My grandmother used to make pound cake. It was the best I’ve ever had, probably the best I ever will have. She used to let me pour in the cream while she stirred the batter. I always poured it in too fast, but it was still good pound cake. Most of the time we spent together was in the kitchen, making cake or lemon pie.
It seemed to take days for it to bake, the smell driving me up the walls as she waited patiently in her chair. The timer she used seemed ancient. It was heavy and made of metal, not plastic like the ones in all the stores. You could hear it ring all the way in the basement, sounding like the din of a thousand crashing cymbals. I would stampede to the oven, peeking at the cake through the hot glass in the door.
I remember that first bite, the way the crust would melt in my mouth, and the dense texture of the cake as I rolled it over my tongue. I would smile and look up at her, waiting for her to speak.
“Is it good?” she would always ask me.
“Mmhmm,” I would reply, my mouth always too full of cake to make a civilized attempt at answering her. She would smile, and go to was the dishes.
Now it’s my turn behind the mixer. No matter how hard I try, I still can’t make that pound cake like she used to. The crust just never melts the way it used to, and the texture is never as dense as it was back then. But, I still smile when I eat pound cake. I still hear her asking me, “Is it good?”
Now, I sit with the same patience, as my fiancé fidgets and squirms until the cookies are done. I smile the same knowing smile she had, as he takes that first bite and the sugar greets his tongue like an old friend.
She passed something on to me. Not a recipe, but a mind-set. I believe in grandma’s cooking. I believe in all the stories I hear, of that chicken noodle soup, or that pound cake, or those salmon patties, that grandma used to make. I believe in the happiness that baking with my grandmother brought me. I may never be able to make that pound cake like she used to, but I’ll always remember how it tasted. I’ll never forget how to bring happiness with a spatula.
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