Our favorite recipe:

Literary Bohemian Cake

(with annotations)

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to either 350° F or 175° C, depending on your persuasion.1 Open The Canterbury Tales2 while greasing and flouring a 9x9 inch or 23x23 cm pan.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg,3 and you need two. Whisk them in before they realize what you're doing, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and baking powder vigorously; all the better should you spill a little at your feet. Think of a broad and ample road.4 Add the combined flour/baking powder to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the milk until the batter is smooth, for smooth runs the batter where the bowl is deep.5 Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and wait for it to call back from the gauzy edge of paradise.6

Read for 35 minutes while it bakes. While bad poetry may spring from genuine feeling,7 and poetic thought spring from body,8 this cake springs back to the touch when it is done. Let your shy humiliations gambol.9 Eat exuberantly, exultantly and rejoice.

  1. Jane Austen, Persuasion, A large income is the best recipe for happiness. 
  2. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Reves Tale, Line 6069 In his owen grese I made him frie 
  3. Samuel Butler, Life and Habit, chap. 8; A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg. 
  4. John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book vii, line 577.
    …whose dust is gold,
    And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear
    Seen in the galaxy, that milky way
    Which nightly as a circling zone thou seest
    Powder’d with stars.
  5. William Shakespeare, Henry VI, sorta. Also related: Julius Caesar, Give me a bowl of cake batter; in this I bury all unkindness. spoken by Brutus the Baker. 
  6. Anne Sexton, Letter Written on a Ferry While Crossing Long Island Sound
    See them rise
    on black wings, drinking
    the sky, without smiles
    or hands
    or shoes.
    They call back to us
    from the gauzy edge of paradise,
    good news, good news
  7. Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, pt. 2, Intentions 
  8. William Butler Yeats, The Gift of Harun Al-Rashid
    Can poet’s thought
    That springs from body and in body falls
    Like this pure jet, now lost amid blue sky,
    Now bathing lily leaf and fish’s scale,
    Be mimicry?
  9. Attributed to WH Auden in Interview with Martha Graham. The New York Times, March 31, 1985. We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.