If she was going to do research, she would need a selection of books on the subject. Twilight walked over to Owlowiscious's perch. "Would you do me a favor and gather up some books about cakes and their history?" she asked him politely. He hooted in response, and flew over to a nearby bookshelf.
While he gathered research materials for her, Twilight pulled on her saddlebags from a nearby hook. Walking over to the nearby nest, she peered in. Bright little phoenix eyes looked out at her curiously. She fished Peewee out, and tucked him securely at the top of her saddlebags. Twilight figured the diminutive phoenix would enjoy getting out a bit and having some company.
With another hoot, she noticed a pile of books on a table, next to a tired owl. She would have to remember that some of these books were rather heavy for Owlowiscious to handle. She carefully floated the books inside her saddlebag, making sure not to disturb the phoenix inside. Writing a note saying that she'd gone to Sugarcube Corner and placing it on the table, she trotted out of the library at a brisk clip.
Fortunately, Sugarcube Corner was actually pretty close to the library. She just had to head down the street, turn, and it was straight ahead. She walked over towards to the bakery, and greeted a few ponies along the way. Ditzy Do flew by on her mail rounds, and waved at her, nearly crashing into a pole as she did so.
Twilight waved back. I wonder what would cause her eyes to be perpetually crossed like that? Maybe the impact on her vision is what causes her perpetual clumsiness? She jotted down a note to look into it, and continued on her way.
Soon enough, she was at Sugarcube Corner. As always, she wondered about how its construction had been done, and what kept the gingerbread intact, especially with someone as sugar-obsessed as Pinkie Pie living there. As she entered the store, Pinkie Pie bounced from behind the register to greet her. She seemed to be alone. Mr. and Mrs. Cake must have left her in charge.
"Twilight!" Pinkie Pie greeted Twilight, and continued at high speed. "I was just thinking that I'd like one of my best friends to come and keep me company, and then you walked right in! We should totally have a Twilight-Is-Really-Depressed-And-Needs-A-Hug party!"
"Wait a minute. What makes you think I'm depressed?" Twilight scowled.
"It's obvious, silly! You came in with eyes all red around the edges and swollen," Pinkie said, bulging out her eyes to demonstrate. "And your mane is all in disarray, like you didn't bother to brush it, your face is all frowny, and you're all in hyper obsessive list mode. And you were supposed to be spending all day with Princess Celestia, and she isn't with you."
"Er, well..." Twilight couldn't really deny these points.
"So we should have a party. We could have balloons, and streamers, and music, and Pin the Tail on the Pony, and cake-" The excited pink pony bounced up and down more with each word.
"Actually, that's what I came to see you about." Twilight interjected, trying to get a word in before Pinkie went on for too long. Or hit the ceiling.
"You came to see me about a party? And you brought Peewee. Oh! You want me to throw him a party! I've never thrown a phoenix a party before! Let's see, what kind of games and decorations would be appropriate for a phoenix party? Let's start with red and gold streamers!" She started to head to a nearby closet.
"I'm not here for a party. I'm doing some research, and came to see you about cakes-" She was abruptly cut off by Pinkie Pie.
"You're researching the Cakes? Well, they are on vacation right now, but I know a bit about them. They've been married for 5 years, have two foals-" Twilight quickly cut her back off.
"Not the Cakes, just regular cakes. I was wondering why Princess Celestia loves cakes so much, and thought you could help me with research and experimentation." She grinned a hopeful grin.
"Experiment- Wait a minute. Are you planning on hooking that silly metal bowl with the blinking lights up to my head again?" Pinkie asked.
"Not that type of experimentation," Twilight said firmly, though the idea was tempting.
"Are you sure? You could hook it up, and then I could eat a carrot cake while it draws all those squiggly lines. Then I could eat a lemon meringue cake, Tiramisu, a chocolate cheesecake, some marzipan..." Pinkie rambled on.
Twilight toyed with the idea of just going along with Pinkie on this, but her common sense got the better of her.
