it was a cakey sort of weekend.
saturday morning, me and the kid walked up the hill to the church fete. i’d been working up her enthusiasm since the day before, saying things like, “do you wanna go to the fete?” and “we’ll meet our fate at the fete!” and “there’ll be cake!”
back in may, we went to the fete at birchgrove public school. there were singing children, judo displays, a giant slippery dip, a petting zoo, lote tuqiri, and a cake stall with interesting, upmarket offerings such as austrian apple cake and an $18 loaf of banana bread.
there were no famous people at the church fete — well, i suppose god was probably there — but the cake stall was brimming with affordable treats. when we passed by the second time and maeve made a lunge for the pink cupcakes, the old lady behind the table reached into a large jar and handed her a biscuit. it really doesn’t get more affordable than that. but still, a ziplock bag of apple slice and a pink cupcake set us back just $3.50.
we bought a pair of wooden salt and pepper shakers ($2) and a handful of children’s books (four for $1), by which time maeve had finished her cupcake, so we headed out to the “cafe” area and had a plate of scones with cream and jam ($2.50). all before 11.30am.
8 o’clock sunday morning, i said to maeve, “hey, do you wanna go on a train today?”. she seemed agreeable: “oooookay.” this was good, because saturday night i’d discovered that the olympic park market had a sweet pudding theme and was all things cake!
as it turns out, it wasn’t all things cake — just a ho-hum row of tents selling stuff and another row of tents selling regular festival/market food and, at the end of it all, a large tent with a bunch of empty tables and a demonstration kitchen up front; after the bus and two trains out there, we’d still arrived too early for things to have been set up. so we found a playground, and watched little sk8er bois at the skate park, and chased magpies, and examined the magnificent pole display outside the main stadium, and wandered back to the big tent to find that the first demonstration started in 15 minutes!
it was just enough time to join a short queue for dutch poffertjes, and to secure a table not too far back from the stage. our healthy serve ($6.50) of bite-sized pancakes, fried in purpose-built moulded pans, in what looked like quite a bit of melted butter, until golden-crunchy-brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside, came topped with a warm blueberry compote and icing sugar. it’s true what they say, a dusting of icing sugar makes anything look good, even when it’s served in a plastic takeaway tub.
but now, here’s joanna savill introducing the husband and wife patissiere team from beb fine patisserie on broadway. today they would show us how to whip up a frangipane tart with cinammon chocolate ganache and caramelised pears, in just over half an hour. olivier offered such tips as “it’s a fruit tart, so don’t be afraid to put big chunks of fruit in it. when i go out and buy an apple pie, and you see the apple filling, it’s only 1mm thick… it makes me… it makes me crazy!!” and “when you make a ganache, if you use chocolate with 50% cocoa, the you would use the same amount of cream. if you use a higher cocoa content, then you must increase the cream in proportion, accordingly. for example, if you use 120g of 72% cocoa chocolate, then you should use about 150g of cream. because the higher the cocoa content, the harder the chocolate.” beatrice (beb) weighed in with, “you can use any fruit you want, according to your tastes. but if you use just almond meal in your frangipane, then you can use raspberries or blueberries; if you use some hazelnut meal in the pastry, the taste is stronger than just almonds, so maybe for the fruit, you should use apples or pears.”
there you go: pastry-making, a sort of exact science.
maeve was surprisingly obliging, even after the poffertjes ran out, sitting through the display of mixing and melting and joanna’s inane patter. it was only in the last minutes that she went a bit limp and began to emit a whining noise. even pointing out the trays of sample tarts that would soon come around didn’t help. but when the server came by and handed the lady at our table a slice and then whisked the tray away without looking our way, the child (and i) were stunned into silence. from the two spoons on a tiny plate, it appeared that we — strangers! — were meant to share the tiny slice. clearly, they assumed that we would be brought together in the spirit of cake, but they had no idea of the child’s appetite… and besides, our table companion had already licked the plate clean.
some desperate arm waving soon set things right; there is no such thing as pride when it comes to chocolate dessert.
the next demonstration was a stawberry marscarpone cake from yellow bistro in potts point, but we were crashing towards naptime. a steaming hot japanese-style pork bun ($3), all tart and gingery on the inside, was enough sustenance to keep us going on the two trains and one bus back home.