Wrenstead bakes from experience

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

Since 1999, Valerie Wrenstead has been impressing and pleasing both her family and her loyal customers with colorful cakes and creations.

Although she remembers making her first cake when she was just 12, it first occurred to her to go into business when a friend asked her to make a cake for her children.

Ever since then, with a cake baking kit and book from a church friend and good old-fashioned practice, Valerie has made everything from birthday cakes to wedding cakes. She said she usually asks her customers to bring in a photo or a coordinating invitation of what they want their cake to look like. From there, Valerie said she bakes and designs all of her cakes.

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Her three children, Tyler, 14; Alyssa, 12 and Carley, 9; all still get their birthday cakes homemade as well.

When she&8217;s not making cakes for customers or family and friends, she likes to decorate cookies and cupcakes.

Her husband, John, says his ample shape is proof that his wife is a good cook.

John says one of the best things about the cakes Valerie makes is her homemade icing, which she mixes and colors herself.

Although neither she nor any of her customers has dropped any of her creations, Valerie has had at least one minor baking crisis. One of the few baking disasters she remembers involved a wedding cake she made to be displayed at the Demopolis Civic Center.

She also said it ended up being one of her more stunning cakes.

Valerie&8217;s fondest memories of cooking were of watching her mother cook in the kitchen when she was younger. She remembers her mother&8217;s peach cobbler and roast being her favorite things to eat.

Now, she said her two daughters are showing interest in baking as well.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened


1 (12.5 oz) jar caramel ice cream topping

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (6 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13&8221; x 9&8221; pan. In a large bowl, combine all base ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 Tablespoons of flour. Remove partially baked base from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until filling is set.

Yield: 36 bars

Million Dollar Pie

1 can Eagle brand milk

1.3 cup lemon juice

16 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 small can mandarin oranges

16 oz Col Whip

2 store bought graham cracker crust

Mix lemon juice and milk. Drain oranges and pineapple; mix with milk, then fold in Cool Whip. Pour into crust. Chill well.

Yield: 16 servings

Carrot Souffl/

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook carrots in boiling water in a covered pot for 45 minutes or until very tender. Drain. Process carrots in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir together carrot puree, eggs and remaining ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

Yield: 6 servings