I went to my books of magic and correspondence and meaning and symbol. Sometimes I need to look further than my cookbook shelf to bake what I need. This recipe has Chocolate for healing and positive energy. Maple sugar for the latter too; black pepper and clove for dispelling negativity; cinnamon for focus; coffee for clarity; walnut for wishes; yogurt to ease depression; baking powder for extra magic. The flower stenciled out on top is a snow drop which, in the Victorian Language of Flowers, symbolizes hope.
Black Cocoa Mayonnaise Cake with (Activated) Charcoal Buttercream. Inspired by Black Holes, @anish.kapoor, and some pretty heavy mental business that I don’t even begin to know how to talk about (though know I am okay). Both Black Holes and Activated Charcoal absorb absorb absorb. The mayonnaise is the opposite, all slippery fat and moisture. So I guess this cake is what I can not yet put into words, these opposing forces working within me, my faith that gravity is stronger on my end, and the comfort I take in absolute blackness.
Lottery Cake created on June 27th, the day the events in the short story by Shirley Jackson take place. I baked up two layers of dark chocolate beet cake which I filled with red raspberry jam and frosted in the blue of a “clear and sunny” day, surrounded with “flowers...blossoming profusely” and set upon “grass ... richly green.” And then I stoned it. The “blood” stained slip of paper sealing its fate lay at the bottom right.
Self-Portrait in Cake, n. 2
In the seventh (eighth?) grade, a teacher made us memorize the helping verbs, something I have never forgotten. To this day, when I feel a panic attack coming on, I recite them over and over in my mind. For #worldmentalhealthday2018, I decided to bake up an homage to that string of word pearls I carry with me wherever I go. The cake is actually a boxed yellow mix with Hershey’s Cocoa back-of-the-can frosting as that’s what I considered great cake to be at 12 (and still kinda do). My royal icing wasn’t quite the right consistency so it’s a bit tough to read. That I wrote is as it plays out in my mind doesn’t help either: am is was were would be been may can must might could would should have has had will do did done.
Self-Portrait in Cake, n. 1
Goth-dark chocolate cake flavored with too much coffee (you know better) and frosted in Bavarian Cream, the filling of choice for every birthday party cake of my childhood. On top is an opinionated, bittersweet ganache hastily applied without forethought, a partially-dried red rose for complicated love, and some dried calendula flowers for bright and optimistic thoughts. Yet the end result is incomplete due to the missing half-slice.
This is My Brain on a Good Day
Two layers of Black Cocoa Cake filled and frosted with Raspberry American Buttercream and decorated to match how I was feeling that particular day, a bit dark, a bit bright, a bit shiny, a bit creatively chaotic.
Sick of my own bulls$@t, I decided to bake all of my anxiety and fears and frustration into a really terrible cake. And then destroy it. It’s got soggy cereal, a rotten tomato, hot sauce, a cold egg and flour, and too much baking soda, black pepper, and sugar. Topped it off with cheesecloth embroidered with the word ANXIETY, then soaked with terrible-smelling bitters. The intention was to set it all on fire, but the 🔥 didn’t catch, so I just smashed the hell out of it.
Into the Water
A Book as Cake created for Paula Hawkins in celebration of the release of her second novel, Into the Water. See image below for the key.
Fates and Furies
A Ylang-Ylang-scented layer and an orange layer filled with Creme Patisserie. Frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and topped with spun sugar. Created to interpret Lauren Groff’s novel and served at her book launch party.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Two layers of Bergamot Vanilla Cake filled and frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream the grey of British skies. I removed the center of the cake, crushed it up, then pressed it back in, a nod to “hidden madness.” On top are a few reeds reminiscent of the landscape in the book and a house burnt sugar to represent the burning of Thornfield Hall.
It Was a Piece of Cake
A mixed-media piece of hand-embroidery on a linen napkin and two layers of White Cake with White Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The rest is up to viewer interpretation.