Discover more from Polymathic Being
The Dream Cake
Welcome to Polymathic Being, a place to explore counterintuitive insights across multiple domains. These essays take common topics and explore them from different perspectives and disciplines and, in doing so, come up with unique insights and solutions. Fundamentally, a Polymath is a type of thinker who spans diverse specialties and weaves together insights that the domain experts often don’t see.
Today's topic is just a fun story about friends and a wonderful recipe to try this fall. It’s about serendipity and how to not overlook the oddball ideas that sometimes come out of nowhere.
Way Back When
After I graduated high school I got a job as a park ranger at a local Northern Michigan State Park called Clear Lake. I was working the evening shift which involved simple janitorial work and walking the camping loops in the park to answer questions, help lost kids, make sure the parties were managed, and the underage drinkers weren’t being dumb.
I’d just done a check of the bathhouse and was stepping out while I pulled my 4 D-cell MAGLite® from my belt ring making a metallic sound like pulling a sword from a sheath. I heard a gasp and looked up to see two teens frozen at the edge of the bathhouse lights, their eyes wide, their arms full of shower gear, and looking panicked. While I’ve never had women swooning for my looks, I felt this was a little harsh but I twirled my flashlight, said “Good Evening,” and walked on my rounds.
The next day I ran into them again, this time during daylight hours, and they were laughing because, in the way teenage minds work, they thought I had pulled a handgun and that they were in trouble. So that’s how I met Teresa.
We exchanged email addresses and when I went to college and got my first AOL instant messenger (AIM) account, we continued to chat for years. I saw her again five years later when my housemates and I did a spring break trip from the snowy far north of Michigan to balmy Illinois to go mountain biking. I haven’t seen her in person since.
The power of social media has allowed us to stay connected for 23 years now and enjoy seeing the relationships, children, and adventures. 3 years ago she posted this:
I had a dream that I made the ultimate fall flavors cake. Started with regular yellow cake mix and pumpkin purée. Baked it, poked holes in it and filled the holes with maple syrup. Then covered it with apple pie filling and cream cheese frosting. I can’t decide if this was a genius or possibly the most disgusting thing ever.
I actually thought that sounded quite delicious and so, a few weeks later when I was trying to determine which cake I’d make for my wife’s birthday, I pulled up this post and made it.
It was such a good cake that I actually made another one a week later and invited my cousin over to enjoy it with us again! It is the ultimate fall flavors cake and is not heavy or overly sweet.
It’s such a good cake that I’ve now made it twice a year since with one for my wife’s birthday just this past week.
This whole story is a great example of layered Serendipity. You might recall, this word came up last week in The Genius Myth where we explored where good ideas actually come from.
Simply put, Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
So a chance encounter one evening, the glue of social media for two decades, a random dream, and the curiosity to try it out has led to a very fun and delicious outcome.
I’d love to know when you’ve had a fun, serendipitous idea that turned out fantastic!
(yes, I do realize how much this sounds like all those recipe blogs on the internet)
(and no, I can’t make it simple to print. Maybe I’ll post it to a recipe blog. :) )
Serendipitous Dream Cake
1 Box Spiced Cake Mix (or yellow cake with added pumpkin spices)
1 Can Pureed Pumpkin
1 Can Apple Pie Filling (If you can find it with reduced sugar, I recommend that)
Pumpkin Spices (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, etc.)
There are no measurements here, just dash and dab and pinch to your liking)
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Maple Syrup (I prefer the real stuff)
8oz Cream Cheese (Optional)
Mix the cake mix, substituting the pumpkin for the water/oil, and adding the eggs as directed. Bake per directions and pan selections and let cool.
Mince up the apple pie filling into smaller pieces
If you decide on the whipped cream/cream cheese frosting then blend 1/4 cup softened cream cheese with the maple syrup to taste (I used about 1/4c syrup). Once blended smooth, crank the speed to max, slowly add the whipped cream, and continue to beat until it stiffens. (If you want a simpler route, just make whipped cream with the maple syrup and call it good!)
The final step is to create your layer cake with the apple pie filling in the center and the frosting on the top. You likely won’t use all the apple pie filling or frosting but that can be put in bowls to the side to supplement if you want.
It’s super simple as you can just dollop the stuff on, spread it quickly, and be done. I like to dust the top with cinnamon for that extra visual. Here’s the one from this year… It’s the down-and-dirty version. It also looks a little messy because I had to pick the whole thing up and move it to a different cake plate and I used all the apple pie filling.
Enjoyed this post? Hit the button ❤️ above or below because it helps more people discover Substacks like this one and that’s a great thing. Also please share here or in your network to help us grow.
Polymathic Being is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Further Reading from Authors I really appreciate
I highly recommend the following Substacks for their great content and complementary explorations of topics that Polymathic Being shares.