Massive Pink Fancy

4 June 2013

Mr Kiplings Big Pink Fancy should more correctly be named the Massive Pink Fancy. Its form derives from a Petit Fours, but in its change of scale it has become something other. It weighs heavy, telling of its solidity and mass. Its surface is perfectly smooth; contours of matte sugar-mouse pink icing curve around the corners of the slabby form, and drop vertically to meet the silver foil base with a neat clean edge and no betrayal of the inner substance; the exterior is a complete encasement. It could be, for its outward appearance, entirely solid, a solid of pink perfect smoothness. Perfectly smooth except where the rectangular cuboid rises on its top face to a bulbous mound, still continuous in its pinkness, but striated with thin strands of a lighter-coloured delicate dribble, like stretchmarks on a thigh or hip, serving to accentuate the bulge and to decorate it with slight crinkling on top.

Though it could appear as a solid mound of pink it is impossible not to know that the pink is a skin and beneath it lie the innards of the Fancy; that the solitary peak is so formed because it contains an enormous mound of soft, white, fluffy, glutinous stuff the mallow. This stuff is the crucial part of the Fancys appeal, of why it has been made to these massive proportions, and how it has been advertized on its packaging: the promise of limitless mallow. There are instructions given on the Fancys box which detail a suggested method of consumption a dry, warm knife should be sliced through it to reveal the stratified pink skin, mallow mound, yellow cake, mallow and jam filling, more yellow cake. But contrary to the neat clinical method, revealing all at one slice, reduced to a diagrammatic cross-section, the use of a spoon to consume the Fancy allows it to be explored as an archaeological dig, revealing its true lumpenness and all its possible subtleties of form.

Hacking off a corner of the Fancys thick fondant creates a hard pink scoop that encases a miniature rock of moist yellow compressed crumbs, a rock of stuff almost too sweet to dissolve in the mouth. The pink exterior is revealed as a thick skin, thick and firm yet pliable and penetrable. Where the skin rises over the mound, with its crepey surface finish, any attempt to break into the Fancy must be conducted with carefully controlled pressure, to break through into the delicate soft interior of white mallow without squishing the whole thing out of shape. Spoonful after spoonful of damp mallow must be scooped and swallowed with an intensity of sweetness; spoonfulls which at first are cradled in firm pink skin, are then followed by pure lumps of mallow that disperse in the mouth with blobbiness to formlessness. Shovelling downwards, the spoonfuls contain contrasting blobs of smooth mallow and crumby cake. Spoonful after spoonful of the yellow-crumb matter must be removed to dig down to the thin strip of jam-mallow that runs horizontally through the cake. Further labour is required to work downward and simultaneously inward, beyond the Fancys central stripe of jam-mallow, to the core and depths of weighty cake. The forms thus produced - emptied cake-caves of revealed surfaces, textures, contrasts and emerging structures - reveal what could be a cake-carcass, a mid-dissection cadaver with exposed newly discovered organs, except that the remaining cake-form now seems more fully alive and visceral. With every permutation in the wielding of the spoon - the angles of approach with which it is applied, the mass of each spoonfuls content - it is possible to reveal the cake in a new light, to reveal new facets and possibilities in its form, to create it anew.

Scaled up to its massiveness the cake retains a Petit Fours contrast of textures (icing against cake against jam against mallow) and proportions, but now these must be experienced durationally. It takes time and physical effort to discover its construction (growth? accretion?) The process of exploring and experiencing the cakes form mutates and recreates it. The monumental scale of the Fancy makes its consumption a far more physical experience than the mere popping of a delicate little cake into the mouth: it must be navigated, penetrated, dug into, dug out; the whole body of the eater must get inside the cake.

Gail Burton