Baking a simple pound cake is how we welcome the very first snow of the season. This tradition was started the winter of 2010, I was resident of Atlanta and newly engaged. Admittedly, there is very little snow on the ground in Alexandria, nevertheless, in commemoration of the light, yet defiant coating of winter’s glory glazing my former city, I felt it only right to continue the ritual.
The Rule of Fives:
For five minutes, the butter that softened, as it lay anxiously on the chopping block overnight was whipped. Successively, the sugar was allowed to cascade into the mixing bowl, ensuring that the intoxicating elements had sufficient time to mingle.
The Rule of Fives is especially important to pound cake, given its natural density. I can almost guarantee that if you have eaten a dry pound cake, the artisan did not adhere to this principle (yes baking is science and science is art…get into it 🤓).
Confession: The glorious yellow coloring that signals well-aerated butter was giving me all kinds of feels this drab Saturday morning.
I was slow, methodical, patient even…
Perched at 325 degrees, the oven eagerly awaited the batter spooned into the well-lubricated Bundt pan and tapped aggressively a few times on the counter, to be gingerly placed in its innermost parts.
About 40 minutes into the baking, I didn’t smell cake I smelled potential disaster!
Tossing the computer on the bed I scurried to the kitchen. I turned on the oven light, only to discover that a scant bit of oozing batter had settled on the bottom of the range. This was likely the cause of the slight smell of calamity that dawdled in the air. Reassured, I cracked open my windows ever so shyly, instead of the oven, rehearsing my Nana’s warnings to never open the oven door while the cake was baking.
The timer squealed with delight!
Athough the time of indulgence was upon us, the splendid smell signaling the satisfactory comminglement of butter, sugar, and flour wasn’t wafting through the air. Sauntering to the kitchen it was simply assumed Jack Frost was holding my reward hostage. You know he’s a hater!
Upon opening the oven door, my heart sank lower than the interior of my cake.
Notorious Quote 1,569,292: “My cakes don’t drop!”, Thanksgiving Day 2017
Lesson: Watch what you proclaim snidely to your mother. It says somewhere in the ever elusive Baker’s Bible to honor your mother and father or your cake might take a nosedive!! #lessonlearned
Dejected, I took the cake out of the oven and went back to my Saturday diversions.
IG is littered daily with proclamations declaring what a Sh*t Show 2017 was/is.
Yet, that’s not my story.
Eight months of this year had me totally convinced that I set up residence in the most prominent neighborhood smack dab in the Pits of Hell. To further catastrophize (for literary purposes of course), I conceded that either God was not a keeper of His Word or I failed to make the cut to be God’s Next Top Model.
Thankfully though, I came to understand a few things. My principal issue was paucity! I lacked a fundamental understanding of what a blessing truly is. Moreover, I was too lazy to spend time becoming intimate with God; so I superimposed flawed human attributes onto Him.
2017, was the toughest year of my life! Nonetheless, I do not regret a single second of it. I am exceedingly grateful for the enigmas, the mistakes, the wins, the losses, and the lessons; which proved to be the real blessing.
Blessings are typically disguised as misfortune.
Everything God promised me August 2, 2016 (you have to right stuff down, trust me) came to fruition by September 5, 2017.
Can you fathom that a simple change in perspective didn’t come from spiritual calisthenics or frankly anything that I did/did not do? Simply accepting that whatever was happening in my life was already planned and purposed, instantly altered eight hellish months into the most impactful material I’ll ever write or speak about.
Empathically though I get the ponderings regarding 2017 (or every year for that matter).
It keeps me keenly aware of my disdain for 2014.
I vividly recollect all the proclamations of double decreed from every pulpit, whilst looking at my life wishing they had told me they were referring to DOUBLE BS!
What I find so astonishing is that 2017 seemingly clarifies the intense struggle of 2014. Every tear shed, every sigh, every thought, every prayer, every complaint was the very water, fertilizer, and attention needed for what 2017 and beyond will produce in my life and the lives of those connected to me.
Although the recipe and process are tested, your outcome may still look like a failure.
Rehearsing my steps to determine where I could have gone wrong in my ritualistic labor of love. Then I recalled getting rather handsy with the sugar and giving my cake a bonus cup of the sweet stuff.
Artisans often take liberty with recipes, designs, stories…
Likewise, we tend to take artistic freedom with our lives.
Adding a diminutive dash of deception here, a smidge of scandalous sex there, combined with both righteous and reckless relationships.
Artistic freedom, though natural, is not without consequence.
I dogmatically reminded my then teenage son that freedom was anything but free. He ignored me mostly, well until he had to pay freedom’s hefty dowry.
In returning to what I initially dismissed as a misfortune, it was discovered this cake possessed that coveted crunchy outer coating. Upon flipping the cake onto its stand, my perspective was instantly shifted. The imperfection caused by my artistic dalliances was now no longer evident.
The cake was incredibly moist yet had that extra something, which I loved!
Before you toss 2017 into the Universe’s recycling bin, I encourage you to flip your perspective! You just might discover that although you weren’t the most ideal steward of your freedom, your value has skyrocketed!
Others witnessed the result of that little something extra that was added to your life and pronounced your end, if only they knew the plan was always for it to enhance and elevate you!
A New Year starts when your dreams and goals are renewed….
Happy New Year,
Cover Photo courtesy Lu and…
The less existential meaning of “The Rule of Fives” when it comes to baking…<<<<<<
put, cream the butter at a high speed for 5 minutes, followed by the sugar for an additional five minutes. This process ensures a light, well-incorporated base for any enchanting delight.
My new favorite song