Monday, September 25, 2006

Who Said My Cake Must Be Flat On Top?

Why Can't it have a Voluptuous Breast-like Rounded Dome?
photograph picture of a victoria sandwich cake

Unlike haircuts, a flat top seems to be the fashionable way to go with a cake these days. I have even heard it said that a cake should never ever have a rounded top. This jars with my own sensibilities. I was brought up on the Victoria Sandwich and it was a matter of pride to have a beautifully rounded risen top to our sponges. In fact, a cake with flat top would have been close to having a cake that nearly sunk in the middle which would have been a shameful outcome indeed.

It was drilled into me from an early age that one should never open the oven door whilst baking the cake, especially in the early stages, or first 15 minutes, because the cake would be sure to flop. I am always proud when my cake rises high, who are these people who want to make me feel like I have not achieved the heady realms of cakedom prefection? Pah! Who needs one of these?

I had already planned this particular post when I happened to listen to Silverbrow's excellent podcast with Dan Lepard. At one point, near the end of the interview, Anthony Silverbrow asked Dan (who actually wrote the 'Breads & Batters' section in my favourite recipe book), what he thought about the impact of the internet on food. This is blogger-friendly stuff, this is high-rise cake friendly stuff, listen up people:

"[it] brings the homecook away from newspapers and magazines and allows them to talk to other people who really are doing it and especially in photography, too, on blogs you've got people baking cakes, taking recipes that they really like and photographing them with love and care and what they are doing with it, they are not trying to be a photographer so much as communicate something about the dish that they really like. Either they're really PROUD because it ROSE so HIGH or they wanted to show you the crumb structure... and blogs enable people to do that without having an editor saying 'we don't normally do things that way'. With a blog you can have an immediacy, you can say look I don't care the way things should be done, I want to say this, this way, I want to tell people that, and that is extraordinary. It is transforming our society for the better."

Dear Mr Lepard

Please may I be the first registered member of your new appreciation society?

Thank you,


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Who Said My Cake Must Be Flat On Top?


  • At 26/9/06 00:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are top of the class as far as I'm concerned. That looks perfect, absolutely mouthwatering, whose coming for tea wish it were me?

  • At 26/9/06 00:11, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sam... you have inspired me to go home and bake myself a victorian cake. and i couldn't agree more with my lepard!

  • At 26/9/06 01:01, Blogger Sara - Piperita said…

    Mr Lepard has the funny face I ever seen! So cute!!!
    That's refreshing knowing that we are some way appreciate somewhere... In Italy is more: oh, you are not a professional chef, or you are not a professional journalist, or you are not professional period, and so you shouldn't blog...

  • At 26/9/06 02:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, if you get in touch with Mr. Lepard, tell him i too want to be a part of his appreciation society! Cheers Mr. Lepard, you're fantastic!...and so is that lovely breast-like domed cake of yours, sam!

  • At 26/9/06 05:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's obvious now that you mention it... everybody loves breasts, (if they say otherwise they must be lying) and so why not a 'voluptous breast-like' cake?

    The more I think about it the more I like the idea. :D

  • At 26/9/06 06:24, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    My wife just bought a 'cake leveler' whatever that is!! lol

  • At 26/9/06 06:31, Blogger Alanna Kellogg said…

    (First of all, to "mum", how lucky Sam is to have you cheering her along all the way ... I love how often you're the first to comment, that you're wishing you were coming to tea!)

    What a great quote to pull, Sam, he does, indeed "get" one of the great wonders of food blogging ...

  • At 26/9/06 08:52, Blogger s'kat said…

    Round is beautiful, baby, let 'er rise high!!

  • At 26/9/06 08:54, Blogger s'kat said…

    Round is beautiful, baby, let 'er rise high!!

  • At 26/9/06 09:34, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for that Sam, pleased you enjoyed it. I agree, I was quite pleased what Dan said on that. It's a shame that there aren't more professional cooks of his calibre and profile who regularly get involved on forums or blogs. Let alone have their own forum as Dan does, in which he owns up to mistakes in his books, but more usefully, gives tips and encouragement on your home baking efforts.


