What's for Dessert?

The Story of ME (Marthe Efurd)


God gets the glory for the things he has done with this wad of clay that I am. He has molded me into something I never thought possible and used me in ways to make other people’s lives a little sweeter. He has blessed me with a wonderful family: Sammy, my husband of 40 years, our boys Railey and James, my dad, mom, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews. Each one has encouraged me through the years to follow my dream of baking and finally to publish my own cookbook.

I can’t remember exactly when I began baking and collecting recipes, but I know it was before I was in 5th grade.  In 5th grade, I made my teacher, Inez Pennington, a cake and gave it to her for her 50th birthday (she reminded me that I did it when I saw her 25 years later) and I have been baking ever since.  I have been known for baking cakes (and sweets) for all my teachers, college friends and friends that got married. I carried goodies most every day to school. I even made the wedding cake and groom’s cake when Sammy and I were married in 1971. After our children came along I made cakes for all their teachers and parties at school. I could write a book about the events of baking and delivering cakes with kids in tow, but it has been worth the challenge. I would like to give my mother, Reba Henley, the credit for teaching me to love the art and science of cooking, especially desserts.  Mom and I did a lot of cooking together. I remember as a child standing on a stool to reach the counter top. My Mom was the most patient person in the world. She let us make a mess, but then we had to clean it up. 


She was a wonderful cook and a precious person who loved the Lord and her family.  In 1993, when mom was 88 years old, the family published a cookbook in her honor using mostly her recipes as well as other family favorites. What a joy to see her reaction when people wanted one of “her” cookbooks, Happiness is Homemade.I can’t give my mother all the credit though.  My three older sisters cooked and baked and when I came along I wanted to cook as well as they did, or even better. They excelled in preparing “real” food, but I wanted to be creative with desserts. My sister Addie Lu and I were the best of friends and loved to cook in the kitchen together. We were in 4-H Club and entered baking contests for cookies, cakes, pies or candies. Some of these recipes go back to those days. My oldest sister Evelyn was my 8th grade Home Economics teacher and she taught me new and different techniques. At age 15, I made her wedding cake. Betty Ann, my other sister, would come home from college with ideas and different recipes and that made me want to bake even more. I made Betty Ann’s wedding cake at age 16 and at age 21, I made Addie Lu’s wedding cake.My dad, Bill Henley, was a great encourager. He would sit up at night at the kitchen table and keep me company while I worked on wedding cakes until I finished them, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. I would also like to give my brother Bill Jr. credit. In my early days of cake decorating I was asked to frost and decorate a wedding cake for a friend and they brought it to me frozen.  (For those that don’t know, icing doesn’t stick well to a frozen cake.  I didn’t know that then, but I definitely do now.)  I could not get the frosting to stick and Bill Jr. came up with ways and ideas to try. Without his help and confidence in me, I probably would never have made or frosted another wedding cake, but look at the blessings I would have missed. It was the beginning of a fun and challenging profession. Baking has led me down some wonderful paths of life and has given me some amazing experiences.  Not only was I able to make the wedding cakes for myself and my sisters, but I was also able to make the wedding cakes for almost all my nieces and nephews. I also made cakes for all the Eagle Scout ceremonies in the family.  It has led me from “Marthe’s Cakes, Candies & Cookies” in the early 80’s to working at Baskin Robbins in the late 90’s to teaching in early 2000 and so many other things before, after and in between.Who would have thought that I would go from being unable to ice a frozen cake to working with frozen cakes daily? (The secret is to use ice cream on a frozen cake and not icing)  Well, when Baskin Robbins was opening in Marianna, my dear friend Linda Huston called and asked for help the week before it opened.  I volunteered to help make cakes prior to opening and it evolved into me becoming the official Baskin Robbins cake decorator.  When my niece, Delene, was married in Colorado she wanted a fondant wedding cake and she wanted me to come out and bake it, but there was one big problem. I knew nothing about fondant!  So in 2001 I did something I had never done before…I took a cake decorating class, the Wilton Cake Decorating Course #3 on Fondant. The following year, I took my first steps into teaching and became the Instructor at Chipola College for the Wilton Course on Cake Decorating. I taught there for several years before going on to a privately owned cake store and teaching a few more years. What fun it has been to pass my knowledge on to others. Knowing that men and women, old and young, will carry on with the beauty and art of cake decorating is very rewarding.I could continue to tell stories, but that would take up more pages than the recipes. I have cooked almost every one of these recipes over the course of time, some more than others. As I look back and think of my business  (Marthe’s Cakes, Candies & Cookies), all the wedding receptions I have helped with, wedding cakes I have made, cookies I have baked, candy I have made, painted and decorated, classes I have taught, the list of where, when or how I used the recipes goes on and on. Life has not been boring.Most of my recipes are dated and it is interesting to look back over them and see how different baking is now than when I started in the 1950’s. Please use your own judgment on the size of box or bag as packaging of ingredients has changed over time.   I also have found that the cooking times will vary with individual ovens. After 30 years of using the same oven and replacing it with a new one this year, I discovered that it does not take as long as most of the recipes call for, so use your own judgment as to the length of cooking time.

In closing I would like to give thanks to the Love of my Life, Sammy Efurd, and our two treasured boys, for their patience and love they have shown me (most of the time) by supporting my habit in the kitchen of making desserts to sell or give away. They have been my biggest and best critics and supporters. They put up with a lot during the weeks I had a big cake to bake and decorate or candy to make and deliver. They have built stands, cut boards, built backboards for craft shows to display my candy and helped me make many deliveries. Railey gave me my first cookbook program for the computer and James has kept my computer going during this long project. He has proofed and re-proofed this book for mistakes and to make it so the next generation could understand the content. You name it and they have helped me with it. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their love and support through the years.