15 Nov 2009

Sweet Nothings?

Trendy cookery and lifestyle books and blogs, the press, TV programmes, celebrity/ pastry chefs, bakers, culinary gurus and food photographers, down to greeting cards and the baking aisles of supermarkets and department stores have one hot golden favourite in common, an embodiment of sweetness and all things nice! Devotees have fallen under the spell of ‘her’ cute appearance, whose contained sexiness they extol as if describing an aspiring starlet with an evocative pout, Nabokov’s Lolita or a promising teen idol that will never grow up!


Please let me stop you in your tracks before you aim for Le Grand Larousse Gastronomique or Julia Child’s recipe books, for my friends I am not talking about a feast of ‘haute’ cuisine, but a pâtisserie phenomenon that has taken sexy back to the baking tray, in a riot of delectable and covetable creamy and dreamy textures, frosted colours, all packaged up in innovative designs and all-round feminity and girly fluffiness that make this pretty young thing hot property in our principally visual world. It is a bite-size wonder of pure hedonism that pleases the senses: so easy on the eye, eyes devour it, yet so easy on the palate, one never suffices, easy on the fingers, no clumsiness involved, all-round easy with a touch of deluxe… To put it simply, beauty has turned into an edible art form!

These delicate wonders that sparkle and shimmer and unfold are like precious jewels, little phials of perfume, allegorical dressed-up Barbie dolls of the pastry world distilling their attraction and asking for abandonment and complete devotion in return… This little treat is loved across generations, a social, age and gender leveller, powerful yet seemingly fragile!


This is also the humble combination of butter, sugar, eggs, flour into sponge, revisited, sexed-up, nipped and tucked, adorned to the limits of imagination to represent a miniature (doll-like) version of what a ‘normal-sized’ cake would look like. Its girliness and abundance of (mostly) snow white, baby pink, lemon/ primrose yellow, almond/ mint green and silver take us back to childhood idealised, a world of safety and nostalgia, like candyfloss and the candy store….

Its visual appeal makes it a delight to film and photograph, a darling of the home designer and trend-follower. Its convenient self-contained format makes it perfect in our on-the-move, on-the-run world, and a perfect occasion piece as it stands on its own, stands out and can be customised and disguised to match anything, from the delicate ribbon in the bridesmaids’ hair, to the prom night theme…


Its popularity transcends the world, and its many combinations and associations in looks, flavours and textures make it a versatile act to follow! This little one may be easy to describe and easy to eat, and – to the detractor - full of hot air – all style and no substance! - compared to established pâtisserie classics, but the chance is we’ll never sample all of its varieties/ coating and filling variants, thanks to the limitless human imagination, and this trendy cake will soon enough become a pillar of bakery establishment and rewrite the rules of pâtisserie, to make it more fun and colourful!

As you can see, there is definitely more to the cupcake/ fairy cake than cute! And let’s thank the girls from SATC for putting Magnolia Bakery on our radar.


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