PERRYSBURG - The city's Way Library now has a lending-library unlike any other in this area, thanks entirely to local resident Mary Turain.
|Mary Turain with a decorated Winnie The Pooh cake. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Due to Turain's generosity - and her retirement-generated desire to scale down - the library has begun circulating cake pans.
Not just five or six, but dozens and dozens of specialty shaped pans are now available to the public just for the asking.
"I donated about 130 different pans, but the tiered sets have four in them," so the collection amounts to pans for about 80 different cakes, Turain estimated. "Most are character pans."
What the library has decided to call its "Baker's Way" collection includes everything from Smurfs to Blue's Clues to pans shaped like a piano, a baby buggy and a football helmet.
Among Turain's own favorites are Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Superman, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
There are older characters, too, like Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Dolls.
Donated tiered sets include round and square pans, and "a scalloped pan - like for weddings - in 16, 12, 8 and 6-inch sizes."
The cake pan library, launched on Jan. 6, has definitely caught the public's attention.
"They are being circulated. Over 10 percent of them went out in the first week," confirmed Rose Mills, the library's visual arts specialist. It's an even more impressive number considering that was the week of the big snowstorm.
Although a library-based cake pan collection is hardly a common thing, Way Library's is not the first in the country.
"Not many, but a few do" have one, Mills said.
"There's a best-selling book about a library cat named Dewey, and the cat circulates cake pans, so that has given some libraries the idea," she explained.
"In Ohio, a couple out of the 100 or 200-plus libraries in the state are the only ones" that do, "so we feel very fortunate" to have the Turain collection.
Turain got the idea from a speaker who came to Way Library last year from Columbus "talking about the future of libraries. Two things she mentioned libraries are doing around the country. One was the cake pan collection, and the other was tools."
For Turain, the timing of the out-of-town speaker's message couldn't have been more perfect.
"We had just retired from doing weddings" she said of the private cake-baking business she and her husband Bob have had for the past several decades. Downsizing her substantial collection of cake pans made lots of sense.
"I called the library" with her donation offer. "I think they were a little hesitant initially because it was such a new idea."
But within days a library employee called her back and accepted with enthusiasm.
Turain loves the way the cake pan lending-library is set up.
"They've displayed them in a clear plastic bag, and hanging, so you can see the front and back of the pan which is important with character pans."
The pans may all be checked out, and the loan period is two weeks. That allows amateur bakers time to do a practice cake or two before the big event - be it birthday, wedding, or other celebration.
"We have asked people to take photos of their creations so we can post them on our Facebook page," said Mills, the librarian.
Look for the new Baker's Way section on the main floor, just past the holds shelf.
Turain's generosity doesn't end with the pans themselves. She's already planning to conduct an adults' cake-decorating class at the library in mid-February (see related story) and recently held a cupcake-decorating session for the teens.
Turain has held onto a few special pans she can't bear to lose.
"I kept Winnie the Pooh," for example. "It was one of our daughter's favorites." The daughter is in her 40s now, but "I made one for her birthday last year" under the heading "You're never too old..."
She's also got tiered sets in round, square and rectangle shapes since - with nine grandchildren - there are events coming up that she'll be called on to make cakes for. "We have a college graduation and a high school graduation this spring."
Turain and her husband have been married 53 years.
"I made our wedding cake," as a matter of fact, a fancy tiered creation.
Both she and Bob were in the Air Force.
"I lived in the BOQ (bachelor officer quarters) and a friend came over and helped. We made a tier or two at a time and put them in the freezer."
During the early years of their marriage, while stationed in England, Turain started baking for the officers wives' club. The "paying hobby" allowed her to be home with their four children.
"We retired from the Air Force and moved (to Perrysburg) in 1974-76."
During their decades of making special cakes for area residents, Bob's support has been crucial.
"He always helps me with deliveries," Turain said. "He carries the heaviest tier."
The greatest distance Turain ever delivered a cake was for her own son's early 1990s wedding at the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado.
"I baked the cake here in my oven" so she could be sure it would be level. "We carried the tiers in boxes with dried ice" so they would survive the flight.
To display her cake-decorating prowess in today's Cook's Corner, Turain is sharing a special carrot cake recipe.
"A bride's mother gave me that recipe for her daughter's cake" and Turain later made it for her parents' 50th wedding anniversary.
She loves how easy it is. "You don't have to beat the egg whites separately, you don't have to cream the sugar."
Just be careful not to over-beat or under-beat the batter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 9-inch pans with parchment OR lightly grease and flour.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups white sugar
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup golden raisins, optional
1/2 cup pecan bits, optional
Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, carrots and oil. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds.
Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. By hand, add raisins and nuts, if using. Pour into pans and tap on counter to level batter. Place in oven and turn to Bake at 325 degrees. Test if done in 40-45 minutes If using parchment, cake may remain in pan on cooling rack until cool. If not, turn out onto cooling rack after 10 minutes. When cool, add icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In mixing bowl, thoroughly combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla. On low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Turn to medium speed and mix 2 or 3 minutes. Level tops of both cakes. Place 1 cake right side up on cake stand. Add icing as filling and place remaining cake, top side down. Use remaining icing to ice sides and top. Refrigerate until serving. (May use additional 1/2 cup pecan bits on side of cake if desired.)
Turain's cake-decorating class set Feb. 13 at library
PERRYSBURG - A cake decorating class led by Mary Turain will be held on Feb. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Way Library.
Turain will show class members how to get started on decorating cakes - just in time for Valentine's Day. Learn techniques for basic borders and flowers as you ice and decorate a six-inch single-layer cake.
Class size is limited to 20.
Register for the class at the information desk of the library, located at Louisiana and Indiana Avenues. There is a $10 fee due at registration.
The library is also holding a weekly drawing through Feb. 12 for $20 gift cards plus a grand prize drawing for a Deluxe Cake Decorating Starter Kit on Feb. 13. Entry forms may be found on the main aisle display and near the cake pan collection.