Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe for Disaster

I love to bake. Always have. Why? Because I love to eat. Still do, after losing over 100 pounds. My favorite? Sweets—in any way, shape or form.

There’s a downside to baking, though. Maintaining my weight loss of over 100 pounds requires that I change how often I indulge in this fun hobby. I can’t afford to bake, and eat, the oven-fresh deliciousness of cakes, cookies and breads on a regular basis. Yes, I still bake from time to time but far less often than I used to.

A recent family celebration gave me an excuse for the fun opportunity to bake again! The cake: an old-time classic called “1-2-3-4 Cake” for my mother-in-law’s birthday. This beautifully large white cake, topped with homemade frosting, is an indulgent result of the simple recipe with a few ingredients.

There was one problem, though. The recipe itself.

You see, I have attempted to bake this cake dozens of times over the years, and it never quite worked. Instead of a cake, I’d get a pancake. Why can’t I get this simple cake to work properly? I tried again for the birthday event. I pulled out the slightly stained and bent index card from the recipe box with the familiar handwriting of a family friend listing the ingredients and instructions. I engaged in some of my favorite activites: I stirred, blended, poured, tested, baked, cooled and frosted, and then it was time to cut the cake.

It fell. Again.

This time, I decided to check the recipe itself. I never considered the recipe to be a problem before, since it was a hand-printed treasure from my wedding shower. I still have the collection of recipes I received along with the shower gifts that day, and many of them are old-time favorites like this cake recipe. But every time I baked this cake, and it fell, I checked and fixed all the usual potential problems: my oven temperature, the ingredients themselves, and the length of time to bake the cake.

Onto the internet I went. Recipe research resulted in one simple flaw in my version: my recipe indicated that I should beat the final batter for TWENTY minutes before baking. This is unusually long, but a dense cake, like this one, can require this length of time for the proper batter consistency. I never questioned it. My research, on the other hand, corrected the flaw. It became evident that the final batter is to be mixed for TWO minutes, not TWENTY. One little zero—from a two to a twenty, and my recipe problem is solved.

I think it’s funny how one little flaw, one little zero, can make a big difference. Years and years of trying to make this cake with the wrong recipe produced the wrong results.

It’s like this in life, too. If I proceed with the wrong recipe for success, I will surely get the wrong results. Every time. This cake-baking experience reminds me to be concerned with the little things in life more often. There are little zeros that can make all the difference. For me, those little zeros are habits like giving a smile to a person I pass on the street, letting the other car pass me on the road, slowing down to give my family members a hug, noticing the flowers in bloom in the neighborhood. Little things like reminding my husband I love him, making sure to take my morning Bible time, and thanking God all along for everything, even flopped cakes.

Tip of the week:
When I am tempted while making favorite treats, like 1-2-3-4 Cake, I make sure to pop a piece of gum in my mouth to help remind me not to lick the batter. The chewing gum trick comes in handy at other times, too, like cooking dinner.


Anonymous said...

Good story. I have an engineering friend who supplied me with this quote - works for engineering and works for all life matters: "If you keep doing what you always do, you'll get what you always got." I remind myself of this principle often. -Bev

diane said...

great idea to chew gum! thanks