And so it was, with the true onset of Melbourne winter, that the cold chill seeped into my soul and I experienced a baking slump.
I slumped, readers. My shoulders fell. I lost verve.
Listlessly, I turned the pages of The Book and my eyes ran over the pictures like distracted little mice, seeking out dark corners in which to hide. Not seeing, not reading. I found I could not muster up the energy to bake. Now is the winter of my discontent. Etc.
I experienced Cake Fatigue. L'epuisement Gateau. Stanco Di Torta. It's the same in every language. Although actually, in Icelandic, is it "prettyur a koku", which I think has a certain ring to it. It makes it sound more exotic and less .... slumpy.
It was the circumstances which conspired against me, I think. In the recipe of life, take two very busy weeks at work, dash in a tiny bit of sleep (but nowhere near as much as I would like), mix together with some really cold weather and a poor attitude to life, and there you have it: a sunken mess of batter that cannot find the will to rise.
I am the sunken mess of batter.
BUT, cake-making must go on, mustn't it? Birthdays do not wait for any man.
And that is how I exercised a herculean effort - some might say elephantine - to create the Jungle Elephant.
Do you remember the delightful Jonty, who turned one and had Leonard The Lion for his birthday cake? Well, Jonty's brother Hugo just turned three, so I made him the Jungle Elephant. Two African animals, I thought it was only fair.
My favourite part of making this cake was not the lurid pink colour of the icing. It was not creating the alchemic meringue ith its ever-so-particular temperature control and requisite fluffiness. It was not buying two packets of Smarties and eating every other colour except the blue ones I had to use on the ears.
No, it was when I asked my Vice President of Baking Operations to run to the shops for me late at night and buy some icecream wafers (for the tusks).
Icecream wafers? he asked questioningly.
Yes, icecream wafers, I said. For the tusks. Icecream wafers. And off he went.
And the next day when I came to do the icing and the decorating, I looked through the pantry for my box of icecream wafers. I turned it upside and inside out. Exasperated, at last I asked the VP Of Baking where he had hidden the wafers.
In the freezer, he said. In the FREEZER?? I asked.
Yes, in the freezer. Where icecream lives, he said.
And on opening the freezer lo and behold .... a pack of 12 ice-creams. Without a wafer in sight.
Cultural differences, eh? In Scotland and Northern Island, an icecream wafer is what we would know as an icecream sandwich. It's the vanilla brick of icecream that goes in between two biscuit pieces. That is not an icecream wafer here though.
Off I went to the shops then, where I bought icecream wafers, the other kind, and fashioned them into tusks.
Hugo didn't mind though. He thought the elephant was fantastic, wonky ear and all. And all my worries about it being pink, because he's a boy, and I have no idea what age babies become gender-aware, turned out to be groundless, because it's his favourite colour right now.
Isn't that the greatest?