I've always been afraid of cake. There. It's on the table. Second Edition decided, early on, never to bake because, well...measuring cups are involved. Precision. You can't call it in. You have to show up and do the job without fudging or improvising or sloshing a martini glass to and fro. So I always left baking to others. In fact, just last month I hired a woman to bake the Ranger's birthday cake, a lovely chocolate confection with crumpled toffee and whip cream icing. It was stunning. Before that...let's just say I'm shameless when asking friends to pony up a pie, a cake, cookies or gin. Isn't THAT what friends are for?
But then I saw these apricots at the Farmer's Market and was quickly smitten by their sunny little butt cheeks. So I bought a half dozen, fondled them a bit and pondered the possibilities. Fortunately, I just finished reading A Homemade Life (yeah, I gave it a bitchy review, but some of the recipes are appealing) and the pistachio cake with honeyed apricots looked like something even I could manage. Except I didn't have pistachios so hazelnuts had to do. And I added fresh grated ginger because I do that to everything, no questions asked.
It turned out divine. And made me wonder what I'd been afraid of all these years.
I took it to a garden party where it paired beautifully with a golden Sauternes. Thanks to the Wine Guy. On the way, however, I was stopped for speeding (58 in a 40), but the Nice Deputy merely poked his head in the window and smiled, "Why is my yoga teacher hauling ass through town, may I ask?"
The earthy, sweet goodness of my first cake made me wonder about all the other things I've been afraid of: microwave ovens, swimming in the ocean, cat attacks, my father dying, becoming just another dog-hair covered Coastie in Keens, a tree falling on the Ranger, losing my hair, being laughed at, wrecking my car, losing my teeth, becoming irrelevant, Fox News, hot dogs, forgetting my brother's voice, bee stings, the clown under the bed, grandma panties, Marcel Proust, crying in public, Jeb Bush running for President...plus, so much more.
And just when I can't bear the thought of how long my list of fears might become if I truly allowed myself to single them out...I remind myself that I was the girl who, two summers ago, packed her car and drove away. From everything. Everyone. Not because I was lost, unmoored, afraid or on the run. Not because I was searching for something or someone. But because I was found.
Sometimes you have to hit the road to realize where home is. And when you arrive. You bake a cake.