I baked this a few weeks ago. Before my beautiful fever dream of a wedding. Before I became the wife of the best person I know. Before my joy was stolen and my heart was broken. Before the world ended and the shadows descended, and a metallic, bitter fear began to bubble up, slowly, insistently, in my throat. Before I began crying every day. Before I really came to know the base hardness of the world, and before I was reminded that many millions of people would take my voice and my agency from me in every way they could.
The election results have opened in me a wound so deep that I am surprised there is not a gaping, physical hole in my torso. This grief is profound, and seems so tangible that I could almost reach out and grab it by the shirt collar and shake it until it gives me answers I can understand.
I allowed myself one day to grieve, to be gentle with myself, to sit with my loss and put my arms around its shoulders. I let the tears flow when they needed to flow, and I dried them when they decided I needed to sit up a little straighter, again and again, all day long. Even the sky cried alongside our broken hearts. Jake and I went to dinner at Lenoir, our favorite jewel box of a restaurant, to sit in a place of closeness and love and to see people taking care of each other. The couple next to us had just moved to the US a year before. They left India ten years ago for Canada, where they spent the last nine years, a stepping stone toward their dream of finally ending up in America. They were distraught.
"All of this was for nothing!" she said in disbelief, throwing her hands up, helpless. "Everything we have done, it means nothing. We worked so hard to achieve our dream! We gave up everything and now the dream is gone. What do we tell our children? How can they still believe that everything we've taught them about being kind and working hard doesn't matter? How did this happen?"
He sat silently, cupping his water glass in both hands, staring ahead at nothing and no one. The tears streaking down my face offered no answers.
On Thursday, the sun did indeed rise. I woke up angry but new. My hot tears had frozen overnight into a dense block of cold fury in my chest. I checked in with the people I love, asked if they were okay, asked what they needed from me, asked how I could ease their pain. I put on some power bitch lipstick, I turned on Beyonce's "Freedom," and I started reading, writing, and donating.
a classic victoria sandwich
exact recipe from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, with details and instructions adapted for American bakers
- 225g (8 oz) softened butter
- 225g (8 oz) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 225g (8 oz) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- raspberry or strawberry jam, for filling
- powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 350'F. Butter two 8" or 9" sandwich tins then line the base of each tin with parchment paper.
Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and baking powder into a large bowl and beat until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out (I like to weigh each tin and readjust until the numbers on the scale match).
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes for an 8" tin (shave off a few minutes for a 9" tin, checking often if you're nervous), or until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment, and finish cooling on a wire rack.
When completely cold, spread a layer of jam across the top of one cake, then top with the second cake. The thickness is up to you--I recommend erring on the side of generosity. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.
This will keep on the counter for a few days, but after day 2, do yourself a favor and butter a slice and toast it in a cast iron pan on each side before eating.