She is the cookbook author, recipe developer, blogger, stylist, photographer and brains behind The Wholesome Cook blog – she is none other than Martyna Angell (or simply ‘Marty’ to many!). Phew! I need to take a breath.
Yep. She’s most certainly one very talented and creative lady to whom I’m lucky enough to call a ‘real-life’ foodie friend…AND she’s also just released her debut cookbook, ‘The Wholesome Cook‘. Kicking goals lady!
Although, we should here-forth refer to it as a cooking ‘bible’, as it’s a one-stop-shop kind of book that will teach you everything from making your own sourdough bread and yoghurt from scratch…to icing and assembling a three-tiered, gold leaf covered, fairy bread flavoured layer cake! Okay, I am kidding about that last bit (it’s late and I am delirious), but you get my drift…the book covers every meal, every occasion PLUS a whole load of tutorial-style basics recipes too (the BASICS chapter is actually ridiculously comprehensive, and by far my favourite section!)
Marty’s approach to food and life is rooted in a deep sense of balance…and could be summarised as ‘mostly sensible with a little bit of decadence here and there, BUT always tasty and delicious nonetheless’! I LOVE THAT and it’s one of the reasons that attracted me to The Wholesome Cook all those years ago.
Today we are going down the decadent route (the sweet tooth in me is Toyota-jumping!) as she shares with us a wicked recipe for a Chocolate Rocher Cake, which reminds her of her childhood and all things festive fare. Get your drool bibs ready people.
Read on for the recipe and more…
Photos above by Michele Froidevaux.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you spend your days?
I was born and raised in Poland. I grew up in and around Warsaw – the capital, but despite living in the city, real food was always a part of my upbringing, my mum was, and still is, a creative whole food cook that instilled in me the love of cooking and eating seasonally. Food has always been my true passion – the blog, the almost natural interest in food styling and photography followed suit as the creative aspect of what I do now. The book is no different.
My days? Each day is like no other before it, I love that about working for myself. They do seem fragmented sometimes, as anyone who wears many hats will attest to – as an author, blogger, stylist, columnist, photographer, busy step-mum with two almost-teen kids, a husband, a full-of-beans-doglet, as well as the primary grocery shopper, cook, chauffeur and laundry lady – I’m seldom bored!
My days are busy – sometimes I write, sometimes I shoot for clients, other days I stay up night-owling, editing photos, into the wee hours of the morning. I have no real set schedule, except for Fridays… On Fridays I try to get on top of my emails. Sure, my days might seem a little crazy but I find what I do utterly satisfying, fun and always varied.
PS. For a while I didn’t mind doing some work on the weekends, but I found that despite the fact I love what I do, I needed some space. Time off to clear my head, to read, to go outside and enjoy simple moments with my family so that’s what I tend to do now. I think being self-employed carries a lot of reward, but the risk of over-committing and neglecting the other important things in life is the price I am no longer willing to pay.
2. What does food mean to you? What’s your food philosophy?
Cooking real food from scratch has always been a big part of my upbringing – it was an integral part of any celebration, family gatherings and the everyday life. It was seasonal, homemade, and eating leftovers for lunch was the norm. The focus on eating real food that’s best for our bodies, with an occasional indulgence, is a philosophy I’ve adopted after completing studies with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, New York, two years ago. It’s also a philosophy I now live with my family, and share in The Wholesome Cook book. My approach to a healthy and balanced diet is exactly that.
I also like the flexibility of the 90/10 rule for eating well 90 percent of the time – avoiding additives, preservatives and excess sugar, and indulging a little. This allows for an occasional indulgence – whether it’s chocolate cake at a party, ice cream after a hot day or enjoying some savouries, like crisps, when you really feel like it or fish and hot chips at the beach.
3. Who/what inspires your love of food and cooking?
Since we try to eat a meat-less meal 2-3 times a week, I am always inspired by vegetarian chefs, bloggers and cooks. I absolutely adore how Yotam Ottolenghi has elevated vegetables to a whole new level and have a lot of respect for Emma Galloway for her gluten-free vegetarian recipes, which are incredible. I’ve also loved connecting with Belinda Jeffery on Instagram, she is such a beautiful person and wonderful seasonal cook providing plenty of inspiration.
I am also inspired by my mum who instilled in me the passion for cooking from scratch and experimenting with food outside of my own cuisine, with my likes and with ingredients. She used to cook Chinese-style dishes from scratch from travel stories and descriptions my told from his travels to China. And they were so good, once she was asked for her cashew chicken recipe by our Chinese guests!
Now, watching my own family actively seeking to be in the kitchen, helping out and experimenting with their own cooking skills and flavours, and being open to trying new things when we travel, is so rewarding. It inspires me even more to keep tasting, cooking and loving all things food.
4. Current food or ingredient ‘love’?
Sea bass. On our recent trip to Italy and France I fell in love, head over heels, fork, knife and all, for sea bass. No amount of this beautiful, flakey fish was able to satisfy my appetite for it completely, even though most days I had the whole fish twice a day. So far I’ve found that the texture and flavour of Barramundi is the closest equivalent here in Australia. I also can’t get enough of omega-3 rich mackerel – it is such an underrated fish because everyone is too busy raving about sardines.
Don’t worry, I’m not all about fish. I also love dill pickles and share that recipe in the book, raw almonds – soaked in water overnight they become plum and young again, green coconuts – especially the flesh which makes a wonderful yogo-style dessert (that’s in the book) and turmeric. Oh, and chipotle on anything!
5. Do you have a special recipe you can share with us? What is the story behind it?
Yes! The Chocolate and Rocher Icing Cake from the book.
If you’re after quite an indulgent cake this recipe combines a moist chocolate cake and an irresistibly good rocher-like chocolate and hazelnut butter frosting. A perfect celebration cake and one to impress your dinner quests with. The frosting doubles as, you guessed it, nutella!
I think the Rocher Cake is one of my favourites because whole-hazelnut chocolate was always part of our Christmas celebrations when I was a child. Every bit evokes such wonderful and warm memories.
Now, we make the cake for most family celebrations…and for neighbours in the form of these cute-as-a-button baked donuts. So versatile!
Chocolate and Rocher Icing Cake
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup unrefined demerara sugar or granulated stevia
1⁄2 cup rice malt syrup or honey
120g butter, chopped, or 100g coconut oil
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
3⁄4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla powder or natural vanilla extract
1 cup wholemeal plain flour or teff flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the icing
1⁄2 cup hazelnut butter (there’s a recipe for it in the book as well!)
40g dark (70% cocoa) chocolate or dairy-free chocolate, roughly chopped and melted
10 extra hazelnuts, chopped
1 ice cream waffle cone or gluten-free ice cream cone, crushed finely, OR 2 tablespoons buckinis
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line a 22cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
Place water, sugar or stevia, rice malt syrup or honey, butter or coconut oil, cacao powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large saucepan over low heat. Heat, stirring, until butter melts. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer – the mixture will rise and double in size. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, add vanilla and whisk in eggs. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking until just combined. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool in the tin.
To prepare the icing, combine hazelnut butter with melted chocolate and half of the crushed waffle cone or buckinis. Mix well. Scoop the icing onto the cooled cake, spread gently over the top and top with hazelnuts and crushed waffle cone or buckinis before serving.
Store cake in the fridge, covered, for up to 7 days. You can freeze any remaining slices for up to 1 month.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Wholesome Cook book (Harlequin, 2015).