THE UNIVERSAL RAISIN CAKE THEORY
ALYCE'S RIDE ON A RAISIN
For many years I was a devout existentialist. I espoused a bleak, godless, condemned-to-be-free, faithless, death-is-the-end philosophy. Then I discovered that believing in everything is more fulfilling than believing in nothing. I could be a spiritual being without joining an organized religion, and without forsaking science. I discovered Oneness, Om, a universal particle of energy that is the essence of all things, ancient Eastern philosophy and modern physicists’ Theories of Everything (TOEs) and Grand Unification Theories (GUTs) elegantly joining forces.
While meditating one morning awhile back, my mind floated out into a vast expanse of planetless, starless, matterless space. I began to wonder about Oneness, about the nature of the basic Particle. It occurred to me that this fundamental force must have some sort of "inspiration" inherent in it (I pictured a tiny acorn containing all the information needed to grow into a tree). I was adrift in an infinite ether resonant with an invisible swirling energy, a low hum, an emotion really, desperate for a way to express itself. Then BANG (the BIG one)!
Vibrating energy flowed out into the Universe, bursting forth into matter, manifesting itself in all things. I asked myself, what force could be this inspired, passionate, creative, desperate to express itself? There is only one possibility: LOVE. Then I realized that God is Love, and the shock jolted me out of my vision. I was worried. Would I suddenly get the urge to go door-to-door sharing my new insight? No, the Universe expresses its creativity through me in another way.
Who we are and what we feel and what we are made of cannot spring forth from nothing. We are not composed of anything other than the stuff of the universe. Particles and impulses and emotions, even, and inspiration were already here, floating around, disembodied. Bodies and minds are a relatively new development. God, Om, superstrings, were here 15 billion years (at least) before we (in human form) emerged. Our individual human selves are just creative outlets for the Infinite Source. The Universe is as conscious and expressive and intelligent as we are. Or, I should say, we are as conscious and expressive and intelligent as It.
Many cultures have symbolic traditions associated with bread. Around the winter holidays my mother bakes raisin-nut breads with cardamom, called Jule Kage, or “Glad Yule”, from a recipe passed down from our Norwegian ancestors. In western Scotland “Struan Micheili”, breads made using some of each type of grain that was harvested during the year, are baked on the eve of the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Special loaves are blessed at an early morning mass and then distributed to the poor in honor of friends and family members who are absent or deceased.
SOLSTICE STOLLEN: The Universal Raisin Cake
8 C flour + 2 C whole wheat flour
(for gluten-free option: 6.5 C brown rice flour + 1.5 C potato starch + 1 C tapioca flour + 1/2 C almond flour + 1/2 C buckwheat flour + 4 t xanthan gum)
4 t yeast
1/2 C warm water
1 t sugar
2 t salt
2 C hot water
3/4 C honey
3/4 C butter (or vegan substitute), softened
1/3 C Amaretto
1 C Marscapone cheese
2 C chopped toasted almonds
1/2 lb. chopped dried apricots
golden or black raisins, candied ginger, other dried fruit
anise seeds, cardamom, grated lemon or orange peel, to taste
ADDITIONAL FILLING (if desired): almond paste, almonds, Marscapone cheese
GLAZE: 2 T lemon juice, 2 T water, 1 C confectioners sugar
Combine flours and salt in a large bowl. Combine water, yeast, and sugar in small bowl. Combine cheese, amaretto, hot water, and honey in a medium bowl. Whisk in yeast. Add eggs, whisk. Combine all of the above in large bowl, beat. Integrate butter into mixture, adding flour if necessary. Knead for 10 min. Rise for 90 min. Punch down. Rise for 60 min. Roll out to 1” thick, cover for 10 min. Spread nuts and fruits, etc. on flat, roll up. Divide into 4 large rounds, or to 6-8 smalls. Let rest for 15 min. Preheat oven to 325F. Roll rounds into ovals. Rise for 1 hr. Bake for 50 minutes. Brush on lemon juice, water, and confectioners sugar glaze. Bake for 10 more min, or until golden brown.
The Univeral Raisin Cake Theory was on view at 516Arts in Albuquerque, NM
From September 20, 2012 until January 6, 2013 as part of ISEA2012, and at
Gasser-Grunert Gallery in New York City from Jan 10 thru February 16, 3013
- from "Fun with Astronomy" by Mae and Ira Freeman
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