I sifted the flour, the arrowroot, the sugar, and spooned in the ginger. The oven was almost at the right temperature. The pan was ready for the mix. The beater whirred noisily. The eggs frothed almost white. My heart sang a phrase from ‘Holiday’: “High, high my spirits fly, up as winged gull; until the sea, the wind and I are one…”
I slid the pan into the oven and glanced at the clock as I closed the door. I wanted to phone my son to ask about my granddaughter’s test results, but as I set the timer I changed my mind. The ginger fluff sponge took only twenty-five minutes to bake, but when Tim and I got talking we seldom took less than an hour. I would leave the call till later.
Instead I tidied my mending into the sewing caddy, put the freshly ironed clothing into the wardrobe, and checked the mailbox. Fifteen minutes had passed. I flicked the oven light on and peered through the glass door. The sponge was rising well.
There was time to gather my notes together and take them to the computer. I had enough work prepared to enter another chapter of the study on the prophets for the Sunday school class. I was sorting the pages into order when I heard the front door open and my Best Beloved sang out, “I’m home. Where are you?”
Before I had time to reply he went on, “Something smells good,” and as I ran down the hall I heard the oven door creak open. “Looks good too..”
He looked up laughing as I reached the kitchen door. His voice faded and the laughter died when he saw my face. The oven door slammed shut. I leaned over and turned the temperature switch off. My beautiful ginger fluff sponge had become an extinct volcano. My highflying spirits dragged around my ankles.
I ignored the anxious apology and walked into the garden. Back inside I turned my computer on, and turned it off again. There were no tears, no anger, no emotion. I just felt dead.
It was some time before I realized that my reaction was out of all proportion to the semi-disaster of a sunken cake. I thought of Ephraim, whose name means ‘double fruitfulness,’ yet the prophet Hosea refers to him as a ‘cake not turned,’ and I saw myself as a greater flop than the ginger fluff sponge.
My feet were as heavy as my heart but I made them carry me to the study where my Best Beloved was pecking at his computer keyboard. Around my paralyzed tongue I tried to justify my reaction, but the words got muddled in my teeth. I stood miserably until he reached out and pulled me to him. The tears and the words gushed together.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.”
“Its all right. I shouldn’t have opened the oven door,” he conceded. “But it’s not too bad. Come and see.”
Reluctantly I returned to the kitchen.
The man of the house had removed Vesuvius from the pan, lowered the high sides and chopped them into chunks. Then he filled the center with a bog of banana crème and piled the chunks on top, decorating his effort with quartered strawberries. It looked very artistic, not a bit like a cake half turned.
And it tasted delicious, too.
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