Sunday, July 15, 2012

For Entertainment Purposes Only.....

I LOVE baking! Love it love it love it!

I've been baking a myriad of baked goods since I was probably 11 or 12. Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, you name it, I've done it! Well, except for one thing....


Nope, I've never made a layer cake totally from scratch. I've made some recipes that were essentially cakes from scratch, but never just a plain ole white layer cake.

So today, I thought I'd change that. I went searching for my "Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. And it's lost! I'm afraid I may have donated it to the library in a fit of "anti-stuff-itis."

Being part of the modern world, though, I went and relied on Google. I found this recipe for simple white cake. It looked easy so I did it.

 Preheating the oven to 350 degrees. (and using the heat of the oven to soften the butter.....come on, I can't be the only one who doesn't set their butter out 30 minutes beforehand to let it come to room temperature!)

Mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
 Voila! Perfectly placed from-scratch cake! (This recipe was great because it only made one layer! Perfect for experimenting.)

I don't have a picture of how it looked right out of the oven, but I trust you've all seen a naked baked cake before.

Hmmm, now what should I frost it with? I was going to make some regular buttercream icing, which I've done countless times. But that seemed boring. AH HA!!! I've got it!

Marshmallow Fondant from Pinterest!

Bit 'o background: Fondant cakes are BEAUTIFUL! You can cover them and cut out shapes and make oh so cute stuff. It's the primary way that Duff from Charm City Cakes decorates his. I've tried using the Wilton Fondant but it doesn't taste very good. I even have a friend on facebook who is a chef. She says that professionally made fondant doesn't taste that good either. So I thought this marshmallow fondant would be a good idea. It's just marshmallows and powdered sugar! What's not to love?

Read on......

For this step, I had to run to the store down the street and buy an entire bag of mini marshmallows. I put them in my big Pampered Chef batter bowl, added a little bit of water and some almond extract. I then microwaved the whole thing maybe a minute and a half or two minutes total. (and forgot to take pictures. Hey, I'm not the Pioneer Woman....)

Next, I added some Wilton blue food coloring gel.

And finally, I turned it out onto a cookie sheet covered in powdered sugar. (and a silpat)

During this entire process, my hands were covered in white sugar and sticky, blue goo. So there are no pictures. I kneaded sugar into the marshmallows, coating my hands in cooking spray the entire time.

To no avail, I might add. That stuff is STICKY! It even stuck to the Silpat! Yes, the Silpat! (A silpat is a silicone mat that nothing sticks to. Or so their website claims. Unfortunately, I think I've found a way to defeat it...) Can you see the small spatula I had to use to remove the stuff from the silpat? This is some powerful stuff!

The blog showing how to make the fondant claims that after kneading in the sugar, you can roll it out with a rolling pin and use it to decorate your cakes and cookies. Well, I don't know if it was the weather (hot and dry), my technique (ok, ok, questionable....), or whatnot, but mine never was able to be rolled. Oh, I tried, but it stuck to the rolling pin. I added more sugar, like the website says, and then it was just white. I finally coated my hands in a ton of cooking spray and moved the lump over to the cake.

Using my palms, I spread it out as best I could. Leaving me with a beautifully smooth, satiny-sheen candy coating on my freshly baked from scratch cake!
 Or it would have been, had it stretched that far..... Try as I might, I could not get it to stretch any further. I think it had cooled so much by then that it wasn't going anywhere.

Since my beautiful cake was already, well, not ruined, but not near like I envisioned it, I decided to just experiment. Have you seen that wedding cake on Pinterest that's covered entirely with sprinkles?

Yes? Well, I made 4 small little sprinkle areas just to see. Yep, it's as hard to do as it looks. Whatever they paid for that cake was probably inadequate for how difficult it is to get sprinkles ON THE SIDES and everywhere! Not to mention how much sweeping and near-falling the lady did while walking on her floor afterwards....

Finally, I had to taste my cake. It was good! Not quite as moist as a mix cake, but definitely had a good flavor and it's definitely one I'll make again. Also, after trying ready made and now homemade fondant, I can honestly say I don't like the taste of either one. Plus, while this one tasted better than the store-bought kind, it still had the consistency of, say, a balloon. I took a bite or two with the fondant on my cake, and then just peeled it off and ate the cake. (Less points that way, too!)

Next time I'll make a really pretty icing creation and let y'all see it. I promise it'll be better than this stuff!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


For the past 18 months, Jim and I have lead Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course at our church. It's a fantastic course that teaches you how to handle money God's way. In leading this course, we've come across many different financial situations. Throughout it all, I've started to wonder just how much we should rely on ourselves to provide for our needs versus how much we should rely on God for the same.

I've been wrestling with this question for months now but I think I found a wonderful answer! I was reading the "Dave Says" newspaper column archives on Dave's website. Here is a wonderful question and answer that I'm going to print out and post somewhere in my home! Haha!

Here is the link to the original post. I have copied and pasted it here so you can read it immediately.

Impulsiveness is not faith

Dear Dave,
My husband and I would like for me to be able to quit my job and stay at home with our kids. We’ve got a little money saved up, but we’re not sure we could make it on just his salary. The money would be very tight. In your mind, how do we know the difference between being financially responsible and relying on God to provide?

Dear Michelle,This is a great question! I admire the desire to be at home with your kids, and that you realize you can’t just act impulsively and call it faith. This is a concept that’s misused and misunderstood a lot.

If you can’t make it on just your husband’s salary, then you’ve got to develop a game plan that involves a written monthly budget and some lifestyle changes. If you do this with diligence and sacrifice, chances are you’ll be able to make this happen and not bankrupt your family. This could also mean that you start a small business on the side—something you could do from home—to offset the difference.

Having faith that God will provide requires study of the Scriptures. But God also tells us that you need the maturity and wisdom to plan your direction. The Bible says, “The diligent prosper. He who is impulsive exalts folly.” Folly is a fool in action. It’s kind of like the guy who closes his eyes, jumps in the pool, and hopes there’s water in there—and calls that faith.
I love the idea of you coming home to be with your kids, Michelle. Just make sure you develop an intelligent plan, and mix intellect with faith.

I LOVE where he says "You can't just act impulsively and call it faith." Ah ha! This is what I've been wondering. Do you just close your eyes and jump and hope everything works out? Or do you do your homework, do your research, make your plan, and THEN rely on God for everything to fall into place?  God gave us brains. I think he expects us to use them. He didn't make us blind followers who are supposed to just blow with the wind and then claim that whatever happens was God's will. 

I think in the end, you plan as best as you can and THEN rely on God to provide the rest.  I'm so excited that I found this answer! This has been bothering me since at least early April. Now maybe I can use it to help other people understand the relationship between planning and faith.