Until December 23, 2010, I was a city girl. I had daily lattes, shopped a little too often, relied on public transportation, and rejected the thought of ever living in the country. When my husband and I decided to leave it all for West Texas to farm, life changed completely. Read my “Farmwife Confessions” to learn about the transition.
I don’t know that this is actually a farmwife confession, as it’s not about farming. But, it is a confession. And I’m making this confession because Russell and I decided to move here to farm. So, in that sense, I suppose it is a farmwife confession.
Here it is: I cannot for the life of me properly bake a cake here.
It started in February when I tried to make a cake for Russell’s birthday and a Super Bowl party that his brother and his family were hosting. I decided to make him my grandma’s lemon pound cake – a tried and true family recipe, one that I have made literally hundreds of times over my life. And what a disaster it was.
First, I misread the recipe and added WAY more baking powder than I was supposed to. That, coupled with the high altitude, meant my cake rose and rose and rose and exploded all over the oven.
After cleaning it up, I tried again, using the correct amount of baking powder and trying to adapt the recipe for high altitude. A little less flour. Not too much mixing. Adjusted baking time and temperature. The cake rose properly and looked pretty while it was cooking – but when I took it out of the oven, it was as dry as a bone and half of it was still stuck to the pan.
I ended up salvaging the first cake for the party. And it tasted okay, but I knew that it wasn’t right. As a lifelong baker – and as someone who once won a competition with this cake recipe! – I was mortified that I couldn’t bake this cake properly.
So, last week, I tried again. For the first time, I followed the recipe exactly. And it still rose too quickly, dripped over the edges of the pan, and collapsed in the middle. It seemed to be another disaster. But, Russell made me fight my urges to take it out and throw it in the trash, and instead, I let it cook completely.
The bottom was an ugly, deformed mess and there were burnt pieces of cake all over the bottom of the oven. But once the cake was flipped, it started looking like the cake I grew up baking.
And when I took the first bite, I knew it truly was the cake I grew up eating. It might not be perfect – but, as I devoured the first piece, I had to call it a success.
And it was delicious to the very last bite.
As I took that last bite, I wondered how many things in my life I abandon half way through because it’s not going perfectly, when, with a little perseverance and faith, it would turn out to be a success. Just how often is perfect the enemy of good enough?