What do you get when you cross a zealous journalist with a photographer who has a sweet tooth? An imaginative baker who is currently taking the cake world by storm.
Up until recently Meaghan Cook was a wedding photographer, running her own studio and shooting weddings all over Australia and the world. Prior to that she studied writing at university and worked as a journalist, with her work appearing in publications such as The Age and Mamamia. How does someone with this storytelling background end up establishing herself as the newest face of modern cake baking? By being gutsy, that’s how.
Meaghan has been kind enough to share one of her favourite festive recipes with us, an easy to assemble and mega delicious gingerbread layer cake. See her recipe here.
Q: Meaghan, tell us a little about your first baking memory? Was it your own or eating someone else’s delicious creation?
M: My first baking memory is all about the smell of apple crumble baking in the oven on a Sunday evening. We were one of those families who always had a traditional roast on Sunday, and it was always followed by the most luscious apple crumble. I loved to watch the apple juices sneakily bubble up around the crumble through the oven door. I loved smell the cinnamon wafting through the house.
Q: Everyone has a sense of their own baking ‘style’ from cakes, to muffins, breads, cookies etc.. What is your favourite thing in the world to bake and why?
M: To bake is to share. When you bake something, you can’t just bake one. It’s impossible to bake just one biscuit, or one slice of cake, so baking is inherently the art of sharing. So my favourite thing to bake and share is a chocolate chip cookie. They never fail to delight everyone who eats them.
Q: Tell us about your online bakery, it must be so exciting to have your dream come to life this year!
M: It’s been an incredibly exciting few months. Launching the bakery online was not something I set out to do at the start of this year, but when my cakes took off I wanted an easy way for people to access them. You can order a custom designed handbag in the shape of a cat online, so I thought why not cakes too?
Q: We’ve been watching your Gutsy Baker hashtag develop on Instagram. Can you tell us about it, what’s a Gutsy Baker to you?
M: My generation of bakers is smart and intuitive. We’ve all been baking since we were little, we know our way around the kitchen and the ingredients. I don’t feel like we need prescriptive recipes telling us exactly what to do so much as give us a jumping off point. A gutsy baker uses their knowledge coupled with their ingenuity and creativity to bake something they love for the people they love.
Q: We’re sure our readers would love to know a few tips for photographing cakes & home-baked treats, what are your top tips for photographing them to look as delicious as possible?
M: Get out of the kitchen. Most kitchens are in the middle of the house and may seem like they are light, they usually aren’t. Getting your baked good near natural light is the best thing you can do for your photos. That and making sure the background doesn’t feature the aftermath of your cooking exploits/a lego sculpture that your child is halfway through building/or the TV showing that you’ve been watching Real Housewives. Keep the background clear, clean and simple.
Q: Your Instagram feed is full of beautiful cakes adorned with fresh flowers. What are your tips for working with fresh flowers on cakes?
M: Flowers are one of my most favourite things, so it’s purely for selfish reasons that I use them so much in my cakes. Timing is a big factor when using fresh flowers. I dress my cakes as close as possible to when they will be needed so the flowers stay fresh and don’t start wilting. It’s also important to be wary about the flowers potentially contaminating the cake. The cake is the priority so needs to be protected from the flowers. Flowers offer so many different colour, shape and size combinations so I like to be as gutsy and adventurous as I can when I use them.
Q: What Queen products are in your pantry right now? Do you have a favourite Queen product?
M: I love using the Queen Vanilla paste in the squeezy tube. I love that I can see the seeds and taste the honest complexity of vanilla. What I love most is about it is the squeeze tube – I just squirt it straight into my batters while they are mixing on my stand mixer. A decent glob is always the perfect amount.
Q: Let’s have some fun. If a Meaghan Cook cake walked into a bar she would….
order a…champagne mojito…. and be….talking your ear off about her love for Annabel Crabb…. and at the end of the night would be….in your kitchen with her shoes off baking chocolate brownies and challenging you to a game of ‘have you ever?’…