Introduction: Feed the Birds With DIY Cakes

About: Steward to about 20,000 trees on 40 acres.
  1. 6-7-cups corn meal (2.5-3#)
  2. Jar of peanut butter (18 oz.)
  3. Shortening (to fill the 18 oz. PB jar)
  4. 2 cups black oil sunflower seeds
Buy the cheap, off-brand ingredients for this.

Tools and materials:
  1. Heavy duty mixer
  2. Microwave
  3. Jelly roll pan
  4. Bowl scraper
  5. Large serving spoon
  6. Wax paper
  7. Pizza cutter
  8. Freezer space for jelly roll pan or a cold porch
  9. Zip-lock plastic bag
  10. Measuring cups

Step 1: Prepping

Put a sheet of wax paper in the bottom of the jelly roll pan.  Fold the edges so they extend up the sides, if possible.

Do this before starting the mixing process because the mixture will be warm and will stiffen up as it cools.  You will need to work quickly when mixing and spreading the cake mixture.

Step 2: Putting It Together

Always work with warm ingredients.  Even if the corn meal is at room temperature you may want to warm it for a minute in the microwave.  Put the corn meal in the mixing bowl and make a depression in the center.  

Remove the inner seal from the peanut butter.  MAKE SURE ALL OF THE ALUMINUM LAYER IS GONE.  If not, there will be sparking in the microwave and the plastic will melt where there is a tiny bit of foil.  

Heat the peanut butter for a minute or until runny.  Add it to the corn meal, scrapping the jar fairly clean.  Start the mixer while you refill the jar with shortening.  Heat the shortening in the microwave for about a minute, or until at least half of it is liquid.  DO NOT HEAT SO LONG THAT THE JAR STARTS TO MELT. 

Slowly pour the shortening into the mixing bowl. Scrape the jar and mix until the ingredients are fairly well mixed.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom.  Add the sunflower seeds.  Preheat them if you want.  Restart the mixer and continue mixing for a few more seconds, until you have a homogeneous mixture.

Step 3: Making the Cakes

Transfer the mixture to the jelly roll pan.  Use the large serving spoon to spread the mixture into an even sheet.  Work quickly so it doesn't stiffen up.  

When you have a fairly smooth, even layer, use the pizza cutter to cut the sheet into pieces to fit your feeder.  

Put the pan and the cut cakes into the freezer over night or until solid.  

Put out a cake in a feeder that is safely away from predator access.   Transfer the rest to a zip-lock bag.  Put pieces of the wax paper between layers to prevent the individual cakes from fusing together and put them back into the freezer until needed.  

Once the birds find your cakes they will be back on a regular basis so restock the feeder as needed.  We discontinue feeding cakes as the weather warms since they tend to fall apart in warmer weather.