I’ve been meaning all year to properly get back into the Daring Bakers Challenge… I can’t believe it’s taken me this long! I had a few months there where I even baked the challenge but just never get around to blogging about it. I was determined for this month to be different.
And what a month to jump back in: The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by kürtőskalács, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!
Baked cheesecakes are one of Cam’s favourite things in the world, but something I bake incredibly infrequently. I’d never had cheesecake at all before I met him, and certainly not baked cheesecake. For some reason I always assumed I’d hate it, but the more I have it the more I fall in love with them. It really is the best of the cheesecake world: there’s that gorgeous flavour, but the baking of it brings a lightness to the texture that makes it far too easy to eat a giant slice of it.
The only hard part is choosing a flavour! I was baking this for his dad’s birthday so I asked cam to choose one. He narrowed it down to about 5, so I then turned to his mum for back up. Eventually we settled on apricot cheesecake.
As a lot of you already know, 2 and a half years ago I joined deviantART. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it before, dA is an artist community where users can showcase their art of any kind of medium. I’d been a distant admirer of many artists there for a long time, but it was only recently I finally joined. I only really joined so I could actively follow those artists, throwing a few photos of my cakes and crafts in my own gallery just so it wouldn’t be empty. It’s no exaggeration to say it became a life changing experience. For some reason I can’t explain, people gravitated towards my food stuff and I started getting a lot of attention uncharacteristically quickly. The community changed the way I thought about cake decorating and made me challenge myself to start creating outside of the box. I started to see food as an artistic medium and used it to create fan art or participate in art collabs. The community also inspired me to start learning about still life photography in the hope of elevating my photos of food stuff beyond quick snap shots. A number of individuals in that community promoted my work and brought it to the attention of a larger audience, something that was the catalyst for my stuff getting plastered all over prominent websites and even in newspaper articles! It’s been an absolutely crazy, wild ride.
I owe a lot to the community there. These days I’m a Community Volunteer for the Artisan Crafts galleries. A big part of my job is bringing attention to lesser know artists and showing off their work to the masses. I’ve been doing it for over a year now and I love being able to do for other artists what others did for me.
Today is the websites 14th birthday. There’s loads of celebratory events and contests going on. This years virtual party has an Alice in Wonderland theme, so I just had to make some cupcakes to celebrate the occasion.
Every so often I’ll invite Cameron’s parents over to my place for dinner, wherein I unleash a three coarse feat upon them. Aside from just enjoying their company, it’s also a little way of saying thanks for everything they do for me in the best way I know how. I also just love cooking for Cam’s immediate family in general because they love such a wide variety of cuisine and will try just about everything, quite unlike my family. This time we moved the dinner to lunch time, as it’s the middle of winter here and the long drive between my place and theirs is less appealing of a night time. So when it came to planning the dessert portion, I started hunting for something that would feel more on the refreshing side. Dessert-induced food comas are just less fun at lunch time.
I immediately decided on something citrus-ey. The rest of the dessert followed from there and focussed largely on taking quite sweet things and balancing them to make them feel much less so.
If you’re a Zelda fan, or just generally have a finger to the pulse of the gaming world, you’ll probably know that late last year the latest game in the Zelda franchise was released: A Link Between Worlds. Of course I had to have it straight away, and as soon as I had it I did nothing else but play it until I’d beaten it. A feat that took an usually long time because I got crazy addicted to the baseball mini game. Saving the multiple worlds in chaos can wait, man, I’ve got some Octorock baseball to perfect! I don’t think I have spent so much time getting sidetracked by a mini game since fishing and horseback archery in Ocarina of Time.
In the course of finally getting around to beating the game, I came across the very Turtle-centric dungeon aptly called Turtle Rock. To access the dungeon you must rescue three adorable baby turtles and return them to mummy turtle. They then play stacks on, allowing you to climb on top and go for a ride to the dungeon entrance. Waiting for you on the other side of the dungeon is the boss fight, wherein it completes the other turtle-themed bookend with a turtle boss. This lava turtle is much less happy to see you.
Now, “I’m so gonna cake you” is probably not a normal thought to be had when trying to avoid being either smashed or burnt to a crisp by a giant lava turtle. But it was the one I had nonetheless. Right alongside the internal debate of whether it would more accurately be called a tortoise because of its limbs, or a turtle because it’s swimming through lava. And does lava even count as liquid enough to make Grinexx a ‘water dwelling’ turtle anyway, or would he still be a ‘land dwelling’ tortoise because he’s dwelling on melted rock?
At some point I stopped wondering about his taxonomy and how the cake would be structured and got around to actually defeating it. I put the cake idea on hold until the next round of Link’s Blacklist arrived. Long-term followers of the blog will remember this as the collaborative fan art project I’ve been involved with. I’ve made a Furnix cake, a Beamos cake and a Mad Scrub cake for Rounds 1-3 respectively. Grinexx was my entry for Round 4.
There’s a number of challenges I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with lately. My favourite of which is the Daring Bakers Challenge. Last month I was absolutely determined that I’d jump back in. Well, I did the challenge. But I didn’t get around to getting the blog done in time. ‘Better late than never’ has been my motto lately, so I figured I’d pop these recipes up belatedly. Cinnamon is certainly one of my favourite things on this planet, so skipping it felt like a crime.
The challenge was of course cinnamon rolls. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required! They are one of my favourite things on the planet. There are so many varieties it was so hard to choose any given one. So in the end I went with one very traditional, and the other not so traditional.
A lot of people have a childhood affinity with pop tarts. I have a childhood affinity with pop tart commercials. It was something I always saw on the television, wanted to try but my parents weren’t interested in buying them. A common story from my childhood. My parents seldom had the money to pay the bills so anything non-essential was a giant no. Every time someone in my generation freaks out about something we had as kids, I freak out too but from an I-remember-those-ads perspective. Pop tarts are on that list.
Then one day they just kind of disappeared. I remember the ads disappearing, Cameron remembers them disappearing from the shelves as well. That childhood treat seemed determined to remain in our childhood only.
A few months ago I was grocery shopping with Cam and we came across them. His eyes lit up and he launched into the same nostalgic tales most people do when they hear the words ‘pop tarts’. I decided it was time I grabbed a packet not just to satiate his nostalgia, but also so I could finally see what all the fuss was about.