Here's an excerpt from Let Me Eat Cake. I added the last two paragraphs today after thinking about it in the woods with my daughter on our morning walk.
At the party that night, my fluffy white creation shares a table with the $85 Patisserie cake, a large, flat, beige display with fancy brown writing and a few large, elegant white chocolate flowers. Inside is a delicate and creamy cake that’s not overly flavorful, but it shows up the cake I bought from Charm City Cakes in October, in both flavor and price (mine was bland and $190). But long before the cakes are cut, almost all of the forty guests approach me to say they cannot wait to get a piece of the cake they’ve heard so much about. And when they finally do, I am a powerful cake goddess. Men kiss my hand. Women kneel at my feet. Some weep with delight; others sit alone, moaning with pleasure. (One woman later begs my sister to have me make the cake for her fortieth in a few weeks.) Moments later, the party winds down, as every party does once the cake is cut and eaten, and the sugar buzz has dipped to a sleepy hum. And we all depart, slowly, the memory of Martha Stewart’s coconut teatime cake, as recreated by Leslie, the newly crowned cake queen, forever etched on our tongues, a benchmark for all cakes, past, present, and future.
Is this how Martha Stewart feels? Or is she so used to her greatness that she accepts accolades as she breathes air—as something so second nature that she doesn’t think about it, yet, if it were gone, she would surely die?
I think instead that the cake queens among us—and the bakers and chefs, the painters, photographers, writers—make these things because it’s our way of both giving and receiving love. To stand by a cake table and hear people you know and don’t know saying “oh—my—god” after their first bite of your white chocolate caramel cheesecake with milk chocolate ganache and almonds is to be loved, albeit in a kinky, lusty way. To have your offerings on the Thanksgiving dessert table disappear first and quickly is to be embraced wholly, despite what you might have said to Aunt Betty at the last Thanksgiving. Artists—whether they practice in the studio or the kitchen—want to make this exchange: their poetry for your love, their painting for your love, their triple-layer coconut teatime cake for your love.