Who Turned off the Sun?

Updated: Feb 1

Hello and welcome to September’s blog. This month it’s all about wedding and special birthday cakes, an array of brownie chat and pondering where the sun has gone.

Last month I talked about the rise of the staycation and this month I have heard of more and more people braving the queues and longer checking-in times and for holidays starting at the airport. It can’t be the duty-free shopping, although if you are old enough you will remember how cheap shopping abroad could actually be, so it must be the lure of being able to step onto a beach again – with sunshine, warm sea and that distinctive smell of adventure.

It has been a very hectic couple of months– never a bad thing and I have had lots of fun making some terrific cakes, but it is time to take a break. Heading off and away from the kitchen is always a wrench, but the alternative could mean injury from my wife. Only joking, but she does put up with me working long hours, so a break always does us both good. We are taking to the road for the first week of September and will be visiting both family and friends.

Speaking of terrific cakes, whilst making one for a 21st birthday celebration I got to wondering why we mark the 21st birthday whilst following significant dates end in zero. Unless you are a friend of mine who literally shrieks with joy at every one of hers! So, where was I – oh yes, why should the 21st have such importance? When a free moment presented itself, I fired up the laptop made a pot of my favourite Safi Coffee and entered the exciting world of Google. I hope you enjoy what I found.

Why do we celebrate those big birthdays?

Milestone birthdays are, simply put, significant milestones in your life – they represent an age when something is either attributed to you or expected of you and they introduce a so-called, new phase of life.

By 30 you might / should / ought to be thinking about settling down, owning a home and starting a family. Remember, this is traditional thought, and only aimed at women by the way, so, if you weren’t married and had at least one child by the time you were 30 you were considered to be ‘on the shelf, an old maid etc. Fast forward to 40 and your career is well established, 50 is all about having a more settled, financially free life and by 60, well it’s plain sailing into retirement.

How very simplistic that all sounds – and not representative of most people’s lives,

But back to that 21st – why do we consider it to be such a huge event, celebrated with aplomb via lavish parties and eye-wateringly expensive gifts?

From the amount of birthday cake orders, it seems that many people put a special significance to a 21st, but after wading through pages of research it became apparent that the current meaning has little in common with its initial meaning.

Over in the States, for example, turning 21 brings the great responsibility of being permitted to legally drink alcohol, while in South Africa and Australia, huge significance is placed on the giving of a key. ‘Oooh,’ I hear you exclaim – ‘a key to what?’ Well, sadly the reality is nothing like my initial thoughts of a shiny new car, simply a symbolic gesture to acknowledge their entry into adulthood. Australians take this a step further in that the key is to the family home, representing them being allowed to come and go as they please.

For us Brits, the significance of this age started way back in medieval times. Boys could become a page at the age of 7, then a squire at 14 but they had to be 21 in order to become a knight. Now that has a very nice ring to it – Sir Ganderton – I wonder how many bakers have been knighted? Anyway, that concludes that part now onto what I’ve been up to in the past month…

August cakes

It has been a rollercoaster of a month – lots of wonderful weddings and being able to go the venues, hand-delivering my designs is always a wonderful part of the process. I love to see the finished piece set majestically on the cake stand. That is the moment when the venue comes alive for me, before the ceremony, the guests, the excitement and the noise. I know it is all about the happy couple, and rightly so but this part is wonderful – I get to see all that before everyone else and the wedding cake in its place.

While all this cake making was going on I was also busy designing two special birthday cakes. One for a 21st birthday and one for a 90th. The 21st was for a friend’s daughter and the brief was vague with the words pink and handbags.

Much to the wife’s concern I set about googling handbag designs and Ta-da I found the perfect one. It was a bit of a challenge to get the straps to bend and stay up, but it was a challenge I enjoyed and was very pleased with the result. My friend collected it the following day and the feedback was great. The cake was enjoyed after the birthday meal as dessert with coffee, with not a piece left.

As for the 90th I decided on an afternoon tea style, complete with miniature teapot, tray with cups and saucers and mini decorated cakes. It looked lovely and the recipient was overjoyed.

All in all, a great month. Fab cakes, excellent feedback from happy clients. My work was done.

Hurrah for the fudgy brownie

For me, there is little to compare (sweet-toothed wise) to the wonderful joy of finding that perfect brownie recipe! Firstly, fudgy must be the order of the day, without being raw in the middle, decadent but not overwhelming and soft, but not cakey. It took a far few trials for me to find my favourite brownie recipe. I’m a devoted lover of chocolate and was determined that all my boxes had to be ticked in order for me to be happy before sending them to my customers.

Remember, the only real way to start or finish any weekend is with a Tree House Brownie and a cup of Safi ground coffee.

‘Eating a brownie really is like wrapping a soft, cashmere blanket around your shoulders.’

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