Growing In GraceNot-yet-baked cakes have given me a lesson in growing in grace. As a kid was tempted to open the oven early–which can cause the cake center to fall. In this small world where you cannot grow up without being thrown around a bit, I have always had a fascination with not-yet-baked cakes. Your, “I’m finally six years old” birthday cake that hasn’t been “set” can’t be jiggled while in the oven or it will cave in to its own middle and become a sludgy mess. Mom won’t even let you open the oven door a crack for fear of this.
But as for you, well you’re not well done at the age of six—you’re hardly “set”—and yet you weren’t allowed to cave into a goopy mess while getting whacked or jiggled and jostled around. How odd.
If childhood is the oven and we come out when we’re full-grown, how on earth did we turn out as good as we have? Where does all our gooey mess go? Heaven knows we were all shaken up more than once, back when our emotional batter was as runny as Betty Crocker’s Moist Chocolate Cake Mix. How did we still rise and stay so soft and fluffy?
A Watch Cake Never Bakes
I used to crouch and squint my way through my birthday cake baking. The light in the oven was as dull and yellow as my little red flashlight, so I could barely make out the shape of the pan. But I had to watch even though I couldn’t stand the wait.
And sooner or later the pressure would get to me, and suddenly my moment would come. There would be a silence in the kitchen that told me I was alone—at least for a moment. And looking both ways I would pull the oven door open a crack. My trembling hands and stopped breath assuring me that nothing could go wrong. I knew with enough tenderness I would go unnoticed by the soupy batter that was trying so desperately to push itself upwards.
But that’s when one of my three sisters would walk—no—run-in, and sound the alarm on me. Mom! Clar’s looking at the cake! She’d shriek. Bam! I was caught! But worse than that, her high-pitched shriek would scare my little cake-in-progress half to death. A lesson in growing in grace.
In the first two syllables of her scream, I’d watch helplessly as my tasty friend would withdraw to the bottom of the pan, never to rise again. Without even the slightest struggle, he would gasp, fall backward and curl up into the fetal position. Grace in failure
It was always so sad, so final.
And it was so unfair. I don’t remember ever being that sensitive. Honestly, it didn’t seem right that one loud voice or one slammed door could make a cake fall when kids heard loud voices and slamming doors every day and still seemed to set well. Why did cakes have to be so temperamental?
No one has ever really answered my many questions about fallen cakes. How could something so wonderful turn so hard and gritty if jiggled? How could the very thing that made birthday cakes so fluffy burn a hole in your mouth? And how come there was nothing you could do to save a fallen cake? Baking that cake was a lesson in growing in grace
I was always pretty sure growing up that cakes weren’t much like kids at all. Nevertheless, I now avoid slamming doors and using loud voices, just in case.
Keeping with the theme of desserts read: Jesus and Ice Cream
Clar Worley Sproul writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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