Cooking and baking is new for me. When I was little I never received an Easy Bake Oven (gasp) and to this day I still blame my mom for my lack of cooking skills because I never had that darn oven. But here’s the thing, did I ever really need this oven to start trying to cook or bake on my own? No! And one day this past winter I realized that little epiphany and started to bake cookies.
A major downside to cooking or baking is the ginormous mess that you create. This past Christmas I was obsessed with making new cookies and candy to give out to friends and neighbors (if you didn’t get any I still have some in my freezer). So I researched and collected recipes from friends on Facebook, Twitter, and the world-wide web. Everything sounded so good that I couldn’t stop at 2 or 3 recipes and instead ended up doing about 5 or 6 different ones. When baking 5 or 6 different recipes your kitchen gets cluttered with all types of ingredients that can look pretty overwhelming. One hint when performing Christmas Cookie Madness is to always have a glass of wine. Sure, the recipes tend to blur a bit but you will have a lot more fun!
With the Christmas Cookie Madness behind me I thought I would try another adventure and I made a birthday cake from scratch for hubs. We both had so much fun trying to figure out this process together. Process? Yes, with me this was a process! First you bake the actual cake but then it doesn’t stop there because hubs wanted a strawberry filling and then I thought it would be good to finish with a cream cheese icing. Is your mouth-watering yet? I thought this was going to be easy-peasy and wasn’t really thinking about how I was going to cut the cake in half so that I could add the strawberry jelly. I called my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who have already been on this baking kick and they offered great advice but the problem was that I was making the cake the night before the event and there just wasn’t time to meet up with them and try to borrow their fancy tool that cuts cakes perfectly.
Time to improvise. Hubs and I went to Walmart (I hate Walmart but it is open all the damn time so please don’t judge) and couldn’t find a knife that was 9″ or longer (cake was 9″) and we were about to give up when I decided to just buy fishing line. Hubs was nervous about this idea but if you know me I’m pretty positive and think that if you want things to work they will. We went back home to try out our fishing line cake cutter and it was amazing! Really, it worked perfect! There was some confusion as to how we were going to actually get the top layer off, put the strawberry filling on the bottom layer then putting the top layer back on but we juggled (literally) and the cake was amazing. One of the guests of hub’s birthday party actually told me that my cake was a bit dry, does he know who he is messing with? I had to swallow some pride (and beer) and take the blow to the gut and then asked how he would have done it better. He actually gave me a pretty good tip and I’ve already used it a few times. This is probably a basic level tip but I’ll share anyways. You take a toothpick and poke it in the middle of the cake, if you have cake on the toothpick when you pull it out then you need to leave the cake in the oven. If you don’t then the cake is ready! Great tip!
Moving on, I had to try another cake which was actually much easier than the one I made for hub’s birthday. This time I was entering a cake into a benefit bake-off in honor of my aunt that passed away from breast cancer to help raise money for St. Andrew’s Church in Milford, OH. I already knew that my competition was entering breast cancer ribbon cookies that were sure to pull at the heart-strings so I had to do some fancy baking. I dusted off my cook books and started to search for that perfect recipe. The first book was a family made cook book that my Aunt Susan put together from recipes passed down generation to generation. That was a complete fail because most recipes called for lard, seriously? Finally I found a recipe that looked easy and was supposed to be moist and delicious and it was. I made Marshmallow Chocolate Pudding Cake. At first I thought it looked gross but once you refrigerate the cake it actually marbled and you saw the white fluff peaking out from the pudding on top of the chocolate cake. Long story short, I didn’t win the bake-off competition but I still felt great for baking my second cake! Check back for more baking and cooking updates and please feel free to share some of your favorite recipes and I’ll surely do the same for you.