The last time I lost sleep over homework, Bill Clinton was still president, Jamiroquai was the It band, and I could fit into UK size 10 jeans — which is to say, it was a very long time ago.
But there I was, last Friday night, sprawled out in bed with my eyes wide open and thinking, “The teacher is gonna HATE it!” I had just put together the final project for my 5-week course in sugarflowers, and to put it delicately, it didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned it. It plain sucked.
We had to decorate a 2-tier cake any way we liked. And, with grand plans to impress, I covered not 2, but 3 tiers of styrofoam cake rounds with avocado-coloured fondant. Then, I stuck on leaves of three different shades of green in a swag formation, held up by white carnations. The bright idea was to create thick flower and leaf cut-outs so they look like felt appliques. But the cake ended up looking like a bloody Lego tower put together by a 6-year-old.
Aghast and unable to sleep, I plucked out the leaves and started scrambling for plan B. Out of sheer desperation, I took out my round cutters the next morning and created these abstract flowers in pink, the only colour that could perk up the vomitous avocado shade. They turned out surprisingly well, but with just hours to go before I was to head off to class, I only had enough flowers to form one row.
At class, the teacher was neither horrified nor impressed. “Not bad for something done out of desperation,” she said. But back home, my husband Z was a lot more blunt. Eyeing the pukey-green and uneven, embattled fondant, he said after taking these pictures: “My photos make your cake look good.” Wow, thanks.
In a moment of abject self-doubt, I asked him, Am I a better writer than a baker? Should I forget about this cake-making business and just stick with journalism?
He must have felt bad, because his turnaround was swift. He raised an arm skyward a la Hamlet. “No,” he pronounced. “The literary world has lost its brightest star, because the baking world has discovered…” and pauses for dramatic effect, “a supernova!”
Right, thanks. Anyway I’ve kept the flowers and am thinking of how to re-use them on another cake. The puke fondant? I trashed them the second these photos were shot. Adios.