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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


Pinkie's been an apprentice baker ever since she moved in with the Cakes, and part of that is because she hasn't completed her master piece: the dish which will prove she's worthy of the unamended title. For her, that's a soufflé. Something she's never been able to successfully bake.

With the Cakes out of town and the bakery closed for a day, Pinkie has a chance to spend her time in trying to take that final step. And perhaps somewhere before the end of her failures, she'll learn something about why doing so was important --

-- or if it was ever really important at all.

(This story takes place one week before the start of Triptych.)

Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group. New members and trope edits welcome.

Has a reading by KwirkyJ. Listen as desired.

Now with author Patreon and Ko-Fi pages.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 68 )

Oh, poor Pinkie. It was a fun cavalcade of failures to watch, but at the same time it hurt a little.

Vanilla? So... Not perfectly then.

I love this Pinkie. Serious, but not grimdark. Happy, but not psychotic. Fully-realized, not a caricature. Straight-mane Pinkie, which is the most cliche aspect of the story, feels earned. Great building off of "Party of One" and "A Friend In Deed."

I feel like I learned something new about Pinkie. Given how much fic I've read, what I'm trying to say is: damn fine work.

2899168 Exactly. I love this piece, it's beautiful and touching and funny and sweet and fits Pinkie right down to the ground, but oh gods did it hurt to read. It made my heart ache. I wished she could be real so I could just hug her.

I really liked this story, and it had a very touching ending. Loved your characterization of Pinkie, authors usually only write her as either her normal self or terminally depressed / psychotic and it's nice to have her actually be in the middle for a change.

I also loved how Rarity is secretly a huge hoofball nerd, that is just incredibly fitting.


I honestly (and briefly) struggled trying to decide which category tags to put on this one. It's a pure Slice Of Life tale in some ways -- but it was one where I really wished we were allowed to put Comedy and Sad on the same story. I almost left both of them off and treated it like the lottery story: there's a bit of everything, so no need to mention either aspect. In the end, I decided it was perhaps just slightly towards the comedy side in the classic Greek sense and reserved the right to edit the tag out later.

As for Pinkie... I semi-joked in one blog post about having found some kind of Neutral setting to go against her fully ON and OFF ones: the position where you might see why the Cakes would chance running the daily (and still extant) risk of putting her in a position of customer service. Full-time ON Pinkie dealing with an unsuspecting public = a lot of ponies staggering away with their bits still in their possession, with the chance of picket and Out Of Business signs somewhere down the road.

Of course, to a lot of people, that probably just means I've messed up her characterization beyond all hope of repair.

More people need to read this, because Pinkie-as-pony, rather than Pinkie-as-LOLRANDUM.

Happily added to my favorites list.

It's hard to escape the interests of or parents... poor Rarity.

My God. Someone remembered Cranky exists. :rainbowderp: I am impressed and happy.

But seriously, this is now somewhere near the top of my favorite Pinkie Pie stories. It's just great to see her actually trying to do something like this and not being fully in LOLRANDOM mode.

Also, I am now adding "And Then Scootaloo" to my daily life. :rainbowlaugh::twilightsmile:

I'm really impressed with what you did here. Most stories of this prompt take a "X wants to do Y, X tries to do Y, X talks to people, X does Y," and that's it. It's not normally so much a story as it is a recount of events.

Here, while that formula does exist, it takes a backseat to an exploration of Pinkie's... well, everything. So many different elements of Pinkie and her friends are examined and developed, and it's just so much fun.

As normal, the elements of your headcanon fitted perfectly with Equestria as well, and so the whole thing was just... good.

Not a "good, I appreciate this, keep at it and someday you'll be epic;" no, this is like a Fallout 3 or Half-Life "good, and that's what I'm calling it because words fail me in describing how much I love this."

I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I went into this story expecting a souffle obsession, and thus absolutely loved the way you used it as a symbol for Pinkie's development. And also everything else.

...Estee, why you so awesome?

Nicely done.

It is nice to see Pinkie serious, without being completely the opposite; a rare occurance.Very well done.

Using Crankey was a nice touch. I wasn't overly struck by that episode, personally, but here, he works very well, having both that little bit of extra distance and the wisdom of age to boot.

Great work.

Very nice ending. Pinkie makes the soufflé but doesn't even realize she could had done so at the start. :pinkiehappy:

2902316 My comment was in no way meant to be a criticism. This was beautifully done as I said and to me that sounds really apt for how we've seen Pinkie. She has been shown to be able to calm down and be more relaxed when needed.

excellent story

Beautifully written, expertly paced, funny and serious and sad and joyous: this story is pretty near perfect. And it made me cry, especially when Cranky said, "You'll travel. But you'll always come home." :pinkiesad2: His understanding of the limitations of cutie marks, and of ponies (and life) in general is wonderful.

