The cake was slightly lopsided and had sunk in the middle. Patsy frowned. It would be an embarrassment on Sunday. Her church was raising money for homeless people and some members baked cakes to sell. Patsy’s cakes were the best and were always snapped up.
Pride was a sin. But an ugly chocolate sponge was also a crime. How had it happened? She stared at the cake resentfully.
Whilst making it, she had been interrupted by a phone call. Her daughter, Thea, called to say that she and her boyfriend, Matt, were moving in together. Patsy felt compelled to say that, in her opinion, a wedding ring should come first. Thea laughed, saying this was an old-fashioned attitude. After about 15 minutes of wrangling, the call came to an end.
Distracted by this, had she inadvertently used the wrong quantities or cooked it for less than the required time?
The doorbell rang. Through the window she saw Ollie and her heart sank. The boy, who lived locally and was out of work, knocked on people’s doors asking for odd jobs and hand-outs. She should be compassionate and often prayed that she could change lives. So she opened the door and asked him in for a cup of tea.
“I’d rather ‘ave coffee, if poss,” he said. “And maybe some o’ that cake. I’m hungry.” His nose twitched as he inhaled its newly-baked smell.
“You’re always ravenous, Olly,” said Patsy with a sigh. She might as well offer him a piece of the misshapen sponge.
He demolished two slices. “It’s amazing, this choc’late cake. Never tasted anyfing so good.”
Ollie was more effusive than usual so Patsy cut herself a thin slice and took a small bite. She chewed and then stopped, stunned by the exquisite flavour and texture. She looked down at the cake, her dismay at its appearance banished. What a surprise!
After Ollie left, Patsy cut a larger wedge and gobbled it down. It was utterly delicious. She put a slice on a plate and dashed round to her neighbour, who was a connoisseur of cakes. Angie, who had been recently diagnosed with cancer, ate some and gave her verdict: it was a taste of heaven.
By now half of her unique cake had gone. Concentrating hard, she tried to recall if she had added any extra ingredients or done something different and felt panic that she might not be able to replicate her superb creation. Her accidental triumph.
That evening, whilst Patsy was at a church meeting, her husband, who hated his job and loved his food, discovered the half-eaten cake and cut himself a whopping slice. Smacking his lips, he ate another and was munching it when Patsy returned. “It’s marvellous, darling.” His praise extinguished her protest.
The following day, Thea came round to try The Cake, groaned with delight and said: “Mum, it’s the yummiest chocolate sponge you’ve ever made.” Patsy glowed with pleasure but saw the cake was nearly all gone. That night their dog, Alfie, finished off the remaining crumbs.
* * *
Eleven years have passed. Patsy’s husband, contentedly retired, has taken up hiking and lost weight. Thea and Matt are married with two lively children and a cat. Ollie, a qualified mechanic, works in a local garage and hungers after a motorbike. Angie has had treatment and recovered fully from cancer. Alfie is at peace, buried under the conker tree. Patsy has developed green fingers and become a wonderful vegetable gardener. She bakes less but has not forgotten her amazing cake.
The miracle cake.