Top with Cinnamon on Blogging Between Homework
Here, the blogs you should be reading right now with recipes and tips from their creators.
The Blog: Izy Hossack, a self-professed science nerd, started her baking blog, Top with Cinnamon, when she was just 15 years old.
You’re now only 18—which is incredible. What do you love about baking that makes you want to blog (on top of all of your school work)?
Thank you. I’m not going to lie—it’s mainly because I do really like cake. But now that blogging about it has come into play, it’s more than that. I adore making, styling and photographing food. There is this huge satisfaction and excitement I get when I take a shot, upload it and see something totally pretty that I’ve made. I’ve always been a creative person but I’ve found that certain crafts can get boring after a while, whereas with food I get to manipulate the three stages (the cooking, styling and photography) so I just never get tired of it. Usually half of my weekend is taken up by creating a blog post and doing homework so I have the other half to relax in. The thing is, making food and blogging isn’t a chore for me—I’m usually catching up on TV shows while I do it—so in a way it is kind of relaxing for me. There’s also the science-y side of me that likes being able to change the variables in a recipe to alter the outcome—whether it’s the texture, appearance, flavor or nutritive value.
What are you thinking you might want to do when you grow up? You love science and math and food as well; would you want to combine these interests?
At the moment I’ve just been through one of the most stressful periods of my life: applying to university. At first I was thinking about going into biomedicine but soon realized that the main reason I was applying for that course was so that I’d be able to study the nutrition modules that are offered. Such modules counted as only a tiny fraction of the course though, so I thought I’d be better off applying for the food science and nutrition course instead. Needless to say, right now I’m hoping that there will be some kind of job in the food world for me once I’ve finished university.
What’s your eating philosophy and approach to health? I ask because many of your recipes, such as your gluten-free Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with Pomegranate Salt, are designed to appeal to people with alternative diets.
I obviously enjoy eating things like cake and cookies, but I balance that by eating as healthily as possible for my main meals. That way I can indulge when I want dessert (which can actually be pretty often, ha-ha) but the dessert is usually made by me—so I know what’s in it—and may have healthy twists. I also try to incorporate a balance of healthy fats, protein and fiber into sweet treats while also using alternative ingredients so that people with specific dietary requirements can enjoy them too. I used to be lactose intolerant so I understand how frustrating those dietary limitations can be. I just want everyone to be able to eat a cupcake.
London vs. New York: Your thoughts?
That’s so tough. They’re both very different places. London is a lot more spread out and disorganized than New York so walking everywhere is a lot harder, but I think that the public transport here is brilliant. (Sorry, NYC, but the tube beats the metro for me.) East London has a similar vibe to Brooklyn with cool indie shops, cafés and restaurants, and is definitely the place to go for trendy food and clothes.
I’d say the food scene here is very alternative compared to New York—there’s always that consistent vibe of good, local produce being used here but we are way behind in terms of other trends. For example, I can’t stop finding it hilarious how the baked doughnut-muffin (cakey vanilla muffins rolled in cinnamon-sugar) has literally just become known in the UK only in the past few months. I remember witnessing them trending hard in the US food blog world more than a year ago.
What ingredients are you super excited about right now?
Two ingredients I keep adding to everything are ground flax seeds and oat flour—both are pretty cheap and easy to find or make, but so useful for healthier, vegan or gluten-free baking. Flax seeds have protein, healthy fats, loads of fiber and can be used as an egg substitute for vegan baking. Oat flour is literally made just by blending oats in a food processor—it also has a lot of fiber and protein, plus it is perfect for gluten-free baking, provided that you check that the oats used are gluten free, of course. Talking seasonally though, I’m so happy to see forced rhubarb appearing in the markets. I make a killer rhubarb streusel pie that I will devour if no one stops me (and I’m not even much of a pie fiend usually). I do have a stash of frozen rhubarb from my dad’s allotment last year but I prefer using the fresh stuff.
What blogs are you loving?
I’m always delighted when I see a new post in my reader from Reclaiming Provincial, The Vanilla Bean Blog, How Sweet It Is, Joy the Baker, The Tart Tart, Adventures in Cooking, Apt. 2B Baking Co., and Edible Perspective—not only because of their amazing photography and creative recipes but their utterly lovely personalities.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.