It was the beginning of August when I was contact by the Girl’s Life magazine. There the email lay, nestled on either side by various food blog updates left unread from the weeks I’d spent on vacation. I eyed the email warily – I’d never been contacted by a magazine editor before, and it seemed unlikely that one would do so at a time my blog was relatively inactive. But to my surprise, they were planning on featuring a few teen food bloggers and their signature recipes, and were wondering whether I was interested in being interviewed. I accepted immediately, overjoyed at the prospect of being featured, no matter how minimally, in a magazine.
I spent the next few days tweaking my favorite cookie recipe, experimenting with fall flavors but still dreaming of summer. It was so that I found myself churning ice cream to remedy the evident lack of summer in my cookie recipe. Now, the sandwiches belong to fall, but still embody the zesty clarity of summer. Fiery blazes of heat in the form of crystallized ginger chunks are mellowed out by the cool lick of ice cream, and the pumpkin isn’t masquerading as pumpkin pie spice – it is pure and entirely itself.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t include the entire interview in the magazine, so I’m posting it here, along with the recipe for pumpkin-orange ice cream sandwiches.
|From Adriana Baking|
1. How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is fairly original– I’m unaware of trends in fashion and dress simply – I’m most comfortable being myself.
2. How would you describe your food?
I always try to use the freshest produce available. One of my favorite things about baking is that I have control over the use of premade or packaged foods in recipes.
3. How is the food you enjoy making representative of your personal style?
I think it’s original. I don’t follow trends in real life, and rarely do so with my baking. I like to experiment with ingredients and enjoy coming up with unusual flavor pairings, and prefer simple, clean designs when it comes to decoration. I believe that simplicity often breeds beauty.
4. Why did you start a food blog?
I started a food blog to document my journey in the kitchen via recipes and the occasional photograph. I had taken up baking only a few months before, and the absurd number of food blogs I followed pushed me to become a part of the food blogging community.
5. How has your blog changed since you started it?
I started my blog with no intention other than saving the recipes I made. But as I started to bake more and take an interest in photography, I realized that I had stories to share. My photography has since improved and my blog has helped me discover my love for the written word. I’m now comfortable experimenting with new ingredients and adapting recipes. My blog has become a place where I share my photography alongside recipes, and intertwine my stories into each post. It is my kitchen diary. Though it has gone through changes over the months, it has in turn changed me by exposing me to writing and photography.
6. When it comes to food, what is the most important thing?
Though aesthetic appeal and taste are one of the most important aspects of food, I believe bonding over the dinner table to be important as well. Food brings people together and often gives birth to fond memories. It’s enjoyable and aids in forming new connections.
7. What’s your signature dish? What does it say about your personal style? What is its history (inspired by a family recipe, recipe in progress, story behind its creation, etc.)?
I rarely make a recipe more than once. I love trying out new baking techniques and using new ingredients. The only recipe I continuously go back to is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, though I can’t help but continue to adapt the recipe further with each new batch. Over the months I’ve tweaked and adjusted the recipe, making it entirely my own. On a whim a few months ago, I added malt powder to the dough, lending the cookies both extra chew and a deep caramel flavor. Most recently, I’ve substituted the chocolate chips with crystallized ginger chunks. Paired with a pumpkin orange ice cream, these ice cream sandwiches have become perfect for fall.
8. What’s your favorite thing to eat?
I’m partial to sweets. Ice cream is definitely one of my favorite treats. No matter the weather, I’ll almost always choose ice cream over any other option. And when made at home, it is especially appealing.
9. When did you start baking? What’s your first memory of baking/cooking, or being in the kitchen?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly baking piqued my interest, as I’ve been helping in my mother in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. I was almost always by her side as she cut scones into triangles or whisked eggs, and was there to help scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets. I started baking independently only two years ago, at thirteen, and haven’t looked back since.
10. Who is your favorite chef/celebrity chef? What’s your favorite cookbook?
I love David Lebovitz’s recipes. His ice cream book “The Perfect Scoop” is the most used cookbook on my shelf. In addition to delicious ice cream and sorbet recipes, whole sections of the book are devoted to ice cream “vessels”, sauces, and mix-ins. Its pages are already stained and it smells of sugar, though I’ve had it for only a year.
11. What does baking mean to you?
I always turn to the kitchen after a stressful day. Baking puts me at ease through its familiarity and whets my creativity through the endless possible outcomes of a recipe. I bake to clear my mind.
12. What else do you do, aside from baking?
By keeping a food blog I’ve become exposed to photography and writing. Though I originally perceived both as a necessity to blogging, my interest in them has slowly evolved to the point where I enjoy both just as much as I enjoy baking. Apart from blogging related hobbies, I’ve been playing the clarinet for about five years.
13. Do you want to bake professionally?
No. Baking for the fun of it is much more appealing to me than baking for a living. Though I’d love to spend my days in the kitchen, the stress that comes with professional baking is sure to prevent me from turning to the kitchen for relaxation. By baking professionally, the kitchen would cease to serve as a diversion from stress.
14. How can other girls express their personal style through baking/cooking?
I think the best way to express your personal style is by staying true to yourself. Instead of following baking trends, bake what you want to bake. The outcome will surely be more interesting, and you’ll have more fun being original.
15. Why is it important for tweens and teens to get in the kitchen?
I find that baking is a great confidence booster. Being able to step into the kitchen and produce something that tastes good is rewarding. What’s more, baking has polished not only my culinary skills, but has provided me with ample opportunities to practice math and to learn more about the science behind what goes on in the kitchen. It also comes with the added benefit of being a creative outlet. Whether it be coming up with original recipes or as simple as decorating cupcakes, baking is also a form of art!
Pumpkin Orange Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
A Bittersweet Baker original
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 egg yolks
Zest of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Heat the milk, salt, orange zest, and sugar in a medium saucepan until steam is visible. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk in the pumpkin puree and ground cinnamon. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Gradually pour the milk into the eggs yolks, constantly whisking to prevent the eggs from cooking. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, over medium heat, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of the spatula.
Strain the custard into the heavy cream and pumpkin and let cool. Chill the mixture overnight, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Ginger Malt Cookies
Makes about 20 5-inch cookies
A Bittersweet Baker original
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup malt powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cool (not room temp, not cold) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup crystallized ginger chunks, cut into ¼ inch pieces
Sift together the flour, baking soda, malt powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
Add the vanilla and eggs, beating on low speed after each addition. Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
Add the flour mixture on low speed. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the crystallized ginger and mix in with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough using a cookie scooper 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 11-13 or until cracks have formed and the edges are golden brown and the center is still soft and almost underdone-looking. Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.
Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment directly onto a work surface. When cookies are set, remove them to a cooling rack. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.