Good morning, boys and girls. For today’s lesson in confectionery arts 101, I shall expound on this very important principle: DO NOT bake when you are in a hurry.
Take a look at Exhibit A. It is a standard two-layer banana cake filled and coated with cream cheese and white chocolate frosting. It looks perfectly fine, yes? All that soft-focus camera angling even makes it cookbook-worthy, yes? But no. It could have been much better.
Look closely at the cake layers. Each one could’ve been at least 1cm taller, had the baker – a certain Ms Crummb – bothered to wait until the butter had softened properly before creaming it with sugar. See how the cake texture looks horribly compacted and dense? It would’ve been avoided if Ms Crummb had remembered to take the buttermilk out of the fridge and let it to come down to room temperature. Room temperature! It is essential that liquids like milk, buttermilk, sour cream and the like be at room temperature when they are added to a cake batter. This is a basic cake-making principle.
Now, I quizzed Ms Crummb about the cake’s texture as I noticed a rather hard, plasticky sheen on the smaller slice. And lo! She admitted that she had taken the cake out of the fridge just moments before she frosted it. So it was still unpalatably chilled at the time of photography. Now, I don’t want to go into the importance of realism in cake photography, since I’ve already covered that a few lectures ago. But let me stress at least this: Your cakes must be completely consumable even at the photoshoot! Do not lie to your audience by skimping on butter or sugar or presenting it at some odd temperature. Unlike ads for KFC and Pizza Hut where dry ice and hairspray are used with mindless abandon, every bit of fakery shows up in cakes!
I managed to get to the bottom of Ms Crummb’s lacklustre effort. Between sniffles and sobs, she confessed that she had made the cake in a hurry. She said she had only one hour to bake this cake because her 10-month-old was awake, her babysitting mother couldn’t stop the baby from crawling all over the walls, and she had to get everything done before her husband/photographer got home from work. Her husband, she cried, is a very busy man. He can only set aside one night a week, and only two hours each time, to shoot her cakes. Which was why she didn’t have time to thaw the butter, the buttermilk and the cake. She had to do everything chop-chop.
Well. That would explain why the frosting was slapped on in such a sloppy, haphazard manner, wouldn’t it? Look at how messy the strokes are. They look like wet cement dabbed on by a construction worker who has a broken wrist and a blindfold on.
Boys and girls, cake-making is an art! It requires time, care and your full attention! Did Da Vinci rush through Mona Lisa so he could attend to the Sunday roast? Did Rodin take breaks from sculpting The Thinker so he could do some leisurely loin-cloth weaving? No! They were fully and unwaveringly committed to the cause!
So if you don’t have the time, don’t bake at all! Or you’d end up with this monstrosity of a cake.
Tomorrow, I’ll expect all of you to hand in your essays on sifting mechanics. I will punish latecomers by force-feeding them a piece of this cake.
Okay, class dismissed.