Saturday, 9 April 2016

Defintely One for the Books

This particular cake was a combination of a birthday cake for a close friend, and a way of remembering my Dad as he would have been 75 at his last birthday. When I was asked to decorate this cake, I was told that the cake would be baked in a "book" cake pan so that was my base, and the birthday boy wanted a quote on top of the cake which I was provided, but apart from that the details were up to me. The suggestion which stuck with me was "decorate it how you would decorate a cake for your Dad". When you have an instant idea it's hard not to think of something else, so the word that kept floating around in my head was "manuscript". I knew this would work for the birthday boy as well, as he and my Father were close friends and colleagues. In many ways they were similar: stoic, scholarly, learned men, who enjoyed solving life's problems from an arm chair. Growing up our two families often had dinner together. Post-meal I would go play with their daughter, leaving our Mothers to drink tea and tackle a puzzle with several hundred pieces, and our Fathers to retire to the book room and quietly discuss the world around them in great depth. These books which enveloped them during their discussions were my inspiration for this cake.

The snails were apropos of something called marginalia. A phenomenon seen in ancient manuscripts where the Monks who were responsible for recording life and verse in these manuscripts, apparently got bored and started doodling. Most of what you can find on the internet is quite rude when it comes to marginalia, but the safer snail is present in several examples. Often the snail is depicted as fighting off a knight of some form, perhaps because of the damp monasteries that would have been full of snails so might have been seen as a threat...

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