What's your favourite macaron flavour? And be honest, how many batches did it take before you mastered the macaron?
My favourite macaron is good, old-fashioned vanilla. If you can’t get the basics right, then get out of the kitchen! I do like to mix things up a little by adding coloured sprinkles to my buttercream, but that basic vanilla flavour is so comforting and delicious. As for making macarons, I have made too many batches to count before being able to finally have some successes! It's quite labour intensive to go through, so the disappointment is great when they don’t burst out those beautiful little feet beneath their beautiful shiny shells. I’m still a bit nervous and cross my fingers when putting a tray of macarons into the oven.
What kinds of sweets did you grow up with? Are you still a fan or have you since moved on?
I grew up with old-fashioned slices and cakes from Stephanie Alexander and the AWW Children’s Birthday Cake Book. I remember my mum making delicious sugar cookies at Christmas that we would decorate with royal icing, as well as a mean jam-and-coconut slice. My favourite birthday cake is still the enormous pink castle my mum made me when I was little. After all, everything tastes better when it's pink! Even though I've developed a soft spot for more adult sweets like violet creams, I still love the old favourites and hope someone will one day make me another pink princess castle for my birthday.
Being a sweet lover at heart, what are your favourite savoury dishes?
I can’t pass up the nana’s homemade gnocchi. Anything made with her homemade tomato sauce is equally difficult to pass up. My mum also makes a delicious quiche lorraine which I still beg her to make for me when I come home. Even though she's shown me exactly how to make it, mine never tastes the same. Of course, I’m only happy with savoury if it's followed by dessert.
Elaborate on your love of baking.
Although I love to eat the things that I bake, the real joy comes from seeing friends and family enjoy them. Many of my posts are about gifts that I’ve made for people for birthdays and Christmas, or cakes that I’ve made for them. I also get a real peace of mind from baking. I don’t know if it’s the soothing actions of sifting, measuring and mixing that calm me down after a tough day, but there’s something about baking that helps me unwind.
Which three recipes are your proudest creations?
I’m proud of my violet cream cupcakes, 2011 gingerbread house and jungle cake. Each of these dishes represents a different facet of my personality. My favourite chocolates are violet creams so developing this into a dessert was a necessity. The cupcakes turned out lovely and chocolatey with a light but definite taste of violet in the icing. The gingerbread house that I made for our Christmas party in 2011 hints at my love of decorating as I tried to make it whimsical with unexpected angles and a multitude of colours. The jungle birthday cake that I made for my friend was one of my proudest creations. It was my first foray into cake decorating and fondant figures, and I’m still proud of my little fondant lion.