Home-made Pop Tarts

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.

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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.

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Super Moist Pumpkin (or Carrot) Spice Cake [vegan]

This was a cake I made when I needed an alternate vegan option alongside my very not vegan birthday cake some time ago. I wanted something that didn’t feel like the vegan option, just something that’s accidentally vegan. Substituting most ingredients in a cake is usually fine, but there’s two I sometimes struggle with: eggs and butter. I deal with the first one by avoiding any cake recipe that relies on eggs for its structure. But butter can be harder. Non dairy spreads are hit or miss sometimes, and I sometimes feel like they give an odd flavour to the cake. It just kinda tastes fake. But one awesome way of substituting butter (or even non-dairy fats) is with a fruit or vegetable puree.

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Veggie purees can be used in most cakes to substitute out half the fat content (or all if you’re trying to be super health conscious). Once I’d made the decision to go the veggie puree route, the choice was immediate: pumpkin cake.

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Mexican Chocolate Cake [vegan]

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday. I spent mine with my partner and his family, eating way too much food and trying not to eat all the chocolate too. His brother and sister-in-law hosted us all on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday his parents did. Both his mother and sister-in-law put on an amazing spread of food that we all ate too much of, and that was before we even thought about dessert.

I bought along a couple of baked goods for the occasion, baking most of it vegan so everyone could eat some. I made a batch of hot cross buns to bring because they’re lots of fun to make, but also because it’s next to impossible to find any here that don’t contain palm oil, especially not vegan ones. And then there was this Easter-themed cake.

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Making chocolate cake vegan is so easy. There’s so many recipes that are already incidentally vegan or an easy substitute away from it. This time I decided to spice things up a little with a Mexican chocolate cake.

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Easter Egg Macarons

Easter baking is some of my favourite kind of baking. Perhaps it’s because around this time of year everything is starting to get colder. The woolly jackets find their way from the depths of our closets, the heaters and electric blankets gets their first work out in months, and we start to crave comfort food. Warm dinners and mugs of hot drinks we can curl up with, while nibbling on hot cross buns fresh out of the oven. Everything just feels cosier. And then, of course, there’s all the chocolate!

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Amongst all the Easter baking I’ve been planning the cake. I decided I wanted Easter egg-shaped macarons on top, so these little guys are destined to be a garnish, but they’re a delicious treat in their own right.

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Game of Thrones Sigil Cupcakes

It’s no secret that I have about 300 fandoms too many. Ever since I was three years old I’ve had my head in a book. Novels have always been a favourite form of escapism: if I don’t have a book on the go I feel completely lost. Every so often a gripping story comes along that spirals quickly into an obsession. An obsession I feel the need to talk about. Constantly. A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as Game of Thrones, is one such obsession.

My other half isn’t so big on reading. Mostly he feels like he doesn’t have enough time to read and never gets around to it. I know dragging him into my favourite worlds via the written word is a lost cause, so when a great adaptation comes along there is much prodding and poking to get involved. He’s endlessly lovely about it, so he always placates me by sitting through it. Often he enjoys it, sometimes he loves it. But rarely does he match my level of obsessive addiction. Until Game of Thrones.

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By the time he watched it with me, all three seasons were out. His constant plot questions indicated he was getting into the show, and then randomly quoting his favourite lines. But I really knew he was hooked when he began requesting to watch the next episode until we were watching 6 in a row. And then when he wanted to watch all the seasons over again. And again. For someone who is usually a casual one-episode-a-week-is-plenty kind of fan, it was a huge deal. Now we watch it together all the time and chat about it constantly: it’s become our ‘thing’.

Yesterday, the first episode of season 4 premiered. The wait had been agonising and we were endlessly excited. It also happened that the episode was airing in Australia on my birthday. The occasion called for some celebratory cupcakes.

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Christmas Macarons

It was about a year ago that I tried making macarons for the first time. Intimidated by the horror stories, I kept putting it off. I learned then that they’re not as crazy difficult as they seem, and since then I virtually haven’t stopped. I’ve made macarons probably more than anything else this past year, and everyone here sure isn’t complaining. We absolutely love them. I love trying new flavour combinations, and everyone else loves devouring the spoils.

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Christmas baking is getting into gear and I’ve made hundreds of the bite-sized treats already. but while I was making standard macarons, I wanted to make some a little extra festive.

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Emergency Cookies

If you’re someone who bakes a lot, or are the recipient of home baked goods, you’ll know what I mean when I say store-bought cookies just don’t cut it any more. No matter how nice the brand is, nothing compares to fresh cookies right out of the oven. Which is always a problem when cookie-craving-hour unexpectedly strikes. You know buying cookies for the moment is just going to lead to disappointment, but baking an entire batch of cookies seems like so much effort. If you manage to conjure up the energy, then you have to work out what to do with the rest once the craving is satiated. If you live in a full household baking an entire batch of cookies mightn’t be an issue. But if, like me, your household is tiny, you’re left with more cookies than anyone has the stomach for. It’s often not long before I decide the effort is just too much and wallow in cookie-craving-self-pity instead.

Lately I’ve spent so much time making fancy stuff that it had been months since having anything simple, like cookies. Increasingly so, a little voice kept popping into my head going, “Ooh, cookies. Must have cookies.” It was always defeated by the effort involved when I just wanted one or two. Eventually I decided I needed a solution to the dilemma and dedicated an afternoon to what I call Emergency Cookies at home.

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“What are emergency cookies?” you might ask. They’re pre-prepared packages of cookie dough that can be stored long-term and baked on an as-needed basis. Any time someone in the household gets hit by the cookie cravings, I can throw as many cookies as required in the oven with minimal effort required. The best part is the amount of variety you can get out of one or two batches of dough: definitely everyone’s favourite part of emergency cookies.

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