As a youth, I recall sitting at the kitchen table watching my mother bake cakes on holidays, birthdays, and any other day ending in “Y” for anyone who asked. I eagerly anticipated that moment when she poured batter into the cake pans hoping that she would leave enough in the bowl and on the beaters for me to sample. If there was a substantial amount left behind, I knew that I was in her good graces. On the other hand, if she managed to get every drop of batter leaving me with only one lonely beater, I knew that I had been a bit too mischievous that week! Either way, it was still a wonderful treat. Those were the good old days and I miss them dearly…
One day, my mother and I were talking about cakes. She told me that she had a bad craving for one. I looked at her and said, “I can make one for you.” She just laughed. “What’s funny”, I asked? She looked at me with a wry smile and responded “oh nothing”. I’ll admit that I was a little offended initially because I am no stranger to the kitchen and it’s not like she wasn’t aware of this fact. The laugh also suggested that there was no possible way that mom thought that I was remotely capable of baking a cake. I took it as a personal challenge. I said to myself “Self, you’re going to bake the best pound cake possible”.
I went home and researched several recipes until I found one that I liked. I purchased the ingredients, got in the kitchen and commenced to baking. It came out perfect and on my very 1st attempt too! Proud as I could be of my work, I took the warm cake from the oven, placed it in a container and rushed it up to my mother. I walked into the room with the cake and removed the lid. The aroma of freshly baked pound cake filled her room. She looked up at me and asked “where did this come from”? “IT CAME FROM ME” loudly and proudly, I exclaimed. As I searched for a knife to cut my prized creation, the aroma had wafted into the hallway and began to attract others. “Who made that cake”, people began to ask as they walked into the room? “Rod says that he did”, replied my mom. I just laughed. I cut mom a slice and handed it to her… She took a bite, waited a few moments savoring the flavor. By now, I’m having a small panic attack. The cake looked and smelled like it was awesome, but appearance doesn’t always guarantee great taste. PLUS, my baking skills are now being judged by someone with thousands of pound cakes to their baking credit. I hadn’t felt this much pressure since my time in the military on the firing range!
Finally, mom looked at me and said…”You DID NOT bake this”!?? This was all the confirmation that I needed. The fact that she didn’t believe that I made the cake meant that it was a success!! Oh, the feeling!! By this time, more people had gathered around, saw my mom’s reaction and wanted to sample the pound cake. One after another, they all rejected the idea that I was the one who was capable of baking something that tasted so good….and from scratch! To prove to them and myself that it wasn’t a fluke, I baked another one a few weeks later. It too was a success! It was so much so that people began asking me to bake cakes for them. I was happy to oblige…Until, one day it hit me. “Rod, why don’t you sell your cakes?” The rest as they say, “is history”!
Little did I know that all those hours of sitting on the bar stool near the kitchen, watching my mom bake cake after cake would one day come full circle.
My mother recently lost a battle with breast cancer on 11-17-17, but not before she had the opportunity to see something that began in her kitchen grow into a humble business.
Thanks, Barbara Jean Cross for passing the baking gene on to me, your only son.
I love and miss you!
Bundtz By Rod