Tuesday, July 10, 2012

#1 - Bake a Layer Cake from Scratch

That's right, friends! I have completed the first item on my list of 40 by 40! On Sunday, July 8th, I baked a Red Velvet THREE layer cake from scratch. This suggestion came from my sister, Caroline, and to help me accomplish the task she provided the recipe and lots of coaching along the way.

The day started with a trip to the grocery store to get supplies - if you aren't a baker, you probably don't keep cake flour in the pantry...or baking soda...or cake pans! Here are the ingredients all ready to go.

That is a box of cake FLOUR in the back, NOT a cake mix!

Once I had everything assembled it was time to get started baking! Luckily, a few years ago, my sister-in-law, Cindy, gave me her old KitchenAid mixer. It's a very fancy mixer for a non-baker like myself. But I was very glad I had it.

I got the cake batter all mixed up and it looked good to me, but since I had never baked a cake before I didn't really know any better. So I put the layers into the oven and waited. While I was waiting, I remembered that my sister told me it was very important when making the icing to be sure the butter and cream cheese were very soft before mixing them. I used my smarts and decided to set them on the stove top while the layers were baking. It worked perfectly and I was able to mix up the icing while the cake baked!

So smart!
Look at all that icing!!!
And the icing was AMAZING! If you ever need a cream cheese icing - use this recipe. It is the best I have ever tasted. My sister also recommended that I double the icing recipe because I was baking three layers instead of the typical two. I did and now I have a tupperware container full of icing left over! It is delicious - but dangerous. :)

I was so nervous waiting for the cake to bake. This was the part where things could go really wrong and it was pretty much out of my control. So you can imagine how excited I was when I took the layers out and they were just perfect!

Yes, there is a big hole in one of them. I'm an inexperienced cake tester! :)
Right on cue, I got a text from my sister after I took the layers out reminding me to let them cool completely before I tried to ice them. From here, the hard part was pretty much over. I sat down and took a bit of a snooze while I waited for the layers to cool off. When I woke up it was time to put all the pieces together. I struggled a bit with spreading the icing so the finished product wasn't perfect, but it was a big accomplishment as far as I was concerned. Take a look...


The best part was looking at the inside with all the layers...

Three layers!
Thanks to Raabia and Maria for being brave enough to taste my very first cake!
Brave souls!

Here's what I learned...
* Baking can be fun, especially if you have someone to bake with.
* Spending time with great friends is fun. Spending time with great friends while creating something is even more fun!
* Creating something like a cake gives you something to share with friends - something YOU created.
* I am not entirely sure I can explain it yet, but for some reason, I have a new found confidence since baking my first cake. I have something thoughts about this, but I want to see how they develop as I accomplish other tasks before I share more.
* Anyone can bake. You aren't born with special innate skills that make you a baker. Some people enjoy it more than others, but anyone can do it. I've just always said, "I'm not a baker."

I use that sentence, "I'm not..." a lot.

I'm not a runner.
I'm not a gardener.
I'm not an artist.
I'm not a baker.

But I discovered that I am a baker, just an inexperienced one. This means that I can try other things that I didn't think I could do like gardening, running, and even painting. This is an important discovery for me -  a challenging and scary discovery, but a good one. I wonder where it will take me...

Stay tuned for the next adventure!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Well, I was going to accomplish my first new task this weekend, but then something happened today...

a LEVERAGE marathon on ion television!

Yes, it is that easy friends. I have been derailed by a TV marathon. I have however selected my first task.


The Red Velvet Cake from scratch! Now before you get too excited - I did NOT bake this cake. This is the picture of the one my sister, Caroline, made. I am stealing her recipe and this is going to be my first layer cake made completely from scratch.

For those of you who don't know, I recently completed a run of Ragtime with the Laurel Mill Playhouse. A couple of my cast mates and I have discovered that we are all Leo's and there is talk of a party to celebrate our birthdays. I am going to make this cake for that event. This is scary and exciting for a few reasons...

1) I love Red Velvet cake!
2) I am not domestic and struggle to find my way around a kitchen.
3) I plan to do this without a trial run so if it flops, it flops BIG!

But I think that is the spirit of this blog - take risks, try new things, and just have fun with it.

So, stay tuned. The party may not be for awhile, but I will keep posting until then to collect new ideas, refine my list of 40 by 40, and generally keep you all updated on life.