Humble bakes from the heart

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2007

June Humble of Demopolis, born in Catherine, has been cooking and baking both for a hobby and for necessity for more than 40 years. In the 1960s, the paper mill where her husband, Verne, worked went on strike, so she had to think of a way to support her family of four children: Anna, Gus, Homer and April.

She said they went back each day for a week and sold out every time. It was then that she began getting orders, and made baking her full time responsibility.

Humble said one of her most popular requests was caramel cake, which took her a while to perfect.

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Humble said of her business, &8220;It was steady all the time, and I always had more orders than I could ever fill so I had to be selective, especially during the holidays.&8221;

Eventually, family demands and the price of ingredients caused her to retire from her baking business, but that doesn&8217;t mean that she stopped baking.

When asked if she had ever had a cooking disaster, Humble knew of at least one instance where her baking didn&8217;t turn out so well.

She was living in Illinois at the time and liked to look through the food section of the newspaper looking for recipes. She found a recipe for a cake that sued maple flavoring.

Humble said that after it baked, it simply turned hard.

At the time, she said, she was not a very experienced cook and didn&8217;t think to add any flour. Humble said she never tried it again, and to this day the smell of maple flavoring brings back bad memories.

When asked if there is something she would like to perfect one day, Humble said she&8217;d like to be able to make a successful meringue.

Humble remembers both her mother and father cooking, and she enjoyed being in the kitchen to watch them.

The first thing she ever learned how to cook was cornbread in a cast iron skillet.

She also attributes some of her cooking knowledge to her home economics classes in high school and also to the home extension services, which used to come to a person&8217;s home and show them how to can ingredients from the garden, prepare nutritious meals and create recipes.

For Humble, cooking is not just about fulfilling daily needs; it is a way to bring people together.

Humble also volunteers her cooking abilities each holiday season while working as a site coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox program, which is part of the Samaritan&8217;s Purse organization. She makes refreshments for all the volunteers that come to donate items to children in need and help get donations ready to be sent all over the world.

Humble is also working on a collection of recipes to give to her children and her 10 grandchildren.

Carrot cake

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups cooking oil

4 tablespoons hot water

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

In a large mixer bowl beat four egg yolks and sugar. Add cooking oil and other dry ingredients that have been sifted together; add water, carrots and nuts. Combine well in mixer. In a grease free glass or metal mixing bowl beat four egg whites until stiff and fold into cake mixture last. Bake in a greased, floured large tube pan at 350 degrees until cake springs back when tested on top by pressing lightly with finger. Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan. Serve hot or cold with lemon sauce.

Lemon sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1 cup boiling water

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar and corn starch; dissolve in boiling water. Cook slowly, stirring constantly until thick and clear. Remove from heat and add the rind and juice of lemon and salt. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Blueberry slick

1 stick butter

4 cups blueberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

In a 10 x 10 inch, deep baking dish melt the butter. Coat blueberries in one cup of sugar in a large bowl. Mix dry ingredients; stir in milk. Pour batter onto melted butter in baking dish, mixing lightly. Pour berries into pan, spreading them evenly over batter. Bale at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Berries will sink into batter while baking.

Fruit cake bites

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/4 cups sifted all purpose four

3 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pound candied cherries

1 pound candied pineapple

1 cup white raisins

3 cups chopped pecans

Cut candied fruits into small pieces, mix with nuts and toss with one cup of the flour, or more to separate well. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla then the rest of flour combined with baking soda and salt. Add fruit and nut mixture and combine well. Bake in small bite size muffin tins lined with paper liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until light brown in color. I make these the day before baking and refrigerate overnight for easy handling. Fill tins 3/4 full. Walnuts may be used for pecans.

Chicken in wine

4 boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 clove garlic, sliced

1/4 cup salad oil

4 Tablespoons water

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry parsley flakes

Place chicken breast flat side down in shallow baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour.


1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 packages dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 eggs, beaten

4 cups all purpose flour

prune or apricot filling

streusel topping

1/3 cup additional butter, melted

Heat sour cream until warm. Stir in sugar, salt and softened butter; set aside to cool. Sprinkle yeast over warm water; let stand until yeast dissolves. Add to sour cream mixture. Add eggs and mix well (dough does not need kneading). If necessary, work in enough additional flour to make dough spongy but not sticky. Put dough in a large greased bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Shape into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on lightly greased cookie sheet or parchment paper lined cookies sheet, about an inch apart. Flatten back to 1/2 inch thick and let rise for 10 minutes.

Make indentations in the middle of each one by pressing down firmly with the first two fingers of both hands. Spoon about one tablespoon prune or apricot filling into each indentation. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon streusel topping over filling. Cover kolachees with a sheet of wax paper and let rise until doubled in size. Remove wax paper and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush top edges and sides with melted butter. Yield: about two dozen.

Prune filling

2 12-oz. packages pitted prunes

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup sugar

additional sugar to taste

Cover fruit with water, cook 12 to 15 minutes or until tender, stir often; drain. Puree in food processor or blender. Immediately stir in cinnamon and 3/4 cup sugar. Add more sugar to taste and mix well. Makes enough filling for about two dozen kolachees. For apricot filling use 3 6-oz. packages of dried apricots and use the same recipe, except cut apricots before cooking, omit cinnamon and start with one cup sugar.

Streusel topping

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

about 1/3 cup melted butter

Blend flour and sugar in a bowl. Add just enough melted butter to moisten dry ingredients (mixture will be crumbly). Yield: enough topping for about two dozen kolachees.