Learning to Let it Cool: Deep Dark Gingerbread Cake
We fashioned snowflakes out of white paper and untouched Victoria's Secret Catalogs. They were pure white and multicolored geometric bliss. It had rained all day, and despite the bone-biting cold, not one flurry was seen. I made a gingerbread cake with Blackstrap molasses and covered it with boiled cream cheese frosting and white chocolate. The next day it snowed and snowed...the first snow in the city. Making paper snowflakes seemed to usher the real snow into the world. It reminded me that our creations, however small, make a weather out there.
I knew I wanted to make a cake for the blog because I have been thinking a lot about patience. Well, and also about how I can possibly make all the kinds of cookies I want to before Christmas hits. Both of these thoughts are essentially about our experience of time. Cake is a perfect way for me to talk about patience. You do not soon forget the pain of using a pound of butter only to see your confection fall apart, or stick forlornly and torn in the pan.
Let that cake cool before you take it from the pans. Oh! how many times do I wish I could have done that simple task and saved some birthday cake disasters. Trifle anyone? Learning to let cakes and custards cool might be one of the most valuable lessons you will learn as a baker. That and properly greasing a pan. Alleluia parchment paper.
The food industry is a funny place. In a commercial restaurant you will have all sorts of timelines and side projects that must be accomplished by a certain time. Dinner service starts at 5:30 and you bet your skinny jeans, you best be done with your station and prep by then. The reason you might come in at 10 am to make sure this is all possible, is because food is not really on our time schedule. A real tender pulled pork can't be accomplished in an hour. Jesus may have been able to feed 5,000 at a momen't notice, but a standard kitchen crew won't even be able to feed 40 without at least 5 hours under the apron. So food is a little thing that helps me to practice patience, and boy do I need practice. Can the little projects of patience help us with larger projects? Waiting for a job that fits. Hoping that an ailment will be cured and leave us whole again. Waiting to hear from a school, a publisher, a love. And what does patience look like? What is contained within it? Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests we, "adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." This is lovely, but "nature" may not be so straight forward in the places we live, and for many, has been and will remain an inaccessible concept. Unless we take this as an invitation to an inward acknowledgment of our humanness, our nature as natural, earthly beings. Bodies have rhythms and cycles, circles and crescendos that eventually cease. Our secret then.
Perhaps patience is about knowing full well our own temporality and acting as if we have infinities anyway. We have a short time together, we have to enter into each moment and be there. The old lady at the shop is slowly wading through her purse to put together change, the smallest coins allude her arthritic hands. That's okay m'am, we've got all day. And we do.
Impatience is a kind of forgetfulness, about time and about ourselves. I might be in a job that doesn't thrill me and maybe even one where I don't get to use what I think are my skills, thoughts, and gifts. Yet this is the moment, and I need to move past the pain in it to make something. The job you have to do to pay your rent doesn't make you less yourself. You are still an artist and a healer. You can still use your voice and your open heart. Here.
Don't rush. BUT don't wait to do what you love. Give it time, they say. Seize the day! We can only try to hold it all in balance, continually creating ourselves anew each moment. With patience, we will always be beginners. If I am trying not to "waste time" then perhaps I can use my minutes for better things than resentment and anger. I will let that cake cool and write a poem.
Patience -- has a quiet Outer -- Patience -- Look within -- Is an Insect's futile forces Infinites -- between --
'Scaping one -- against the other Fruitlesser to fling -- Patience -- is the Smile's exertion Through the quivering --
Today I am going to march in New York City with thousands of other people who are ready to move out of the moment of injustice. We want a different moment. As we strive to have patience that turns into endurance, and endurance into wisdom, we will be together now. Be well and keep in good heart!
Molasses has a pleasing iron tang to it. It makes this cake dense and dark and perfect for topping with a fluffy white frosting of your choosing. So many cookies to bake! I think we need to make a list while having a slice of this cake. Head on over and take a peek...