The first in our Student Foodgram series, Tegan, Cardiff final year English and German student, spills her baking secrets. Check out her Instagram account which is filled with mouth-watering foodie photos for you to enjoy.
Words by Tegan Francis
What type of food do you normally make and how often?
I’m a hard-core cake fan. I love everything about cake: making it, eating it, serving it. I work in a tearoom, and my weekends are spent surrounded by sponges and I never get tired of that. If I’ve had a tough day, I head straight to the kitchen to bake a cake. It’s productive and creative and you get a product at the end of it which is (usually) delicious. What’s not to love?
How long have you been making this type of food and what inspired you?
I’ve been baking since I could stand on a step-stool and mix a bowl of batter in my kitchen. It might be super cheesy, but my mum has been my biggest inspiration when it comes to time spent in the kitchen. My happiest memories involve baking cakes for special occasions and there’s nothing like a delicious baked-good to lift anyone’s mood.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?
This question had me stumped for quite some time, so I had to ask a few people what they thought to help jog my memory. I have to say, I make a pretty mean gluten free, flourless chocolate cake which summons up ideas of ‘Bruce Bogtrotter’ from Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ and oh my, I could eat the whole thing in one sitting. It’s moist, rich and oh so very moreish.
What’s the secret to getting the best-looking snap for Instagram?
Instagram has launched the foodie-sphere into a whole new level so here are some top-tips for a great ‘gram:
- Make sure you have a clutter-free background and look for more neutral tones as they will make the colour in your food really stand out.
- Download an editing app. In the interest of trying to stay authentic online, make sure you don’t go over-board with the filters but a slight brighten here and a little extra shadow there can go a long way.
- Up the saturation on your photos by just a little bit to really give them that ‘POP’. It’s a tiny change but will make such a difference on your feed.
Tell us about your worst kitchen disaster.
It’s so embarrassing to admit this, but I distinctly remember forgetting to add eggs to a cake batter mix once. I had a huge bowl of ingredients and whisked them all together forgetting the eggs I had on the other side of the kitchen. I placed everything into a big cake tin and popped it in the oven. After ten minutes I went down to check on the “cake” and it looked dull and had barely risen. That’s when I turned around to find the eggs sitting on the side. It did not taste good.
What would be your top 3 tips for someone wanting to start a foodgram?
- Bake what you want to eat and see. I find it really difficult to work with ingredients and recipes when I can’t personally get excited about the finished product. When you know the final outcome will be something you’d like to eat, then writing about it on your blog/ Instagram caption and reviewing it becomes so much easier.
- Don’t forget about the #Hashtag. It may seem small but it’s mighty. I think it’s become favourable to use less in our captions recently but don’t forget to add the relevant ones to the end of the post.
- Try and find a USP (Unique Selling Point). What makes your page stand out against others? Whether it’s gluten free, vegan or maybe dishes from a different culture, it’s cool to have a focus when it comes to a food account but don’t let this limit you if you do want to try out different things!
What are you planning on making next?
I think my next big bake will be Black Forest Gateaux. Having just come back from Germany, I’ve been looking through my photos from a trip I took to the forest and it was spectacular (and incredibly rainy). It’s a big cake though so I’ll need a special occasion with a fair few friends to help me get through it.
Please share your favourite/seasonal recipe with us!
Now that we’re going into the autumn/winter months, I think we need something to prepare us for the colder climate and this Nutella blondie has quickly become a favourite. Make sure not to bake it too long though, because there’s nothing better than gooey blondie-brownies.
- 225g melted butter
- 340g soft light-brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (a lot I know but it’s worth it)
- 284g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 255g white chocolate chips
- 3 tbsp Nutella
- A few pretzels for decoration
- Preheat your oven to 350oF (180oC). Butter and line an 8 x 8 inch tin with baking paper and set aside.
- You’re now going to make “brown butter” as this adds a caramel-y flavour to the blondies. To do this, melt the butter completely and then place over a high heat and stir regularly for 4-5 minutes. It should bubble and turn a brown-y colour and there’ll be brown-black bits in the bottom of the pan. That’s the good stuff.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the “brown butter” and brown sugar.
- Make sure that the mixture isn’t hot, then stir in the egg and vanilla.
- Using a spatula, mix in the flour and salt. Once the batter is evenly combined fold in the white chocolate chips.
- It should look like a cookie batter.
- Transfer the batter into your lined tin, and bake for roughly 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and the middle is just set. It’s difficult to find the line between gooey and under-baked but just make sure that the top is crunchy and the middle isn’t completely liquid. It will harden up as it cools down so don’t worry too much.
- Allow the blondies to completely cool in the tin before removing from the parchment paper and cutting.
- Cut the blondies into 9 squares and enjoy warm. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.