Classic cakes or show-off bakes?

As the plethora of cookery shows on the television constantly remind us: presentation is key - or is it?

 You take your first taste with your eyes. Indeed if food was only about the taste, cookery shows would be struggling for an audience.

I have no issue in accepting that food needs to look appetising to engage the eater (or indeed, the viewer). Presentation is about exciting the taste buds and telling your brain to get ready for something tasty. It should showcase the food at its best. But, and this is the clincher, it should still look like food.

CupcakeI walked past a bakery recently and sitting proudly in the window were a selection of cupcakes (the world's most overrated food if you ask me, but that's a rant for another day). I want to tell you about one cupcake in particular, this cupcake was green. I can handle a green cupcake; it just makes me think 'hmm... expect something lime flavoured'. But on top of the green icing were little edible pearls, and diamonds and glitter. Diamonds, on a cake, seriously? I like it when my jewellery sparkles, diamonds are a girl's best friend and all that, but no, not on my food.

Take a trip to your local cookery shop or supermarket baking aisle and you will see pots of 'delights' waiting to adorn your culinary creations. You can cover your cakes in gold leaf, spray them with a glitter spray and cover them in some bizarre product called 'lustre dust', should the mood take you.

I remember when I was a little girl, making cakes and biscuits with my mother and then pressing little coloured jellies and silver balls that you could crack a tooth on, into the still setting icing. Looking back I'm sure they looked pretty ghastly, but it was fun at the time. But we have gone too far. A cake, which still looks like a cake, but has a delicate sprinkling of hundreds and thousands on top? Fine. However, a cake that you barely recognise as being a cake because it has the contents of a jewellery box on top? Too much.

SconeAs I am sure you have gathered I did not buy the bizarre green cupcake. There was nothing appetising about those cupcakes at all. Offer me a scone with a dollop of clotted cream and some beautifully coloured jelly and I will happily gobble it up. Or a toasted teacake that is just the right colour of golden with a healthy smearing of butter melting in to it. Simple, beautiful and seriously appetising.

Do you prefer the natural look or a bit of sparkle?

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