Friday, October 14, 2011


I had an amazing experience yesterday. Namely, I created a recipe of my very own. Best of all, it came out well the first time. This probably isn't the first time I've done this- I throw things together all the time, but this is the first time I deliberately planned what I wanted to do and then made it, not knowing how well it would work out.

What did I make? Honey Vanilla Friendship Bread.

It really required very few modifications to the basic recipe, and I'll share the recipe here with anyone who actually reads this- or may find this while looking up fun new friendship bread recipes online.

Start with the ~ 1 cup of starter. Add to that:

1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup honey

In a seperate bowl, combine:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 small 3.4 oz boxes of French Vanilla pudding mix

Combine the two, and bake as usual in two greased and sugared pans at 325 for about an hour. Enjoy! We certainly did!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I'm Doing

Well, I'm not in Culinary school. When it came time to pay the bill, I looked at it, at the debt I would have to take on, and decided to wait a year until I can get into the pastry program. I wanted to go, I wanted to go badly, but I couldn't justify another 10K in debt for something that is not my primary goal.

On the plus side, I'm having a wonderful time teaching this semester and I just baked cake balls for the first time for the BLOC. And the chocolate friendship bread went over very well at home, too!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amish Bread!

Of course I've still been baking, even if I haven't been posting. I've started baking on a weekly basis for the BLOC coffee shop in Price Hill. I've made some wonderful breads and brownies and bars, and have now moved to quick breads and muffins for the breakfast crowd. I'm also starting school next week. I've opted to get a Culinary certificate this year, and then do the two year Pastry degree, as that's what I've really wanted to do.

And I have some Amish Friendship bread starter on hand! I aquired a starter from my aunt, and have patiently sat with it through the whole cycle- twice. The first time I baked the bread in the traditional manner. Now... now I'm going to get more creative. So expect to see some posts (and maybe even photos!) of new recipies I find. Thank goodness I can donate the excess to the BLOC! Though I'm not sure how much excess I'll have on this first batch of experimentation. I'm thinking....chocolate...

Monday, June 13, 2011


I'm officially in Culinary school! Classes start in the fall, and I couldn't be more excited. Especially about the uniform fitting. I've never had a uniform, so I'm thrilled. And I'll be working on getting my name on the list for the Pastry program as well, because my first love is still baking. Amazing how popular it sounds like I'll be once I start school- suddenly everyone wants to see me!

Today I'm baking a double batch of chocolate chip cookies for my father and my father-in-law. Dad requested cookies as his baked gift, because he can take them to work with him. Sadly, we'll be out of town over the holiday, hence the early start. I'd post a picture, but if you don't know what a chocolate chip cookie looks like, there's nothing I can do for you here. Though I will say- I make them large!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Big News!

Thursday night, after touring the kitchens at the Midwest Culinary Institute, I applied for Culinary school.

Initially I was disappointed, as the pastry program I was originally looking at was full for the year, but I've decided to get both a Culinary degree, and a Pastry degree. This will be made faster and easier by the number of courses that are included in both degree programs, and the number of general education classes I'll already have credit for thanks to my Bachelors degree. I'm so excited about the field of opportunities this career path will open up for me. With Literature, the only real career path was publish and pray for tenure, while working in the Adjunct trenches for who knows how long. Now, I could work just about anywhere, or open my own business. The possibilities are endless, and the demand for trained chefs is high- and the Institute has a 95% success rate of placing graduates within three months of graduation. Having co-ops will help with that, and paying for school.

It won't be cheap, as I'll have to pay tuition, buy books, and equipment, and a uniform, but I'm really excited about it. Technically I haven't been accepted yet... but unless the Culinary classes are full as well, there shouldn't be a problem.

In other news, the Black Forest cake I baked was apparently a great success. And though it didn't have the alcohol in it, I was told that "by the time in the night that we broke into it, it didn't really matter."

Best of all, I have my ultimate masterpiece- the best cheesecake I've ever baked. I used the water bath method out of the Joy of Cooking cookbook and it's rich, creamy and smooth, and utterly to die for. It went over very well at the family party I baked it for, and I anticipate playing around with the recipe to make other delicious creations.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tonight I go down to the school I'm looking at for their baking course. It will determine if I get to go back to school in the fall or not. If they have a waiting list for their program, I can't afford to wait. I need to be able to start this fall, or I'll have to find a school once my husband and I move. I'm excited to see their kitchens, and I really hope I can get into their Associates Degree program, as it offers co-op opportunities and I could go full time without another job.... but we'll see.

