Apart from our sallies into the past, we, at Catercall, believe that we pioneered the modern passion for ‘themed’ cakes. Compared with some of the look-a-like confections you can get today, ours were maybe a touch agricultural, but no one could say that they did not have character!
I have no idea when or why we started making specifically architectural cakes. Maybe it was the opening of the new Guildhall School of Music in 1980 for which we were hired to do the catering – an event presided over by Prince Charles.
Goodness only knows why I, as the mere caterer, got to give him the knife to cut the cake – but I did and we had a brief chat about what cakes he liked. As far as I remember, the Guildhall cake was a chocolate one and he said he actually preferred fruit cake….
Anyhow, very soon after this event his wedding to Diana was announced and, in our folly, we decided that we should make cake to celebrate and then auction it for charity. Which was a great idea. What was not such a great idea was that we decided to make scale model of St Paul’s because that was where they were getting married!!
We did it – and it was to scale – but what a job! I do not remember now whether we used fruit or chocolate as the base but I remember all to well, even 35 years later, the days it took me to ice it with with royal icing…. No messing around with fondant in those days! Those wretched pillars! I still remember spending one whole Saturday making those fiddly little pillars to go round the dome!!!
What happened to it eventually? I really have no idea. We did have a ‘function’ and I think we did auction the wretched thing but what happened after that has been, mercifully, wiped from my memory!!
But, amazingly enough, that did not put us off…
I cannot now remember at all why would have made a cake of the Royal Opera House but we obviously did – a little lopsided but still a fair representation!
But the Sydney Opera House (a touch slap dash I would have said) would have been made for a Joan Sutherland birthday party.
(In our webmaster’s other life he frequently did, and does, mix with the musical greats and in the 1970/80s made a number of records with Dame Joan.
Post recording parties were common practice in those days and rather than going to a formal restaurant, more than one was held either in our house in Lawn Road or my catering partner’s house in Fulham. Indeed I remember one epic night – maybe even the night of this cake – when the assembled company ended up round the Harbottles’ piano singing Waltzing Matilda, led by Dame Joan!! On another, the ‘dish of the day’ was salmon cooked in a dishwasher – but that is another story…)
But St Paul’s was not our last ‘outing’ with Prince Charles, now married and about to move into his new country seat at High Grove. With some misbegotten idea of achieving a publicity coup, we decided to make a fruit cake iced model of High Grove and give it to them!! Misbegotten because, not being familiar with this sort of protocol, we did not realise a. that they had already been given about eight million presents which they couldn’t possibly use and b. that the palace was very unlikely to accept any kind of edible anyhow in case we were trying to poison them!!! So the cake was duly returned with a polite and appreciative note suggesting that we might dispose of it elsewhere. In fact, we never did, and, if anyone wants to see it, it still resides in a very dim and distant corner of our attic….