Piece of Cake

Having your cake and eating it

Here's one I made earlier

Here’s one I (had) made earlier


I’ve written about The Great British Bake Off before.  About how its audience has risen because its viewers are like molecules of a potent type, which are heated up, and start bumping into each other*…

The programme takes the societal trends of smaller households, low-carb diets, foodie fusion and convenience culture and tips them into a bin, succeeding by presenting elaborate doughy fayre made for a crowd.

It’s a wonderful programme, just like everyone says.

One thing you notice is that while the food is all about the making of the food, there’s little about how it is actually consumed. We are left to come up with our own scenarios for what would happen next. Most of the creations featured in GBBO would be eaten in a communal gathering.  Perhaps a large family eating a cake.  Or a Test Match commentary team.  Or a jury, in deliberation.  You may have your own preferred scenario.

Cake eating can be an event in itself, or the accompaniment to one.

How we normally eat. On our own.  The most depressing picture on this entire blog.

How we often eat. On our own. The most depressing picture on this entire blog.






You eat cakes in a group, slice by slice… that’s the way they’re intended, no?  Like big pies. At the last two places I’ve worked, one encouraged the staff to make cakes to share, while the other went really big on celebrating birthdays with cakes round your desk.  They could not be avoided even by convincing everyone that your birthday was at the weekend..

But you don’t have to eat cakes with others.  You can buy them for yourself and wolf them down in one go, bingeing.  That’s lovely isn’t it.  Stuffing your FACE.

It’s not healthy, but life is for living, and a prematurely shortened like, cake-curtailed if you will, is perfectly valid if that’s your thing.

As Elvis would attest if he was still alive.

Or you can have a thin slice each day and eke it out for a fortnight. Like a desperate saddo.

But there’s an easy confusion here.  One way of eating sounds better than the rest.  Consider if you will, a great cake.  Isn’t eating it alone better because you can eat all of it?  A cake shared is, mostly, a cake you didn’t eat.

Also if it’s a communal cake, it might be one you don’t like.  Someone else’s cake of delight might be, for you, a cake of shit.  A shit cake (don’t get me started on cakes in Hong Kong).

True, but we have to equalise things here by comparing a whole cake eaten alone, with five cakes of the same size that you share with four others.  One might be rubbish, but they balance out. Plus, sharing means introducing your friends to something delightful they’d otherwise miss (like husband-swapping parties of yesteryear).

But however you eat them, a great cake is always great. But while a cake consumed on your own is eaten, when you get to share with others you get to eat it, and have it too.  That’s where the expression comes from.

And when I watch The Great British Bake Off on my own, it’s still good.  But with my children and my partner, and the millions of other happy viewers, I’m not only watching it, we’re having a show-stopping experience and having it large.

‘ave it.




* that’s right, like a flour and yeast and baking powder and that.  Wasn’t sure if I needed to explain.