  • At 26/9/06 09:55, Blogger L Vanel said…

    Very well put, Sam. Beautiful cake.

  • At 26/9/06 09:56, Blogger L Vanel said…

    Very well put, Sam. Beatiful cake.

  • At 26/9/06 10:26, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oooh, this is food porn at its finest. Looks quite enticing, Sam.

  • At 26/9/06 12:35, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, add me to the lepard appreciation society! There's room for all sorts of cakes in this world - t'would be a crime to neglect the lovely domed ones like yours - it looks almost like one of those princess cakes uncovered!

  • At 26/9/06 16:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    can i join the vuluptous, breast-like rounded dome society?

    yeah. i didn't think so. just checking.

  • At 26/9/06 18:06, Blogger Brilynn said…

    Ha! Your rounded cake top is perfect.

  • At 27/9/06 09:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That cake is delish - how I long for my new kitchen with its shiny oven...

    Dan Lepard is such a star. He's brilliant over on eGullet, gives brilliant feedback on people's attempts to make his recipes, and once even re-wrote a recipe, with a photo masterclass... What a sweetie, it's so great to have that kind of 2-way interaction. Yay for the internet!

  • At 28/9/06 06:20, Blogger Julie said…

    Dan Lepard put that so eloquently--thanks for quoting him. I also feel happy to see a cake rise to a pretty, rounded height. Sometimes I've been tempted to trim mine flat, but of course I could never really go through with it. The waste alone is simply unacceptable!

  • At 28/9/06 08:25, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Yes - let's hear it for voluptuousness!! I would say pay no heed to the Flat Cake Society - cakes should be free to rise into whatever graceful shapes they choose and should be allowed to stay that shape ;-)

  • At 28/9/06 13:25, Blogger Veron said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 28/9/06 13:27, Blogger Veron said…

    I just went to a cake decorating class where my instructor asked us to cut the dome off the cake.... well now I know better ...Hail the victorian cake !

  • At 28/9/06 18:01, Blogger Short Stories said…

    I woul love a slice!

  • At 1/10/06 10:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The cake looks delicious... fabulous...
    Oh, i'm hungry!!

  • At 1/10/06 10:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oops - i thought I had replied to these comments, but I hadn't, tardy me, please forgive me:

    mum - aah that is so cute, you know you are welcome for tea any time.

    sher - yes a nice cuppa is a necessity eith something like this.

    deborah - he's your Lepard???

    piperita - don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Those people are just scared. Thanks to Mr lepard for embracing us - it is indeed refreshing.

    amanda - I haven't been in contact with him - but i hear he writes on eGullet. I don't have time to be a member of eGullet, unfortunately. Just as well, as he'd probably be in danger of me stalking him!

    tunaranch - next time I should make two, huh?

    wmm- i hope to see a 'flat-as-a-pancake' retort to this cake on your own blog soon then

    Ak - I wasn't even sure my mum liked cake. I know for sure she wasnt so keen on the chocolate peppermint version I used to make with the bright-green buttercream filling.

    S'kat - hear, hear

    Silverbrow - oh he has his own forum? Guess we all need to go and check that out. here is the link everyone.

    lvanel - glad you liked it

    jennifer - that was the idea - doesn't really go with the anti-food porn post I wrote a couple of days later, huh?! oops

    Anita - but a princess cake wouldn't be the same without its green icing would it? I agree there is room for an infinite number of cakes in this world

    Joe - I don't see why not. why not?

    Brilynn - it's kind of sexy, no?

    Vanessa - that is great to know, thanks for the heads up.

    Julie - there is no waste if you cut the domed top off - the chef gets to eat it - of course!

    jeanne - yay! natural art form I say.

    veron - i dare you to contradict your teacher in class and decorate a domed cake!

    money pays the rent - oops - I already ate the whole thing

    compuntoes - me too - I wish I had some left, still.


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