Somewhere along the way, I lost my sense of direction. The map I had drawn got washed along with my favourite flea market jeans. I was sixteen and couldn’t remember where I was supposed to turn to get where I wanted to go.
The first time I revealed to someone I loved and trusted that I wanted to be a writer, I took what was, for me, a huge leap of faith. It was a deep and scary revelation that took all of my courage. Their response broke my heart:
“Why would you want to do that?” they said with a chuckle that felt like a smack across my cheek, “you can’t make a living at it, and besides, who would be interested in anything YOU have to say?”
Though I am no longer in contact with this person, their words shut me down for years. Unable to get past the question about who my audience would be, I froze – I didn’t have the answer and couldn’t muster the guts to find out. Because what if they were right and nobody read my words? I couldn’t bear the thought of pouring my soul onto the page and having it be rejected.
Though I was able to get that person out of my life, their words continued to haunt me. To this day, when I’m struggling with my writing, I can hear that familiar voice telling me I’m not good enough. With time, I have learned to recognize it for what it is. And now, after years of hiding and procrastinating, I have finally decided to take that leap once more.
The kitchen is my sanctuary. It’s where I go when I’m sad or angry or frustrated. It’s my safe place. Somehow, I seem to have more courage in the kitchen. Because here’s the thing: I am a terrible baker. My cakes, gluten-free and vegan, come out crumbly or hard, too gummy or not sweet enough. Sometimes – believe it or not – my cakes come out all of the above, and it takes a certain talent to make a cake that is both crumbly and gummy!
I guess with cake as with fiction, it’s about accepting that your first draft will probably be terrible. In fact, it’s supposed to be terrible. Not that that’s easy to admit to yourself or pleasant to hear or acknowledge. But only by doing something over and over, by ripping it to shreds and really analysing what needs to be improved can you get good. Like writing. Or baking.
Recently I have been spending a lot of time on Jennifer Perillo’s blog. When I saw this cake, although, as I say, my baking leaves a lot to be desired, I decided I had to attempt it -- Picky Foodie style of course.
I’m pretty sure I will bake better cakes in the future. But I’ve definitely done worse. It wasn’t too gummy or too crumbly and it wasn’t too hard. Amazingly, it stayed together quite well in that you can pick up a piece and comfortably take a bite without losing half of it along the way. It could possibly have been a little sweeter -- the kind of cake you could have for breakfast or for dessert -- and I suspect it will complement DW’s afternoon tea really well.
Best of all? I love the feeling of having another draft under my belt and my baking seems to have really improved in that my raspberry cake was at least edible. I’m going to make this one again, try for better, keep working towards that elusive perfect Picky Foodie cake.
Calorie-wise, at least, I think writing will be easier than baking. So there’s another reason to give this fiction thing another shot. In the mean time, however, I think I’ll go brew some rosehip and hibiscus tea and cut myself another little piece.
(adapted from Jennifer Perillo’s Raspberry Olive Oil Cake)
Makes one 10-inch cake
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free All Purpose flour
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 T maple syrup
2 t baking powder
¼ t coarse salt
2 T ground flax seeds briefly soaked in 2 T water
1 T melted coconut oil (and a little more to grease the pan)
2 t vanilla extract
½ cup coconut milk
2 c frozen raspberries
1 mashed banana
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit / 175 Centigrade
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Whisk together the wet ingredients, leaving out the raspberries.
Combine the two and then fold in the raspberries.
Grease a 10 inch round cake pan with a little coconut oil and then pour in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then remove the cake from within the cake pan but keep the bottom.
Once the cake has cooled down completely, indulge in a piece and wait for the muse to find you.