Table Talk with Lawanna

 cake

Pound Cake, Patience, Tolerance, Perseverance, & Resiliency

Thank you for joining Table Talk with Lawanna sponsored by Progressing through Therapy, www.progressingthroughtherapy.com.

In this segment, I will describe how baking a pound cake helped me in developing valuable character traits and values; specifically, patience, tolerance, perseverance, and resiliency.

I am proud to say, baking a pound cake is one of the best things that I have produced in my lifetime, so far.

I was given a recipe outline not a recipe – a recipe outline, not a detailed recipe – an outline.

  • One pound of butter
  • One pound of sugar
  • One pound of eggs
  • One pound of flour
  • and if you feel bold add some flavoring or extracts.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 to 375 degrees
  • Do not forget to prepare the right pan – coat the sides of your pan and flour ensuring all the edges are covered.

I assembled all the required ingredients. Not the most expensive ingredients, but the ingredients that fit within the grocery budget.

Notice the outline does not state what kind of butter, what kind of sugar, the type of flour, and does not indicate what size of the eggs as well as the outline did not indicate a specific temperature for the oven nor a definite baking time.

Keep in mind, I was given a handwritten outline not a recipe. (Can you see the similarity to the journey from adolescents to adulthood?)

Did I mention that it was written on the back of an envelope? (Unlike the game of LIFE, no rules are written down but many have blueprints)

Here’s the journey

I developed patience by allowing the butter to settle to room temperature, soft but not melting, as well as allowing the eggs to settle to room temperature. Had to utilized those math skills acquired in elementary & high school to measure one-pound sugar, 16 ounces exactly not too much or too little. Premeasured out one-pound of flour, 16 ounces exactly not too much and not too little, and sifted the measured flour only to have to re-measure 16 ounces again. Cracking eggs in a separate container and searching for any remnants of eggshells. Can you see the tolerance, perseverance, and resiliency?

Using an electronic mixer, patience was required to whip (cream) the butter into a creamy state. The whipping (creaming) seemed to take an eternity, but in reality, it was no more than 12 minutes. After whipping the butter, more patience is required along with tolerance. Gradually adding the sugar in small increments. Once all the sugar is incorporated, cream the butter and sugar mixture into a cloud like consistency. Take a deep breath and do not stray far from the mixture.

At this point, questions, doubt, and irritation began to set in

  • Are we ever going to be able to eat this cake?
  • Is it worth it?
  • They better appreciate all this work?
  • I wish someone would say they didn’t like the cake.
  • I could have just bought a store bought cake and wouldn’t have to clean up the kitchen.
  • Didn’t I tell ya’ll I am making a cake, so no running or opening and closing doors.

Once the butter and sugar resembled a cloud, resist the urge to put your finger in it to taste (after all, who does not want to reach out touch and taste a cloud) and do not allow any moisture to enter the cloud. Now it is time to add each egg separately. Do not crack the eggs directly into the cloud as that might result in eggshells entering the clouds. Once you have, the first egg added to the cloud, mix until no yellow is showing. Do not overmix. Repeat for all the eggs. Do not overmix. See the patience, tolerance, perseverance, and resiliency, at its finest.

Once the eggs are incorporated, slowly add flour in small increments. The outline did not define what small increments were. It is worth mentioning that if you add all the flour at one time, you will get a cloud of flour smoke in your kitchen that will cover everything near and far, resulting in more clean up. Do not forget to stop the mixture periodically to scrap the sides of the bowl to ensure all the flour is incorporated.

See the patience, tolerance, perseverance, and resiliency.

I could have just purchased a cake for about $8.99 at the store.

Once all the flour is incorporated, carefully and skillfully transferred your batter from the bowl to a well-prepared bowl try not to get batter on the upper sides, rim of the pan, and try to miss the hole if using a baking pan that has a hole in the center. At this point, I am breathing hard and thinking I should have locked all the doors so no one can come in and ask, “Are you making a cake?” Really.

Once you have all the batter transferred from the bowl to the baking pan, more questions and doubt.

  • Do I tap the pan against the counter like I see on the food shows?
  • Do I add a water bath to the oven like I see on the food shows?
  • Am I allowed to breath? Did I breathe?
  • Did I add all the eggs?
  • I should have been bold and added flavoring.
  • If I open the oven door, how long will it take the oven to get back to the temperature?

There has to be an easier way to show my family that I care.

Carefully, I place the baking pan with cake batter into the oven. Can it be considered a cake, yet?

I try to find the timer. No luck, I look at the clock and note the time. Then I announce loudly, I have a cake in the oven no yelling, no running, no running in and out the house. Dawg gone it, did I just yell?

Now the waiting game.  If you remembered the outline at the top, you will notice there is no baking time indicated.

It has taken well over 25 years to get my pound cake to almost resemble my mothers and grandmothers – see picture at the top of the page.

I had to realize that my outcome might yield different results than my grandmothers and my mothers. And that’s okay because my finished product was based on my efforts, skills, talents, and abilities. Yeah Me!

Can you see the patience, tolerance, perseverance, and resiliency, yet?

  • It took years to realize that all-purpose and self-rising flour did not give the same results as cake flour.
  • Using all-purpose or self-rising flour is okay but required more ingredients.
  • Premeasuring the flour, sifting, and measuring seem like a waste of time and double work but proved valuable because it eliminated the clumps, lumps, and air pockets in the flour to ensure that the accuracy of the measurement.

In my baking journey, I have thrown more than 150 perfectly edible pound cakes away before anyone, including myself could taste:

  • Because the cake did not resemble the look of my grandmothers or my mothers
  • Because the cake was too dark
  • Because the cake was too light
  • Because the cake fell apart while transferring from pan to plate
  • Because the crumb factor was off
  • Because there were cracks
  • Because the top was crunchy

I could provide you with an extensive list of reasons why I could not serve the cake. But it took some trial and error for me to realize that,  “HAPPINESS IS LETTING GO OF WHAT YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE, CELEBRATING IT FOR EVERYTHING THAT IT IS” Mandy Hale.