It’s In The Details

Communication and details are definitely keys to an ordered life but , sadly, they often get overlooked because we are either in a hurry or we fail to give them the importance that is due.  Many times it is our rat-race living that thrusts us into the “gung-ho” mode of forging ahead, thus leaving the details behind. Unfortunately, we then become losers because we have left something important out of the equation. Let me  share a couple of little instances with you where leaving out the details made a difference.
My North Carolina friend, Mitzi, shared with me a very tasty recipe several years ago for a homemade bunt cake that she had served for me while I was visiting. The recipe called for softened butter. She said to me as I was writing the recipe down, “ now make sure you use room-temperature “softened” butter and not melted butter. It will make a difference.”
Being a cook, you would think that this statement would have captured my attention and called for red stars on my recipe card. But I was in a hurry and not giving importance to detail. A few months later, back in my own kitchen, I made the cake and it had a distinctive ring around the middle and didn’t  quite taste the same as I remembered it.
I was disappointed and called my friend to see if she could figure out what it was that I had done wrong. “ Read the recipe back to me, “ she said. I proceeded to read back the ingredients and their quantities  when she stopped me when I got to “two sticks of butter.”
“What kind of butter?” She asked.
“ I don’t remember,” I said. “ A popular brand.”
“No, I mean how did you prepare the butter?”
“ I put 2 sticks of butter in the microwave, melted it, then added it to the mixture.”
I told her. That was the problem. The recipe called for 2 sticks of room-temperature butter, NOT melted. So after she set me on the right track, I made the cake and it was perfect in every way and  it tasted and looked exactly how I had experienced it at her home. Details. I should have known their importance.
Several years ago, my grandparents had a neighbor, Mrs. Craig, who lived just a short way up the road in a small white country house. Looking back, I don’t remember much about Mrs. Craig, except that after her husband passed away she would occasionally hitch a ride with Grandma and Grandpa on their every- Friday ritual of going into Mt. Sterling to buy groceries and run errands. Grandpa raised chickens and sometimes he would take a basket of fresh eggs to the little store in Danville where Mr. Fortier would buy them and sell them to his customers. ( My cousin Karen and I were fortunate enough one summer to help clean out the chicken coupe , but THAT is a whole other story.) Anyway, getting back to Mrs. Craig, when she wanted to go along on any given Friday, she would attach a red handkerchief to the fence in her front yard. When Grandpa would see it there he knew she wanted to go along and they would stop and pick her up. No handkerchief, no stop. I liked this idea so when a neighbor’s niece came to spend the summer, we devised  a similar routine for “secret” notes. We put a large rock by the fence that divided our properties, and if we had a “note-in-waiting” we put our secret note under the rock and then tied a red handkerchief on the fence.
This plan worked out well and proved to be fun for a couple of “country” kids, but what we didn’t figure on was our two younger sisters figuring this all out. “Secret” messages no longer remained secret. Details in the plan. I should have known their importance.
I am sharing the bunt cake recipe with you today. When you mix up this succulent cake, remember the following detail: use softened butter.
Mitzi’s Bunt Cake
3 cups flour
2 sticks SOFTENED butter
5 large eggs
2 2/3 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
8 oz. container of whipping cream (not whipped cream)
Preheat over to 325*
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the eggs then add the whipping cream. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the empty carton of whipping cream, shake, then add to mix.
Combine the two mixtures together.
Put in a greased and floured bunt pan.
Bake for 1 hr. and 15-20 minutes.
Cool for a few minutes and then remove from pan. Best if stored covered.
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