|Hebrews 12:2 – “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
My wife wanted to fix lunch for our visit to my mother (yesterday). She asked her what kind of dessert she wanted. My mother chose Prune Cake. My wife made one at Thanksgiving, so I offered to make this one. I have made it before, several times. Even before we were married. It is part of the lore of our family. My grandmother Hazel’s recipe (Prunella Cake) is well known amongst the family. It is my favorite cake, hands down, and it is sad to think that for the longest time, she could not tempt me to try it. I could only think of prunes as a laxative, and that locked my lips towards it. Finally, one day, in a moment of weakness, I gave in and tasted it. I had to see what the big deal was. The saying is true. “Try it. You might like it.” I loved it. I would eat it for breakfast. “Where have you been all my life?” If it was a woman, I would have married it on the spot. My wife was heading out to a friend’s house for lunch. “Are you going to make the prune cake while I am gone?” Hint. Hint. “Yes, I hope to be done before you return.” I was now feeling stressed and under the gun. I don’t cook a lot, and when I do, it is an adventure. My grandmother Hope did not want my papa Bennie in her kitchen, even though he ran a bakery that delivered bread all over Carter County in Oklahoma. He was good, but he was messy. And she was not. She ran a tight ship in her kitchen. I was determined not to make a mess in my wife’s kitchen. That added more pressure. I got out a mixing bowl, added sugar, an egg, and prepared to add shortening. I then realized I had some sifted ingredients to get ready. So, I stopped that and sifted the flour, added nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mixed this up well. Now, instead of putting the shortening in the sugar/egg mix, I put it in with my sifted stuff by mistake. I fished it out and moved it to the proper bowl. Now, the tricky part. I got the mixer and turned it on carefully, not wanting to send sugar all over the place. It went well. I added the flour mixture and soon had cake batter. I greased two 8″ pans and began pouring half the batter in each, quickly feeling something was wrong. There was no flour dusting the greased pans. I scraped the batter back into the mixing bowl, washed the pans, re-greased them AND dusted them with flour. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and set the timer once they were in. 25 minutes. I decided to work on the icing while the cakes were baking. This has stewed prunes in the batter and in the icing. I mixed the sugar, prunes, eggs, and butter with the electric mixer, and put it in the refrigerator to thicken. After the cakes finished their oven time, I had another sinking feeling. The icing needed to be heated in a double boiler on the stove to melt the butter. I remembered this as I saw globs of solid butter in it. So, I got out the double boiler and removed the icing (still in the mixing bowl) from the fridge. I also noticed one of the cakes, laid out on a cooling rack, was dripping dough from the center. It apparently was not done. “It will be ok.” I was selling myself on this. After 30 minutes, I decided to put it back in the cake pan and cook it longer. So, after 20 minutes in the oven, it seemed ready. Almost double the cooking time that my grandmother had recommended. I got the icing heated up to the right consistency (stirring continuously). I let it cool, and put it in the fridge to solidify more. Later, I iced it and it looked pretty much like it should. The icing covered a sizeable crack in the top layer. It all gets mixed up in your stomach anyway. I began washing the dirty pans, bowls, and measuring cups and spoons. When my wife came home, it was finished and the kitchen looked like nothing at all had been messed up in it. From her perspective, it looked great. From where I stood, it was a near disaster that was narrowly dodged. When my mother tasted it yesterday, she could not taste all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. But it was in there, just the same. Believing in Jesus may seem simple. Until you see what He went through to redeem us from sin. Blood (all of it), sweat, and tears. Pain, grief, agony, fear. All ingredients in a wonderful thing. Father in heaven, thank You for salvation, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
– Jeff Beall