I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting in the past week. The International Food Bloggers’ Conference (IFBC) happened in Seattle two weekends ago, and the recaps coming out of it, apart from being absolutely hilarious, yielded a couple of thought–provoking pieces about why food bloggers do what they do – for love or money?
After a rollercoaster 15 months wherein I jump in at the deep end by blogging daily for a whole month, explore new flavors, enter a new universe of camera-toting foodies and discover and refine my love of photography, I can honestly say that I’m in it for the “love” of blogging. Even then, this word is an inaccurate representation of my relationship with this blog. I don’t love it the way I love M, yoga or the sweetness of white peaches. Writing a post doesn’t get me all up in a tizzy (it actually winds me up in unpublishable ways!). But it does give me a level of satisfaction and fulfillment that I don’t get anywhere else. It’s my creative space where I am free to do as I wish – experimenting with ingredients, switching between desserts, savories or beverages as they inspire, doing something different from everyone else – all this, is what I love this blog for.
And if you, my readers, like what you see, and come back for more? That’s a wonderful bonus. But I have to be honest – I’m not here for a book deal, or a movie, or to make millions out of ad networks.
I’m here for me. Because this blog would cease to exist otherwise.
It sounds all nice and romantic doesn’t it? To be honest, I’m a little skeptical myself: this blog takes time and effort to maintain, and here I am saying that I’m not doing it for money?!
My Chinese heritage rebels.
So there is this ad network that I’m a part of that sends me pocket money every month. But I’ve stopped obsessing about this monthly check a long time ago, because monitoring blog stats, mastering SEO and turning into a 24/7 tweeting machine just wasn’t helping on the satisfaction front. I want to enjoy blogging, I don’t want this blog to turn into my boss.
Sorry if you trotted along here expecting a teatime chat and all things lovely and happy, only to get this part-rant, part-self-empowerment speech about my life choices. It’s been an issue that’s pre-occupied me for a while now, and the post-IFBC material I read was just perfect for clarifying my focus for this blog, and where I want to take it.
For your patience, here, finally, is a cake I hope you’ll like – take it as a Bon Vivant twist on a classic French recipe, Gâteau au Yaourt.
Rosemary Yogurt Cake With Lavender Glaze (adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours)
Makes one 9-by-3-inch loaf
The batter is exceedingly versatile for a whole range of flavors and additions. Dorie Greenspan’s original recipe substitutes part of the all-purpose flour with half-cup of almond flour and adds lemon zest, and you could just as well substitute the rosemary for thyme, or orange zest, if it catches your fancy. I’ve found that the soft, french-style yogurt yields the lightest crumb, but Greek yogurt or Skyr work equally fine too. This cake keeps, well-wrapped in foil, for up to a week, guaranteeing a couple of breakfasts and teatime nibbles.
For the Cake:
5 ounces/ 140 grams all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 ounces/ 144 grams sugar
A 2-3 inch sprig of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
3 ounces/ 90 grams plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2¼ ounces/ 63 grams vegetable or grapeseed oil
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C. Butter a 9-by-3-inch loaf pan and place it on a baking sheet.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and chopped rosemary, then add the yogurt and eggs and whisk vigorously until all the ingredients are well blended. Add the dry ingredients, whisking to incorporate, then fold in the oil with a rubber spatula. The batter is ready when it’s smooth, thick and has a satin-like sheen. Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until the cake’s edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. The cake should be golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf should be clean.
Run a knife between the cake and the pan’s sides, unmold, and let cool to room temperature before glazing or slicing.
For the Glaze:
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to boil, take the pan off the heat and add the dried lavender buds.
Let the mixture steep for 5-8 minutes, then strain the milk, and whisk it into the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you get a smooth and opaque glaze. Pour or spoon over the cooled loaf.