January 18, 2013

the love of baking

i love baking.  it enables me to tap into my soul's expression of creativity.  whenever each of us has a love for doing something, it is best if we do it in the spirit of service so that it can be as an act of serving God.  this is the spirit in which i bake.  these days i can't bake anything without sharing it with others.  i walk down the dirt road with cut up slices of cake or cookie bars, or deliver them to our friends in the old neighborhood, or save them for visitors who pass by to see us..

at the moment, i am on a mission to learn how to make more cakes -- really good cakes, the kind that melt in your mouth when you take a bite, the kind that are sweet but rich in butter, cream and all the good ingredients that make them taste moist and homemade.  the kids might not know the difference, but parents and adults definitely do.

so many women have said to me that they would rather pay money for a cake that actually tastes good with an icing that is creamy rather than pay so much for a store-bought cake that is dry with an icing that is all sugar.  i am not a pastry chef and i haven't taken any courses on baking but over the years i have been developing an ability to bake through trial and error.  there are some 'secrets' to baking a delicious cake, but more than any tool, technique or skill, it's essential to have a passion for baking -- and whenever we develop a talent we have with passion or love, God enables us to create something beautiful.

a couple of years ago, my husband and i had a little carrot cake business in Cape Town it was called PJ Sweets.  i was able to bake an average of 8 cakes a week from my small oven at home.  it was sometimes stressful but mostly rewarding and amazing because customers were telling the restaurants and cafes that this was the best carrot cake they ever had!

we are now living in Accra and it is not easy to find a good cake.  a friend of mine has encouraged and inspired me to bake cakes to sell for the families at school because she likes everything i bake for her.  right now i am in the beginning stage of practicing new techniques and trying new kinds of cakes and icings.  having YouTube and other tutorials as resources are invaluable.  it's actually phenomenal that anyone in the world can learn just about anything from the internet if one persists with perseverance while trying to master the skill.  i recently watched a video about how to make 'royal icing'.  the step-by-step instructions with all of the fine details made what i read come alive in every important way in order to accomplish this kind of icing.  i'm easily impressed and amazed by so much!

this morning i made an icing using 'cream of tartar' -- an ingredient i have never used and which has intrigued me for years.  i added it to the lemon juice, cold water, sugar and egg whites over a double boiler.  it required beating for 10 minutes -- a very long time for my arms!  when the peaks were soft and the icing was thick, i had to remove it from the heat and keep beating it until the peaks were firmer and the icing was thick enough to spread.  when i tried removing the bowl from the heat, the steam escaped and almost burnt my wrists!  i had to figure out a way to hold the pot holders, the bowl AND the mixer without letting the steam touch me again.  somehow i managed to remove it quickly and toward me rather than straight up.  after the icing was thick, it was time to add a few drops of food coloring and blend them into the very white icing -- it was so beautiful to watch the swirls make continuous new patterns until it was all blended into a solid color.  this was when i felt satisfaction overcome the entire process.  what a learning experience it was, and i look forward to many more..

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