If you spend any time on food blogs at all, you’ve seen the very popular Muffin Monday started by Anuradha from Baker Street. I’ve wanted to join in but my schedule is so wacky that I’m always afraid of letting people down. I bake vicariously through them though. Some of the muffins have been amazingly gorgeous and some of the combinations have made me scratch my head – but every one was a winner.
I’ve been friends with Anuradha for quite a while. We met on Twitter and began following each other’s blogs and as the weeks and months went by we got to know each other better and better. She’s such a friendly, giving person. I was quite under the weather for ages and I mentioned I was having trouble just standing up, much less cooking anything or blogging about it. Within what seemed minutes she’d done a guest post for me with the most delicious cupcakes.
I was gobsmacked that anyone would want to do a guest post for me. She assured me that it was common and I should do it more often. I’m always reluctant to ask busy people to spend their time on me but Anuradha didn’t wait to be asked. She’s a lovely person. She’s the sort of person you’d love to have living next door to you. She’s not in your face but you know she’s there whenever you need a hand or a chat or advice.
You’ll find baked goods of all varieties on her blog so I asked how she learned to be a fantastic baker. Baking is a talent she was born with – a calling, she said. Despite having no formal culinary training, she produces the most wonderful food. She started her blog as a way to share her recipes and soon found she was making friends from around the world.
An lives in India but a quick peek on her blog and she could be in Manhattan or Sydney or London. Baker Street is world wide blog. She loves creating her blog and like many of us finds the baking, photography and blogging to be a real stress buster. She told me that if I’m getting stressed or pressured about posting deadlines, I’m doing it wrong. “It defeats the purpose,” she said. That’s so right. Too often I find that I *must* post on this day or that day and if I don’t I’m doing it wrong. In blogging there’s very little wrong unless you don’t post at all.
When asked what part of the process to create Baker Street did she love the best, it’s definitely the baking. Her baking isn’t always sweet as you’ll find quite a few savory delicacies on her blog — even muffins.
If I told her I was taking away her spices and allowing her to keep just three they’d be cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg. Those three are definitely from a baker.
Anuradha believes it’s essential to find your niche when creating a new blog. “Find out what you’re good at and chase that — at no point should you stop learning,” she told me.
She didn’t grow up in a family of bakers, in fact nobody in her family baked at all. She has no childhood memories of waiting in the kitchen for something tasty and sweet to come out of the oven, no memories of the aroma of cinnamon or hands covered in chocolate while sous cheffing for her mother. She didn’t even get to lick the bowl. She’s had a lot of making-up to do and she done it SO well. An’s a neat baker and her kitchen is as clean when she finishes as when she starts because she washes every item before moving on to the next. “I can’t function in a messy kitchen.”
Anuradha lived with her grandmother for a couple of years when she was 6 and her gran felt compelled to keep her happy and distracted with food. She took the effort to read recipe magazines to figure what she could bake for her in her ancient, makeshift oven.
And after some failed experiments, the only item she found she could accomplish was a simple vanilla pound cake. Even this took a few tries. But once it was edible and she got the hang of baking it without the recipe at hand, she baked the same cake twice a week as a treat when I got back from school. The same cake. Twice a week. Week after week. And I loved it. Every time. She used to coordinate it in a manner that I had a slice in hand almost as soon as it was out of the oven.
The world comes to a standstill when you bite into a slice of warm cake out of the oven. An inexplicable feel it is. In all likelihood, my quest for the perfect pound cake recipe comes from this memory. This takes me back to being 6, when the biggest worry I had was finishing homework. I really wish I had her recipe to share with you today. I’m still chasing it but in the meantime, this one comes quite close…
The love of a grandmother for her grand babies is wonderful, isn’t it? Anuradha is sharing with us her Cookies and Cream Pound Cake. A simple cake that reminds her of simpler times. She really recommends that you try this when its right out of the oven and you’ll get an inkling of the magic.
To honor her grandmother, here’s Anuradha’s recipe for Cookies and Cream Pound Cake.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup half n’ half (light cream)
- 2 cups oreo-type sandwich cookies, very coarsely chopped (about 20)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.
- With a mixer on low speed (or by hand), stir in ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by half of the half n’ half. Add additional ½ of the flour and the rest of the half n’ half. Stir in remaining flour, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain. Gently fold in crushed Oreo cookies with a spatula.
- Spoon into prepared pan and level top with a spatula.
- Bake for about 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then loosen cake and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing or glazing.