The Cake Is a Lie
For the past three weeks, I have spent Sunday afternoons in my kitchen making cakes. The follow-up question to that would surely be, why? The answer to "why" will come in two parts and the first requires a bit of set up.
In June my friend John and I were talking about our love of all things sweet and he was waxing nostalgic about how his father's carrot cake was the "best he ever tasted."
I put that in quotes not because I don't believe him, but my wife likes to remind me that if it cannot be proven to actually be the "best," quotes take any liability away from both the writer and the cake producer.
As he is telling me this story I say, "you know, carrot cake might be the only thing I think I can bake..." and he tells me he would like to try it sometime and that was that.
Fast forward to three weeks ago when John is hosting a Game of Thrones party and invites us over. As a gracious human, I ask what can I bring, to which he responds - that carrot cake. So I got to baking and as I was doing it I remembered that I had only made the cake one other time and in this case, there would be 5 or 6 people I had never met who would be eating it.
Fear enters the picture.
Not because I am genuinely scared of anything "bad" happening, but most people don't like to start by being embarrassed in front of a bunch of new people. The cake is baked and delivered to the party and everyone seems to dig it - the fear abates.
When I got home I decided I would do that again for a couple of reasons. First, because three weeks ago I really hadn't done any baking so it was a chance to learn something and enjoy the process. Second, for me, it was the most interesting way to ship new work into the world for people who were down to enjoy the cake experiment. Lastly, my favorite thing in the world is to do things for other people so if these cakes brought joy into the world I am more than happy to put in the work.
Week two was a disaster.
Week two was lemon bundt cake and the first one just did not work even though I followed the directions to the letter.
Cake number one found its way to the trash bin and we started again.
This time we played around with cooking and resting time and was the first time I started to feel the way the cake should go instead of just following directions. The second cake strayed from the recipe a bit as I also added a glaze to help with keeping it moist but that improv came out of fucking up the first one.
Last week was good, not great. Which is also part of the process.
Here was the issue, strawberry shortcake sounds like a perfect summer treat but requires some pretty specific conditions to turn out flawless. Mind you, I am not in this for flawless I am in this to learn so for me the past two weeks have been great and in the end - people had their cake and ate it too.
Four weeks in and now other people are starting to send me cakes to try which is so much fun for me.
Now it seems like community challenge.
That is the final reason I have really dug this cake experiment is the way in which food can create communities. The way humans can leave things behind when the experience transcends disagreements and differences and instead creates a place where people can have a shared experience and that experience can scale because of advances in technology. So, while this may have started as a carrot cake, it has turned into a weekly reason to show up and ship a new cake.
This week we tackle this thing.
I can't wait to see how it turns out.