Yelly Writes

Challenging myself

I’ve been telling myself that I need to blog more often, more regularly.  That I need to add more content to my blog.

I have this amazing knack of biting off more than I can chew on a regular basis because I have this (almost masochistic) need to push myself and stretch my boundaries.  There are days when I am exhilarated by the challenges I put myself through (I was probably a circus animal of some sort in a previous life because I seem to enjoy jumping through hoops of various heights and sizes); but there are days when I just get completely overwhelmed and I wonder why I started the whole exercise!  I usually bang my head of a figurative wall and ask myself what I was thinking!

But blogging is important to me, and I really miss blogging regularly (sometimes mindlessly, and let me tell you, my verbal diarrhea is sometimes not the most pleasant!).  I’ve been moaning that I haven’t been blogging much.  So, in the interest of developing my writing (an erstwhile goal), I am challenging myself to do BOTH Blogging 101 and Photo 101.  I wanted to join NaBloPoMo but I was afraid I’d miss the prompts!  I have, yet again, challenged myself to do the impossible.  A blog entry AND a photo post every day for a month!  Ha!  But, come to think of it, I already do Fat Mum Slim‘s photo a day challenge and manage to post a photo a day on Instagram most days.  This is just doing that, on a far bigger scale.  I spend so much time online anyway that I think it’s just spending a bit more time on my WordPress tab than being nosy on Facebook and reading posts on Twitter (also a “being nosy” exercise).

So here goes everything!

This month's challenge

Yelly Reads

The Cake Book Challenge!

I am doing a Julie Powell!  This challenge that I’ve taken on is getting more and more daunting as I think about it.

I have decided to cook through this book:

The Cake Book

It’s a book from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube series (I also have the BBQ Book too which is excellent!) published by Penguin Books.  The book is called The Cake Book.  The recipes are written by Jemma Wilson who is the wunderkind behind Crumbs & Doilies.  If you’re into street food, you’ll know that C&D offers a really good range of lovely (heavy on the lovely) cupcakes.  I love the mini cupcakes that they offer the most because they are bite-sized pieces of heaven!  And they look so cute and dainty, almost too good-looking to eat.  Almost.  I thought to myself, well, if these are Cupcake Jemma’s recipes, well, they are definitely worth making!

There are 50 recipes in The Cake Book.  There are 26 weeks left in the year.  If I manage 2 recipes each week, I will have cooked through the entire book at the end of the year!  I am thankful that I can bring the cupcakes to work or share them with friends.  Because my blood sugar would not appreciate the increase in sugar intake!

I like that I am in the same situation as Julie Powell was when she started the Julie/Julia project.  I have a full-time job and a long commute at both ends of the day (mind you, I’m not sure how long Julie Powell’s commute was!)!  Am I crazy?  Definitely.  Is this self-inflicted project bigger than I think it is?  Probably.  But am I excited?  You betcha!  There are so many interesting recipes in the book.  I am looking forward to making brittle!  If Julie Powell can do it, so can I!

Yelly Eats

Love my Mango Love!

Over a month ago, I saw an advert on The Stylist magazine about a cupcake competition.  The instructions were to create a cupcake made of a sponge cake base, frosting and decoration.  The prize was what attracted me the most: if you were in the top 5 finalists, you won a Kitchenaid artisan mixer, a copy of the new Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and the chance to attend a baking masterclass.  If you won, your cupcake would be sold in all the Hummingbird Bakery branches for 2 whole months.  To be honest, it was mostly the masterclass that I wanted to attend.  I wanted to attend classes so that I could improve my cupcake decorating skills.  They also said that you would learn baking skills at the masterclass and I was definitely up for that!  Any chance at increasing what I know about baking was a chance worth taking.  I already have a Kenwood chef so getting a Kitchenaid mixer would have been a wonderful bonus.

It was a cupcake challenge and I was definitely challenged!

I sat down and started reading up on flavours and looked at recipes.  I checked my baking notes and set about improving a cupcake recipe I already had.  I also knew that I had to create a flavour profile that was consistent with every bake.  So I tested and retested the recipe I had in my head and when I was happy with how the sponge tasted, I set about creating the frosting.  And slowly but surely, the cupcake that I imagined became not only an idea but a real, live cupcake!

I suppose I couldn’t have won the cupcake challenge because the brief was for the cupcake to embody Hummingbird Bakery’s American roots.  I think I was missing the Philippines and missing Philippine mangoes too much that it came out in the cupcake I created!  I called my cupcake Mango Love.  I said that the cupcake gave you a burst of tropical mango sunshine.  And it did!

I’m grateful for the experience, because it’s made me trust my baking instincts more.  I’m more confident about my baking and I know that my goal is now to constantly improve my baking.  This whole experience of putting together recipes and making sure the flavours were sound has encouraged me even more to bake and create.  I’m thankful to Hummingbird Bakery and to Emerald Street for issuing the challenge.  Even thought I didn’t win, when I look at the pictures I took of the cupcakes that I made, I still feel like, somehow, I won a prize.

The recipe will be up on the blog in the next few days! 🙂

Mango Love cupcakes

Yelly Writes

To bake or not to bake?

This was imported from my old blog and this was published on 24 September 2010.  Funnily enough, it’s that time of year again.  Series 3 of the Great British Bake Off starts tomorrow night at 8PM!

***

I am inspired to bake again.  And it’s all the Great British Bake Off’s fault.

The final show was a few days ago and am now itching to try a new set of recipes.  It probably wasn’t a good idea to watch Julie and Julia during the weekend because I am now inspired to do a Julie Powell–meaning I could try 1 recipe for every day of the year.  That would be expensive and very exhausting.  While I applaud Julie Powell for doing the amazing (and getting her writing kicked off after the blog), I don’t think I have the stamina and I want to remain friends with my finances.

I do have a book in mind, should I decide to do a Julie.  If she (Julie Powell) has Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which I also have but have only managed to leaf through twice since I received it as a gift on Christmas), I have Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course, which is a very scary, very thick book.  I may just put off Delia’s book for a while.  I like being able to convince myself that I have the capability to accomplish my goals and I think that setting myself to do every recipe in Delia’s book is setting myself up for a fall.  It is achievable but not right now.  Now isn’t a great time for me!  And somehow, I feel better after admitting that!

I also aim to try all the recipes in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.  Realistically, I think the HBC would be a better bet since I’ve managed to try 6 out of the 60 recipes in the book (which always turn out perfectly!  if you dabble in baking, this is, seriously, a book that you should have in your cookbook arsenal!).

Shall we put it to a vote?  To bake or not to bake?