April 1st 2024: In baking a Torus Link Birthday Cake… and how it almost wasn’t at all.

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Via the Torus Link Birthday Cake…

In making each component of this cake so far, starting a day before TL’s birthday with the icings… boiling, mashing, baking, peeling, portioning and mixing with ingredients mise en place, then pureeing each icing itself…

I loved seeing how the colors of each icing alone were already looking reminiscent of the Four Elements themselves. Bold orange for fire, a deep rich brown for earth, a cooler-mild, almost sea-foam white for water, and a zappy yellow for air.

I didn’t want to actually sample too much of my ingredients as I was prepping this a day before– I wanted the fullest experience for when I could have the fullest thing, after all! But with each tiny taste of certain ingredients together in their raw forms… a pinch of lavender, a taste of cayenne and sesame, all as I cleaned bowls and blades and put things away while I went… and I was so elated and excited to feel: this tastes of true, delicious flavor. Oh! THIS combination is like a burst of energy! This combination truly feels cooling just like water itself… Ha-ha, this one is so rich and sweet and deep that I feel almost like sturdy lava ready to move— in a serious way. It’s in this taste of already a preview of flavors that I knew: I’m making the right thing. It feels so happy–so rewarding. I have my truth– the spark to give!

Enter the first cake layer to be baked: mango and passion fruit— that of Fire; of Miguel and Amber’s energies; astrologically speaking, symbolically the season of Spring and everything first being born.

And, myself having never actually gotten to practice this precise cake after doing the math I could with its measurements… the first testing ground!!!

I was metaphorically just learning to crawl, and then walk, as I questioned my adjustments: “Should I use 3/4 cup almond flour like I thought, or 1 whole cup? Better make it one whole cup… Can I wrap parchment paper around the sides AND the bottom? Nope… just the bottom, that’s too short otherwise… Crack the egg into directly into the blending cup! (OH NO now I gotta fish out an eggshell out of the cup… don’t do that again… eh, gives me a chance to strain the passion fruit too— most won’t like seeds in their cake…”)

(Enter the strainer.)

And more questioning: “Hmm… how do I use passion fruit again? I know from the store that you wait until it’s fully wrinkled… that means it’s ripe… but I can’t remember if you eat the seeds or not… They taste crunchy… but I better not put them in for most of the cake… let’s try to rinse… they’re not all coming out, eh, a few can’t hurt blended in… turns out from looking it up, they’re edible. XD”

Testing and seeing… down to praying that the cake base comes out okay… not too caramelized… but, often with fire too… we go on that commitment to the *truth* we DO instinctively know within— this cake is ON. We were *born* to see this moment through. Into the oven it goes…

While baking, I chilled too for a bit; chatted with a dear friend while enjoying spring itself in our backyard— cute little pink and yellow and blue flowers beginning their first blooms amongst so much green— birds and squirrels flying and running in pairs… a ladybug even!! It was nice to get a short break before getting at it again.

I sat back and let the cake rest for 10 minutes… just rubbing a spatula around its base and waiting to peel it out. It will be okay… And also, it smelled quite fruity!

At the end, a bit *brown* indeed on the bottom… some temperature adjustments would have to be made. But, the first layer is still there to the party, if just a little bit more caramelized– the most Fire itself for sure in this cake XD!

Time for the second cake layer of herbed orange and grapes-to-be— that of Earth, of Hazel (i.e. yours truly) and Kaito; astrologically second in the cycle: when things have passed their newest beginnings and shifted into fullest bloom of summer. We’re here in the fullest. No need for crawling or walking; we can run now.

A little more experienced than when I first started, I now knew mistakes to avoid. Cracked egg straight into the bowl FIRST to pick out any wayward shells? Check. As for the batter itself… oh man did it smell good… so herby and calmer like Earth itself… not as filled with as much raw sweetness as Fire, though still with some depth of sweetness and warmth once the orange peel was added too.

Now lower the temperature to 350 F but keep the same cooking time… And, so far, so good. Softer, bouncier… the bottom? Still didn’t know yet. We’d have to let it cool down first.

While I waited, things were calmer in my mind as I knew more about what to expect; thus I had the space to get on with other things without fuss. Cooking lunch for everyone… kicking up my feet for a few minutes in repose… admiring my own beauty… (I look cool in this light…)

And admiring beauty of others’ creations as well! Of just a few of the artists and dear friends on my wall, they include works by Sara @ sajuca.com (as well as her wonderful fan-art of Miguel!)

and Fancy Fatale (@ fancyfatale.com //18+)–

And I shared while I worked: I gave the liquid I used to cook the above greens to one family member (who’d wanted an herbal tea right at that moment and likes to drink ‘pot liquor’ as they call it,) and I let another family member use some of the paper plates and plastic zipper bags I’d laid out that they’d needed. Then I added more to the TL newsletter for April. All’s in fullest motion, so we go, go, go.