"I'm sure. I'd like to learn more about the different types of cakes and their history, though, and you obviously know your cakes." Twilight hoped she wasn't making a mistake.
"And how does Peewee fit into this?" Pinkie said, bouncing near the phoenix, who warbled in excitement.
"He doesn't. I just thought he'd like a bit of company, so decided to bring him along." Twilight sighed.
"Okie Dokie Lokie. What would you two lonely birds like to know about cakes?" Pinkie Pie grabbed one of the books out of Twilight's bag. Putting on a pair of glasses, she peered down at the open book. The overall effect of this was somewhat diminished by the fake nose and mustache on them.
Giggling, Twilight pulled out one of the other books, and the two of them started a study session. Twilight let the phoenix out of her saddlebag, letting him flutter and waddle back and forth between them as they called out information they'd found.
For example, in Prance in 1792, cake had been instrumental in averting a revolution. When a group of starving peasants confronted their ruler, Mare Antoinette, with their problems, she had declared "Let them eat cake!". An impromptu party then started, over which a series of compromises between the nobles and peasants were worked out that had served them for many years to come.
Pinkie Pie seemed to know a decent amount more then was in the books about this, making Twilight think Antoinette may have been a role model of hers. The time they spent studying was surprisingly productive, and Twilight felt she knew a lot more about cakes then she'd ever known before. It was time to move on to the next stage.
"All right, Pinkie," Twilight said confidently. "Now that we have extensively studied cakes and pastries of all sorts and their history, it's time for the next step. Hooves on experimentation."
"Which means?" Pinkie Pie looked rather puzzled.
"Gathering up samples of different types of cakes, baking some cakes, and most importantly-" Twilight was suddenly cut off as her stomach emitted a low growl.
"-EATING CAKE?" Pinkie Pie bounced with excitement.
"Eating cake." Twilight smiled. Some part of her was still depressed about the cancelled visit, but it was very difficult to stay sad around Pinkie Pie. The occasional bursts of phoenix song helped her mood as well. She had started to wonder if something in phoenix song was mood altering. Subharmonics, perhaps?
So Pinkie Pie pulled out various slices of cake from the bakery, and they started baking a few more cakes. Pinkie wanted to provide them free of charge, but Twilight insisted on paying. She had plenty of bits anyways. Princess Celestia provided her with a generous allowance as her student. She also received a small salary for running the library, which she shared with Spike, since he did a good deal of the work there anyways.
They had one cake in the oven, and were preparing the cake batter for another when, in the process of getting some raisins, Twilight slipped. The batter went flying, and as luck would have it, ended up covering Pinkie Pie from head to tail.
"Twilight!" Pinkie exclaimed in mock anger.
"Pinkie! I-" She started to stammer out, but was interrupted by cake batter splattering in her ear. Instinctively, she grabbed a tube of cake frosting and squirted it at Pinkie Pie, cake making forgotten.
When the oven timer rang, it found them both covered in cake batter and frosting and laughing hysterically. Twilight quickly turned off the heat to the oven and levitated the freshly made cake out.
"I guess we got a bit carried away." Twilight said, still laughing, and applied the frosting to the newly baked cake.
"Maybe, but it was delicious!" Pinkie licked a bit of frosting off her lips.
Just then, they heard the sound of a throat being cleared. Turning towards the sound, Twilight saw Princess Celestia standing in the bakery doorway, looking somewhat bemused.
"Princess Celestia!" Twilight exclaimed. Forgetting propriety, dignity, and, indeed, the fact that she was covered in cake frosting and batter, she ran to the princess and embraced her in a heartfelt, if somewhat sticky hug.
"My most faithful student." Celestia said. Experimentally, she licked off a piece of cake batter that had landed on her nose during the hug. "Carrot Rum Cake?"
Realizing that she had just covered the ruler of Equestria in frosting and cake batter, Twilight blushed and stepped out of the embrace. "Your m-majesty! I'm s-sorry..." she stammered.
"Twilight," Celestia gently stated. "I'm not here as your ruler today, remember? And no apology is necessary."
"But, you cancelled-" Twilight started, unsure what was going on.
