To the Gods of Baking


I bake cakes and cookies
and pies, and all manner of pastry
I brew jam in pots,
stew chili in crocks.

Build loaves out of only flour –
and salt.

Bread that is just fine without butter.
Bread that actually makes people smile,
roll their eyes back in their heads-
And devour it before it has time to cool.

But really – I bake cakes.
layers carved, textures of flavor tucked in
fillings with names like toasted, and curd, and
And then, everyone’s favorite, the frosting-
Frosting born of butter and sugar and eggs.

Swiss buttercream is the closest thing
I know to ritual,
to prayer.

Eight egg whites,  meticulously separated
into my mixer bowl.
Said mixer bowl is settled over water
at a simmer, double boiler fashion.
Sugar is added-
whisk administers friction till
no granule remains.

Bowl is transferred to the god of mixers,
my stainless steel KitchenAid.

And then butter is given in offering.
Added tablespoon by tablespoon,
till a half pound of fat is sloshing around with
the whites of eggs, now meringues.

See, no matter how many times I do this-
how many cakes I frost
with this heaven-laced sugar,
when I watch this primordial soup cause waves in my mixer,
I am sure I have failed.

But the thing about buttercream,
is you may not give up.

So thus buttercream is the last
thing on Earth I pray over.

Because damnit, there is a
half pound of butter, and eight eggs
in this bowl,
And I am too broke and have made promises to
two sons, to lick two beaters.

So God of Pasty,
who I beg  of good weather
when baking,
make this work-
So I don’t have to trek out
to the Co-op for more supplies.

But the miracle is at hand,
as the chemistry happens.
Protein molecules whisked into submission,
let go-
allow sugars to bond.

So that soup, becomes
perfectly crafted
viscous dreams,
spreadable for those carved layers of cake.

Because the thing is,
Chemistry, is really just Latin
for Hope.


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