" with "Look" as I promise I was most certainly "looking" in my bag and not doing anything potentially illegal in a public place).
Unfortunately, it appears that my Nemesis has been hard at work once more. Taking time out from her "sinister plan to foil Gotham City" Twiglet seems to have rooted (yes she may have, either way...) through my bag and ran off with my shoe (possibly using it for her Body Pump/Body Attack Class with Charlie).


So I'm left like an Edwardian prize fighter to walk from the changing room to the studio in my Italian Leather work shoes. Now not having a camera at that exact moment was a real shame, as my friend will testify. However as she enjoyed it so much I have re-created my gym look for that day with the help of a passing chicken.

Ok? Finished sniggering? Back to Wp&G then, so what’s the best part? Well our American cousins have dubbed this Will & Grace Training so COUNT ME IN!! As this is not set to hit our studio until April 2011, I have taken the liberty of preparing a mock-up of how the class will no doubt look....

So, if like me, you have had too many cakes, or been a little bit overindulgent licking the bowl (you know who you are...) then you are quite welcome to join me - just make sure you have appropriate footwear!

And now it’s onto the next...........I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently wicked x

Monday, 7 February 2011

So Long, Farewell...!

Ok Guys, put down the streamers, step away from the balloons and re-freeze the prawn vol-Au-vents....I'm not going anywhere! However as previously mentioned, our very good friend Rosario is gracefully retiring to her beautiful Miami Condo (I believe she will be 2 doors down from Dexter...) for some much needed R&R.
So Rosario's final hurrah? A 72 cupcake explosion in black and pink with lashings of glitter, sequins and marabou (yes Elton, I am available for your next wedding). The rather excitingly named RosarioPro made her fabulous debut (and fond farewell) at a recent 40th birthday and now bows out in style.

Speaking of elegant retirements I am put in mind of a my friend who recently retired from our office. This particular friend was "lucky" enough to be shown every creation that I struggled into the office with and we always had such fun chuckling at the prudish City Types who were "shocked and offended" at some of the more lets say revealing cakes.

I thought it may be a nice surprise to make something for her to remember me by and figuring that a life sized bust of me sculpted in finest marble may be prohibitively expensive (and rather heavy to bring on the bus), I opted for the cake option.
Its sometimes difficult to picture which direction I want to take a design, often I can end up with too much information about a client (which is stored for future blackmailing purposes, in case you were interested) and sometimes too little. In this case I had so much that I wanted to include its was difficult to know where to start - but one thing kept coming back to me. My friend is lucky enough to have a home in Turkey and although I have never visited I am quite sure that she has a pool and as we all know, it would be impossible if not a completely against every decadence, to have a pool without a pool boy (potentially in a thong...). In fact I'm pretty sure it would be against the law to have one without the other.

Anyway, with images of pool boys making the very small circuit around my brain I got to thinking (its a wonder I hadn't passed out by this point) how to bring this idea altogether. Now I know my geography can be fairly shaky but I am fully aware that Greece is not in Turkey, however I kept picturing the stage of Mamma Mia as a surround for the pool - its a very simple design but just so effective I was desperate to use it. Mamma Mia being set on a Greek Island and not at my friends house in Turkey did not phase me one bit!

So with the pool (+boy) and tiling sorted it was time to bring in our friend. Now as she had worked on our reception for so long I guessed she would miss it once she left. The solution? An icing replica of our front lobby! Since this is a retirement cake I decided to replace the uncomfortable chair with some luxurious Turkish cushions - if you cant have luxury when you leave work when can you?!!

Some of the more observant among you may notice the distinct lack of PoolBoy on the cake - however if you look closer you will see that it is not a slice of Dominoes Pepperoni Hot n Spicy floating in the crystal waters.....its the elusive pool boys thong (of course..). It would appear that whilst executing a triple spin dive (or some such sporting term) he has hit the water with such speed (aerodynamically waxed chest) that his uniform has flown clean off - whilst our friend keeps watch (for health and safety purposes, of course).

And now it’s onto the next.....I’m afraid my dears there can be no rest for the decadently wicked x

Friday, 28 January 2011

Sleepless (4781.61 miles Out Of) Seattle

Now I don't remember a great deal about the movie (in fact so much brain killing booze has passed my lips since 1993* that I cant remember if I have even seen it all the way through) but I'm pretty sure that Meg Ryan wasn't stamping around her office barking at everyone who says good morning. Now THAT is just one of the differences between me and Meg this week....

(*I should point out, mainly for any mothers in the audience today, that I wasn't actually drinking in 1993....)

I adore sleep, its completely marvelous and entirely decadent, especially if you don't have children and can snooze as long as you want without having to get up and put CBeebies on. Unfortunately for me an uninterrupted sleep is a thing of what feels like the very distant past - in fact the idea is practically prehistoric (although if I am being uncharacteristically free from exaggeration I probably should just say..the week before Christmas 2010).
After seeing many movies and shows alerting me to the dangers of inviting guests into your home, think True Blood, Twilight, Supernatural, Let the Right One In.....and on and on....it appears that I have been tricked (and not for the first time) by the naughty (and potentially maleficent) masquerading as the cute and charming.
Although the following picture of my new nemesis shows her in an adorably sassy mood , I do implore you not to be taken in. She can be rather like Gizmo so I suggest that no-one feeds her after midnight and for goodness sake don't get her wet....

Kittens (and mine in particular) are known to be playful, that's fine, I understand. Its all part of the fun but tell me this - how would you feel waking up almost every hour on the hour and being confronted with Twiglets alter ego? Its terrifying I assure you............

Ok Ok so she is not as scary as a camp 70's villain, Ka-Pow, BAM! etc...in fact she can (at times) be the sweetest thing on Earth (even if she does smell of Marmite...) But I did warn you, I'm moody through sleep deprivation!!

So whilst I have been cranky and moments away from dribbling onto my keyboard I heard about someone else with their own brand of sleep anomaly! I was asked to prepare a cake for someones 50th as a cheeky snapshot of her life. It appears that this lady is so exhausted from teaching little ones at school all day that invariably come 9pm (regardless of guests) she can be found, sound asleep on the sofa. I tried to stick with relaxing blues and neutral colours with this design in an attempt to relax myself and also to bring the focal point to Bec drifting off in her evening gown having kicked off her Louboutins for the day. For those interested in such things the Louboutins are a nod to a cake I made for her family member last year.


So spare a thought for those of us desperately counting sheep or merely cowering under the covers as a savage Twiglet beats you across the head (and most likely formulates a terrible and heart stopping plan to bring down Batman and all residents of Gotham City).

And please do not even get me started on the ghosts that live in my wall, I have not been so scared since Mr Pipes revealed himself in 1992 and Sarah Greene ended up trapped in the cupboard under the stairs!

And now it’s onto the next.....I’m afraid my dears there can be no SLEEP for the decadently wicked x