As much as making cakes gives me great joy, I must confess…cakes cause me a lot of heartburn. I am a perfectionist & a pleaser, and I put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to create the most delicious, most stunning cake I can possibly muster. The inside part I’ve got covered without a speck of insecurity. I am completely confident that every single cake I make will most likely be the best cake my customers have ever tried. Not my most humble comment, but it’s sincerely what I believe. And, if it’s not the best cake, it’s pretty close to the top of the list. Let’s be real. I’ve been baking for
almost twenty years a very long time, and if I haven’t yet mastered making a delicious cake, filling & frosting, there is something wrong with me.
The outside part, however, is a different story. The outside is the story of expectations, panic, dreams, colors, stress, anxiety and challenges, all of which keep me up at night. Will my buttercream have air bubbles? Will I be able to mix the right colors? Will the fondant be perfectly smooth? Will the gumpaste decorations dry in time? Will my customers be happy? What will their face say when they open the box and see their cake for the first time? Will it be a look of happiness & awe? Or, (cross my fingers please no) will they be tight-lipped and disappointed? It is this last question which plagues me as I dive into each project. It eats away at me, nudging me to re-do my lines, urging me to start the project earlier to ensure perfection.
Last week I made a lot of cakes, and the heartburn factor was pretty high. There were deadlines & deliveries as usual, but each cake required a lot of one-on-one attention, and the more time I spent on each cake, the more I felt old insecurities creeping their way into the forefront of my brain. For me, it’s hard to really feel ‘done’ with a cake. I could fuss & re-position for hours. Thankfully, the deadlines make too much last minute second-guessing at a minimum.
After the stress of the weekend cake orders, I wrapped up the long weekend with a cake for one of my co-workers. Her mother recently passed away, and the cake was for a family gathering. Her mother loved Nantucket, and my co-worker wanted something Nantucket-y as a centerpiece dessert. We toyed around with making a lighthouse, but after browsing around online for a bit, we decided a cake shaped and decorated like a basket would be perfect. She owned three of these baskets, so the connection was easy, right and meaningful.
I spent Memorial Day morning by myself in the kitchen making the cake, and the time alone with just the cake, buttercream, fillings, food coloring, turn table and gum paste was so restorative for my soul. While I never had the opportunity to meet my co-worker’s mother, I felt like I knew her & loved her just from the stories that were shared at work. With many of my cakes, I usually require some distance to be able to leave the critical space of my brain to arrive at the part that is satisfied and pleased by my work. With the Nantucket Basket Cake…I loved it as soon as I put on the last pint of raspberries.
And so, once again, I feel grateful that I was able to participate and help make someone’s day a little more memorable.