By Monica Simms
Every day, I find a way to bring some sunshine and goodness into people’s lives – people who are in need of a little TLC. My community, my fellow church members, family and friends, know exactly how I like to do it, too. With a little baked goodness.
My mom was the best cook, but she couldn’t bake, so I used to do all the baking for our friends and relatives and that’s when my passion really grew. When my church got together to start cooking meals and baking treats for families going through a rough time, I joined in to give back to my community, or in my case, Bake It Forward. I want to make sure they know that someone is thinking about them and cares for them. It’s just who I am.
I felt this same kind of love when Willie Geist from the “Today” Show, along with my church, surprised me during a church bake sale we held to raise tuition for my daughter; and it didn’t end there. The show and my community helped raise the tuition money, gave me a new set of tools so I can bake my best at home, and sent me to New York to be on the “Today” Show!
When I got there, Willie and the show kept answering my dreams. Not only did Arrowhead Mills pay for my tuition to culinary school in New Orleans, but I got to meet my pastry idol, Mr. Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss! He even let me pick any pastries from Carlos – I had to test a little bit of everything – and brought the whole box back with me to share with my church members who started this journey with me.
The whole experience was filled with so much love and support, it truly reminded me that I am just so blessed to have and share this experience with them. Willie helped me and I am thanking him in the best way I know how – by baking it forward with a cake I hope he and his friends and family at The “Today” Show can share.
This experience has inspired me to want to do even more, and share it with others everywhere. I am working with Arrowhead Mills to help spread the love and get others to join me and #BakeItForward. It can be simple things they do in their own communities:
• Hold a bake sale to raise money for your church When my church held the bake sale to help raise money for my daughter’s tuition, I was so touched by the outpouring of love and support from my community. It’s a great way to make a difference in someone else’s life and show that you care.
• Bake a cake to brighten someone’s day Ever since I was 11 years old, I knew I wanted to be a pastry chef. Baking is my passion and with the help of Willie and the “Today” Show, my dream became a reality. A baked good is so much more than a sweet treat, it’s a chance to tell someone you care about that you are thinking of them and care for them. My favorite way to show this is to bake my buttermilk cake with strawberry icing to share with my friends. It shows the special people in your life how much you love them.
Try it out for yourself and see how good it feels. And don’t forget to share how you #BakeItForward on Facebook, I can’t wait to see your #bakeitforward posts!
Monica Simms’ Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry Icing
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups sifted Arrowhead Mills Unbleached White Flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 eight oz. Package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray pan with baking spray and flour. In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla. Bake for 25 minutes.
While your cake is baking, start on the icing by beating cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add preserves, beating until combined. Then gradually add confectioner’s sugar beating until smooth.
Use a 9” heart shaped pan and use the heart shaped tip to decorate the cake.