I had every intention of posting on Friday, just as poof that I am indeed in a more accessible frame of mind, that the little boost of late last week was not a fluke. But then covert cupcake operations got in the way. And of all things to get in the way and throw me off centre, surely chocolate cupcakes are worth it?! Oh, wow! They were worth it.
A friend of ours, Laura, turned 30 on Friday, but so as not to arouse suspicion about the surprise Saturday night gathering of friends from up and down the land, drinks were to be had at the local pub. However, this was clearly not enough organising for her boyfriend as not only did he somehow have to contrive a reason to get her to Worcester without a hangover on Saturday (attempting not to run into any number of friends staying in the same hotel that night) but he also decided to create TWO birthday cakes to cover for the baking smell and chocolate mess of making the REAL birthday cake.
So when I finished work on Friday lunch, looking forward to starting my Easter break early, I called to see if there were any final sneakings which required assistance, to be asked, “Do you have any cake tins?” There was a little over two hours before the decoy cake for the decoy drinks were due to be delivered to said Birthday girl and to be asked this question filled me with a little panic! He had enough tins to make one cake in this time, but not the two to the chef like standard he was aiming for. So, armed with my cupcake trays (much under used due to my complete inability to bake with any success) and some white chocolate, I spent the afternoon helping prepare the most amazing cakes! I did precious little of the actual baking, which can only have been a bonus.
With time remarkably short, the chosen fudge-cake recipe was turned into cupcakes with chocolate ganache dipping sauce for sharing in the pub. These were phenomenal! And while still warm, possibly some of the best gooey-chocolately-goodness I have encountered in a man’s kitchen. In any kitchen to be fair.
The positive was that these little delights only took 15 minutes to cook. The bigger ones however, were due to take 40. Then had to cool before being assembled. I started to feel queasy – I knew what request was coming next. The cake would have to be put together on Saturday, away from Laura’s house by someone other than the cook. By someone with farmer’s hands, no delicate building ability and a notorious disaster at cake making. All elements would be supplied (including the method for making delicate chocolate curls) and ‘all I had to do’ was place one thing on top of another and make it presentable. Hmmmm.
I barely slept that night – seriously. The panic of being responsible for someone’s special surprise birthday cake was almost too much. It has to be pointed out that although the birthday girl had cupcakes and was over the moon at these, it was clearly obvious on the Friday night that there was a touch of drunken upset at not having a ‘real’ 30th cake on which to place her special birthday candle. The chances of the real cake surviving my heavy handedness and an hours journey in a sweltering car, seemed bleak. Seemed utterly unrealistic. But my protests fell on deaf ears – particularly as time had run out and I had still to shower and change before letting the birthday girl down by being late for her pretend birthday.
How Laura’s blokey must have been feeling, I could only guess but I was not coping well with the undercover ops. My ability to lie and think on my feet as to why I couldn’t possibly be around on Saturday night was utterly useless. I was convinced it would be me who let cats out of bags, although the boyfriend did do a stirling job at attempting this himself (it was as if the self-destruct button had been triggered in the dash to cover things in chocolate butter cream). Luckily, Laura was oblivious. Thank god. So the surprise on Saturday evening was wonderful, she was completely taken a back. It was so lovely to see. And fabulous to catch up with some old uni chums too.
And the cake? Well, all my panic and worry proved fruitless. I managed to piece together as instructed as well as deliver without destruction or melting. I was quite proud of myself really, for this and for not giving the game away. ‘Lying’ and cake-making are not my forte, but I managed to succeed in these challenges and have a fantastic weekend to boot. Small victories I know, but they gave a restored sense of accomplishment which has been lacking of late. Perhaps I might attempt my own baking challenges this week – or maybe I should quite while ahead!