“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame. How could you become new if you haven’t first become ashes?” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I’ve been hesitant about posting this. This space is a place to display baked creations, to make culinary memories and share in a food history. But I think it’s only fair, that my personal struggle has a place in this forum too. I have faith that this audience hungers for the real life. For human experience rather than staged fantasy. This absence needs an explanation, and I can only apologise for the past silence.
My life has been mapped in food for as long as I can remember. My first milestones can be mapped through food related experiences – that strawberries and cream coated birthday cake, those brightly coloured macarons, that oozing chocolate fondant. Yet despite my love – in the past few years, my relationship with food, soured.
I became disconnected from myself and my own body, and lost weight in a rapid and unhealthy way. I finally had the body I had always wanted, though I couldn’t seem to love that one either. My problems remained. And I spiralled, becoming my own worst enemy. The illness became the whole of me. At first it was a comforting friend. Then it turned, rearing a distorted head. Consuming all, stripping happiness and identity. Life was a cage, mirrored. Constantly being confronted with my own self image. I chose to place my own value within a prison of numbers. And in those three years, I never managed to take a step outside this windowless cell.
As a fiercely independent and capable woman, it was far more comfortable to lend a hand rather than to receive one. But over time, I came to realise that I could no longer manage on my own. And as my life crumbled, I knew that I could not continue to live this way. It took both mental and physical collapse to shake out this foreign body element. An infinity of compounding losses. Too fatigued to battle with fear, I took the first step and made the choice to move on. To confront the depths of my darkest self.
I poured myself into recovery as I previously had poured myself into my own dissolution. I held strong the days leading up to admission, knowing that mentally I was on the mend. I knew I had a long journey ahead of me. But what I didn’t know was that it would would stretch so far into the distance that I wouldn’t see the outside world for over two months.
Faced with total isolation, I was forced to confront myself and who I am for the first time. I spent time in recovery, asking myself all the hard questions. And I started to realise how little I knew about myself. Light can come from even the darkest of places. And sometimes, we need to enter into the unknown parts of ourselves to find exactly what we need to grow in peace, happiness and wisdom. And I’m grateful for this experience, for the memories and people I have met along the way.
Recovery is hard. Confronting. Much harder than I ever gave it credit for. I went home, I baked. Created. Loved again. And experienced life with a fresh perspective. Baking has that power. It can heal when words cannot. You are more than just your body. And I surrender into what I am becoming now. And know that what I have left behind is nothing but a shell that once held my former self.
I’ve been a lot of things. Light and Dark. Yet I know, I am none of these things. I am human. Like you. Infinitely faceted, forever complex. And from this, I am learning. I hope you learn something too. You can’t undo the past. Nor can you forget. All you can do is learn. And move on. And that’s where I’m at. It’s the hardest experiences that teach us the most. And If I didn’t undertake this journey, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Because your deepest, darkest struggle will produce your greatest strength.
- 226 grams unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
- 2 cups caster (granulated) sugar
- 4 egg whites, lightly whisked together
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup plain milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 113 grams / 4 oz. / 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 300 grams / 10½ oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 300 grams / 10½ oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups icing (confectioners’) sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.
- Lightly grease and line three 18 cm / 7 inch cake pans and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer set on medium speed and fitted with a beater attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened in colour and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Continue to beat on medium speed, slowly pouring in the egg whites until fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, cinnamon, flour, and baking powder.
- In a jug, mix together the milk and vanilla extract.
- Begin to slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating additions with the milk mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in their tins before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, level any domed tops and set aside for frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer set on medium speed and fitted with the beater attachment, cream together the butter and mascarpone cheese. Pour in the melted and cooled white chocolate then incorporate in the cinnamon and icing (confectioners’) sugar until well combined and thick.
- To assemble the cake, place the first levelled cake layer sliced face up on a cake stand or plate.
- Spread ¼ of the White Chocolate and Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting over it’s face.
- Press the second cake layer gently on-top the first and repeat the frosting process.
- Press the last cake layer, sliced face down on-top the second.
- Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the whole cake to crumb coat and place in the fridge to set, up to 30 minutes.
- You can leave the frosting bowl in the refrigerator to slightly harden whilst the first crumb coat sets.
- Once set, finally cover the entire cake with a thick layer of the frosting. The cake will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for up to three days. You can also keep the cake chilled, set it out 30 minutes before serving.