24 October 2010

Baking for Dummies: Cake Decorating Edition

When I left my old job, some nine months ago, one of my leaving presents was a voucher for a cupcake-decorating lesson for two. Naturally, I booked Maman and me in for a session three days before the voucher expired (yesterday) and despite the public transport issues, we ventured up to Belsize Park to the somewhat unglamorous hotel at the foot of Primrose Hill (after first enjoying a great late breakfast at Chamomile).

There were about 20 women in the lobby (no guys) and so we were split into several groups; my group was run by a charming American guy who told us, "I'll be your cocoa... I mean I'm from [cocoa-related company name]," and was later puzzled by the Brits' lack of love for peanut butter (not from me).

The cupcakes had already been made so we were learning how to ice them and how to make decorations out of something called sugar paste ("you can buy it from that place that's called something like Iceland" - that would be Lakeland, then!). The instructor must love showing groups of women how to warm up the sugar paste in their hands, rolling it between their fingers and gently kneading... I wasn't particularly good at making the shapes; when it comes to artistic pursuits, I've always been good with ideas but not so good at putting them into practice. My perfectionism only made me more nervous and with rather long fingernails, I was struggling. Maman was equally self-critical although she still found time to tell me I was squeezing the icing bag all wrong.

As we left the hotel, we got caught in a freak hail storm and had to taxi back to NoMaRo where I finally got my nails done. I'd been planning to chill in London Town last night but the parents persuaded me to go back to the Shire with them, mainly because they wanted a designated driver so they could drink at Jamie's Italian; I got to drive the Beamer and had a nice dinner so I couldn't complain. This morning was at least quite chilled, after a very frosty but bright and gorgeous autumnal run around Christchurch Meadow.

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