The modern world has offered us a world of limitless entertainment, and one of the sweetest ways to pass time is to watch baking shows.
Gone are the days of simple round cakes. It is now time for nine foot cakes in the shapes of knights and dragons and apparently, whatever a client wants. With more money and modernisation, the demand for unique, artistic and almost life-like cakes has increased. Today's bakers seem to require the skill, precision and creativity of sculptors who existed during the Renaissance. There are now cakes imitating the surface of the moon with all its shades and textures and cakes of iconic buildings around the world with people made of cake and identifiable facial features. Some cakes have as much intricate designs as some sarees and some cakes have semi-translucent glass-like shapes made of nothing but sugar. Looking at these cakes, you might wonder what's real and what's cake, and I wouldn't blame you. This display of decadence is something everyone might enjoy because it really is a treat to see something so beautiful yet edible unlike the buildings and statues we might get to see in a street in Italy.
However, there are times when your OCD tendencies take hold and the place where the fondant isn't smooth keeps popping up in your head. Things sometimes get worse when you wonder if the people who these cakes are for will even appreciate all the work gone into creating such a wonderful thing, and yes, I'm talking about children and people who can't wait to put the cake in their stomachs. What they might be awestruck by, however, is the large size of the cakes.
These cakes come in all shapes and sizes – even in the actual shape and size of a real life alligator. If you're insecure about your height, standing beside these gargantuan cakes might be a painful reminder. But height isn't the only thing that's impressive about these cakes, for some of the cakes easily look like they would be over the weight limit of most elevators. It makes you wonder if any competitive eater would be able to finish off one of these cakes alone. Maybe even all the people at these parties can't finish eating these cakes. I would actually think it was practical, not odd, if someone attempted to cut these enormous cakes with a sword.
Besides the size of these cakes, the unusual shapes they have – shapes you wouldn't believe would be possible to make if you didn't see it, also pose a problem. They can be houses, cars, dinosaurs, diners and pet dogs. It looks like it's difficult to cut them not just because these cakes sometimes seem too beautiful to eat, but because it does seem physically difficult to cut these cakes. A common trend that seems to exacerbate this situation is that these oddly shaped cakes are placed on top of each other and that too like the Leaning Tower of Pisa rather than other buildings that stand up straight. The rod through which each of these cakes are passed through to appear as one large cake isn't always reassuring as carrying the giant cake is a nerve-wracking task. Even on smooth grounds this task doesn't always go smoothly, and the thought of hours of work going to waste because a cake has fallen to the ground is painful not only for the workers who've worked on this so hard for hours but for the viewers as well. Handling these cakes requires the delicacy of a millennial holding a new phone they just got.
You must of course dig below the surface of the cake if you are to judge its merits, but this is an experience that viewers of these TV shows don't have. What we do know is that there is a dizzying array of flavours that cakes now come in. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry won't be enough to describe the flavour you require. Now, icings that just look like vanilla to you might be Bride's White, French Vanilla or Classic White Chocolate. If all these choices don't befuddle you, don't worry, bakeries also give you the options to infuse some of the flavours they have.
A little research shows that their names too are interesting. If you thought naming cakes Black Forest and Apple Pie Moonshine was extra, you might be surprised to know that there are cakes named Lady Godiva, Painkiller, What's Up 7-Up and Not Your Dad's Rootbeer. I don't know what the people naming these cakes were thinking but after seeing bakers on these shows, I do understand how stressful a job this is. The demands of some clients sometimes seem absurd and the list of things that can go wrong can seem endless. However, seeing bakers make these cakes is still very enjoyable and satisfying with them gently painting over a cake's surface with what looks like a paintbrush, smoothening out thick dollops of ice-cream on a plain cake with a knife, or laying a large sheet of satin-like fondant over cake structures and making them fit the cake.
Before you start wondering why Lady Gaga hasn't worn a dress made of fondant yet or try to calculate the calories in each of these cakes, I'd just like to end by saying that these shows should be enjoyed with an empty mind and an even emptier stomach so you can yearn for these cakes all the more while watching them being made.