Cake crumbs

For Steve and Jenny

For Steve and Jenny

I have always baked, ever since I was a little girl helping in the kitchen. I was taught early about such arcane practices as rubbing in, folding and kneading and how to keep my pastry cool and my dough warm. Decorating cakes came later and it was something I taught myself, though my grandfather was a pretty mean hand with a piping nozzle. I have fond, and hilarious memories of the eve of my wedding day when my mother and I unpacked the tiered cake he had made. It had, as such cakes should be, been stored to mature. Unfortunately the marzipan had not been allowed to dry out first and the oils had leached through into the snowy, royal icing, staining the pristine whiteness a dull and unpleasant beige.

Posies and people

Posies and people

“Right,” said mother, rolling her sleeves up. “It has to go.” The plan was to scrape off the icing and re-cover the cakes. “Shouldn’t be difficult.” Grandad was a sculptor… and it showed. But the glorious, painstaking creation was to be re-done in a mere matter of hours, with mother preparing the battleground while I ransacked the local market for the flowers to make the bouquets and raid the shops for huge amounts of icing sugar.

Alex's Spitfire

Alex’s Spitfire

Only it wasn’t going to be that simple. First we had to get the icing off. And it wouldn’t budge.

Yorkshire women share a trait in times of adversity. “Carving knife,” said mother, her eyes narrowing stubbornly. Apparently grandfather had gone a bit overboard. And hadn’t used glycerine to make a softer icing. This stuff could have stood for centuries. “Pass the chisel,” said mother. “And the hammer.”

Party cake

Party cake

We did it eventually, getting the hastily iced cake to the church hall in the nick of time… me, holding it precariously on my lap in the back of a three wheeled Reliant van, while my bridesmaid… who had just passed her driving test and had never driven alone… juddered her way through the village streets. It was a good thing we had too… cutting the cake at the reception would have been hilarious!

For Annie and Vince

For Annie and Vince

There is no picture of that cake, nor indeed any of my wedding day apart from one little black and white Polaroid snap. My mother burned them when I was in France and about to remarry as she didn’t think my husband-to-be would want to see them. But I did come across pictures of past cakes today and they set the memories going, for each one is not just a cake, but a whole stream of people.

Sugar orchids

Sugar orchids

There are the wedding cakes made for friends, birthday cakes for all ages… a Spitfire painted in food colouring for my youngest son, a grown up cake for the other son’s 13th birthday… orchids, posies of sugar flowers made and painted petal by petal, sugar figurines hand sculpted… a process that fascinated the small tribe of children that congregated at our home on a daily basis. They all joined in, learning to bake, to decorate, to sculpt in sugar.

We are One

We are One

The pictures that survive are not good, many are pre digital… but the cakes were… and the memories of those days, with those people, are even better. There is more than a crumb of comfort in laughter shared and remembered.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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18 Responses to Cake crumbs

  1. kanzensakura says:

    As an artist, all this loveliness comes naturally to you and they are wonderful creations. having a heritage of decoration certainly enforce this. I enjoyed seeing all the different cakes you posted photos for. I did my own wedding cake as well. I took lessons a few months prior and learned all the piping and such. But as an engineer, I just lacked that flair. All the roses and lilies of the valley precisely placed…but it was good! I did a stint for a local nearby nursing home, making wee decorated cakes for the residents’ birthdays and if a couple was still together, doing an anniversary cake. Another couple of ladies came along who made prettier cakes and took over because I was swamped with work (several bridges and drainage systems claimed my attention). but several of my friends I had made said the ladies were sweet but the cakes were much of a one-ness and not as tasty which did salve my pride. maybe I’ll get back into it but the patience to make figures and shape and paint flowers – I’ll save that for talented folk like you! and I love the story about the icing on your wedding cake!

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      That’s a lovely story… thank you for sharing it. I don’t do much these days.. I don’t have time and all the children are grown… though I did make the School’s first birthday cake recently.

      Honestly though , you have nver see such a panic as that day before the wedding…I laugh now, of course, but then…!

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      • kanzensakura says:

        Ha! My mother took an anti-anxiety medication and me, in my wedding gown, had to put her pantyhose on her….talk about panic! LOLOLOL…these memories are what makes our lives so special and precious, aren’t they?

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        • Sue Vincent says:

          They are indeed 🙂
          What with Grandmama thinking the wine was blackcurrant juice and the Great Aunt taking over the kitchens, that wedding was a moment full of memories 🙂

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          • kanzensakura says:

            I love it…..and when I started my walk down the aisle, a friend sitting at the back, on the end of the pew whispered, “his shoes are tied”. My husband is notorious for not tying his shoes. I gave a quick glance and sure enough, in all his pristine James Bond white jacket glory, his shoes were indeed tied.

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    • SirenaTales says:

      Oh, Kanzen–what a splendid idea: to bake cakes for nursing home residents’ special days! I have baked platters of cookies, but not thought of volunteering for cake baking. And with your talents, what a boon to those lucky recipients. xoxo

      Like

      • Sue Vincent says:

        I used to work for a charity that supported a hospice for the terminally ill. Volunteers came in for those who were well enough to attend the day centre and baked, painted, sewed.. anything fun, interesting and normal. The patients truly appreciated it, as carers at home generally have too much to do, are too tired and too worried to do this kind of thing. xxx

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        • SirenaTales says:

          Thank you! Am saving you some cookies :). As I was explaining to someone today, a yummy cookie is so important to my afternoon cup of Irish Breakfast. I don’t need a bunch, but one? Absolutely. Today’s: Russian Tea Cakes. I’ll leave the plate out for you, my friend. Xoxo

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  2. SirenaTales says:

    Love all of this, Sue, including your wonderful conversation with Kanzen. I admire all of your artistry, and appreciate reading the history. I have been focusing more on cookies myself :). How lovely and synchronistic to find this charming piece as I am on my way to the kitchen, partly for cooking and baking, and partly to generate some movement inspired by my passion for baking for this new piece I am choreographing. Thank you for the camaraderie and inspiration. xoxo

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      Cookies? Where…??? 😀
      I seldom eat the cakes… but I have a penchant for cookies… sigh…
      But cookies and dance is an irresistable combination!
      xxx

      Like

  3. ksbeth says:

    these are gorgeous and your story is hilarious !

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  4. Great story, Sue. Mother to the rescue when the pressure is on.

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  5. Harliqueen says:

    A really lovely post, thank you for sharing it 🙂

    Like

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