Yearly Archives - 2019

Homemade Vanilla Cake

I have been on a quest to find the perfect homemade vanilla cake recipe to match the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake".  When it comes to moist, melt-in-your-mouth texture, no recipe can come close to Hershey's in my humble opinion.  (For those who have tried to make this recipe with failed results, I will say that the most important direction on the recipe states to "mix for 2 minutes on medium speed before adding boiling water."  This is  a MUST to getting a perfect product!)  So don't poo-poo me when I say this is the best chocolate cake recipe floating around on the web.  I challenge you to change my mind by sending me your "best" chocolate cake recipe.

I finally discovered a forum where a person asked the same question I was asking, "How do I change a fabulous chocolate cake recipe into a vanilla cake?".  One smarty-pants baker responded with the whole scientific reason for all the ingredients listed in the original recipe and what needed to be done to compensate when eliminating the cocoa powder.  Whoa!  Here I was thinking all I would really need to do was take out the dry cocoa powder and replace it with another dry ingredient like flour.


Cocoa powder contains fat which effects the final texture of the cake as well as other needed chemicals to react to the baking soda and baking powder.  More sugar is needed with the chocolate cake to compensate for the bitter cocoa powder.  Also the boiling water is needed to enhance the chocolate flavor and "meld" the sugar and cocoa together.

My first try at adapting the recipe resulted in the right texture and taste, but I wasn't happy with the overall thickness of my layers.  My next attempt created a consistent result in taste and texture, but I mixed together 1.5 recipes instead of 1 for more batter.  It worked, but word of warning, it may overflow your pans slightly depending on how deep the sides are.  Future recommendation to myself and others would be to remove a few tablespoons of batter from each layer pan before baking.  (You just have to eyeball it for yourself.)

I love the ease it takes to whip this cake together on top of the amazing texture.  It pairs beautifully with a rich fudge frosting or buttercream frosting since it is not overly sweet.  It's a great "blank canvas" to adding whatever flavors you can think of - like a fresh fruit-filled center with pudding topped with homemade whip cream.  That just screams "SUMMER!!!"

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1Mix all dry ingredients inside mixer


Step 2Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition
Step 3Add melted butter, mix well


Step 4Add vanilla, mix well


Step 5Slowly add half the milk

Mix like you are making a standard rue adding a little milk at a time so that there are no lumps.


Step 6Scrape sides and bottem well before adding remainder of milk


Step 7Preheat oven to 350F, prepare pans

Mix batter on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Preheat oven and prepare pans.

Step 8Pour batter evenly between 9`` pans

After pouring batter, remember to eyeball to see if they are too full.  If so, remove a few tablespoons from each.  Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack before removing from pan.

As you can see, this cake is super moist and "fudgy" (well in a vanilla-version of fudgy).

A Look Back on 2018

This past year has been full of many new beginnings for all of us in the Kinnard family…

We kicked off 2018 celebrating E.'s 10th birthday with a special father-son trip to St. Louis and Chicago as a way of launching E. into the world of double digits.  The special trip included going up into the St. Louis Arch, visiting the St. Louis Science Museum, riding the train to/from Chicago, eating Chicago pizza at Geno's, and many other memorable activities. This begins the new tradition of a special “surprise” trip for each of the kids when they turn 10.  Already the younger ones are throwing out ideas of where they want to go or what they would like to do in anticipation of their special trip with their “Papa.”

The spring months brought with them many outside adventures.  We were able to finish a “tall yard” with a 6 ft. fence to secure our new flock of chickens.  Along with this new area, post holes were dug to create a pasture paddock in our large backfield for grazing our future flock of sheep.  Shaun and Daisy (sheep) were then purchased and brought to their new home on the farm with the hopes that come next spring, we will be welcoming at least one new little lamb.

Amy and the kids were able to rototill a large piece of field and plant a productive fruit and vegetable garden.  The boys loved getting their hands dirty and helping in any way possible with digging furrows, planting seeds, weeding, watering, and helping pick.  H. also got involved with picking the vegetables and helping Amy in the kitchen canning.  Along with the vegetable garden, everyone was involved in helping to plant and cultivate the additional apple trees placed in the orchard and the new blueberry and blackberry bushes added to the fruit garden in the front courtyard.

Summer months were filled with more outdoor projects and fun including having cement sidewalks finished around the front of the house and courtyard.  This of course added to the fun of riding bikes on a new smooth surface instead of gravel.  The kids enjoyed bike riding and swimming in their 3-ft pool just about every chance they could.

As fall approached, more improvements were made to the homestead and we were able to finally launch our Kinnard Family Homestead website ( to begin selling products from the farm.  Along with the sale of farm-fresh eggs and garden plants, Amy's baked goods, candies and jelly have been a hit as well as her hand-painted signs.  We were also able to partner with a co-worker at the law firm who knits amazing blankets and hats.  As the farm continues to expand, we will be able to offer even more homemade items to the public and partner with other crafty individuals and small homestead.

One of our biggest projects and needs was having a loafing shed built so we had a permanent shelter and lambing shed for our growing flock of sheep, as well as a new storage shed for farming supplies. Our old 10x10 storage shed was then emptied out and converted into the new chicken house which allows us room to double the size of our current flock up to 50.

When A. turned 7 in October, he was then allowed to increase his responsibilities like his older brother E.  Both boys are now taking piano lessons from their oldest cousin and helping Amy volunteer at the Fishnet Food Ministry four hours a week along with helping feed and water the animals on the farm.

One of the biggest changes for the family came mid-fall when Amy and I realized that I. needed more help in his communication and schooling than we were able to provide him homeschooling.  We began looking into taking a sign language class as a family and ended up at the Arkansas School for the Deaf.  When we were told that students with cognitive delays were also allowed to attend ASD, we went as a family to tour the school.  Everything we were praying for and desiring for I. to receive educationally was laid before us.  All the times we had anguished over I.'s hearing difficulties which have affected his speech, God was preparing the way.  It took a while to get all the testing done, but once everything was completed, I. was un-enrolled in homeschool and registered at the Arkansas School for the Deaf which is a public school.  He now receives speech therapy daily instead of just once a week and an almost one-on-one teacher student ratio.  In just the few months he has been attending ASD, he has learned to use almost 50 signs which he then uses at home to communicate his needs/wants without aggravation. His personality has calmed so much, and he has matured at an unbelievable rate to the point that even his doctors have commented on the positive changes in him.  The icing on the cake in all this is that the signing class that we were originally going to sign up for as a family and pay to attend is part of I.'s enrollment—free of charge!  In fact, the school requires family members to attend at no charge so that we learn what I. is learning.  Praise the Lord!

The end of 2018 brings with it the biggest change of all in that I will be switching my job position to part-time at the law firm to allow more time for ministry and family.  While moving "down" the corporate ladder may seem backwards to many in our culture, I consider it a promotion to be able to spend more time with my family, albeit we will be living on considerably less.  From Amy's and my perspective, time is more valuable than money.  Being home more to help Amy homeschool the kids and investing more time into homestead projects so the farm (and, therefore, our kids) grows more productive is beyond price.  In addition to more time at home, this change will provide more time to invest in the church.  Whether that be sermon preparation, visiting shut-ins, more meet-ups with members of the church, or simply staying on top of the church's administrative duties, I'll be able to do more pastorally than I was able to do working full time.

Again, we have seen God's hand at work in so many ways this past year leading us.  The year 2019 is sure to be full of many new adventures!

With love,

Tim and Amy Kinnard
E (10), I (8), A (7), H (5), and D (2)

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