Have I ever told you how I lost my life to baking? Now some might say that you cannot lose a life, let’s say, to a cake, and as they utter that out, they might notice that you literally can. But my life story isn’t about choking to death or going into shock because nuts were mixed into a rich chocolate cake with a coffee and flavored with chocolate buttercream frosting. No, I have no nut allergies and have been fortunate enough not to have diabetes. Instead, I lost my life to baking because the art of making a cake is divine, and as an end product, you get to bring a smile to someone’s face. How often can you say that?
Occasionally, I think what I do is witchery; that if I made enough cakes, I could rule the world. But no, I am not a witch nor want to rule the world. What I do is quantum. You see, every time I read a recipe or invent one, I go over the elementals and the laws of physics. Baking is all about bringing ingredients together by measuring them carefully and molding them into novel forms with whisking, heat, and chemical reactions, and transformed tastes and smells come to be. Take the chocolate cake I mentioned before. It contains a bittern alkaloid known as theobromine. Now alone, pure chocolate in your mouth might make you spit it out, but mix it with milk, butter, and sugar and you are in heaven. All the neurons in your brain are hijacked. At least, that happens to me. And here is the thing, I could do that. With my two hands, I could alter the world of smells and taste and affect the neurons of another being. I, who had never been good at anything, who had been ignored by most, and who had never felt passion towards anything. A cake batter made with a hint of vanilla, salt, and a lot of cocoa powder mixed with eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil (no butter, as it makes the sponge too heavy) was my salvation.
Soon enough, I moved from chocolate cakes to the zesty, to the lemon bars, which melt into your mouth because the sugar and butter make the citric acid sweet and creamy. I have never looked back ever since. People find solace and memories in my baking. They tell me about their grannies and how they used to make them thick, gooey brownies or the delicate pastries they ate on their trips abroad. And always, you can hear how that moment in time and space was pure happiness on a sunny, perfect day in their voice even when it rained back then. It is like the moment when you have a slice of meringue pie with tea and all the time in the world.
Meringues are another one of my favorites. Egg whites made of water, proteins, and things like sulfur, potassium, sodium, and chlorine, of all things, can transform a pie from ordinary to an experience to share with friends. All you need is sugar and acid to make it so light it melts on your tongue. The funny thing is that it doesn’t smell or taste that special, but when it hits your mouth, your neurons fire and you experience ecstasy, or at least I do.
So here I am, saved from an unknown, miserable life just because of the human ingenuity to make from simple ingredients something divine that brings us all together. I have lived a full life and been part of the stories of the many because I dared to try to bake a chocolate cake. And there’s always another one to be made. So I cannot complain that I lost my life to baking. And next time you are in town, come and see me, and I bake you a little escape.
Thank you for reading, and have a mouthwatering day ❤
P.S. Now I am off to bake a cake for my friend. She just had a baby, and I’m going to visit her. I didn’t plan to write about cakes, but I was stuck thinking about what I would bake, so I couldn’t help myself.
© K.A. Ashcomb