Posted in Different Scriptures, Different Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Baker of an Ordinary Cake (a parable)

There once was an amazing baker, who had one of the most incredible minds and tongues for creating something not only visually spectacular, but that also wowed the senses all at once upon eating. She could create cakes that looked like they’d been brought straight out of a magazine. Professional masterpieces, where layer after layer after layer was simply a blank canvas upon which she would unleash her creative energies. People came from all over not only to see her cakes, but to pay great amounts of money in order to experience just a bite themselves.

There’s a story that one time she created a cake in the shape of a sleeping alligator that was so lifelike, animal control was called. She let the story unfold, gaining media attention and growing in tension until finally, she snuck through the boundaries of onlookers, and sliced a piece of chocolate filled strawberry cake from the midsection of the alligator. As the people around gasped, they laughed and applauded as cake was served to everyone who had gathered.

The news of her talent and abilities spread far and wide. One day she saw a challenge before her. Her cakes were all incredibly beautiful, and captivating to the eye. When people took a bite of one of her cakes, it was only after they’d seen the beauty of the full cake, or heard long stories and explanations of her cake-making abilities. But what did people really think of her cake recipes? She might not ever find out, because so much emphasis was always given to helping people understand and notice the beauty and talent inherent to everything she ever baked.

She decided to try an experiment. She made a cake that looked exactly like – an ordinary cakecake. Nothing incredibly fancy. Nothing that screamed “WOW”. Nothing that forced everyone around it to notice. Just, ordinary. Next, she snuck her cake right into the middle of a busy restaurant where food was being served left and right. An ordinary cake showing up in the middle of a buffet table was no big deal. She watched, and waited, as the first slice was taken by a small boy. She’d used the finest ingredients, and put a great deal of care and inspiration into her recipe. But on the surface, and looking at his plate – the boy saw a piece of ordinary cake just like any other. He hurried back to his table and sat down.

She knew others were beginning to take slices as well, but this boy captured her attention. She wanted to see what his response would be, and waited quietly, patiently, pretending not to notice from a table at the side of the room. As she sat, sipping her coffee, the boy took his first bite. She noticed his face brighten. The combination of perfectly crafted icing, and moist delicate cake was like a bomb of deliciousness on his tongue, and he couldn’t keep himself from beaming as he devoured the rest of the piece from his plate.

She smiled, satisfied and excited at his response. She began to look around to see how others who had taken a slice might be responding. Person after person, she noticed the expressions of delight and reverie as some devoured just as the boy had – while others set their forks down after every morsel, chewing slowly and closing their eyes as the flavors settled over their tongues. She heard someone ask for the manager, so they could contact the chef. Apparently, someone wanted to have this exact cake made for their wedding. The baker continued to watch from the side, as the chef proudly emerged from the kitchen, only to look with disappointment at the few pieces leftover from the cake.

He confessed – this was not his cake, and he had no idea where it had come from.
Finally the baker stepped forward, and confessed – she had made this ordinary-looking cake. Everyone was so excited to meet her, as soon as they realized here was this incredibly famous and gifted person, right in the midst of their simple ordinary restaurant! No WONDER this cake tasted so amazing, and compelled people to respond!

Hands were shaken, pictures were taken, and the story spread like wildfire. Everyone heard the story of this incredibly simple, ordinary cake from the outside, that held an incredible amount of talent, love for baking, and flavor inside. In fact, it became so popular – people began requesting the same exact cake at their local bakeries. It was such an easy cake mold to use, and such an unassuming design, it was very easy for other cake shops to replicate it. They even improved on it modestly. Images were shared all over Pinterest, and all the other social medias. The hashtag “#OrdinaryCake” was trending for months as the world caught “cake fever”.

The problem was, with everyone focusing on what the cake looked like, hardly anyone was coming to her to make the cake anymore. She had kitchen cupboards FILLED with ingredients, and only once in a while did anyone call and ask her to make one of her cakes. The world was busy sharing images, celebrating moments, and eating ordinary cake, filled with ordinary ingredients, and ordinary inspiration…

May we examine our cakes, to see what all the excitement is about…and may we call the baker today.

(Inspired in part by 2 Corinthians 4)

Posted in Different Learning, Uncategorized

Gluten Free Donuts

image(1)Over a year ago, my wife found out she’s been allergic to gluten for quite a while now.   It was a pretty significant change, for a woman who’d just discovered a love for baking.

Over the past year, she’s made changes accordingly.  I was aware of it, only as far as we were eating less baked goods actually in our home.  Notice that….LESS baked goods.  She continued to make things for her family and friends that she couldn’t even eat herself…because of her servant heart, love for baking, and gift of hospitality.  During this time, I’ve gone though moments of sharing gluten-free experiences with her.  But I’ve always had my trusty gluten-eating to fall back on when the xanthan gum settled.

So for a little longer than the month of July this year, I told my wife I wanted to experience her daily struggle of living gluten-free.  No gluten for me…even during the private or social hours of consumption away from home.  It’s been an eye-opener, for sure.  The amount of times gluten-ladened foods cross your paths on a daily basis is huge.  The tough times come unexpectedly, and complete with growls of hunger.  You’ve definitely got to be pro-active to stay afloat.  I once had dinner at Subway by getting my kids sandwich covered with fresh spinach, and scooping all of the spinach off before serving it.  With a small side of vinaigrette and some Cheeto’s as croutons, it made a decent salad!

But one thing that had been itching at me, was my wife’s inability to enjoy a great cake donut.  (and yes…my own hunger for them during this month.)  So I gave it a shot, throwing together a few flours we happened to have layin’ around.  They turned out to be pretty awesome fresh, and even tasted great as a lunch-time snack later on!  If you’re gluten-free, give it a shot.  If you don’t have these specific flours, try some other combination!  Don’t be too afraid…it’ll end up being dough that’s sweet, fried and covered with sugar… can’t go horribly wrong!  Just be sure to put in the Xanthan gum, and you’ll be alright.

2 Cups Sorghum Flour (I think potato starch would work here too.)

1/2 Cup Tapioca Flourimage

1/2 Cup Almond Meal/Flour

1/2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

3/4 Cup Milk

1 Egg – Beaten

1/4 Cup Butter – Melted & Cooled

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, & nutmeg.  Make a well in the center & pour in the (milk, egg, butter, vanilla mixed).  Mix until well blended.  Cover & refrigerate (not sure if this part is needed when making donut holes).  I found holes were much easier to make than “donuts” themselves….so we went that route.

Heat oil to 370 degrees.  Seriously – this is perfect donutting temperature.  I’d always fried them in a pot on the stove before, but this time tried our fondue pot with specific marks for temperatures.  It went so much better, and I didn’t end up with uncooked dough balls that were crisp on the outside….like I usually do. 🙂

Spoon out bouncy-ball sized pieces, and put them into the oil carefully.  Let it fry around 8 minutes or so, turning as needed.  When they’re nice and golden all over, remove & place them on a paper toweled plate.  I fried about 10 at a time, and once they were cooled a bit my daughter helped me cover them with sugar.  She loved helping, and making sure they tasted good before we served the family!  Cover with cinnamon & sugar, or glaze (1 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar + 3 Tbs milk…I had no idea how easy this was!  I wanna try and glaze everything now.)  I hope you enjoy, and if you adapt the recipe with other flours, add your comments here!!