Sunday, September 5, 2010

Daphne Day

I don't know anyone called Daphne - unlike Poppy and Iris, it's one of those old-fashioned flower names that don't seem likely to be revived. But we have two bushes of it in full bloom and I bring their distinctive sweet/sharp scent inside for Harvey.

This is a photo of two heads of daphne. But only one is the real thing. The other is made entirely of icing. My neighbour brought it over for me to see - she'd been to a wedding, and the cake had daphne decorations. Here's a close-up.

My mother went to evening classes at the local intermediate school to learn how to do this kind of icing, and got enormous pleasure and satisfaction out of it. (That whole superb tradition of evening classes has now been attacked by having its funding cut, which is really sad. I don't care what people were learning to do in their spare time, the main thing was that they were learning, and plenty of women like Mum went on to turn their new skills into a way of earning - though that's hardly all that matters.) She made and iced the cake for my first wedding, with little clusters of apricot roses matching the bridesmaids' dresses. But I don't have a photo of it.
           It's not my thing at all - on the rare occasions when I've tried to ice a cake it's always looked more like a Cake Wreck than a clever creation. I used to manage well with the kids' birthday cakes, because I'd been given a plaster train which held up to six candles. So all I had to do was make tracks out of slices of liquorice strap, stick in a little "Happy Birthday" flag I found, and wrap it all round in a fancy cake fringe.
            But I can see and admire how much skill goes into producing something like this amazing daphne. The only trouble is, it's much too pretty to eat.

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