Cake is an illusion. Indeed all cakes, buns, and sweet things are big, fat liars. Be they filled with cream, oozing with jam or tartily enticing you with their pert, pinky icing tops, don't trust them. I'm not talking about fat here. I have no fear of fat, bring it on I say, eat more butter and cream, it's real food from living things we can put names on, just don't say I told you.
The reason why cakes are such good liars is that their simple, tempting beauty tells nothing of the story that went into making them. So I'm going to tell you mine. Cooling on my kitchen table right now is 24 of the fluffiest, spongiest, lightest cup cakes known to humanity. A bold statement I know but I learned from the best so I can't take all the credit. I love baking, when I feel like it. I love to make chocolate brownies you'd leave your wife for, oatmeal cookies you'd blow your diet on and these feathery ladies here, American style cupcakes.
My son, the fairy, ordered these from his Mama two days ago when he announced a fund-raiser for Haiti was to be held in his school. A good cause we all agree, without one bit of begrudgery. I agreed to make the cakes, the school is super-human when it comes to cake sales and would give the stepford wives a run for their money in terms of quality and quantity. I'm in I said, bring it. Cupcakes and cookies he said, no worries said I.
That was before today. Today was another bananas day in college when we spent a lot of time doing a lot of not a lot. Followed by the hour-long drive home I was limbering up nicely for my bakeathon. The lads were in two separate houses, one in town, and one in the country. No bother. The rain came down, the cake ingredients had to be got. Son no 1 was collected, shopping was done on the way to get son no 2. Son no 2 had made a new friend in a lovely house full of lovely people with endless dogs and cats and grown up kids, like Southfork without the oil, fence n all. I got cosy with coffee and time wore on. I'd forgotten the chocolate for the cookies. More shopping to do on the way home. Now it's 9 O'Clock. I'm getting ratty. The house is that kippy way it is when you go out and you come in again and can't believe you live like this. I order Son No.1 to do the sink full of dishes and set Son No.2 up with a mixer and begin lobbing butter and sugar at him, into a bowl. He decides that the mixer may be more effective mid air so he yanks it out into the sky and splatters butter/sugar goo all over the walls. That's nothing. keep mixing.
Son No. 2 walks into his room and yells, bleeaagghh, the cat has puked, on the carpet. It's always on the carpet. I order him to get some bog roll to clean it up, after he has walked into the hall in his puke-covered socks. As I begin scooping up cat vomit, swearing old Limerick style obscenities I step backwards into more puke. I'm loving today. Now there's puke on my Uggs. Ugg. In three different spots the little b*****d has thrown his guts up. There's only carpet in one room, why does he always pick that one? It's all cleaned up, and the cat is ejected from our lives for the evening. He clings on, suicide style from the kitchen door, way too dramatic and it won't get him in. I open the bin to put in the be-puked kitchen paper and cloths. It's full to the brim so I decide to empty it. I pull at the bag and yank it up, yes yes, it rips and cat puke and three day old dinner come spilling out onto the floor. I start cursing people in my life who are lovely and sweet and have nothing to do with all this. I yell at Son. No 2 to get a bag and remind him that all Men are idiots while he does it. I clean up the crap off the floor, I hate everyone.
Lovingly we get the cake batter into the paper cases and into the oven. It's a miracle. There's no way I'm making cookies too, I tell the small fella. But I made a sign saying Oatmeal cookies, he says. The rip it up, I hiss. I love him. The pile of new dishes is done by Son No.2, he hates me now. I want butter icing, he says. Just to goad me. I concede as we have reached a deal on the goods. Half pink and half white, who is this guy? I concede because I am an idiot and because I love him and because I'm a show off and I can't resist. Icing sugar is sieved, so much icing sugar, and butter is beaten, it deserves it. The vanilla goes in, and much love, and swearing. Half of it is scooped out and I notice how like ice cream it looks. We pour in some red colouring and I lament the disappearance of cochinel food colouring that was made of beetles and made food the most magical pink colour.
As I begin to thaw and the love comes back into the kitchen, I open a cupboard door to put away the sugar and , smash! Nooooooooooo, my eyes see it in slow motion, it registers as it sails past me and onto the hard, tiled kitchen floor, a full, glass jar of honey. I point my head to God and open my mouth to yell, very loudly Mother ******* (without the beep) so loud and for so long that the whole of O'Connell Street is offended. I close my mouth and look at the floor. A huge, sprawling lava gush has erupted on the floor. And it's full of broken glass. As Homer Simpson said to Marge when she finally lost her temper at the dinner table "Now kids lets leave your mother alone to clean up this mess in peace". So exited my Son from the kitchen so fast. I laughed at myself, as I always do when something happens to make me notice that I've got my knickers in a twist over nothing. Cos it's always over nothing. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some cup cakes to ice.