Both sides now…..

I look at cakes so differently now.

Megan bought me season two of Ace of Cakes for Christmas.  If you haven’t seen the show and you love cakes, you totally need to watch it.  If’ you have seen the show, you’ll understand.  For those of you that are familiar with the show, we’ve come to realize that I am Duff and Megan is Jeff.

My family and I were recently on vacation and Megan and I brought the DVDs along to watch while we were away.  We’ve watched the show before.  As a matter of fact, when it was on regularly we would watch it every week and we loved it.  But we see it with new eyes now.  Cake eyes.  Funny how your perspective changes.

Before we started doing cakes, we loved to watch the interaction between the people on the show.  Now, since I am Duff and Megan is Jeff, I wonder if Duff and Jeff have had some of the same kinds of go-arounds that Megan and I have.  I am the visionary and Megan is the concrete thinker.  Duff and Jeff describe themselves the exact same way.  I wonder if flour ever flies in their kitchen?

Before we started doing cakes, I loved to see the reactions of the people that Duff delivered his cakes to.  Now, I totally get that.  I LOOOOOOVVVVE to see people’s reactions!!  It’s the highlight of hours and hours of cake-intensive labor.  Hours and hours of making gumpaste people….hours and hours of buttering cake pans, making batter and rolling out fondant…..hours and hours of cutting zebra print and waiting for fondant rosebuds to dry.  Then, the client sees the cake that they had pictured in their heads and the look on their faces is priceless.  That’s when Megan and I look at each other and realize that all the intensity was worth it, just for that moment.  Even if, a couple of hours later, the client takes a knife and slices into our sugary sculpture, it’s worth it for the look on that child’s face, or the bride, or the marathoner, or the new mom……I get that now, when Duff stands back, and giggles, as his clients survey his amazing artistry (just visit his website, Charm City Cakes, for examples of his work).  It makes me laugh, heartily, because it feels so good to know that we have made someone that happy.

Before we started doing cakes, I could never quite understand how they did what they did on that show.  I never understood the difference between fondant and gumpaste.  I never understood how they could make a cake look like a box of chinese food.  I never understood how they could sculpt a cake or paint a scene or build a cake with glass blocks between the layers.  Now I know why, when you are making intricate gum paste components, you always make two….just in case one breaks.  I understand why you use royal icing as glue.  I understand why you don’t make your supports shorter than the cake.  I understand why they take the time to brainstorm before they do a cake.  It all makes sense to me now.  Sometimes, I have Megan rewind so that I can get a closer look at what they’re doing, just to log it away in my cake memory bank because I never know when I’ll need to use that piece of cake information.

Before we started doing cakes, I never coveted Duff’s bakery.  Now, I long to have separate work stations.  For example, a station just for cutting, drilling and sawing wooden supports and components that would later be covered with fondant.  I would love to have shelves and shelves full of an array of cake pans of all shapes and sizes.  I would love to have a station where we could spray paint color on our cakes and gumpaste sculptures.  And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have interns?????!!!!!!!  I really covet the intern who washes all the cake pans, or the one who just bakes cakes, or even an intern who does all the crumb-coating, so that Megan and I could do what we love best, finishing with fondant, gumpaste and food coloring.  Believe me, I’ve tried recruiting interns from the family….yeah, that doesn’t work….probably because they’re not getting paid.  Although, I must say, they have been more than willing to help out whenever we are in a pinch, I mean, a panic.

It’s so much more fun to watch Ace of Cakes now.  We watched two in a row last night and we just kept looking at each other.  Sometimes it would be, “Oh, that’s how they do that….,” or, “Hey, we did that!”  I wish I could intern for Duff.  I can imagine all the things that I could learn there, things that real, professional bakers do.  I wish that I could go to pastry school, but, I’m pretty sure, at this point in my life, that’s never going to happen.  It took me 30 years, off and on mind you, of working on my degree in counseling.  I’m pretty sure that Rick wouldn’t be too happy if I said, “Hey, how about pastry school?”  I’m pretty sure that he would just stand there and look at me the same way that he would look at me if I told him that I wanted to seel our house and buy a tent and live on the beach.  He’s like Megan, the concrete thinker.  Well a person can hope, can’t they?  While I’m wishing, I guess that I just wish that Megan and I can keep doing cakes, however we can, whenever we can.

I always used to just bake cakes.  If we needed a dessert to take to someone or for one of the girls’ birthdays, I would bake a cake, usually my chocolate cake.  Now, cakes are magical to me.  I am so much more careful with my cakes, measuring out ingredients, putting them in the batter in the correct order, covering them with fondant.  Then, the cake takes on a life of it’s own as all the pieces are put in place.  Flowers, animals, stripes, polka dots…….and then we take a step back.  Sometimes when we’re working on a cake, we think it’s never going to come together, but it does, and it’s exactly what the person who ordered it wanted, and it becomes a page in their memory book.  That makes it magical.

Funny how perspectives change, isn’t it?

P.S.  Thistle update –  My Mother came to stay for Christmas and we had a lovely time with her.  She loved my other chihuahua, Gypsy.  She and Gypsy would sit together and cuddle and Gypsy seemed to adore my Mother.  I wasn’t sure how things would go between my Mother and Thistle when Thistle wouldn’t even come near her.  As my Mother sat in the kitchen while we worked on cookies, I told her to give Thistle a few pieces of cheese to get her to even come close to her.  The next thing I knew………


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