I'm happy to say that I know quite a few fine cooks and bakers. These people inspire me with their knowledge, years of experience and most of all patience. Grateful to learn from them and brag about them.
Case in point. My sister Susan is the true baker in our family. An elementary school teacher by day and baking goddess at night and on weekends. She likes to bake and uses every birthday, neighborhood block party, teacher meeting or “just because” to bake something special.
I also learned to make a wickedly delicious banana pudding from our Mom, which remains one of my all-time favorite desserts. Vanilla wafers, a cooked custard filling, bananas and mile high meringue that is lightly browned in the oven. Perfection. Coconut cake with lemon filling is a close second.
Back to Susan's treats...
It’s not unusual for Susan to bake up a batch of cupcakes, cookies or even her special pies...she doesn’t need a reason to bake!
A colleague asked her to bake a wedding cake and she frantically called me asking “should I do this?” My response was to pick a few of your best cakes, ones that consistently get high marks from family and friends AND cakes that you LIKE making. I couldn’t see her stressing out over something she’d never made and would be nervous doing. That made sense to her and she offered the prospective bride and groom the opportunity to do a “tasting” after selecting the cake recipes and doing some test batches.
This is how Susan described the experience:
“Several years ago, I was asked to bake a coworkers wedding cake. She had tasted my baked goods and was impressed. I told her I had never baked a wedding cake but I would try my best to make her the wedding cake of her dreams.
She and her fiancée wanted a round three layer chocolate cake with strawberry filling and decorated with fresh flowers. I invited her and her fiancé over for a taste testing. She was so pleased. Took me two whole days to bake and decorate. One layer of milk chocolate, one layer of dark chocolate and one layer of white chocolate. Filling was homemade strawberry jam. Frosting was milk chocolate buttercream decorated with chocolate dipped fresh strawberries and chocolate shards. Flowers were hand dyed.“
Left to Right: vanilla cake with vanilla icing; chocolate cake with chocolate icing and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.
And the winner is...
A really beautiful and delicious cake that made the bride, groom and their wedding guests very happy.
Last night I texted her for ideas for a cookie dough base that I could incorporate peanut butter granola into. True to form, she responded quickly with not one, but three possibilities which I tested and tweaked. The end result was a very good cookie--even made it into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cookie which was the real winner.
And just in time for Mother's Day, I'm sharing a copy of our beloved Mom's 1-2-3-4 cake. This was a copy of the original recipe that was typed on an old Selectric typewriter. The recipe calls for butter or margarine. Use butter, whole milk and real vanilla extract. I've baked this cake in a tube or Bundt pan, as well as a ceramic loaf pan. All have worked well.