Brighton Cakes

How to... Eat Cake

Cakes are the food equivalent of alcohol. They give you the same lovely, warm feeling and pretty much everyone likes an occasional tipple/nibble. They're also both rich in calories, and giving up booze and cake is halfway towards a thinner, and immeasurably sadder life.

Fairy cakes are the shorts of the cake world. A little butter icing fairy cake should be consumed in the same way as a tequila slammer. A little bit of fiddling about and polite conversation and then, woof, down in one. Serious cakers can put down eight on the trot. The icing on the cake for cakes is icing. Icing can be eaten with the cake or before or after the cake. Either way, it's a meal in itself, hence the popularity of the iced bun, which is a way of mainlining icing.

One of the most ridiculous phrases in the English language is someone "who wants to have their cake and eat it". A much more useful phrase would be someone who "had their cake but didn't want to eat it", thus implying some kind of mental problem.

The wonderful thing about cakes is that they are absurdly easy to make. Just follow the simple formula 44244284224 adding 44 in front for fancy foreign cakes. The cake-making process has a wonderful by-product, and that is the bowl. Licking the bowl is one of the few innocent pleasures left to children, and one that computer games have yet to simulate with any degree of authenticity. Self-raising flour is Viagra for cakes. As with other things, the more you worry about them, the less likely they are to rise. And if you inspect them halfway through, they're bound to collapse.

Your favourite cakes say a lot about you as a person. Victoria sponge fanciers are likely to be simple, uncomplicated souls with a predilection for collecting china figurines. Date and walnut fans tend to be rather more complex, with a tendency towards environmental activism. Lemon drizzles attract the emotionally constipated. Coffee cakes are for passionate people with a more sensual nature, while madeira fans tend to have few friends and skin problems.

A sliver of cake is a slice between 5.5 degrees and 10.5 degrees and gives the message that you're actually not a big fan of black forest gateau. Technically, slices go up to only 179.5 degrees. Any wider and you risk being accused of "taking half the bloody cake". Of course, if it's your cake and there's no one else around, then slices can go up to 359.5 degrees. Or you can treat the whole thing like a giant fairy cake and get it down in one.

Reproduced with thanks to Guy Browning
The Guardian Weekend February 5 2005.




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