Getting Over A Fear of White Cake

I hated white cake, not eating it but making it for people. Since the very beginning it’s been a struggle. The last straw was when I was about 21, working long hours as a bakery owner. There was very little that was not made from scratch there. When I say “scratch” I mean measure the butter and flour and so on, I don’t mean open a box of mix and add an egg and some oil or bake the premade cookie dough.

It was pretty easy to come up with a great recipe for almost everything we had on the menu, except white cake. We tried ones with oil, ones with butter, all-purpose flour, cake flour, the variations were endless. Finally we picked a butter cake that was pretty good… so we thought.

One Monday morning this lady came in with an almost complete wedding cake from her son’s (I’m pretty sure it was her son) wedding the Saturday prior. It was our scratch white cake. Her husband at her heals. They set the tote on the counter and so it began. I started to hear how awful the cake was- the frosting was disgusting and the cake was dry, they couldn’t even serve it. Her mother made scratch cakes that were much better than this.

Thinking there was truly something wrong with this cake the three of us working tried it. We must have all given the same look and it was the wrong one apparently. None of us could tell what was wrong. That was our white cake with fondant icing (the icing is akin to a flavorless tootsie roll and mostly used for the look in North Dakota and that warning is always given- beside the point.) I asked one of the girls to cut into a white cake layer that we had just baked and gave it to this lady to compare. She began to act as though she was choking because it was so dry and continued to carry on. At which point her husband was blushing and went to wait in the truck.

She continued to get even nastier. By the time she left I was in tears and by the afternoon we decided to add a bag of white cake mix to our flour order. My hands are shaking as I write this almost 11 years later. It made me so mad and I really don’t like being treated like that- I can’t brush that off as easily as others. This was one of the three times I have been made aware of how truly awful people can be about cake to date.

That day she won.

We made the switch that I hated the most and started using a cake mix for the plain white cake. I understand why most places use it- it’s cheap and it doesn’t require a skilled worker to produce a consistent product. I had skilled workers and darn good ones!

Over time I just couldn’t let that… lady, win. A chef friend borrowed me a book that had a white cake recipe that I just had to try. It was perfect! It wasn’t “box cake moist” but as close as you can get without the added cancer causing ingredients. It kinda sucked to make though. It had a long list of ingredients- multiple types of sugars, flours and fats and a long list of steps to match. But it was from scratch.

I used that recipe for years but really needed something a little simpler. The search was back on but for most orders I still would shy away from using anything else.

I’m hesitant to say, but this fall I finally have found the recipe, the one that I’m going to keep and use. It’s ingredient list is not outrageous or cheap but it’s good. Really good I think. I’ve used it for a few orders now and no one has called and screamed at me, so that’s definitely a good start!

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Years ago I made a request to a German teacher who was a regular customer at my bakery, that when she went on her next trip to Germany to please bring me back a bread cookbook or two and I’d pay her for them. The ones she brought were in German, as I had hoped, and had some great pictures too!

Now, I don’t speak German. That was the language class I took for a few semesters in high school. In hindsight I should have taken Spanish. The only phrases I remember are “I don’t know” and “I have no money”.  Really useful phrases (insert eye-roll), not something like “where do I find great food?” or “two beers please” (my best Spanish phrase at the moment). Nope. I won’t be traveling to Germany any time soon the way it sounds.

The recipes look wonderful, or the pictures do at least. I started roughly translating a few that I wanted to try first shortly after receiving the books. Well, I received a request for a sunflower seed bread and wouldn’t ya’ know there’s a recipe for that in both cookbooks!


Sometimes I question my sanity.

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Grow Your Grain and Bake Them Too

Fresh baking and berries from the farm

“Know your food, know your farmers and know your kitchen.” It’s a quote from Joel Salatin that has been floating around social media for a while now. I do agree with it but what about know your baker? You probably should; especially when your baker is a farmer too! How handy is that?! Grown your grain and bake them too… or something like that.

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Corned Beef and Roasted Cabbage

It’s that time of year where our meals start looking boringly familiar; meat, and cellar vegetables, you know potatoes, carrots, squash, cabbage and some rice…or tacos. This is usually when I try to mix things up a bit and start slathering the vegetables in bacon fat and olive oil and roasting them. It’s a nice change. Who doesn’t love anything cooked in bacon fat?!

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Why I Love Home Ground Wheat


The fire is lit in the old stove slowly warming the oven for the day. I’ve got a day of bread baking planned. My coffee is hot and the flour mill is grinding away. Morning is my favorite time of day. Once I’ve got enough flour ground for the first batch I can get started. For now I’ll steal away a few quiet moments and tell you why I love to use my home-grown, home-ground, whole wheat flour.

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