A friend of mine, a regular visitor to the center, has geese. Like ya do; it’s pretty common in the Dordogne. Sometimes I arrive at the Lama House to be greeted by a basket full of super jumbo-sized eggs with dark, giant yolks and silky smooth whites. They make the creamiest scrambled eggs and the omelette-iest omelettes. They also make good cake. I don’t think I could pick out a goose egg cake from a table full of regular ones, but I do think if you made the same cake with goose eggs or chicken eggs, there would be a subtle taste and texture difference, as goose eggs have slightly more fat than chicken eggs. That said, eggs are eggs and when you give me eggs, you pretty much always get cake.
I have made a concerted effort to dial back my cake production recently in support of other activities. After spending the better part of September and October working through the fact that it’s okay with me to never become a master baker or a successful professional artist, now I’m in the interesting position of seeing what rises to the top when I create space for other priorities.
A teacher in whom I have a lot of confidence recently told me that if I am serious about aspiring to teach Dharma one day myself, competence in Tibetan language is an essential foundation. Which I will gain in approximately two hundred years if I keep going at the rate I’m going. Not so useful for results in this lifetime.
But what is my goal in learning Tibetan anyway? But what is the goal with teaching, really?
At the end of the day, I just want to get better at being a person until I’m so good at it that I no longer have to come back and be a person again in order to keep working on being a person. And I want to help others do that too.
Almost since I first discovered Buddhism, teaching has been in my mind. I’ve never been so grateful to people in my life (other than to my parents, who gave me this life) as to the people who have helped me start making sense of this life, who gave me the tools to observe my own mind. Early on, one of my teachers said that we must ask ourselves what our responsibility is for the teachings we have been given—to put them into practice and also to conserve them and help make them available to others. If those who came before us had not made the effort to safeguard the teachings and transmit them authentically, we would not be able to receive them now.
And a light went off in my head, and I thought, “Holy shit. That’s a serious debt.” I am fortunate to have come into contact with this wisdom, fortunate beyond measure as far as I can tell. It’s not easy to find a truth that corresponds with both who you are and the way the world is, i.e. the nature of reality. When you find it, you owe it to others to get the word out. That’s how I see it anyway.
It’s more than a little daunting though. I am little and dreamy and untamed. I like colors and cake and playing around in the woods. And it’s not nothing to say you want to teach Dharma. When you take that on, you put yourself up as a bridge between people and the masters who can truly guide them; you represent your own teachers and the tradition you have been trusted with. You can’t be on an ego trip and you seriously have to know your shit (you should probably give up cursing, too). But somebody has to try. And even if I don’t make it in this lifetime, I get the sense I’ll learn more trying than I would doing anything else.
And so, what to do? Do I need to do anything particular? Spending more than an hour a week studying Tibetan is probably a good start. After that, the possible wheres and whens and hows are other questions and other choices that will be answered by time and copious research and hopefully a bit of feedback from people with longer vision than mine. In the meantime, cake to supplicate the Buddhas such that the path becomes clear.
This cake is special. I made a trial one that didn’t so much work. But it had so much potential I came back a day later to give it another go. FYI, I never do this. Generally, I make random experiments while taking careful notes and the good stuff shows up here. But this time, I took the time to alter the technique and up the chocolate quantity, and I’m so glad I did. What makes this cake special, besides its evolution, is its crumb. This is a dense cake, but it is also super tender. Rare combo. I’m proud. Please try it. You’ll be proud too.
Goose Egg Grapefruit Chocolate Cake
2 goose eggs (or 4 large chicken eggs if you don’t live in a goose-abundant region or have a specialty grocery store nearby), room temperature
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
9 ounces (250 grams) semisweet dark chocolate
1/2 stick (67 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) half-and-half
zest of one grapefruit
1/3 cup (42 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) icing sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) grapefruit juice
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C). Line a 9-inch (23 cm) cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Pour in the sugar in a slow stream while still beating, then add the salt. Whip on high until thick and pale.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, butter, and half-and-half. Stir in the grapefruit zest. Fold one third of the eggs into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining eggs in two portions.
Sift the flour over the top and fold in just until incorporated.
Bake for thirty-five to forty minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center come out clean. Allow to cool. To make the glaze, sift the icing sugar to smooth out clumps. Stir in the juice and pour on top.
Use to supplicate friends or Buddhas.