Came out with less browning. Lessons confidently learned: a success! We’re keeping that temperature for the rest of the cake bases.

Next, the third cake of lemon and to-be-blueberries— that of Air, of Sanji and Zirconia; astrologically, when things are beginning to slow down as we focus more and more on mental preparation, entering into fall. So was I now slowing down, and I knew it, knackered from working so hard all throughout the day.

(Knackered for reals.)

But with all my tips and best processes learned, I’ve ALSO reflected and come to a solid reasoning: this is my first time making this cake overall– no matter what I may think or even believe ‘could be improved’, I can’t know that for a fact until I’ve done it. I have to have made a mark to begin with— tasted it and seen the whole complete thing through. THEN to potentially improve later… perhaps for next TL’s birthday and then some!

This cake base, using only the lemon for flavor and a bit of maple syrup, smells the lightest so far… apart from a definite lemony scent, there’s not the same *depth* or complexity to it… it smells simple, light, and mild much like Air itself. I was sure it would come out fine enough, and so it did. At this stage, I was endeavoring to use the reserves of energy I had wisely; calculatedly– finishing my newsletter draft for Torus Link for the month. I realized I’d be absolutely spent by the time I’d do Water’s cake base, so I NEEDED to think wisely.

Coming to the fourth and final cake base of peaches and plums— that of Water, of Ren and Azalea; astrologically, the closing, ending, and releasing of everything: the season of winter in which things grow cold and dormant, ready to reflect and then sleep until awakening again in the spring. Absolutely spent INDEED from working so hard… after all, not just on making this two-day-er cake, but still equally having to tend to my family, to chores, to TL’s newsletter, to myself after standing for so long in a day… I observe I barely have the energy to give to all but the most important tasks, like an elderly person for whom what once was easy and robust in their youth, now must be portioned–at times, bore through. There just isn’t enough energy left.

I slowly but surely head back to prepare my own dinner, fresh cilantro with leftover warm braised peach and cranberry porkchops… wait for the final cake base to bake… and see. It so far smells of a very mild, unimposing undercurrent of sweetness. The final cake cools down… and I’m ready to store it in the freezer to wait overnight. Tomorrow, on TL’s birthday, we plate, pipe, and give its cake the fullest combination.

Next day: April 1st. TL’s birthday–in which I write this now after the plating began.

So far, I was getting off to a good start— I still hadn’t tried any of my cake bases: I wanted to save that for the full moment of TL’s birthday celebration, when I’d top it with its topper and sing a happy birthday to Torus Link. (*Yup, I find birthdays to be special like that.) I followed each of my pre-planned steps at this stage—

(Plans from weeks prior, in fact! Revised and revised and tweaked…)

And I was proud of my ingenuity; I have no kitchen pencils or anything like that, but non-toxic markers? I have PLENTY for all the drawing I do!

And if my desktop rulers were too filled with graphite to measure my cakes cleanly before cutting into them, no worries— the very same clean wooden skewer I’d use for the TL topper would suffice here.

So, so proud of myself… I didn’t even KNOW I could pipe things so evenly! (I honestly worried about this– I’m terrible with craftsmanship in general.)

But again… making a layered, fancy cake like this all on my own was something I had never done before. It wasn’t until my Fiery-cake layer was starting to totter like the leaning tower of Cake-Sa that I realized too late: better to place and pipe each complete level of cake as a unit for balance first, versus trying to do one single element all at once.

What I DID have though was even further ingenuity– prop it up with a knife and QUICKLY get the next elemental cake up to help it stay stable!!!

And so I did: with Earth’s layer in place, things looked a lot less tottering. It just takes a team, right?

And with Air’s layer of cake propping NEARLY the entire structure, it was almost complete. I was excited.

Then a member of my family came around— only semi-invested in my cooking, and not invested in Torus Link… Which, to give you an idea without spoiling things to come in TL… it has been something along the lines of this with my family—

My family member asked me what I was doing with ‘these flavors…’ what on earth was this ‘structure?’ They knew I was baking a cake– I had told them the day prior. I had discerned NOT to tell them that it was specifically a birthday cake for Torus Link– just letting them try later after I’d privately done my little celebration for TL. And I told them that I’m practicing a layer cake, something I’ve never done before.

They said things to me I expected them to say:

“I hope you didn’t use ALL the fruit.” (Me: “No, there’s still plenty left for everyone out of what I’ve used for this cake.”)

“What’s this thing made of?” (Me: [I can’t even answer about the Fiery-icing before they fish in the fridge for what they’re looking for, not paying full attention to what I’m saying anyway…])

“And do you think anyone is even going to eat this?” (Me: [Stung, but persistent] “I know you and I will at least.”)

