When I was selling my cakes in Dallas I received hordes of compliments on how my cakes tasted. This always made me exquisitely happy. But it also made me stick to the same 3 or 4 recipes that I would make over and over and over. Really there was 1 recipe I pretty much had in the oven constantly-my White Almond Sour Cream Cake. This was very similar to my White Cake, which meant I left out the almond extract and doubled the vanilla. If you were to drop in, it was one or the other that I had baking.
However the conundrum was this-I had a handful of reliable recipes and was so busy decorating cakes that I stopped exploring baking, stopped doing what had driven my passion for cakes and other baked items in the first place.
I have mentioned in my bio before that when I got married that I could not bake. I remember having some good friends over for dinner one night and I had made this apple spice cake thing from a cake mix. I hadn't mixed up the ingredients-I had simply dumped them all together into the pan, baked it, and my friends had to delicately pick around the lumps of dry ingredients while pretending my "cake" tasted great. I laughed it off at the time-I was too busy to bake! I had other interests than cooking! Baking was for dour old ladies!
But like I said, once I was pregnant with my first child something fueled me to be a good cook. I wanted my kids to have memories of coming home from school to cookies that I made from scratch, or huge wedges of warm chocolate cake with cold milk.
The first cake I was successful with I made because I saw Emeril Lagasse on Good Morning America. He made a carrot cake. My husband hated carrot cake (so he thought), but I didn't care. It looked like the best thing in the world. I went to the store, bought the ingredients and made it. I didn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer yet, just my little hand held beaters. It took me hours upon hours and my back ached when I finally finished it. But when we tasted it, it was heaven on earth. My husband had a new found love for carrot cake and I realized I could make something taste that good. It became an obsession! (I still make that cake, in fact. It's pretty frequently requested by family and friends.)
As time went on I would drag my then baby son to the library with me and get lost in the baking section while he sat in his stroller. This section was in the a dark corner of the library basement which felt like a cool refuge from the sweltering Texas summer. It had so many baking books that I would walk up and down the isles transfixed. I would leave with piles of books in my arms. This led me to discover Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible. It's a great collection of recipes that are finicky and difficult, but worth it if you have the time. I would look at photos of her simple wedding cakes and think "how impossible!"
In the quest for making cakes artwork, though, I stopped trying out recipes. In retrospect I think it is because I didn't have time. When I made these experiments it was usually for my family or our friends, but I honestly had no time for that anymore. Anytime I was in the kitchen I was working. I became exhausted from making cooking my job.
Now, though, things are different. We moved to Colorado, about an hour North of Denver. There is nothing out here. I have to drive twenty minutes to a decent grocery store (Super Walmart.) I have to take a couple of dirt roads to get there. We are in a tiny gem of a neighborhood nestled within hundreds of acres if agriculture. My cake supplies are in my basement. I have no kitchen to rent (yet) and no clients (yet). And, admittedly, I'm a little bored.
So, with said boredom, I'm going to work on baking. There is a book I have called Baking with Julia and everything I have tried from it is delectable. I'm not trying to do the Julie/Julia thing, I just think this book has the right amount of recipes to not overwhelm me. I'm not going to bake everyday, and I'm not going to make anything that sounds gross to me-just the good stuff. So if you are at all interested in learning a little about baking, feel free to follow me!
Tomorrow I am going to drive 50 miles round trip to pick up some rhubarb. That is where the closest Sprouts is, and the only place around here that sells rhubarb. I'm going to be making Hungarian Shortbread-I've made it before, and it is wonderful. I'll be making new recipes as my family polishes off the stuff I baked before. I'm going to be making pastries and breads, croissants and sticky buns, focaccias and pizzas. Pretty much anything. I'm hoping that I will learn more, and I hope you enjoy!