Why Covid cakes?

As any NHS worker can tell you - these are truly testing times. The novel corona virus is indeed novel not only in the way it has spread, but also with the far-reaching social and economic consequences of the pandemic it’s created.

Understandably, the effects of these additional workplace pressures accompanied by worried or disgruntled patients can take their toll on staff morale. Humour for me has been a great go-to, easing the pressures of the day, even more so now.

I was somehow inspired by the many pictures of the virus appearing in the media. When I extracted the magnitude of their representation, I saw the beauty within... I imagined my creative outlets of cooking and photography married up with the introduction of the Covid cake.

The first version was to be a simple cake-pop. The spikes representing the S proteins were tricky to come by – there isn’t a great market for S protein sprinkles. Many hours were spent shaping tiny pieces of royal icing and numerous attempts failed to keep them on the cake – this was proving impossible.

With everything now in lock-down I turned to Amazon. Their metallic edible sprinkles worked well as the base. I managed to colour some icing to stick to the ends to form some relatively authentic S proteins. These seemed a little plain though. I wanted to create something nearing the intricate computer-generated models of the virus the media kept churning out. Many hours were spent creating the next generation of cakes out of a combination of iced flowers, sprinkles, Nerds, puffed rice Rainbows to create MK V (by the last count). This was a labour of love, a test of creativity, a mission in itself.

Photographing the cakes was another challenge - I was trying to avoid using Photoshop and just wanted to photograph them as naturally as possible. Getting different perspectives were tricky. The S proteins kept falling off and as they’re round keeping them still had its own difficulties. They eventually settled on some plastic stands I’d saved from Christmas.

Photoshop proved unavoidable, but as the images online are all computer- generated I didn’t feel too fake succumbing to using this editing software. The backgrounds were actually photographed as I didn’t want to use stock-shots.

The verdict? Well Mk I seemed to be well received by colleagues. They could have just been polite as insisted on taking them home and not eating them in front of me. Not sure how edible the cakes in the pictures are now – they are undoubtedly full of bacteria themselves.... the fun was in the journey of creativity and I feel in a better frame of mind for another week of work.

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