Tag: cupcakes

Starry Skies, Chapter 9: Slices of Pie

I had to tell Chockney that we are done with each other. I was trying my best but it could have taken years for him to break through the iron fortress that appeared around me whenever I was in proximity with him and he started talking about commitment. I was going to let him come over and do some building work at my flat but then I had a magical third date with Harry which made me want to save my free time for him, so that meant Chockney had to be dismissed. I tried to be nice about it. I let him go.

Harry. We looked at paintings, then we had lunch, then we sat on a sofa in the book shop and looked at books about paintings. I could say a lot of things about how I felt and what I thought. Let me try instead to recall what he was saying and doing.

  • We were sleepy after lunch and when I tired of looking at books, he put his arm around me so I could rest my head on his chest.
  • If I offer him my hand, he holds it and strokes it.
  • He put his hand on my waist when we were kissing. He’s not aggressive at all. He’s very delicate and he moves slowly.
  • He made some reference to Our First Date, like it was a thing, which it was. He said happily of our three dates so far (dinner, opera, paintings) that they were all really nice days. I’m glad he’s enjoying himself, I certainly am. I would look at paintings anyway but it is so nice when you have a young companion who kisses you and says intelligent things.
  • He said that I am the first person who has had anything positive to say about his work. Everyone else he has tried to date disapproves. But it is his job. It’s a lot easier sustaining or even starting a dating relationship when the other person isn’t dead set against your job. In subsequent text messages, he was quite chatty on the subject.
  • I invited him over to my place, he is coming on Sunday. He said ‘afternoon or evening?’ and I said ‘afternoon, but don’t book anything for the evening, we’ll go out and have dinner locally’. This reply made him look happy.

When I see him, it will be our fourth date. And that’s why Chockney had to go.

We went to see Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube in Piccadilly. I absolutely love WT, he is one of my favourite artists. American post-war painting of cakes, slices of pie, sweets, lollipops, ice creams, bubble gum machines. Brush strokes are thick. Shadows are heavy and long. Lollipops lie slain. Donuts are kept in isolation. Quite often, pairs of things appear but are not allowed to have any contact. It criticises mass-produced, synthetic, post-war, commercial food at the same time as participating in it. The items are both grotesque and strangely delicious looking. I think so, anyway. I would eat most of the things painted by Wayne Thiebaud. Harry didn’t agree on this point and I expect that’s why he’s thinner than I am. The White Cube exhibition is on until 2 July. If you can’t make it to the exhibition, I might point out that there are numerous lovely books about Thiebaud here and you should probably have one for your art library.

Gloria Startover’s All-Night Lemon Cupcakes

I am not really a natural cook, but as you know I seem to be looking for any excuse not to do Chinese homework at the moment and it is driving me into the kitchen to mess about with food. I had to ask Little G to show me how to turn the oven on.

So yeah, I thought I would make lemon cupcakes, since I’m so keen on the ones that Costa Coffee used to make. I used this Mary Berry recipe. See where it says ‘preparation time 10 minutes’, HA HA HA HA I knew that was a lie. So here is the honest truth about lemon cupcakes if you are a bit crap at cooking, like me.

Go to the supermarket and buy all the ingredients including cupcake baking trays and whatnot. Remember to buy a sieve. Forget to buy a tablespoon. Realise much later that you also don’t have an oven glove.

I had two of these rather nice red silicone trays from Waitrose.



Next, make the cake mixture, that would be flour, sugar, eggs, a bit of milk, zest of 1 lemon. This will take you a while as you experience the following things: not being able to read the scales; just as you’ve got the exact amount of flour weighed out, a box of Oxo cubes will fall out of the kitchen cupboard and knock the scales full of flour on to the floor.

Sweep the floor. Weigh more flour. Say some curse words.

Put it in a big bowl and mix it up. I mixed up mine using a kitchen implement that I am not quite sure what it is. It could be a hand whisk or it could be a hand blender, I don’t know. Anyway, it worked. Readers, if you know what this object is, please tell me.



You’ve pre-heated the oven, of course, so stick your cupcakes in there. Mary Berry’s recipe says 20-25 minutes so set your alarm for 20 minutes, to be safe. Make the icing and do the washing up.

After 20 minutes, open the oven and make a squealing sound as the oven billows foul-smelling black smoke at you. You see, your oven is apparently hotter than other ovens and your cupcakes are black and burnt to a crisp. Even more entertainingly, if you scroll back up to the picture of the silicone baking trays – see those white bits on the corners? OK, so those are plastic and you’re supposed to remove them, not bake them. So it’s just as well you burnt the cakes because of the plastic fumes. Chuck them in the bin and start again.

Make a second batch of cake mix, this time you feel you know what to do, at least. Chuck everything in the bowl, mix it up, put in the oven to bake. Turn the oven down and set the timer for only 15 minutes this time. Wash all the dishes for a second time.

After 15 minutes, get your cakes out and inspect them. This is very strange. They look – small. It’s as though they haven’t risen, except they have, a bit. Cut one open. Looks pretty normal. Taste it. Strange. Doesn’t taste that much like cake. Suddenly realise you must have forgotten to put any sugar in. Chuck them all in the bin and start again.

Make a third batch of cake mix, remembering to include the fucking sugar this time. At this point your silicone trays are starting to look worn. Note the melted corners.



Bake for 15 minutes and do all the washing up for a third time. Return to the oven to find that a miracle has occurred and you’ve produced these.



Cut one open in disbelief and find that it resembles and tastes like cake. Leave the cakes to cool.

PREPARATION TIME: 150 minutes.


Sweep the floor. Find that you can’t get the burnt-cake marks off your silicone trays very easily at all. In disgust, chuck the trays with their black marks and melted corners into the kitchen sink to ‘soak’ and walk away. Go and do something more calming, look at lolcats or something.

Come back as soon as the cakes are cool to do the icing. Gently(!) saw off the tops of the cakes, level with the cases.



Put the icing on top. My icing is too runny, really. I should have used more sugar. It is icing sugar, butter, quite a lot of lemon juice. It’s quite hard to get off the spoon and you have to try not to get cake crumbs in it, this was tricky. It’s all OK though because you can rough up the icing, call it a design feature, and add decorations such as silver balls and silver glitter to disguise your errors.



Eat cake about 11pm. It is delicious, actually, The cake is fluffy and moist, the icing is really lemony, it is great. They must be about 800 calories each. I wonder what the chances are of Little G eating the rest.