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Novice baker turned part-time cake maker

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM Shea Hill is the owner of Shea Can Bake, a side business she created that is dedicated to providing customers with decorated cakes, cupcakes, cake pops and sugar cookies.

Baking did not come naturally to Shea Hill but it was something she taught herself, nonetheless.

Her baking started when she wanted a smash cake — a small, frosted cake intended to be destroyed and eaten by an infant or child — for her daughter Ellena’s first birthday.

Initially, she spent a lot of time on the internet, watching videos, joining baking groups on Facebook and scouring recipes.

“I am very frugal and have a ‘I can do it’ mentality,” Hill said. “I wanted to try making the cake so I watched videos and made one. It was not perfect. When she turned 2, I did another cake. When she turned 3, I made an elaborate cake and posted pictures of it.”

Hill, 32, posted the picture on Facebook and that same day received three requests to make similar cakes for other people.

After posting and receiving more requests for cakes, cupcakes and cake pops, Hill started a baking side-business called Shea Can Bake – which sounds like “shake and bake.” She is also an eighth-grade reading intervention teacher at Miller Middle School so Shea Can Bake is something Hill does in her spare time.

She receives a lot of feedback on her French vanilla cake, which she uses a secret ingredient for.

“People respond to that one really well,” Hill said. “Decorating wise, people love my drip cakes, crumbles, sprinkles and multiple tiers.”

Since the business was started a little more than a year ago, Hill has expanded the offerings to holiday decorated sugar cookies.

“Last year I had a lot of requests for them,” she said. “I wanted to practice and make them perfect before I offered them to someone.”

A new item offered at Shea Can Bake is decorated sugar cookies for the holidays.

Hill has not only perfected the cookie but also the art teaching herself tricks of the trade through trial and error. That practice led to her most memorable kitchen disaster.

She was making elaborate mermaid cupcakes which required the use of a silicone mold. Hill got the melting chocolate to the correct temperature and poured it into the mold to harden. The process was supposed to be she was going to pop the tails right out.

“The fins kept breaking off,” Hill said. “I probably spent three hours making three dozen mermaid tails. I finally figured it out that I had to flip the mold over and push it up and out. It’s all about the technique.”

Chocolate Cake

(Recipe can be halved)

Shea Hill, owner of Shea Can Bake, mixes a blue frosting for some cakes. She does a lot of baking and prep work on Wednesdays so she can get people cake orders for the weekend.

2 cups granulated sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon-sized pieces

1 cup sour cream

1 cup milk

4 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup hot coffee

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch pans. Add sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl of your mixer. Mix for one minute. Add butter 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Mix until it reaches a sandy texture. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix together using a fork. Slowly add half of the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix for 90 seconds. Add half of the remaining egg mixture. Mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Stop mixer, scrape down the sides if necessary and add the last of the egg mixture. Mix for 20 more seconds on medium speed. Slowly add hot coffee and mix for 30 seconds. Batter will be runny. Pour into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back to the touch and a knife comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Frosting

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

2 cups smooth peanut butter

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons hot water, or as needed

Directions:

In a stand mixer, place butter and peanut butter in mixer. Mix on low until fully incorporated, about one minute. Sift powdered sugar and add 2 cups at a time. Mix on low for one minute. Add one tablespoon hot water and mix for 10 seconds on low. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar and mix for one minute. Add one tablespoon of hot water at a time until frosting is at a desired consistency.

Marshmallow Fondant

1 10-ounce bag of mini marshmallows

2-3 tablespoons water

4 cups powdered sugar

Crisco or other oil for hands while kneading

Directions:

Place marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on half power. Repeat until melted and set aside. In a mixer, add three cups of sifted powdered sugar into the mixing bowl. Add the melted marshmallows. Mix on low until a ball forms. If the mixture is sticky, add reserved powdered sugar. Remove fondant and place on the counter. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar bit by bit. Knead for approximately seven minutes until soft and shiny. Add water 1/2 tablespoon at a time if the mixture becomes dry. Mixture should be soft and pliable when finished. To add color, use a concentrated gel. Use a tooth pick to add color and knead until incorporated. You may want to wear gloves for this step. To store, rub with Crisco or desired oil and wrap with Saran Wrap. Place in an air-tight container or Ziplock bag. If the fondant is hard when trying to reuse, microwave in 5-8 second bursts until pliable again.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.