Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Love and Cake

Love is a many splendored thing.

Love lifts us up where we belong.

All you need is love.

Love is the mysterious driving force responsible for the very best of what we are. It is the delightful cocktail of chemicals and hormones that our own bodies create as a response to another human. Love is the perfect, organic, specifically contrived emotion usually associated with our own personal lifetime superlatives. Without it, without those fantastically inspirational highs and lows, the way that we view the world would be bland, and unexcitingly monotone. Without love, there would certainly be no cake.

When I mention "cake", I am not talking about some homogenized mass of partially plant-based nutrition held together by gluten and starch. I am talking about decadence. I am talking about something so delicious and so lovely that it is inherently special. I am talking about something that takes attention to detail and devotion  to create. Cake is what happens when we surpass mere survival. Cake is important, and people that love each other, whether it be romantic love between two people, familial love, or neighborly love, eat cake in celebration of happy togetherness.

Why all this love and cake business? Well, DOMA has been struck down, and that got me thinking quite a bit about both of those things. Of course, whether or not someone can have their loved one's health benefits doesn't usually dissuade love from occurring, but it makes the road a lot bumpier, and it makes things like cake difficult to come by.

Love endures hardships, and even makes them easier to bear. And many will suffer hardship for the survival of love to the extent of sacrificing themselves for the object of their affection. Many have endured hardships such as these because their governments have made their love illegal, and even punishable by death. Some governments don't go quite that far, but determine the validity of one person's love for another by definition of gender.

It baffles me that this could be so. I don't understand why the very thing that makes us the happiest would be persecuted. Love is this beautiful, mutual release of chemicals in our brains that makes us euphoric, and doesn't it make sense that happy people are going to be more cooperative and commit less crimes? Additionally, doesn't it make sense that depriving people of what makes them happy would provoke them and make them less cooperative? Why wouldn't the government want us happy?

Everyone deserves to be happy. Not just content, but happy. Bliss should occur from time to time in everyone's lives, and so should cake. Even if your "cake" is pie, or cookies, or wine, there should be some mutual frivolity in the observance of joyous events. Love is beautiful and wonderful and good by itself, but love should be enjoyed, not just endured.

I am a very lucky person. I am lucky that the person I fell in love with and wanted to marry is a man, and that I am a woman, and that it complies with social norms, and that my love for my husband is celebrated and recognized. I wish everyone could be as lucky in, not only finding someone special, but in celebrating that. And when it was announced that the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, I knew we were one step closer to everyone being able to eat cake.

Brief (haha) tutorial on how to make this Rainbow Sprinkle Cake:
Approximate time to prepare: 3.5 hours 

1. For the cake batter, and the frosting, I used the recipe here:
You can alter the flavorings a little, if you like. I added some lemon to the frosting. The amounts in this recipe are perfect. You will have just enough of everything. Follow the instructions and method the way she says. It seems like a lot of work, but trust me, it is worth every minute. Rosie is my cake goddess, and I do not deviate from her cake dogma.

2. Divide the cake batter up into 6 even amounts. There should be about 1 cup of cake batter in each bowl. Use gel food dye to color the cake batter red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. You should be able to find gel food color in the grocery store. It won't change the consistency of the cake the way that liquid dye would.

3. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans. I only have two. If you have more, go ahead and grease and flour them, too. Spoon the colored batter into a cake pan. One pan per color. Be sure to drop your cake pans a dozen times or more on a flat surface. Just hold the pan with batter level about six inches above your surface and drop it evenly. I put a dish towel on the counter to make it a little less noisy. I baked each layer side by side in the oven for 14 minutes at 350 F.

4. When each layer is done baking, cool for about 15 minutes and turn out of pan. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and set aside until all of your layers are ready. This will keep them from drying out.

5. Whip up your frosting!

6. Starting with the purple layer, frost with about six tablespoons of frosting, and add the next layer. Colors from top to bottom should be: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. Repeat until all of your layers have been applied. Frost the sides with a "crumb layer". This is a thin layer of frosting that fills in the sides and seals in the crumbs. Frost the top of the cake with a thin crumb layer, as well. Put the cake in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.

7. After refrigeration, take out the cake and apply most of the remaining frosting. Set aside about half a cup of frosting for piping the top, if you like. Put the cake back in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. You don't want the frosting too firm, because you need the sprinkles to stick.

8. Sprinkles! I combined rainbow sprinkles, rainbow non-pareils, and rainbow sugar stars in a bowl. You can use whatever sprinkles you like.

9. Take the cake out of the refrigerator and prepare for sprinkles to get into places where you might not normally find them. I grabbed a handful and pressed them against the sides of the cake, cupping my palm around the sprinkles and starting at the bottom. Work your way over the sides of the cake. Sprinkles will probably go everywhere. I am still finding them places in my kitchen. Take precautions, if you like. I wish you luck.

10. Pipe a border on the top edge of the cake. I used a star tip, but you can do whatever you like. After that, apply more sprinkles to the top of the cake. Put the cake back in the refrigerator for at least ten minutes before cutting to firm up the frosting and allow the sprinkles to adhere.

11. Show off (and dish out) your masterpiece!