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Like many other brides when I was newly married I was eager to learn and prepare my husband’s favorite foods. I learned early on that my husband really liked pineapple upside down cake. So, my goal was to make the perfect pineapple upside down cake and have it ready to come out of the oven just as he came home from work.

I took inventory of my little kitchen in our garage apartment and found I didn’t have a proper cake pan. Then I remembered I had a brand new cast iron Dutch oven — okay, that should work fine! I made the batter with no problem, arranged the pineapple and cherries in beautiful order, and put it into the oven to bake. It came out a lovely brown and deliciously fragrant.

Soon my husband arrived. My proud moment had come, and I was triumphant! Then it was time to turn the cake over onto the waiting plate. Instead it fell out in big hunks, a jumbled mess. I was horrified and burst into tears, and my dear husband tried to console me. He assured me that it didn’t matter, that it was still delicious, and he loved me for trying. He proved it by eating my broken cake.

Some years passed; we had bought our first home in Oklahoma City and were celebrating my husband’s birthday. So with new confidence born of some years of cooking experience, I baked another pineapple upside down cake. It came out perfect, a real delight — presented on a lovely cake plate. I placed it on a tray and put it on top of the refrigerator out of harm’s way.

The time came for me to surprise my family with my masterpiece. As I reached up to get it, the tray tilted slightly and the cake plate slid off and landed on my kitchen floor, plop, into a million pieces! I was stunned, frustrated and angry, so I ran out into the garage, sat on a log, wailing, “Why, oh why?” It was so perfect. Why, why, why? A few unladylike words mingled with my tears. My young daughter Jan wanted to come and comfort her Mama, but my husband very wisely told her it was better to just leave me alone for a while. Our dinner ended cake-less.

I went on to bake other perfect cakes with no casualties, but somehow they lacked the drama of my first two. However I learned two valuable lessons: do not use a Dutch oven and do not work above your head. Good intentions do not always produce good results.

Ah, well, experience is still a great teacher!

This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.

Billye Butler

Billye’s interests are writing letters and reading, especially poetry, and keeping alive friendships and family ties.

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