"I said a diplomatic matter had come up with my great granddaughter, Effervescence, which it had. But," she sighed. "it has been taken care of."
She then entered Sugarcube Corner, followed by Philomena, who immediately headed over to a corner with Peewee.
Something seemed off about Princess Celestia to Twilight, and she was sure there was something she should be paying more attention to. For the moment, though, cleaning off all the cake batter seemed like a good idea.
"However it happened, I'm glad to see you here." Twilight said. "Pinkie, could the princess use your shower to wash herself off and get settled?"
"Sure, Twilight." Pinkie replied. She led Celestia up to her bathroom, and showed her where the shower was. As she gratefully relaxed and cleaned herself off in Pinkie Pie's bathroom, Twilight and Pinkie set themselves to cleaning up the mess downstairs.
"Well, Twilight, since the Princess seems to have arrived after all, why don't we put the rest of our experimentation on hold till another day?" Pinkie asked. "Once we're all cleaned up, the three of us can have a piece or two of cake. Then you and your mentor can go back to the library and catch up."
"Are you sure, Pinkie? I know you were enjoying our study session." Twilight hated to just abandon her friend like this.
"I was, but there will be other times." She eyeballed Twilight. "There will be other times, right?"
"Of course there will." Twilight reassured her.
"Oh, and go easy on Celestia, all right?" Pinkie said.
Before Twilight could ask what Pinkie had meant by that, Celestia came down, and Pinkie was suddenly nudging her upstairs. As she rinsed herself off, she could faintly hear two voices talking downstairs, but couldn't really make out any words.
She finished up, and headed downstairs, where slices of cake were lined up. The princess perked up as Twilight entered the room, pink mane flowing behind her.
"So, I understand you've expanded your studies to the Magic of Pastries. I'm impressed. Come over here, and you can have your first lesson." Celestia beckoned her over.
Twilight sat with the two of them, quill ready for a lesson with her mentor.
"Here we have a slice of Germane chocolate cake. First, take a small amount of the cake on your fork. Make sure to get a good sniff of the aroma before putting it in your mouth. Roll around the cake on your tongue a bit, sampling its flavor and texture before chewing. Do this for several different sections of the cake, to get a good feel for it." Celestia instructed.
Twilight started doing this, sampling the incredible chocolate and coconut flavors with wonder.
"And then, once it starts to overwhelm you, go ahead and eat the rest as normal," the princess said, rapidly devouring the rest of her piece with glee.
Twilight shrugged and finished the piece off as the other two seemed to be doing.
"And there you have it, the magic of pastries. Use it well."
Twilight wasn't sure any actual magic was involved, but didn't want to contradict her teacher, and instead enjoyed the cake.
As they finished up, Pinkie Pie wrapped up several pieces of different cakes for later, and started tucking them in a basket.
"All right, I know the two of you are going to want to get back to the library. Why don't you go ahead and take some slices with you for later?" Pinkie gestured towards the basket.
"Thank you, Pinkie," Twilight said gratefully. "Oh, I don't really have anything else home to eat. Any chance I could pick up some groceries quickly?"
In response to that, Pinkie Pie gestured towards another basket next to the first.
"How did you know?" Twilight said. This was getting a bit ridiculous. It wasn't as if she could read minds, after all.
"Spike usually stops by for groceries today, so with him at Rarity's, I thought you might need some food." Pinkie explained.
"Thank you." Twilight repeated sincerely.
They cleaned up their dishes, and Celestia and Twilight headed out with the baskets.
Pinkie Pie watched them go a bit sadly, her mane deflating slightly. Finishing tidying things up, she was interrupted by a quick trill that immediately picked her spirits up. Looking, neither Philomena nor Peewee had left yet, and seemed to be quite concerned for her.
"Oh, go on with Twilight and Celestia, you two. I'll be fine. They need you more then I do right now." She lectured the two phoenixes. They looked at her assessingly, nodded, and headed out. Pinkie watched them for a moment, flipped the sign to closed, and headed up for a shower in slightly better cheer.