Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Hundred Slices of Cake.

Precisely the least, the softest, the lightest, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment - a little makes the way of the best happiness...Baited breath, a flash of stunned sugar, a moment of pulse-throbbing, anticipated delight, hovering, almost tangible, and then...cut, slice, deeply, deeply. Oh So Slowly-thickly-sickly and down like dreaming. Dilated pupils and down and through marizpan shell and into fudgey, dense, chocolately subconscious oblivion, all the way down, through and in, until the knife falls back into its own silvered weight. Another moment. Sound comes rushing back in. A shaking hand. Release. CakeKnifelings...


Having a cake commissioned for an event is fun. Having an over the hill/not over the hill cake made for a joint 30th and 25th from crayon green icing with figurines cast in solid sugar to form a likeness of you, all encircling a dirty, dark, wonderfully chocolated secret inside is not merely fun, but rather, one of the simplest and most astonishing pleasures that can await you in this crazy, torrid stupour we call life.

Determined to make 30 more three-oooooh!! than three, Oh...An over the top Very Versailles CheckThisOutAntoinette cake was definitely in order. No home made-one tiered cutesy bumbling baker job was ever going to make the cut. What was required was a truly ridiculishious creation, and luckily for me, my oldest friend and mother of two delightful ranga babies knew a cake maker whose skill and imagination had nothing on my own. Once I saw it it was off with my head! This is the vision of Confection-Perfection Baker Belinda MacDonald, blown in from the depths of her mind's eye, formed and frozen, in comic, coloured sugar:

The detail, down to shirley's nose ring, was absolutely hilarious, it kept drawing gasps and laughter from everyone I showed. As the cake got hauled between redfern and the Sheraton and the Sheraton and the City during a summer downpour (almost falling over in the lift), we had to stop to give curious bystanders a bit of an envious peek, everyone was smiling, saying it was the coolest cake they had ever seen. It was so much more than a pretty face, though, it tasted like making chocolate babies. Amazingly beautiful dense-chocolate-with-layered-iced-chocolate-in-wet hiding-insides aside, there's something else you really ought to know about...

The essence of cake, has always been in the way it cuts. A good cake is heavy. A good cake is dense. A good cake stands up to a sharp knife. The cutting doesn't occur quite in the realm of the cake or in the realm of the knife, but somewhere in the gloriously charged void between. Cutting this glorious creation was an experience that only traversed perhaps 4 earthly seconds, but I can, and will recall for you, the ache and the agony, the rise and the fall, the ebbing and the flowing of every little thought, emotion, triumph and quiver that dwelled therein. After informing Shirley that despite the fact that it was a joint birthday, the real cake cutting was to be all my greedy own and that she was only allowed to place a ceremonial hand, daintily atop mine, applying no pressure whatsoever, only for the sake of the appearance of justice. She was merely the tigerlily-clad doll to my surgical ventriloquism. Because it's never just been about the cake, it has always, always, been about the cake, and the knife.

It started gently, as it always must. Knife poised atop the apex, where the longest ambroysial arc of cutting can allow itself to unfold. Poised above iced beauty, hovering atop something whole, complete and with sticky, sugared integrity. Something created that needs to be gleefully destroyed. A cake before it is cut is like Innocence before its own fall: tragic, beautiful and necessary. The knife waits, and the warm fingers that wrap around the cool metal contain the circuits of dizzying blood that travel up the arm and circle furiously around the brain, where, despite the din of the people and the drinking, and even the happy birthday laments that ought to be song, there is only a steely calmness and resolve, only a focus and a will as sharp as the blade it commands. It's intuition, it's felt. You begin. And there's the push down, just a little, you want the weight and the denseness of the cake to rise up against the knife, a good cake will fight you a little, won't give in right away, even though the knife will always win, and must always win. Then you dip down at an angle and you cut, you cut sharp and down and straight and through, a little more slowly than you'd like, to draw it out, you close your eyes and you smile, and the knife plummets, dives through centimeter after centimeter of corrupt chocolate confusion, it keeps going and then, in the fury of its own excited force, it stops. And so do you. Eyes open and sighs escape from deep within. It's a consummation that cannot be explained. It is sheer beauty as motion, it's a sense that hovers somewhere between touching and tasting, somewhere deep in the folds of a private imagining. God. Hands down the best cake I have ever cut. It cut me. So glorious and perfect, so full and true. Love. Anatomical pieces of brown-green cake. Slice after slice, laid bare and exhausted on generous plates. The sacrifice over.

The quiet after the crescendo. My heart was complete, each tranquil atrium and ventricle, release pumping back into the body. I am not lying when I tell you it felt like leaving earth for a second, like leaving legs and feet and the floor beneath them behind. In moments like that you just seem to float.

Here are examples from Belinda's collection (photos by Belinda) of her style, which isn't only for tragic 30 year olds. Isn't this so beautiful? The gentle white is like a shimmering, iced cloud against the pale pink and brown. Wedding cakes are a long way off for me, though.

Belinda, you are simply Amazing! This is only a part time gig for her, if you can believe it. She made our wonderful cake with only a weeks notice. Beyond telling her the concept of the hill and the two people on either side, all of the flares of imagination were Belinda's own. She said the cake took on a life of its own once she started making it, that's usually what great artists say after making something. I can't recommend Belinda enough, if you need a cake for anything at all call Belinda on 0417 294 623. I really think you should be quitting your day job and doing this full time, thanks so much! Shirley and I were very chuffed.

If a perfect cake wasn't enough for complete birthday joy, this is my new global blade baby, engraved with love from three adorable stooges: Li Lay, Hela and Howie. Ta! I can't wait to cut up the world and everything in it!

This is the 100th post from the cake + the knife! How exciting.

Also, a mention to the best birthday co-host ever! Happy Birthday to Shirley, if you're this sarcastic and cynical at 25, I don't even want to know you when you turn my age. Your ill humour and nasty comments followed by a glowingly radiant smile honestly made the night amazing x.

This is danny gobbling the figure head of sugar me while I inadvertently threaten his life.

Cake Out.


spice and more said...

Fantastic cake...and happy birthday!

amanda said...

allison! thankyou X X X! so sorry i havent gotten back about coffee, start uni next week but ill try and line up something in the next few. hope youre well and well fed, a.

Amanda King said...

From your oldest friend and her two ranga babies - welcome to the world of 30yr olds. Your blog truly shows the detail and creativity that goes into the cake Belinda made. Love you heaps babe xoxo