Thank you for writing and sharing this, giving me the opportunity to add it to my headcanon. :heart:

Light and laughter,

Another excellent piece. I really enjoy the depth you bring to your work. :pinkiesmile:
I especially liked the bits with Applejack, and how deep the earth pony segment of the Mane Six's friendship runs. :ajsmug:

(On a side note I'd love to see in subsequent seasons of the show pairing the girls up in different combinations to explore their friendships, like how do Pinkie and Fluttershy get along?:pinkiehappy::yay:Or Rarity and Dash?:rainbowwild::duck: Etc.)

I also liked Cranky Doodle's part in this. You got his voice down perfectly, and his speeches helped me past a concern that you were treating cutie marks with a bit too much pre-destination for my personal comfort level. I liked the exploration that resulted. :pinkiesmile:

So bravo, another fine piece.

Well this story blind-sided me with thoughts and feels (which have nothing to do with reading it so late my eyes aren't working anymore).
This is simply beautiful in how it brings everything together in so many ways, and lets us into her heart of hearts a little, in a gentle and tender way we rarely see with our prancing party pony.
Wonderful I say, simply wonderful.

A really nice mix of humor and depth. Bonus points for bringing in Cranky!

Cranky, and I mean this in the best possible way, sounds like somebody's grandfather.

Can you please PM me a timeline of your fics? And this is an awesome story. I loved Sonic Rainbigot (is that part of the Triptych timeline?) and I loved the tartarus out of this fic. I'm keeping it up so I can re-read it later.

What I love about your Pinkie Pie is that she is basically as far removed from mine as is possible while remaining the same character. I started with the zaniness and mild reality warping and went from there, and somehow I ended up with a five thousand year old ex-demigod who knows how Equestria was made because she made it. And I wouldn't have her any other way.

But you? You started with the rock farmer's daughter underneath. If I went with the surface, you went with the core, and you have created a much richer and more compelling character. Or so I feel.

Meanwhile, Cranky works because he is Pinkie's antithesis: a life of cynicism and resignation wrapped around a fundamental core of hope, rather than the other way around. The two of them together make for a wonderful contrast that, as you demonstrated, can drive stories like little else.

In any case, this story was fantastic. I've done the same sort of subconscious self-sabotage in the past, and I could really feel for Pinkie through the entire tale. Thank you for this, and may your soufflés never mock you.

I have to say, the way you've portrayed Pinkie here is nothing short of masterful.
Bravo, Sir. :moustache:

I know Maud from the most recent episode doesn't really fit into your universe, but your observations on Pinkie's relationship with Gummy, I think completely fits into the canon universe, and probably came from a memory of her loving, and very taciturn and unresponsive, big sister.

Not saying you need to shoehorn her in. Just an interesting thought that passed through my head lol. :pinkiehappy:

I'm probably going to step on some toes for saying this, but you write Pinkie better than most of the actual show's writers do. Pinkie is easily my favorite character amongst the core cast, and after this last season or two seeing her degenerate into being used only in the role of zany comic relief character has really bummed me out. There's a lot more to her character than providing non-sequitur commentary or visual sight gags. Thank you for providing me with what has to be one of the most satisfying stories I've ever read on this entire site. :pinkiesad2:

Remarkably enjoyable and thought-provoking. :moustache:

If you get lost, look for the grey pegasus with seven bubbles on her flank and she'll give you additional directions. Which I'm presuming you'll need, as you'll be traveling without benefit of atlas.


I now accept And Then Scootaloo for a valid explanation of a disaster. :scootangel: And AJ's theory about the CMC's cutie marks is the most original I've seen (and the most scarily plausable). :ajbemused:

But seriously, Cranky's advice about cutie marks and the portrayal of Non-crazy, Non-random Pinkie are both absolutely brilliant. :heart: Bonus points for being the first fic I've seen that talks about Pinkie having to work that much harder at baking since her cutie mark doesn't involve that.

Liked and favorited. And based on this and some other stories of yours that I've read, you've earned yourself another follower (and you definitely deserve more).

What Cranky said was true but does this have to do with Clara Oswin Oswald soufflé girl and the impossible girl? But then again I se Doctor Who in everything

This was everything a fanfic of a cheesy cartoon show about horses should be. Good damn job.

I smiled.

This is honestly one of the best pony fics I've ever read. It's flawless, in every sense of the word. I love it.

How would an OFF pinkie run the place? I think you did a better job writing her than most people. Also could you explain to me what this verse is you have this story apart of.

Re-read this just now, and Cranky is very nearly best pony here.... :pinkiesad2::pinkiesmile:

a meat dish surrounded by a pastry shell which had to have both components cook evenly at the same temperature and come out perfectly -- which, given the differing requirements of each major ingredient, was patently impossible.

Partially cook the meat filling before putting it into the pastry. Coat the pastry interior with egg yolk to seal it during baking.

I learned these tips while helping Sweeny Todd with his meat pies. :pinkiecrazy:

4360988 We see that often with several characters. Rarity sometimes reverts to her narcissistic manner, and (especially in the comics) it sometimes goes too far. Twilight and Dash are given episodes where the grow and really seem mature and responsible... only to go berserk over very simple things shortly thereafter. AJ realizes she shouldn't obsess over Applebloom's safety and learns to ask for help... and then is back to obsessing over Applebloom's safety and being stubborn.

Fluttershy does seem to be more consistently open than she was in the past, but there may be more room for her to grow since her social phobias affects so many aspects of her life, there is always someplace else where she can learn to be a little more self-assured and assertive, without of course becoming Nasty Fluttershy. The Breezies were a perfect case. This wasn't about assertiveness so much as it was Fluttershy not wanting to hurt the feelings of creatures she adored, and she had to learn a lesson about kindness totally different from what she'd learned previously.

For the rest, they've already grown so much that if it remained consistent, there'd be no more friendship problems for them to solve about themselves. They have to be drawn back to their former state somewhat or they'd solve the conflict 5 minutes into the episode!

It's why the show is likely starting to reach out to new areas at last. The writers are realizing the Mane 6 should already be beyond the trifling matters with all they've dealt with and now it's time for them to venture out and assist others. This provides a vehicle for a greater scope of world-building as well.

My summation:

Technically wonderful writing. The pacing was perfect, setting up Pinkie's real problem for revelation little by little. The characterization was flawless. When I can read something and HEAR the character speaking and SEE their actions in my mind without even trying to conjure the image, that's a sign to me that writer has nailed the character.

Thematically, also magnificent. This could be an episode plot and be ranked as one of the best of the show were it to be an episode. The lesson calls back Cranky to help Pinkie with a variation of the very lesson she taught him as well as his own insights into her problem, which are deeper than merely a difficult dish. It has a wonderful lesson and lays it out in perfectly fitting language for each participant. And I wish the show writers could read this and realize why making Cutie Marks control ponies' minds, for all intents and purposes, is so horribly wrong for the show and an absolute contrast to their original significance and the older lessons about gaining them.

A perfect fanfic, and one of the few I would declare deserves to be canon material.

That was magnificent.

I ... I really didn't expect this when I decided to read this story. I'm glad my expectations weren't met, for what I did read exceeded said expectations by far.

It makes for a marvelous, bittersweet and subdued break from the other tryptych stories (I still am in that continuum, aren't I? This story ensnared me enough to forget where I am) I read so far.

It also made me realize/remember once more one of the things I really like in stories: Getting a very well written insight in the emotions and thoughts of the characters within such stories. That really helps a lot with the immerison.

I really must applaud your writing quality!

Now ... onwards to more Tryptych stories. :)

This story is absolutely beautiful. One of the best I've read, in fact. The characterization was perfect, and the seriousness of the story actually felt necessary to carry the message across, unlike most Pinkie Pie stories I've read. It was also one of the few times I've lingered on certain lines of a story, just because of how strikingly accurate they are in describing the context around it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I will definitely be coming back to read it again.

ugh these giant paragraphs are so painful bruh

*screams in incoherent rage*

Look, I know that not everyone is a chef. But the sheer amount of culinary misinformation on this site, and the relative prominence of food in the show, makes me want to force-feed someone a Bulletproof Coffee. Or rancid lard that's been left out in the sun for a week. Same difference, really.

Souffles are NOT hard to make. No, they won't collapse like a punctured balloon if you shout too hard, jostle the stove, or open the oven, or stare at it too hard. A souffle is little more than a simple custard, with flavorings that has been lightened with whipped whites. It's pretty much a meringue with fat added after whipping - little air bubbles with sugar/salt/cheese/cocoa/whatever in between.

It's not like a balloon - the entire analogy is nonsense. It's more like a foam. Poking it with a fork, while it won't give you any favors when it comes to selling it, won't ruin it. In fact, it's even possible to reinflate it partially after it falls by heating it up in the oven (therefore expanding the air inside the bubbles).

That's not an invitation to leave the door open at random times while baking one, or to slam the batter around like an uncivilized heathen. Stuff like oven spring/kick is still important. But really, souffles are somewhere in the middle-beginner's end of the baking spectrum - stuff like baguettes and brioche and really good cinnamon rolls and some cakes are more difficult than that.

Source: personal experience
Cook's Illustrated Jan/Feb 2014 issue
Serious Eats (multiple articles)

I reviewed this story!

My review can be found here.

Another great story!

Pointed here by your more recent Pinkie story, and loved it too. Girl's got a lot of depth that a lot of writers don't (or can't) bother writing -- but when it comes out, it's something golden-brown, fluffy, vanilla-flavored, and deliciously substantial. And now I'm hungry.

"I brought my own ingredients! And bowls and everything! I just really need an oven and a timer. I can use your alarm clock for the timer, if you haven't broken it again. But you usually have about twenty extras -- did you run out of extra alarm clocks?"
"No, I've still got five from that last shipment left..."

oh, that made me think of that old Pink Panther cartoon where he kept breaking alarm clocks...

"Ah thought she'd take longer," Applejack grumped. "Gettin' too fast with her mouthwritin' -- too much practice...

that's funny! Applejack was making Applebloom write "i will not do (something)" 100 times...and she's had lots of practice writing, because she keeps doing things that cause her to get punished that way!

"Ah keep tellin' her she's doin' it wrong an' she's gotta be patient, but --" The farmer's teeth momentarily ground, which Pinkie knew was code for 'Scootaloo'. "Ah pray for the day they all figure it out. Not get their marks, necessarily, although 'course Ah want that t' happen -- jus' t' realize how wrong they are.

And then CotLM happened, where both happened, where the realization led to them getting their marks.

Dude. This seriously needs to be an episode. I utterly loved adored the episode with Apple Bloom learning she can do things without her friends and be her own self without them - and that doesn't mean you don't like them or anything, it just means you have your own interests and preferences outside your friends.

At 26 years old I damn near cried at realizing that same thing because I didn't have many friends growing up that I could learn this.

I don't know if they could use this as inspiration because I think it'd be kind of hard to make it into their own thing without it being kinda blatant? but I do hope they do something like this. It's a really important lesson.

Is it a creme brulee then that can be easily screwed up? I know there was something you had to be super careful about or it'd be ruined very easily, but I can't remember...

Note: I am not a chef by any means :| That's the one complicated thing that's off the top of my head :|

But maybe that's also why Pinkie was having problems? She was over-complicating it? *Shrug.*

7446460 Anyone who has ever actually made a souffle will tell you it's simple - and anyone who has ever whipped egg whites knows they don't deflate from shouting at them, poking them with a pick, or banging the oven door or something equally stupid. Maybe you're right, and PP fucked it up by adding dozens of substeps and overcomplicating the mess.

Creme brulees are certainly more complicated than souffles, but I wouldn't call them all too difficult, since they're basically egg yolks, dairy, sugar, and flavoring baked in a water bath at low temperatures until set, and then torched with sugar. The toughest thing will be not spilling the custard on the way to the oven and not overbaking it (or overheating it). The torch step is scary for beginners, but as long as you don't do something ridiculous like directly put the fire on top of the torch or something, it should be fine - the sugar caramelizes slow enough to where you can stop before it blackens, and as long as you avoid focusing the heat onto one spot and keep moving the flame, it should be fine.

If you want something complicated, try making puff pastry or croissant dough. Even most professional bakeshops opt to buy it instead of making it themselves since there's so much effort involved.


Anyone who has ever actually made a souffle will tell you it's simple - and anyone who has ever whipped egg whites knows they don't deflate from shouting at them, poking them with a pick, or banging the oven door or something equally stupid.

While it's true that they're much easier to make than cartoons and ponyfics would have people believe, mine still usually collapse. Keeping them puffed up after cooling to room temperature isn't trivial, and that's what most comedies (or comedy-dramas, like Estee's fics) like to riff on.

(My best guess is that I'm allowing them to cool too quickly. Still no idea why my most recent one collapsed _during_ baking. Fortunately, they still _taste_ just fine collapsed, but I can see why they'd be harder to sell in that condition.)

My biggest food-related complaint about the show is that they showed professional chefs re-plating food that had been partly eaten (in "MMMystery", S2).

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