A month back, one of the nicest members of our cast injured his leg and was laid up at home, miserable and angry about missing the show he had rehearsed so hard for. As an example of just how lovely he is, Marc, (for that is his name) felt that he had let us down (he hadn’t in any way) and therefore decided the best way to make recompense was to order us a couple of boxes of cup cakes.
The gesture was a kindly and generous one, but why cupcakes? The sad reality is, if you want to have cakes delivered these days then odds on they will be cakes of the cupped variety. London and the world seems has gone cup-cake crazy. Well pardon me if I don’t salivate like the proverbial Pavlovian pooch at the merest mention of these sickly sweet baked offerings. Let it be known, I hate cup cakes!!
Our theatre is slap bang in the middle of town. Its in 7 Dials. Within a half mile radius of the theatre there is an obscene plethora of walk-in emporia selling these over-sweetened offences. They include: Love Me Sweetly, Candy Cakes, Sweet Couture - you get the picture; they’re ALL about the sweetness. Oh there is one, although its slightly further afield in Hampstead, called Bake-A-Boo. BAKE-A-BOO??? Fuck off you twee twats. Not content to ladle on the sweetness in the cake department, they stuff us full with a surfeit of cuteness too. Everything about them is twee to the point of nausea; the decoration of the cakes themselves, the displays, the little boxes, the bags for the boxes, the names of the cakes.
Now please don’t think me some awful reactionary curmudgeon. I love working in 7 Dials. It is one of those rare quarters of central London with little independent shops weathering the economic downturn and managing to sell a bewildering array of nick-nackery, clothing, books etc to those that still require a something slightly more unique than the average homogenous high street can offer. However the cup-cake shopping (and eating) experience is the same in which ever sickly sweet boutique you happen to be in, in whatever town.
The gesture was a kindly and generous one, but why cupcakes? The sad reality is, if you want to have cakes delivered these days then odds on they will be cakes of the cupped variety.
In the past couple of years I like how Britain has gone mental about home baking. Thanks to the self-raising saviours Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and the mammothly successful BBC2 show The Great British Bake Off there are legions of folk creating fogs of floury mess in kitchens up and down the land. Baking is a good thing. My daughter baked me a cake for my birthday. A present doesn’t get better than that. * I love the fact people are getting messy at home trying to bake loaves, muffins, and ciabatta breads. Whatever you wanna make, leave out the boring cupcake from your baked repertoire.
The sponge is uniformly bland. And before you start screaming at me, I know they can be infused with a bit of lemon or a sopucon of vanilla but its always just a depressingly disappointing bit of sponge. Then there is the icing. I am used to cakes that had about 5 mm of icing. This was enough. Sometimes it was too much. But I'll tell you what's really too much; 30mm of icing, icing that sometimes outdoes the cake itself by 2:1, swirling up like Marge Simpsons' barnet, exploding like a sticky Vesuvius. These idiotic cakes are then decorated further with sprinkles, candied peel, bobbles, lights, shards of marble or whatever else is deemed decorative. It's madness and I want no part of it.
Marc, your generosity didn’t go unnoticed. You are a hero of the people for putting our happiness way ahead of your own. But may I suggest that next time......get a slab of brownie delivered or 2 dozen sausage rolls. Mmmmm, sausage rolls.
* she had also baked a range of cupcakes but I said the huge cake (with popping candy icing) couldn’t be surpassed and they went back in the fridge.
Steve Furst is currently appearing in Matilda the Musical and NOT eating cup cakes
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