The Cake Mistress aims to make life sweeter with an added pinch of nostalgia, says its author Emma Evangelista. Inspired by the home-style baked goods of yesterday, there's even a retro cakes section, featuring a recipe for Katharine
brownies. "Enjoy them the next day with a tall glass of cold milk
on the side," advises Emma.
We chat to this cake mistress about childhood memories involving cake, why at-home cooking trumps dining out, and her cupcake recipe for seduction.
Explain your love of all things sweet.
My sweet tooth was discovered when, as a toddler, I managed to devour a family block of chocolate – to my mum’s horror. Sweets, for me, are strongly connected to great memories and happy times growing up. Mum would always have something freshly baked for us when we came home from school, and something extra amazing on special occasions. I’ll never forget the birthday cakes that were made and decorated from scratch, like many other ’80s kids whose mums owned the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book. That book should be a national treasure.
Nowadays, the nerd in me also loves the sense of accomplishment from toying around in the kitchen like a mad scientist and having the experiments work.
What inspires you to bake?
My favourite source of inspiration is vintage cookbooks, and flavours that remind me of childhood. Some recipes can be a bit daggy by today’s standards. But others are so classic and timeless, and it’s these ones passed down through generations that have something really inspiring about them.
You’re a fan of home cooking. What makes it so special to you?
Knowing that the food you’re eating has been carefully made by someone with love makes it taste so much better. Home-style food is warm and comforting. Often, there’s a story or interesting origin behind the recipe. I think everyone has that one dish that tastes like “home”, where the familiar smells and flavours instantly transport them to another time and place.
Tell us about your macaron workshop experience with Adriano Zumbo.
That was such a valuable learning experience. Macarons can be fickle mistresses, so it was an honour to get tips and techniques from the macaron master himself. It was inspiring to see him in action and listen to his ideas. He was a very patient teacher, despite our occasional kitchen mishaps in class.
Alright, what's the perfect cake to bring to a dinner party?
Cheesecake is always a winner in my book: They’re fast to whip up; can be made in advance; there are many flavours to suit different tastes; the host doesn’t have to do any prep work; and they’re a light and refreshing way to end a meal. You can even give them a decidedly adult twist by adding liqueur. The “legless” Baileys cheesecake recipe on my site is one of my favourites, as is the baked New York cheesecake.
What do you get out of food blogging?
There are so many enjoyable aspects, but, if I had to pick one thing, it’s sharing recipes that mean something to me and learning that the recipe, in turn, has impacted others in some way – be it a birthday cake that made their son’s day, or the fond or hilarious memories it triggered for them too.
If you could bake for someone famous, who would it be?
I’d definitely try to seduce Ryan Gosling with my red velvet cupcakes or Nigella’s Blueberry Boy Bait.
What’s your food philosophy?
My nan didn’t need fandangled gadgets to create amazing food. Great things can be accomplished with a good recipe, good technique, quality ingredients, patience and love.
What's something we'd be surprised to know about you?
It seems I have the baking gene, but not the cooking gene. Give me a complex cake where many things could go wrong and I’ll make it no problem. But cooking something like eggs on toast goes horribly awry.
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