An age-old truth was revealed to me as I was making a cake during a recent holiday weekend. My 85-year-old mother was having a Labor Day party, and she wanted me to bring dessert. I picked up the frozen pie she likes, but she didn’t think that would be enough for the crowd that was coming, so she asked me to make a cake.
“Sure,” I said. Cakes were easy these days with endless, fool-proof cake mix possibilities.
I stood at the grocery in front of all different flavors of cake mixes and frostings. There were the basic chocolate and vanilla, but there were also strawberry and German chocolate and butter cake. But on the top shelf was a lemon cake. “Perfect,” I thought. “Just different enough to be good.” I also grabbed a container of lemon frosting and a huge plastic tub of multi-colored sprinkles.
I ended up preparing the cake early Saturday morning. I cracked the eggs and measured the water and the oil perfectly. Once the wet ingredients met the dry ones, I began to beat the batter with a spoon. I owned an electric mixer, but it was too much trouble to locate it in my mess of a kitchen. Even without a mixer, I got the cake mix to a great consistency — no lumps — just creamy lemon goodness.
Into the 9 x 12, glass baking pan the cake goo went. I baked it for 30 minutes.
When it was done, or almost done, I tested it with a toothpick. Absolutely no batter stuck to the pick, so I removed the cake from the 350 degree oven.
Things were going wonderfully! I was making a perfect lemon cake for Labor Day. The cake was a beautiful golden brown on top — not too well done and not too under done.
I let the thing cool for about three hours before I frosted it.
The frosting went on nicely without pulling the uppermost layer of the cake off. Boy, did that cake look good!
And now, the piece de resistance — I was going to add the multi-colored sprinkles. What wouldn’t a daughter do for her mother? I took out a tablespoon and dumped the sprinkles on the cake, a few here, a few more here, and soon, the whole cake was one multi-colored surface. I’d applied too many sprinkles. My husband would say there could never be too many sprinkles, but trust me, there were on this cake.
The cake wasn’t perfect anymore.
Now what was I going to do? I had to remove some of those pesky colored bits. Stupidly, I took the whole cake, still in the pan, over to the sink and tried tilting the thing until some of the sprinkles fell into the sink. Slowly, I tilted more and more and more until… the whole cake fell out of the pan and into the dish water, frosting side down.
In my quest for perfection, I had ruined my project. There was absolutely no way to save the delicious lemony dessert. In just a few seconds, it had become completely waterlogged. We’d have to settle for pie alone that holiday.
And that my dears, is the age-old truth I was reminded of this Labor Day weekend. Sometimes, when we try to be perfect, the whole thing backfires.
Perfection is a bit overrated.
So in your comings and goings, keep this thought in the back of your mind lest you ruin something you care deeply about…
Maybe good enough is good enough.