My family member: “Eh, true.”

Then I saw what they were pulling out of the refrigerator: their weekly diabetic shot, in which they would be plunging a needle into their stomach.

I turned around: I cannot bear needles, and I could not watch my family member shoot this into their stomach… I resolved to turn back to my cake only after they’d finished…

But then, another family member came in, looking to gather a cup or some food… not even asking about my cake… my first family member talked to them… and when I turned around just to make sure…

There on the ground was half of the Airy-cake base… gone.

I let out a cry of pure lamentation. X(

I didn’t have the resources to just make another base… let alone the TIME to do so AND post everything else.

My first family member saw this… and said, “Aw… well, I told you you should put some plastic around it, that’s how they usually do it, right?”

Me, very loud and sharply: “I don’t want to hear it.” (Far too used to this family member’s sort of ‘coarser’ style of caring.)

My family member: “I know.”

I kneeled on the floor… working as quickly as I could to salvage what I could… but I knew it was no good. This could ONLY be a two-layer cake now, and a rather lopsided-looking one at that… if it was still going to be a cake at all. It wouldn’t be the towering masterpiece I wanted to dazzle with, kicking off TL’s new year.

My family member, seeing me kneel on the floor: “Get over it! What are you going to do when life gives you bigger problems?”

At that moment, I nearly snapped. This family member, and just sadly… far too many others too… couldn’t possibly know… for simply not investing to *see*, how many hours and hours and days and weeks I’d spent working tirelessly for not only this… but all of my recipes. All of YP.com. All of this, AND TL itself. And still caring for them too… never mind even bigger, bigger so-called “problems of life” indeed that they have glossed over. (But again, I will not spoil things to come.)

It took every bit of strength I had at that moment to respond as gracefully as I could: “Look, I appreciate your advice, but that’s not kind. ‘Get over it?’ That’s cruel. And what I’m thinking about IS how to do what I can with this.”

My family member apologized… while the rest of my family continued happily chatting with one another even as they’d heard my lamentation and my frustration. When they all left to what they needed to do… I vented my anger by myself. And I cried a little…

…What if this was all a great big mistake, after all? Not simply this cake… but yasminepirouz.com itself??? A waste of my time TO have branched out with RECIPES when I’m supposed to, at that, be trying to just make my comic? Let alone this CAKE for it??? I cried even as I cleaned… even as I physically, at least, removed the other two wouldn’t-be-used tiers to even things out. Half hating the world, half not giving up, if because I’ve just been through this too much to think of stopping, perhaps…

But then, quietly, as it hit me…

The reason I must share this, to whatever extent I CAN, is because it is no coincidence that I had to bear through hearing the ‘k-chtt’ of the needle go through my family member’s stomach anyway. Just to make this cake side by side with them right by me— a cake with so little sugar and starch, compared to what they used eat that brought them to become diabetic: going from one of the hardiest people I’d ever known… to one with a sensor stuck in their arm and a needle to jab into themselves every single week.

And after all, they *will* at least try my cake in the morning with a cup of coffee, as they said they would– and as they’ve noted my food is healthier and tastes a lot better than what they can buy via fast foods.

So, step by step, I plated what I COULD do. No… it wouldn’t be the glorious 4-tiered vision I had mapped out weeks in advance for this…

Because instead, the fruits themselves would call out their own adornment, with a little of the artful coloring and energy I know how to visually apply.

I topped it off…

I sang happy birthday to TL indeed. And in trying a little bit of each slice for myself (i.e. just the right portion size to be very full for hours thence…)

I smiled a somber, but happy through the sadness smile. Hope through the pain. It tastes of the Four Elements themselves. So good.

I know that what I create here, in this cake right now up to this site overall, as I do continue with TL in all of its story and branches sprouting out… just will not be taken in for what it holds as of yet… as of right now. Most see vegetables themselves as a burden right now, if not a ‘bougie’ entitlement at that… while they nevertheless ARE part of the solution to so much disease in health. So is it the same, I know…with taking in my comic at large. I know right now that a huge block still exists against *seeing* the validity of what I do at all— but building all that I am has been *linked* just the same. And as Torus Link begins its newest cycle, more will link to show just how these blocks are broken down to healing what we must… one step at a time.

For now, Happy Birthday, TL. And to everyone reading this– welcome to yasminepirouz.com therein.

********Which, as of April 2nd, 2024? In follow-up to the above…********
Said family member has since indeed tried the TL Birthday cake, and they told me it was very good; not too sweet at all for them. They even asked me what kinds of fruits I included, pleasantly surprised that the cake even features prunes.

Small, but steady. Small… but steady.

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