It’s 8:59am on Monday morning. One of my kids is at pre-school. The other one is in bed for his morning nap. Conditions are perfect. It’s time to bake.
Cake number one is waiting to go in the oven. I double check the oven settings. I write down the time it went in. We are cruising. Confidence is high.
Before we proceed any further, a disclaimer.
Perusing the recipe on the weekend and realising that I was somewhat out of my depth with the whole idea of baking a cake from scratch I had to call in some reinforcements. You may know her. Her name is Betty Crocker.
Some might call that copping out. I don’t. I call that chickening out.
I will at this point take some time to gently remind you all that this was never a baking challenge. It was a decorating challenge.
Some might call that semantics. I call that snivelling. Either way, we will still be giving birth to a rainbow unicorn today. Come with me on that journey.
Cake number one is successfully out of the oven and onto the wire rack, entirely intact.
My hands are shaking with excitement.
This is huge. My cakes are always disasters. I don’t think it is possible to understate the significance of this moment. It is like Australia winning the America’s Cup that one time ever. It’s like Steve Bradbury winning gold in the speed skating from last place. It’s like Eric the Eel tapping out at the end of the pool to finish his race at the Sydney Olympics.
I got that damn cake out FULLY INTACT.
It did not blister, burn, explode, implode, cleave itself in half or crumble into a million pieces. I wanted to punch my fists violently into the air and let a primal scream of wordless exultation tear itself from my throat, a message and a warning to all the doubters and the haters that Zilla was storming her way to the winner’s podium.
But instead, taking a moment to clear my mind and reset my composure, I quietly put aside all my premature ejacuations of joy and triumph and got back to the serious business of prepping Crocker number two while child number two was still mercifully asleep.
I promised myself that there would be plenty of time to strut around like a rainbow unicorn in heat once this was all over.
When cake number two slides out of the tin with intrinsic perfection I simply nod almost impercetibly, with cool acknowledgement, like it was never in doubt. Who is this woman? Where has she been hiding?
I trim away the top of cake number one so it is level, and start puzzling out the cake layout. My hands operate independently of my body, unwavering, and with a precision and deftness that surprises me. This is like Keith Richards composing “Brown Sugar” in his sleep, a regurgitation of spirit in it’s purest form, channeled through human hands.
The layout is done. The puzzle is complete. It looks like this and I marvel at how easy it was.
And then I worry. It has all been too easy so far. I fear that I will plummet from the giddy pinnacle of baking ecstacy to the deep fiery pits of baking despair. Now I have to ice it.
I am terrified of the icing. Icing and I have history. Icing will bring me down every. single. time. Even pre-made Betty Crocker icing. This is the last big hurdle, the only thing that stands between me and rainbow unicorn glory.
And now, before we make that final push towards the finish line, one last disclaimer. I’m sure you remember all that egotistical trash talk about “splendiforous multi-coloured fondant” and what not, well that was kind of like the baking equivalent of Anthony Mundine boasting that he is a better boxer than Muhammed Ali. I mean, if I ever found myself in the same room as a roll of fondant I’d piss my pants and run in the opposite direction.
That stuff would beat the shit out of me.
So yes, to cut a very long story short, for various reasons – including but not limited to thrift, sloth and disinterest – I had to compromise on the fondant and settled instead for a rainbow unicorn with rastaman dreads made from Allen’s snakes, which is quite apt really because it looks like I was probably stoned when I decorated it.
And now, without further ado, the long awaited reveal.
Nailed it. Hard.
Happy first birthday Nate.
It’s meant to look like this, but I’m still calling it a triumph. And as I post this I just realised that in my excited haste to upload the successful results that I forgot to add the horn, which is kind of the only thing that makes it a unicorn, as opposed to just a horse. Brilliant.