I have been heartened to hear of Swansea’s first transgender ‘information and advice event’ at the suitably colourful Brangwyn Hall (surely when more people are harmlessly happy with themselves, society is better for everyone).
Without being flippant, our kitchen witnessed an extraordinary transformation last week too; notable I suppose simply because of my previous lack of experience in the field of cake ‘makeovers’. My awakening interest in the edible plastic arts led to my first gugelhupf, a production with presence if devoid refinements (see my blog Kitchen Conjunction No. 1). Admittedly, the silicone mould itself was inexpensive and had an unsophisticated design. Rather on the big boned side let’s call him Kurt. Kurt the Gugelhupf, the strong silent type, but with hidden depths …
It was clear to everybody at his public unveiling that he had a greater potential. An upcoming friend’s birthday celebration was the ideal opportunity for him to come out from his entrapping chrysalis. To make up for my initial reluctance to elaborate on the basic recipe of the body (which is very like a brioche – a rich, sweet bread mixture), I not only kneaded chocolate paste (cocoa powder, milk and a little cornflour) into its dough but also added to the dark paste a spice mixture that was to hand (The Spicery, Hot Chocolate Spices) that added a little vanilla, cassia and allspice that insinuated some intrigue to the thin veins of chocolate marbling.
When we need a festive cake we go to a local family bakery that has extraordinary bespoke sculptural skills – but Strawbridge’s deserves a post to itself sometime. This has been a good enough excuse for me not to practise in this area. But after this latest attempt I discovered that that much can be done with not too much effort – just my cup of tea.
This slightly more sugary dough cooked quicker this time; the skin was tanned a darkish shade of ‘Biedermeier’ bronze. A dusting of icing sugar ‘face powder’ covered any blemishes; applied when the cake was hot it gave a picturesque Alpine slope effect. I felt that the rich blandness of the gugelhupf body could stand some more ‘allure’. A cloak of coffee icing was conjured up from some espresso mixed with icing sugar and dribbled over the shoulders of – well – Kurt was at this point was becoming a thing of the past.
By a stroke of luck, Herr Doktor Professor Edible had chosen some gold coloured cake candles. The result was undoubtedly a card-carrying member of the Kaffee und Kuchen culture. Like a theatrical star the guglhupf had a sudden charisma and gave pleasure to the assembled company of self-described ‘visualists’. Around the table it appeared to be ‘The Land of Smiles’ (Das Land des Lächelns, Lehar) and what more appropriate new name for this confection than Anneliese, after the poised German operetta singer.
Shall I try to extract a creaky moral from this story? It is said that we’re not all from the same mould; but even if we are, the mould doesn’t make us.