In good news: I get to bake a cheesecake tomorrow to take to a family Graduation party on Saturday!

I really just wish I could bake every day, but I've been forbidden. After all, how could we possibly get through everything?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Black Forest Cake

I'll confess, I'm starting this blog somewhere near the middle-start of the journey. I've been happily baking away for the last five months or so, and have finally gotten to the point where I was looking for more of a challenge. Enter: Dog. Dog is the best friend of my husband, and he's having a birthday party this weekend. Naturally, I offered to make a birthday cake for him, and asked what type of cakes he likes. He mentioned the Black Forest cake. So I looked through my Joy of Cooking and decided that this might just be the challenge I was looking for. Then I started making it and had to wonder.

I suppose it wasn't all that difficult, merely tedious. Very. Very. Tedious. And it taught me that I really need to get a standing mixer, so I don't have to stand for twenty minutes with a hand mixer instead. And I should really get more counter space.

The Chocolate Genoise, the chocolate cake base, was a bit of a pain, but it came out looking and smelling wonderful.

I let that sit and cool, then groaned as I looked over the tiny little steps that were to fill the piece up and make it a Black Forest Cake. Now, as per Wikipedia, the Black Forest Cake is of German origin, around the 16th century, and is mostly named for the Kirsch that one uses to stick the layers together- Kirsch, as I discovered, is a type of cherry based liquor, and sadly, my cake is lacking the tint of alcohol. By that, I couldn't technically call it a Black Forest Cake if I were to be making it in Germany, but as it is commonly made without the alcohol in the United States, I can't feel too guilty.

Assembly of the cake was a bit... sloppy. I don't have proper tools for decoration, and the whipped cream icing was quickly warming up and getting hard to work with, but I did finally accomplish my goal, and even made some nice looking rosettes that I then ruined by shoving cherries into the middle of. However, I'll be amazed if the thing survives the four hour drive up to the party, both because of the lack of refrigeration, and because, well, it's four hours and it's not a very sturdy cake.

Still, I'm pretty proud of myself. It is far and away the most complicated thing I've ever attempted to bake, the individual parts have been delicious, and in general it came out well, if not gorgeous. Not bad for a first attempt without formal training or proper equipment!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It is hard to be an academic. The schooling is long and exhausting, the competition is fierce, and the job prospects are slim. Then, if you do find a job, assuming it's more secure than the nightmare that is being an Adjunct professor, you have the joy of teaching uninspired students and the pressure to publish. Intellectually rewarding- yes. Emotionally fulfilling- perversely. Easy- absolutely not.

I spent seven years going to school to get, first a Bachelors, and then a Masters degree, in Literature. I love books. I love reading them, I love buying them, I love researching them, I love talking about them, and, hopefully, someday, writing them. But I also have a yearning for visible creativity, challenges I know I can master, and short term successes. And, frankly, I hate being an Adjunct. So I've decided to become a baker instead.

The shift is less dramatic than it sounds. My life goal for a long time has been to be a writer, and I thought I'd just teach Literature to pay the bills while working on my novels. Any other possibilities didn't really stand out to me.

I've been baking since I was a child. I used to help my mother in the kitchen and I've been baking holiday cookies, with her and on my own for a few years now. Then I tried my hand at baking bread, and it was good. And then I slipped into pies and cakes and it was love.

When I found myself daydreaming about cakes I'd like to make, smiling wistfully to myself, I realized that maybe there was another path for me, one that would give me a creative outlet, a higher likelihood of job security, and a wider range of potential jobs. The moment I started seriously considering going back to school, not for literature, but for baking, I felt a great joy and contentment settle over me. My life looked much more hopeful, and tasty, and so the decision was made.

I already know I can bake yummy things, now I just need to hone my skills and learn the all important art of decorating.

I created this blog to record my journey through the kitchen. I'll share my successes, and, if I'm feeling brave, my failures. Hopefully this will show the progress of a gifted novice hobby baker to the rank of successful businesswoman, or, at least, a happy employee baking for a nice company, with a large personal kitchen of her own waiting for when the shift ends.

Wish me luck- and cupcakes!