The kitchen was filled with smoke and began to float to other rooms. I turned on the fan, opened two windows and the door, hoping to control it before the smoke alarms went off. (Didn’t want to scare the neighbors!) I wondered whether or not to open the oven. I was sure it would make matters worse.
I have a pox on me when it comes to baking. My “goodies” – if you could even call them that-either stick in the pan, sink down in the middle or something else terrible. Today’s mess was brought to me by banana bread. I’ve made banana bread a zillion times. My best ever recipe is Leah Dane’s. It makes everybody moan when they taste it, but…there’s a big but…when I make it, it sinks down in the middle every time. Not just now and again, but every single time. I guess it’s consistent.
Today, though, it had surprised me.
I noticed a burning smell as I was putting up laundry. It wasn’t just the oven heating up…something else was, too. In the kitchen, it was clear where the problem was. The banana breads I was baking had bubbled up and poured over the sides of the pans! The sides of the pans, I say!
Fan on, windows and door open, I got the sword sized hamburger flipper my beloved uses on the grill. With a long oven mit on, I scraped the burning puddles of banana bread from the bottom of the smoking oven. The bubbling banana bread mocked me but I wouldn’t answer. Should I let it finish baking? Would it taste like smoke? I left it where it was, apologized to my beloved for the stench and returned to my laundry.
A bit later, the timer went off and I checked the disaster bread. It looked hideous; nothing you would serve to anyone other than family. The extra brown “crust” around the edges reminded me of a pot pie. Stink! It was for some girls I do Bible study with. I serve them up something ugly every single time!
I was supposed to make two white cakes, too. Forget that! They would smell and taste like an ash-tray! It was already getting late. I would let the oven cool down, pray for a miracle and hope to make them in the morning.
I went to bed with thoughts of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
The next morning, I was complaining about my messy banana bread to my beloved. “Just once,” I whined, “I’d like to take them something pretty! My stuff is always so ugly! It tastes good but looks awful!” (It’s actually a joke. The girls know the pretty stuff is made by someone else.)
“Why is it such a big deal?” he asked. I whined a little more and then he said something very wise and un-sympathetic. “If you want it be pretty, then it’s about you.” He does that…saying something profound that leaves me speechless.
It was true…I wanted them to be impressed with my baking but they needed to be more impressed with my Jesus!
I still want my stuff to look like Pearl Watts, Patty Welch or Pam Walker made it. (Their initials are all the same, too, I noticed.) They are artists with food being their canvas! I want pretty desserts and cakes that say…I don’t know what they should say…I’m being dramatic.
I dropped my beloved off at the church to get ready for the morning services and returned home hoping to bake some cakes. Miraculously, they came out perfectly. Perfectly, I say! I drizzled them with vanilla icing and was stunned. This was so cool! After the near fire and all! I couldn’t wait to tell the girls! They looked so good, no one would believe I made ‘em!
I had to try the hideous looking banana breads. If they tasted like smoke, I would have to throw them away or eat them all by myself. I cut out a small square. It was tender and delicious. It tasted just like Leah Dane’s! I would have to persuade our Bible study-ers to try it. When Leah Dane makes them you actually want to! “It’s ugly but tastes good,” Is quickly becoming my mantra.
We toted all the goodies to Bible study. I couldn’t wait to tell them the story about the banana bread. When we uncovered the first white cake-still warm, the foil took off most of the icing. No question now who made it!
In I Samuel 16:17 it says: “…the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Do you think that can apply to baking?!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.