My third favorite piece of kitchen equipment is the springform pan, a metal band with a cinching latch and a perfectly round disc. It’s a puzzle that you make cakes in; alone, the pieces are somewhat philosophical metal circles, but together they hold hot batter.
It’s my favorite cake pan for sure, because the shape of that cake is the shape of the puzzle, not the pieces. It somehow does not seem as empty a “shadow-of-cakes-yet-to-come” as our other pans. “You are an empty delicious ring, and you, a negative space tasty circle, and you a vacant scrumptious square.” The springform pan is a just a hoop and a platter and some physics: it’s a concept that can create confections.
Cake always takes the shape of the pan you bake it in, which illogically makes a big difference, even though the batter is the same. I could eat three cupcakes, say, chaperoning some grade school event - one before it starts, then one that dropped on the ground but wrapper side down and only for a second (yet I don’t feel it’s appropriate to serve it to children anymore), and one during clean up, you know, for energy. Because they’re cupcakes, they’re snacks based on their size…
…yet their volume is probably about the same as a slice of cake, and I would never eat three slices of cake at party…I’d be that guy that ate three slices of cake at a party. How rude. Yeeesh.
I have a cupcake pan with the faces of MARVEL’s Avengers, but we never use it because I get a bad feeling when I bite into Captain America’s head.
We always seem to finish round cakes, but our journey with square ones often end with a lonely Tetris shape that seems to appeal to no one.
We got the pancake mix and the cake mix mixed up a week ago and so we had pancake shaped cakes for breakfast. They did not sit well.
As much as I am a proponent of the idea that books can’t be read by their covers, the shape of a cake does give it context.
I feel cake-ish about four times a year. Not like I want cake, but that I AM a cake. Ok, I should probably just explain this really quickly.
I’m from a place, geographically, where the seasons progress exactly as indicated by the paper decorations above classroom blackboards. There atop the reassuring upper and lower letters of the alphabet (with those pink and blue lines going through them) the cycle of nature was depicted by cardboard icons of a snowflake, a flower, and an orangy-browny leaf, representing winter, spring, and autumn. There usually wasn’t one for summer because we weren’t there in summer, though I think once I saw a beach ball.
The weather followed perfect suit. Summer was blistering, Fall was blustery as a Winnie the Pooh day, and Winters were ice and snow. And Spring? Well, flowers.
So every season, different clothes.
Picture day was always in the Fall. Then, I was pleasantly cozy, smiling with the optimism of a child wearing thick white cotton socks with colorful stripes at the top, brought home in a fresh new plastic bag along with the rest of the school supplies. But by Spring, repeated washings had rendered those socks, once so snug and confident, into crispy (for some reason) and yet still floppily ill-fitting footwear, no more comfortable than a saltine cracker. But they were still my socks for the year, so I had to dance-with-who-brung-me until the next fall sale at K-Mart.
Spring was a problem. I was never warm in spring. Fall and winter clothes get layered as it gets colder until they all end up under a coat. But winter coats are not raincoats, and raincoats are cold, you know when they touch your neck? (yeeegh); they don’t have any fuzzy nice stuff in them at all.
Every season, wardrobe-wise, I still pour myself into a different shapes, like cake batter. Summer me is sassy and has a lot of cool vintage t-shirts, Autumn me is the best, ‘cause there’s LAYERS (I’m a walking matryoshka), then Winter comes and I disappear into my coat and scarves and I’m a mysterious adventurer. But Spring is my springform pan; it has no shape of its own, it’s all potential.
There’s a couple of wet patches of ground that I look at every day on the way to work with heightening glee because I know those are gonna be flowers; the trees are still practically bare but I’m watching those tiny buds because they’re gonna be leaves; and we all dress like it’s gonna be warm enough to wear what we’ve got on but it’s not yet.
What clothes are warm and cool and waterproof and light and breathable? It’s too much responsibility to lay on the simple textile. Perhaps a new, space age material could fulfill those requirements, something one would wear when travelin’ through the ‘verse on Serenity, but I don’t have it in my closet yet.
So I sit here with the rain slash sleet slash sometimes-snow-for-a-minute falling outside, trying not to let the weather get into the music I’m working on, because right now I’m choosing the virtual space that the music will be performed in. I have two dozen sonic clones of famous halls around the world. Sydney Opera House? The 20th Century Fox scoring stage? Each place is a cake pan, where music is provided context, and it’s important, it does change how it sounds.
I’m searching, I suppose, for someplace cozy that warms the ear, marshmallows afloat in hot cocoa. But this piece is really born from Spring, it is a dirt patch of potential that I’ve been staring at for decades, waiting for something to grow.
Wherever I choose should sound like that first Spring day we leave the house expecting that morning chill but it’s not there; instead there’s a wind that’s a little bit warm, and the sun suddenly hits our face and we automatically gasp a bit, and kind of relax, because all those plots of wintry dirt are now officially gonna be gardens. Really, really soon.