JAY – Blanche Davis of Jay discovered her love for baking at about age 5 when she would sit on a little stool in her grandmother’s kitchen, which still had a wood stove.

Davis became such a fixture in the kitchen that her grandfather, a journeyman, brought her back a surprise one day after one of his many business trips.

“He found a miniature baking set. It had the mini bread pan, cake pan – everything,” Davis recalled. “Whatever Nana would make, so would I. Then what I made would go next to Grandpa’s plate. I would always wait for his thumbs up.”

However, it wasn’t until her mother started a unique style of discipline that Davis began to master her cooking skills. “Whenever we would misbehave, one of the options we had for a punishment was to bake a cake,” Davis said. “I think, at first, it was just because she didn’t want to bake and she wanted to keep us busy.

“It didn’t take long for me to figure out that this was something I really enjoyed. But, I didn’t want her to know that. So, whenever I’d be punished, I’d grumble about being sent to the ‘dungeon’ and having to bake a chocolate cake. That’s where I started to come up with my dungeon cake recipe,” Davis said.

Davis, who has held numerous baking jobs, now makes a living by baking pies, cakes and other treats at Irving’s Big Stop in Farmington. She averages about 50 pies a week, baking even more during the busy times. “After doing this for over 40 years, I guess I have a system,” Davis said, explaining how she accomplishes so much in only 20 to 30 hours a week on the job.

Yet as hard as she works, Davis really enjoys baking. “I guess you can say I’m a bake-aholic. I even come up with some of my best recipes when I sleep. Then I just cannot wait to get up in the morning, write the ideas down and get to work. When you bake in your sleep, there is no other way to explain it than to say it is an addiction. It’s a wonderful thing to be doing what I love every day, both at work and for my family.”

Naturally, family members are among Davis’ biggest fans.

“I still make my grandmother a New York-style cheesecake every year for her birthday, the real kind with the shortbread crust,” Davis said. “My grandchildren will come over on Sundays. They alternate and I’m teaching some of them how to cook.” She also has a niece who loves to bake. “It’s nice to see it come full circle.” Davis said.

Deep, dark dungeon cake
Ingredients
2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

¾ cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup melted butter

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup brewed black coffee (instant or regular)
Method

Sift the first six ingredients into a bowl. Then add the next five ingredients. Mix slowly until moist. Increase speed to medium-high. Scrape sides of bowl to get all batter. Then add the coffee, which should still be a little warm, but not hot. Mix until smooth.

Spray Bundt pan generously with no-stick cooking spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees for a regular oven, 325 degrees for a convection oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake springs back slightly to the touch. Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert pan onto cake plate but do not remove cake from pan. Let cool for 35 to 40 minutes. Then remove pan and allow to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1½ hours before frosting. Frost cake with desired flavor (Davis recommends whoopie pie cream).

Blanche’s chocolate chip cookies
Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chocolate chips (any kind)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Method

Mix all ingredients well into one bowl. Then, use a 2-ounce scoop to make nice-sized cookies. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes. Because of the shortening and butter, you do not need to grease the cookie sheets.


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