Having a Bundt Day
I recognize that this is hardly a unique personality trait; who among us enjoys screwing up? Even so I mean I really hate it. To the extent that I remember literally ever mistake I have ever made in my life. Seriously. I have a running tally in the back of my mind somewhere that will probably someday reach maximum capacity and cause me to spontaneously combust from the accumulated years of self-loathing for each failure.
Well okay, that may have been a bit melodramatic of a statement but the essence of it is true. I’m an incredibly tightly wound individual and I have always striven for perfection and excellence. Resting on laurels isn’t something I know how to do and “contentment” is not in my vocabulary because once I’ve accomplished one feat I’m already halfway through planning the next one. I remember watching “Single Female Lawyer” years ago and one moment on that show has always stuck with me. **By the way anyone who can get the layered references gets a cookie. Seriously first to answer I’ll bake a batch and send it along**
I don’t know which season or episode it was, only that I remember that while the lead is getting dumped yet again, the dumper makes a comment that struck me deeply. He tells her that it won’t work out because she is incapable of ever being content. That the day she stops “wanting” is the day she dies. It somehow comes out like a half-compliment; he isn’t referring to relationship neediness but rather a never ending drive to always do more in some capacity of her life. Still it causes conflict between the two of them hence the breakup scene. I just remember thinking even at a young age, that’s me, and I’m going to have a hell of a problem with men and life in general because of it.
As a result of this need to do more I also place high standards on myself hence the memory of every misstep or mistake I make. I remember getting in trouble in first grade for frak’s sake. Some days the weight of all those screw ups keeps me hiding in shadows of my mistakes rather than the light of my successes. It is an exhausting way to live and yet I don’t know how to function any other way. Truthfully I don’t know if I really want to. It keeps me going, keeps me fighting and I know it’s what makes me so damn good at things when I set my mind to them. The consequence of failure, even at miniscule unimportant tasks, is magnified within my internal world and so I will never be able to give up or sit back and say “I’ve done enough.”
What spurred on these thoughts today was an epic failure in the kitchen. I didn’t pay attention for a whole 30 seconds, over beat something and managed to mess up 2 hours of work. It was infuriating. Worse still I know that if anyone were around they would make comments meant to be supportive about how it doesn’t have to be perfect/it still tastes good etc that would only serve to anger me more because I can’t help but hear them as patronizing and dismissive. I placed the expectation upon myself that I would make this particular cake and god damn it I’m going to make it correctly. Anything less is simply unacceptable. While I know not everyone operates this way, when I’m already angry and frustrated at myself it becomes a flaw of mine to easily turn that vitriol on other people who don’t understand why I’m so upset.
I’m glad no one was around when it happened today. I hate doing that. I know I’m doing it and I make every attempt to quell “the nasty” but ultimately I have to politely ask those speaking to me to just butt out. As much as I may recognize the insanity behind my being so high strung, it’s who I am and I’m not looking to anyone to change me or “enlighten” me to a point where I can leave it behind.
It will take a strong, patient and understanding man someday to deal with me. Occasionally I wonder if my refusal to change is wrong but…I have to think that I don’t have to completely undermine the core of myself to be happy. That feels more wrong than anything else. I’m not looking for anyone to change me or “mellow” me out and any man who gets into a relationship with me thinking that he can do those things would be making a mistake. So warning to all you would-be-suitors out there: do not try to change this about me. You will not succeed and worse you will be repeating a mistake that at least one ex of mine has made in attempting to do so. While it’s true that through yoga I’m trying to learn how to accept things that I can’t control and to surrender with grace, I will never stop striving to fight against the entropy of it all. I just want to be a little more composed when I lose a battle; I don’t want to give up the war.
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” — Marliyn Monroe
I sat down to write this in as a way to regain my bearings and unwind a bit from the frustration. I am going to attempt the cake a second time and this time I will not make the same mistakes as before. In the meantime however I’ll share with you a recipe that is beyond simple. Sometimes a good way to move past a big mistake for a big undertaking is to start over with some smaller ones, make a few strides in a run or check off a few fast tasks on a to do list –essentially the point is to create a feeling of progress and success before tackling the mile high mountain before you. This bundt cake is my little hill before the mountain. Thankfully it is a delicious little hill and used up some pears I needed to finish off before they over-ripened. Bundts are extremely forgiving cakes to make so this is great for any beginners out there who have yet to move past a box for a cake recipe. Try it out and you won’t regret it. The best part is that the plums you add in will help it retain moisture so this cake only improves by the second day.
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
from “Baking from my home to yours” by Dorie Greenspan
- 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or 1/4 c. more all-purpose flour)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 c. (packed) light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract (only if you’re using the ground nuts)
- 1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 c. moist, plump prunes, snipped into 1/4-inch pieces, or 1/2 c. moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. (If you’ve got a silicone Bundt pan, there’s no need to butter or flour it.) Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.
Whisk together the flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract, if you’re using it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately – add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. With a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If the cake looks as if it’s browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a foil tent.) Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.
When you are ready to serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar.