18 December 2011

A Piece of Cake

My daughter requested a German Chocolate Cake for her birthday this year. Being handy in the kitchen (not bragging), I obliged. And in the process of making that confounded cake, I experienced an epiphany.

In preparation for making this cake, I did my homework. Since baking is not my forte, I researched everything from the etymology of German Chocolate Cake, to recipes, to people's reactions to said recipes. I carefully selected the best and began my prep work. I pulled out all the stops- we're talking cake flour, sifting, chocolate squares, whipping egg whites. Everything. The actual cake batter took me nearly an hour to complete. I was happy as a lark when I gently placed the cake pans in the oven, timer set.

When the cake was finally baked, I knew, right away, there was going to be trouble. The cake had not risen as much as it should have, and upon quick inspection, I noted the cake was FIRMLY stuck in the pans. How could this be?? I coated & floured the pans and followed every instruction to the letter. I hopped on line, furiously googling, "How To Get A Cake Un-Stuck From A Pan." No success with suggested methodologies. Finally, I caved. I knew there was only one way that cake was coming out of the pan: by brute force. And it wouldn't be pretty.

Using a rubber scraper, I scraped both pans out onto the counter. It was the saddest site I think I've seen (kitchen-wise). I picked up a piece of the cake and tasted: it was heavenly. I just stood there shaking my head. I re-read the recipe. I had done everything as explained. UGH!!! The birthday cake was dead.

I sucked up my pride, tossed the awesome tasting but now-just-a-pile-of-crumb cake out. I headed to the pantry, fingers crossed. Sure enough, there was a German Chocolate Cake mix on a shelf. With some doctoring, I had the new cake into the oven in about 4 minutes. I've still got home made frosting, and it will taste just fine. Plus, I'm not sure my kid's 12-year-old palate is sophisticated enough to even spot the difference.

Moral of the story: Sometimes we do things right, like we should. We labor, we are obedient, we take the time, we follow the instructions. But that alone does not guarantee success. Sometimes, we still take a few stripes, waste some valuable resources in attempts to do good. Our efforts are met with opposition and even failure. The trick is to not just throw in the proverbial towel and walk away. The trick is to have a back-up plan and the tenacity to use it. Even if we fail the first time around, all is not lost. We have gained valuable experience (for example, I learned that Wilton makes a substance that guarantees the release of cakes from pans). We have gained wisdom, patience. But that is not all. We need to take the next step: Be willing to try again. If we stop at each failure, how will we ever progress? Whether it is our culinary skills, our personal belief system, or our very own salvation, we must have the ferocity, humility and character to persist.

So yeah, I made a cake mix for Chloe's birthday. Because, this girl will have her cake, and eat it too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wish you woulda boxed up that pile of crumbs and sent them to me! I would have happily devoured them. :) You are so wise, my friend. Thanks for the insight. Chloe is so lucky to have you!