Tuesday, September 14, 2010

new toys

thanks to a few very kind family members, i recently had some graduation money to indulge some of my hobbies.  and thanks to a slight delay between finishing the phd and starting a "real" job, i have also had time to indulge them.

NY Cakes acquired a respectable portion of my bounty.  i don't even like cake (maybe it's the frosting - the massive amount of sugar tastes like diabetes in a bite ... but then again, sweet things aren't my own personal vice - i've got others).  but i do like attempting to turn cakes into a pretty creation.  or a strange one.

i have never had so much ambivalence about a store before.  on one hand, the place is stocked well beyond even the best of the basics.  it has gadgets for baking and decorating that i never knew existed.  so at first, it was quite exciting to take in the impressive collection of tools and to pick out which new toys i couldn't live without - paints to color my own fondant, new pans, glorified modeling tools, etc.

but then, as i realized the vast amount of available shortcuts, some of the magic of decorating disappeared.  you see, i went from doing everything the hard way (e.g., using very basic cake shapes and carefully carving them into the shapes i needed and assembling the shapes into 3D objects, always covering cakes by rather painfully squeezing out little drops of buttercream icing at a time, etc.) to obtaining tools to do much of it the easy way (e.g., collecting a variety of usefully shaped pans, stocking up on fondant, etc.).  so now i feel like i'm cheating - that some of the challenge is gone.  and then when i think about how many more shortcuts would be available if i were willing to drop a few hundred dollars or more into this little side hobby (and buy things like machines that would do the heavy labor of rolling out the fondant for me), i admit i get a little bit jealous of bakeries.  suddenly the cake shows that champion their crazy confections are less impressive - yes, practice and skill are still very important, but it is so much easier for them.  dear santa claus, i would like a bakery for Christmas so that i can make birthday cakes as needed.  thanks.

so in any case, i have begun to sell out and am playing with my new toys.  this past weekend, the project was a volcano birthday cake for my geology major sister.  p.s. here's a tip for all you pyromaniacs out there - putting a bunch of birthday candles in very close proximity makes for a delightfully large flame.

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