I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Humans Are Dumb

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can anticipate a negative outcome to something, and yet you do it anyway? It's like you just can't help yourself - even when you're pretty sure nothing good will come of your actions, you still go ahead on that course of action.

This recently happened to me with a 3 tiered cake... but the end result was a really positive one.

I designed a 3 tier cake which was stupidly ambitious. I knew just from my drawing that keeping it supported and upright would be a challenge, but I kept going with it anyway. I enlisted the help of DH, who looked at it and thought it would be difficult, but not impossible. Hmmm. DH is an engineer and can generally be relied upon for these sorts of things, so if he doubted it, well, I should have stopped right then and there. I kept going with it anyway. I don't have a picture o f it to show you(which sucks, what was I thinking?? Or not thinking, as it happens.) Have you ever seen one of those barbie doll cakes where the dress is cake? It's kinda like a fat cone shape? So I baked three of those, and the idea was to tier them UPSIDE DOWN. So the skinney part of the cone is at the bottom, and the fat part of the cone is at the top. Similar in shape to a flower pot. So like three cones on top of one another in a straight line, held together by a central pillar

Are you still with me? I know, even you can tell this is a bad idea, can't you?

The cakes got baked, and iced, and stacked with SHED LOADS of internal structural support. Like about 50 million skewers and boards and stuff. I knew this was a bad idea but I just was compelled to keep going. I knew it at the drawing stage, at the 'buy some dowelling and screw it to the cake board" stage, at the baking stage, the icing stage, and the final decorating stage. At EVERY STEP OF THE WAY I knew this was a bad idea and yet I kept going, and going, and going.

I finished the cake and I hated it. It just looked like crap. The idea was sound but the execution was miserable. I was under pressure, though, and had already spent many hours on it so I didn't want to start again. When I left work on Friday night, it had developed a slight lean to it, a la Pisa. I shored it up with some strategically placed icing and left for the night. That damn cake stayed in my brain all Friday night - I even told my in laws that I was 90% sure Pisa was going to fall right over. DH happened to return to my kitchen late Friday night and came back to report that it was standing upright, but "at a rakish angle."

Hmmm. Not generally the sort of thing you want a cake to be doing.

Saturday morning I went to check on it and the entire thing had EXPLODED. The top tier fell off totally, smashing into the second tier, and while the bottom tier was intact, it was at somewhat more than a rakish angle. The middle tier was sort of intact on one side, and smashed to bits on the other (it got in the way when the top tier tried to make an escape). Literally this cake looked like someone had punched right through the middle of it. The bench was littered with cake and icing. I am SO sorry I didn't take a photo of it...but I think the desire to just scoop the whole lot into the bin was far too strong.

On Saturdays I sub-let my work kitchen, so I spent about an hour or so collecting up EVERY SINGLE PIECE of cake decorating equipment I thought I might need (plus icing, and skewers, and measured out cake recipe ingredients) so I could take it all home with me since my work kitchen was unavailable. Suffice to say all that stuff filled up the entire boot of my car AND the back seat.

I cancelled all my Saturday plans, had a friend take my girls for the day (thank god for good friends) and set to work. AGAIN.

I spent all day Saturday and a large part of Saturday night re-baking it, re-filling it, re-icing it, and re-decorating it.

The crazy thing is that I'm actually not upset about this at all. I didn't even shed a tear (although I did shed a tier. Ba-doom-boom-boom. Okay, better joke, right?) I seriously was not even annoyed for one single solitary second about this cake disaster - and it should be said, it's THE FIRST TIME this has ever happened to me. Normally this would send me over the emotional edge. Hundreds of cakes and this is the first time one of them was an epic fail, and I could care less. Mostly because a) I expected this would happen and it was only my idiocy which made me continue working on a doomed cake design, b) the damn thing was seriously ugly and I knew in my heart of baker hearts it should have been re-done anyway.

But it still makes me wonder what it is about the human psyche which makes us continue doing things which we know can only end badly. It's like we are compelled to continue along the path once we've begun heading that way. Has this ever happened to you?

1 comment:

Cindy said...

I giggled at your tier/tear joke. :-)

Good on you for keeping your cool!