It turns out orders for macaroon towers are like buses – you wait for ages and then two come along at once. Which is how I found myself assembling one at Babington House for a wedding a couple of weeks ago, then belting along country roads to the Holburne Museum in Bath for a wedding fair, arriving, as darkness fell, half an hour late. My husband and daughter were waiting with a tower I’d put together earlier, so we lugged it into the ethereal glass cube of the Holburne extension and installed it on our table with only minimal macaroon loss.
I enjoy making macaroon towers but my goodness they’re labour intensive. Each cone holds about 180 macaroons and it’s advisable to make plenty of extras in case of breakages – they’re attached to the polystyrene cone with cocktail sticks and can easily crack if you’re not careful. The wedding order had specified ten flavours so I’d been baking for several days, and the fridge had been colonised by 460 macaroons in every imaginable shade of pastel. The cone is wrapped tightly in tissue paper and the macaroons pinned on by hand, starting at the base and building up in ever-decreasing circles – a mere three hours’ work. The staff at Babington seemed variously amused and impressed as I stood in the dining room frantically pinning on macaroons, but they were happy to accept the spares. At one stage, half the kitchen staff seemed to be hanging around looking hopeful. Despite trying to eavesdrop on their conversations about James Corden’s wedding there the previous weekend, I failed to pick up any celebrity gossip. But I can say that if you’re planning to get married, Babington will do it for you in style.
The wedding fair, organised by Amy Cottington at Flowers for Eddie (www.flowersforeddie.co.uk), proved to be useful for networking and general sociability, and once all the future brides had gone home the staff generously kept on circulating with the canapés and cocktails. I invited everyone to help themselves from the macaroon tower, then set off home with the lovely Lily, who is only eleven and really should have been in bed. We manoeuvred our depleted, but surprisingly heavy, cone out of the car and staggered up a neighbour’s path to beg them to take some off our hands. Which they did. The next morning, it was back to baking for the Society Café (www.society-café.com), which is one of my favourite Bath institutions – not only because they enthuse about macaroons but because it’s spacious, stylish and friendly, with a constant supply of indie magazines to accompany the well-made coffee.
I never really tire of macaroons, even after turning out hundreds. They’re so temperamental to make that they keep you on your toes – it’s the ultimate high-maintenance relationship – but I also feel they have subtleties that their lumpen competitor, the cupcake, lacks. Certainly, doubters are intrigued by their pastel colours and dinky size. And then of course, once bitten forever smitten.