2020 – time spent at home, reconnecting, learning new ways to communicate, and the art of slow living with lots of time spent in our kitchens.
Our family has always been keen to bake (and devour) a delicious cake. Clearing the bench, popping on the apron, sifting the ingredients, beating the eggs, melting chocolate, and fighting to be the first to lick the bowl. Mess everywhere.
It began with our first born. To celebrate her first birthday, we purchased the treasured Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes cookbook and we baked and decorated the very appropriate number one. There were lots of photos of her, the cake and her family to celebrate the special occasion.
Over the years we’ve attempted humpty dumpty, the toadstool, the alien, the teddy bear, the ladybird, the rabbit and treasure island to name a few. I can tell by looking at the cookbook which cakes we’ve made by the way the page is slightly crinkled due to reading and re-reading the recipe with wet hands. I photographed each and every cake with the birthday child for keepsake memories. Precious family photographs capturing a moment in time of their childhood, printed and placed into photo books (well mostly but that’s another story on the benefits of printing).
It became a tradition – the kids would select their chosen cake. We would source the ingredients and the necessary decorations. They always made the final choice based on the decorations, not what was inside the cake. We would wait until they were asleep and get baking the night before, enjoying a glass or two of wine as we created another masterpiece.
Then something happened. It was quite a shock at first. They started looking further afield for their chosen cake. It wasn’t about the decorations anymore; it was about the flavours and how many layers and one might say degree of skill required to achieve said cake. The night before, sometimes the day of, has become more complex. They have upped-the-ante and we have tried to deliver. They now search far and wide for their ultimate birthday cake, flipping through Gourmet Traveller, Delicious and some of our favourite cookbooks, like Flour and Stone, looking for inspiration.
Most cakes have been successful, made with love and laughter and taste divine. The memories we have – like the time I sent my husband searching for red velvet crumbs, only to be told by the cake decorating place that you use the crumbs from the cake you bake! We have learnt so much along the way. But there was that one disaster which saw me relinquished from my baking duties and focussing solely on styling and photographing the end resultinstead (my tip is go careful on the rock salt!) And because I like to create images that make you want to reach in and take a bite – I take this role seriously. Space is cleared, the food styling boards come out, the lighting is carefully considered and created, decisions are made on props that benefit the cake.
And that’s okay with me, I love food photography. As long as I get to sit at the table and enjoy the end result, I don’t mind taking a back seat as other family members come together to bake.