A cautionary tale of how the constant search for perfection…
…can become the constant search for your sanity.
It all started with cake.
A little while ago I got it into my head that I was going to make someone I care about the perfect set of carrot cupcakes to cheer them up as they’ve been having a bad time.
A picture of the cakes stood clear in my head. Perfectly round with little crisp white cases and big perfect swirls of cream cheese icing on top. They looked like they belonged in a recipe book. They were the most perfect cakes in the world.
Sadly, despite always striving to be a perfectionist – I’m fairly disorganised, a bit scruffy and rather clumsy. So my desire for the perfect cupcakes was already starting to fill me with the fear.
Hours were spent pouring over recipe books and cookery websites searching for the perfect recipe. Aptly Nigella “the Domestic Goddess” Lawson had a corker that was finally selected as ‘the one’. It even had an accompanying photograph similar to the one in my head.
But alas, the image of the perfect cakes daunted me to the point I chickened out of making the cakes. I’d do them tomorrow.
Days went past where the neon pink post-it marking the recipe in the cookery book seemed to get brighter and brighter, glaring at me from the shelf I’d shoved it on. A little mantra was forming in my head ‘must.make.cakes‘.
Then I had trouble sleeping for days. Finally, very early on Sunday morning I was tossing and turning in my bed. Dreaming of bloody carrot cakes. That was it. I needed to make them. Right now.
So like a mad woman I went to the 24 hour shop round the corner. At 6 in the morning. On a Sunday. I carefully selected the best ingredients and the whitest cup cake cases.
I went home and started to bake. I made forty cakes.
Forty cakes in crisp white cases.
My thinking was I could select the six most perfect cakes to take on my cheering up mission. My mum loves cakes so the rest would get eaten.
I beat together the sugar and cream cheese and started to make the topping. I waiting for them to cool completely and painstakingly iced the cakes with two tea spoons, making swirls and curls as best as my shaky hands could.
I selected the six best cakes and put them into a tin lined with kitchen towel.
I felt great! They were perfect, just how I wanted. I tasted one of the reject cakes and they were delicious. I was so proud.
Later that day I went on the cheer-up mission, cakes in hand. I was so excited about presenting the cakes I was practically skipping. A week of stress had finally produced cakes.
Maybe I could open a cake shop and cheer up the whole world with my perfect baking?
My own TV show.
Perhaps even a deal with Sainsbury’s now that Jamie Oliver was no longer on the scene…
And then I tripped.
The tin of cakes went flying and smashed on the pavement, the lid flew off and my precious cakes made the perfect SPLAT noise as they exploded on the rainy concrete slabs in front of me.
My dream of the perfect cakes was shattered into a billion soggy crumbs.
My friend will never know how much effort went into making them the perfect carrot cakes to cheer them up.
They would never get to taste the perfect carrot cup cakes.
The moral of the story I guess is that we spend too much time trying to seek perfection in our lives. And not enough time just kicking back and eating cake.
No matter how wonky and sloppily iced they are.
It’s either that or watch your step on badly laid pavements.