Who is Miss Sarah Coates?!
Well, she is none other than the Founder of the ridiculously awesome food blog ‘The Sugar Hit‘…the queen of all cakes cray-cray… and the ultimate wizard of butter, sugar and bright technicolour!
It may sound like I’m describing a unicorn, but yep, Miss Sarah is THAT cool…a rare (and blooming young!) talent – who knows a thing (or a million!) or two about whipping up some seriously ‘bonkers’ food. She also happens to be EVEN COOLER in person (can confirm!) and it is true that food bloggers really do make for great friends/partners in crime.
So, if you’re keen for a bit of food FUN and refuse to stand for ‘beige’ food of any kind, then you are going to want to set up camp on Sarah’s blog. Why not buy her her book (It has a squishy cover!!!) and check out her Instagram while you’re at it too…she might even extend a donut or two to you…or you know, a double-fudge birthday cake popsicle…Say what?!
In fact, Sarah is THAT kind…she is even sharing a special recipe from her debut cookbook, ‘The Sugar Hit‘ with us today (see further below).
Thus, read on comrades and you shall be rewarded with cake…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you spend your days?
To use a little Zoolander parlance, I’m a slashie. A food blogger/author/photographer/writer/stylist. It’s a mouthful, and it’s very hard to explain to people, especially if they are over 70. I might settle down more completely into one of those roles one day, but who knows, really? So on any given day I might be shooting a venue, or developing a recipe, or styling a cake, or writing a piece for a client, or doing any one of the above for my blog The Sugar Hit. For a solid stretch I was writing a book! There’s lots of washing up, but other than that I definitely can’t complain. I love my job. The best part about it, other than all the eating opportunities, is being self-employed and able to do so much creative work.
2. What does food mean to you? What’s your food philosophy?
HMMMMM! I have to be honest…I don’t have one. Food for me is a creative outlet, an opportunity to have fun, an opportunity to feel good, but I don’t ascribe any weighty meaning to it. I hate to sound like a preachy butthead, but I can’t get over how lucky I am to live in a house with clean running water. So lucky! So I don’t like to take what I eat too seriously, or say that it’s how I show love or anything like that. The fact that I can earn a living effectively playing with a luxury item, is such an amazing, ridiculous bonus, I thank my lucky stars every day. Plus, taste is one of the five ways in which we can sense the world around us. It’s a full fifth of our sensory input. So not taking full advantage of that seems crazy to me! I want to taste ALL THE THINGS!
3. Who/what inspires your love of food and cooking?
The fun! Have I used the word fun enough in this interview? There’s something so whimsical and awesome about an Andy Bowdy style cake, or a Katherine Sabbath creation. Like, how genius of Christina Tosi to bring the world cereal milk, or Dominique Ansel to create the cronut? Some people are inspired by seeing astronauts on the space station, or athletes breaking records, or…fashion people fashioning (Alexa Chung, I love you). For me? It’s food. People who cook and make something delicious and get joy out of it – that’s what excites me.
4. Current food or ingredient ‘love’?
Two words: soft serve. I think Australia is primed and ready for a soft serve revolution. Let’s get some cool Japanese-inspired flavours going, black sesame and purple sweet potato. Plus a billion other kooky choices – birthday cake! Jam donut swirl! Red wine and chocolate! Key lime pie! Investors, please contact me.
5. Do you have a special recipe you can share with us? What is the story behind it?
The recipe I’m sharing here is from my book The Sugar Hit, and it’s for my Super Soaked Lemon, Almond and Poppyseed Cake. It’s a good example of the kind of baking I love. It’s dense, delicious, packed with almonds and poppyseeds, and absolutely SOAKED in lemon syrup. Plus, it comes with a minor kitchen discovery; to make the syrup, I skip any boiling, and just mix lemon juice with icing sugar – boom, instant syrup. This bad boy is perfect with dark black coffee around mid-morning. Enjoy!
Photo by Chris Middleton, styled by Vicki Valsamis.
Super Soaked Lemon, Almond and Poppy Seed Cake
225 g (8 oz) butter, at room temperature
230 g (8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
zest of 2 lemons
80 g (23/4 oz/1/3 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) ground almonds
150 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
40 g (11/2 oz/1/4 cup) poppy seeds
80 g (3 oz/1/2 cup) almonds, chopped
juice of 4 lemons
250 g (9 oz/2 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease and line a 20–23 cm (8–9 in) cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the crème fraîche and beat again until incorporated. Add the almonds, flour, baking powder and poppy seeds, and fold until everything is combined.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the top of the cake and press them in gently. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly and a skewer comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, stir together the ingredients for the syrup.
When the cake is ready, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a skewer (trying to avoid the almonds) and then spoon the syrup over the cake. It will seem like too much syrup, but that’s the point, so go slowly and keep pouring until all the syrup is absorbed. Let the cake cool completely and then carefully remove from the tin, slice and eat.
TIP Check your teeth for poppy seeds after you eat this. That’s not a cooking tip, just some helpful advice.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Sugar Hit! (Hardie Grant 2015)