I sometimes bake cakes. No actually, I bake quite often. At least once a week. Then there are birthdays with approx. four cakes per birthday x 4 people, not to mention all the other cake worthy events during the year (holiday cake, back from holiday cake, boring Monday cake, weekend-cake and so forth.) A rough estimate puts my cake baking effort at around 70-80 cakes a year.
Sometimes people tell me that all that baking is rather ambitious. I presume this owes to the fact that I manage to bake with a baby attached to the hip and a 5-year old next to me. But wait just a minute, let me make something clear:
It is Saturday afternoon, and I am alone with both kids. I ought to get started boiling chickpeas and chopping spinach for dinner, but I want to bake. It is a tricky recipe, and I have to focus. Baby in chair with rye bread, Kaia standing next to me on her stool. I start with a bain-marie, which should be a piece of cake, but is not. Baby in chair with weird tasteless corn snacks (many), Kaia sitting on her stool with a smoothie. Now it is time for two different mousses with gelatin, and I have to focus. Baby in chair with croissant, Kaia in front of TV with croissant. Now I just have to assemble the cake. Baby in chair screaming, Kaia asleep in front of TV. Pizza for dinner.
Now you are probably thinking, why not bake with the children, and you are right, I thoroughly enjoy baking with Kaia. At least I do now after I learned to accommodate my ambitions to her level of concentration. I remember a carefully planned baking event, when Kaia turned three. I imagined a beautiful, naivistic-looking cake decorated by my exceptionally talented daughter. Instead, I got icing color rubbed into the wooden tabletop, and brown lumps of gum paste, which brought forth associations not fitting for the top of a birthday cake. I guess I imagined that it would be like playing with modelling clay, and at the same time forgot that it would be like playing with modelling clay. I now know that baking with children is about embracing chaos, a lesson to remember, one of life’s great truths. Some things are out of my control. This includes children baking.
You could therefore argue that I bake in spite of the children. Even though my eldest daughter likes cake (not as much as ice cream, though), I do not bake for her sake. And who would bake for the sake of children? Would not that be the same as sending them off on their bikes without a helmet? People are not exactly fond of sugar these days.
For me, it is a joy to eat cake, but even better to bake it. From finding the right recipe to gathering ingredients, baking and finally serving it. I guess you could call it a hobby, or perhaps a self-realisation project. A kind of reverse Marathon, where the road to contemplation is at the bottom of the mixer, and not on the other side of the finish line. Where the result is not physical exhaustion, but wellbeing (and in certain cases discomfort, which several of the pictured cakes sadly led to).
Clicking on the pictures will lead you directly to the recipes.
I sometimes trick myself into believing that all this cake baking really is for the sake of the children. Like the other day, when Kaia ran into my arms exclaiming: “Your cake was the best cake ever, and you are the sweetest mum”. But when she five minutes later, rumpled with anger, chocolate foaming at the mouth and cake stains on her clothes, yells “I DO want to watch TV, you are the worst mum ever”, well, then I remember that baking really is for my sake, and not hers.
P.S. Baking is a versatile art form, and photographing cakes is an art in itself. I wish I were good at decorating and photographing cakes, but I am notoriously inept at it, probably because I was born without that particular decorating-gene. Without exception my cakes look like something from a 70s cookbook, when I freestyle. However, I can imitate, and luckily there are many talented cakebakers, -decoraters and -photographers. Here are some of my favorites: