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......