One of my most favorite songs from the Celtic traditions is, 'She moves through the fair'. It tells a mysterious tale of a beautiful woman and her love... the song is so mysterious that to be honest I'm not exactly sure what the story is all about. Did she marry the guy? Was she a ghost? Did she exist at all??
However, one of the most poetic lines in the ballad goes, "...and then she moved homeward, with one star awake - like the swan in the evening moves over the lake."
Since then I've always found swans to be especially magical. There is a silence, a presence and grace that they carry with such ease.
It's hardly a wonder that they have been 'muse' to so many creators down the ages from poets to artists to composers, and have been made into exquisite paintings, sculptures and even ballets.
But, what about cakes?...
Now, compared to amazing symphonies or paintings, a cake may seem to be a little bit frivolous, to say the least. Perhaps it could even be considered a little bit sacrilegious to even think about creating something so mundane from something so precious.
But here I want to make the case for 'cake making'... or 'food making' in general... as something that can stand, hand in hand, with those art forms and expressions which may at face value seem to contain something 'higher' than merely putting food on a plate.
Because, as time has moved on, I now see and understand that the simple kitchen tasks of cutting, peeling, stirring, waiting, forming and tasting, provide a ground upon which the flowers of creativity - be that song, lyric or film - can blossom and take flight. It's perhaps why this blog has found it's home on this website and why it will contain to remain here.
As anyone involved in any creative process will agree, it also remains a fact that bringing anything into form - be it a song, a CD, a film, book, a photograph or a painting - is very much subject to the adage, 'Creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration'.
Yup... you gotta do that sweating - and there's no way out.
side note: If anyone has discovered something different about this, do let me know... ;-)... I'm in no way closed to lazy options...
It's because of this very 'perspiration factor' that now and then I find it's good to give myself a little challenge in the kitchen - to help keep my "staying power" faculties in shape so to speak.
And for me, these challenges are best encapsulated by making a complicated cake.
Although it might only be a play with sugar ( a LOT of sugar in this case)... the skills, focus, patience and stamina required are the same as those needed when say, attempting to learn film-making from scratch or bringing a collection of songs into form using infinitely frustrating recording software. Oh yes, and did I mention what the kitchen looks like after spending half a day making something like this? ...
For this reason,(not the messy reason, but you know, the other more noble reasons I was expressing before) I'd like to make the case for using the kitchen as a jumping ground for flexing your creative muscles. Choose a challenge that fits to you. For some it might be making bread, for others it might be managing to boil an egg or heat up something that just doesn't happen to be a frozen pizza.
The type of challenge is irrelevant - in the end, like so many things in life, it's ultimately only the journey that matters.
No recipe this time around folks... it's an 'eye-candy meets ruminations meets little experimental video' (see below) post this time around.
However,... for anyone interested in this particular 'challenge' you'll find the instructions on the lakeland blog website. It's a fantastic place for inspiration in all things cake and complicated!
Until next time!
ps...and yes, it was delicious!