Meeting people who inspire you is always amazing. What makes it even more amazing is when they bake in front of you, sign your copy of their book, and encourage you on all your food blogging, recipe development and recipe testing dreams!
This past weekend, amid all the Formula One/Grand Prix excitement in Montreal, I got to go to my favourite cookbook store, Appetite for Books, to attend the event An Afternoon with Anna Olson. The event was free (we reserved our spots of course!) and was a joy to attend.
As an audience we got to see Anna make a Victoria Sponge Cake, ask her some baking and cooking questions, eat some delicious desserts and even got to speak one-on-one with her as she signed her latest book Bake with Anna Olson – oh and snap a selfie (definitely not showing that photo though)!
She was real, passionate, honest and informative, starting out by asking the crowd if they liked baking and reassuring us that baking is do-able and shouldn’t be feared by the everyday home cook.
During her talk (as she baked of course) she mentioned that baking, while rigid in some of its rules, could still be played with. An example is how she explained that salt was not a necessary addition to the cake she was making because it was only added to bring out the favours in the batter. Super good point to mention for those who love chocolate chip cookies but are sodium conscious – the salt is only there to cut some of the bitterness of the chocolate! Nothing more. However, she mentions that if there is yeast in the recipe, the salt is needed because it controls the fermentation process carried out – super informative baking tidbit and guess what?! SCIENCE!
She also pointed out other tricks, such as how to recover from over whipping egg whites, and that you could never over whip whole eggs – so it’s ok if you get “lost searching recipes on pinterest and somehow end up looking for hairstyles for thin medium length blond hair” (LOLs) – and in the process made me realize that the photos taken for my Cloud Eggs recipe might have had egg whites that were ever so slightly over whipped.
Another quote to remember from the event, and it could also be found on her website:
“There are so many “don’ts” associated with pies dough: don’t let the butter get warm, don’t overwork the dough, don’t add too much water, that what happens? We don’t make pie dough!”
I think this is a great motto, not only for baking but cooking and life in general.
Don’ts just stop you in your tracks and instil the fear of failing (trust me I feel this ALL THE TIME, not just in my cooking and baking but in my life at the lab doing research and experiments). BUT do’s instil the hint of success and the feeling that, yes you can accomplish your goals, baking, cooking or anything else!
Negativity does nobody any good, and we need to keep reminding ourselves – now that I wrote it, maybe I can remember it?! I’m only human!
Anywho: DO try baking, DO test new recipes, DO stay positive… and maybe DO try making this Victoria Sponge Cake by Anna Olson (also called Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake)! Trust me it is DELICIOUS!
And, as Anna signed in my copy of her book: Keep it Sweet!
PS. Super sorry about my old iPhone photos, it’s definitely time for an upgrade soon!