Meet Gabrielle, Lamington maker, cake creator and occasional ruminator.
We discovered Gabby in the midst of lockdown while looking for creative inspiration and new things to try to keep ourselves busy and entertained at home. We know that baking has been a popular iso-activity for many, (us included), so when we found Gabby’s delectable cake creations, we wanted to share one of her recipes with you. We are so excited to finally be out of lockdown, but we just can’t seem to kick our new baking addiction. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s perfect if you’re looking to impress your friends at your next picnic date, or if you’d just like something a bit sweet (but very delicious!) at home to nibble on. Plus you’ll have a lot of fun baking it.
We had a chat with Gabby about where her passion from baking came from, her inspiration for this beautiful cake and a few of her favourite Melbourne spots that we can start enjoying again.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who you are and what you love doing?
Well I’m pretty much a food-a-holic, it’s always on my mind! My house is full of opened cookbooks and my computer has endless tabs of recipes on the screen. Getting out and about and exploring what the world has to offer keeps my curious nature on the go. But I love simple pleasures – book and tea and cake? Yep! But people and baked treats are one of the greatest combos, and I feel very lucky to bring the two together on a regular basis.
Can you share a little bit about your professional journey with baking so far - how did you get to where you are today?
My baking journey has largely been a self-taught kind of approach. I tried in my earlier years to put myself in kitchens where I would learn pastry skills from others – but it never really turned out the way I thought. The mentoring side of the workplace I was hoping for never appeared. So most of the time things came about from trial and error on my part – drawing on flavours I had tasted and things I had seen, and trying to create my own version of those things. But that’s what’s great about modern resources – there’s so much one can learn from recipe books and cooking shows and the internet. I still have the eagerness to go back to pastry school or work in a professional kitchen again, and I haven’t ruled that out yet. But I have done a lot of the leg work through simple experimentation!
We are so lucky to have you share a holiday recipe with us - what was your inspiration behind this recipe?
I love this recipe because it ticks a lot of boxes – it’s fairly straightforward to put together and you can play around with the flavours – the fruit and nuts in the recipe are very interchangeable - so it never gets boring. It’s a great tea cake or can be jazzed up with cream or some whipped mascarpone. Plus, being flourless it stays nice and moist and lasts a few days (if you’re good at resisting cake in the house!)
Since we are focusing on the holidays - what does the holiday season look like for yourself?
Well it’s a tricky one this year isn’t it! I’m hoping to get some good quality time in with friends and family who I haven’t been able to see throughout the year. Soaking up some sun and a small road trip would be perfect, but it’s not essential. And of course lots of good food close by.
Your delicious desserts can be ordered through your instagram - do you enjoy the different orders that come through? Has there been a favourite?
It’s great creating cakes based on the people I’m baking for and their favourite flavours. I think one of my memorable briefs was turning a very dear friend’s cake dream into a reality (she is a true cake lover) – I made her a passionfruit sponge cake with curd and custard for her birthday. She was overjoyed, It was really special.
Where did your love for baking and cooking come from?
I’ve been lucky to grow up with thoughtful food in the house and be exposed to a variety of cuisines. Moving overseas to Europe in my late teens meant that I was able to travel to multiple countries and taste their specialties. Plus, I worked in a great gastropub in London where the food was delicious. So, I believe it has come from all my culinary experiences. Food is such a great way to bring people together, and I love sharing happy times with people, so it’s always been part of my intentions to have food in my life.
Since we are getting ready to bake your yummy recipe - what are some baking must haves that we all should have ready in our pantry?
You’re in the right place to bake almost anything if you have eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and butter (and lemon – it’s a great enhancer in baking). They are my staples. Of course, there are many alternatives to all of those ingredients - and it’s great to build on those with nuts, fruit, some kind of dairy, and of course chocolate - but if you want to start baking you can learn a lot with those. Also, I never start anything in the kitchen without a trusty spatula – they are indispensable!
You are a Melbourne local just as Lois hazel is - what are some of your favourite Melbourne spots?
Melbourne has changed so much over the years and now there is a plethora of great cafes, bakeries and bars. It was almost easier back in the day when there were less to choose from! I have become very excited lately by all the bakeries opening up – All Are Welcome, Falco, Bread Club, Wild Life and Ovens St just to name a few. Bakeries are so integral to daily life, it’s great to see the baking craft being celebrated in this city.
With the current climate of the world today have you found your day to day changing?
Absolutely. Ironically, it was losing my job in March that pushed me to start baking for a living again after a good few years working away from it. So, I am strangely grateful for that unexpected push. I have found some distinct reliability on myself after being a sole operator, but I also miss the environment of working alongside others and learning and growing in that space, there is a bit to take from both sides. The last few months have reiterated to me that there is always something to take from a situation, whether that situation is uncomfortable or not, I am trying to see the positives as best I can.
Instagram is such a big part of your business - have you found this to be a positive tool to use?
Instagram has been great. When your business is based on baking there’s nothing quite like a platform made of food photos to use for communication! However, I also understand that not everyone taps into Instagram, so I aim to expand my customer base to wider circles. I am working on a website with my sister as we speak.
Since you are a food lover - what one food could you not live without?
I have to say extra virgin olive oil – it's irreplaceable.
Do you have any advice for young bakers out there wanting to get started in the field?
Never stop being curious – there is so much out there to learn. Don’t take those baking fails to heart, I am continually messing things up, It’s all part of it!