The Women’s Web ‘Love Your Leisure’ series will consist of interviews with a few female bloggers with fascinating hobbies, who’ve enthusiastically developed and fine-tuned them – and what’s more, write about them for the benefit of the rest of us! We hope you enjoy reading more about these bloggers and their passions. Presented in a Q&A format, this one is with Monika Manchanda, Baking Enthusiast, who blogs about her passion at Sinamon Tales.
Intro: Tell us a little about yourself
I call myself a bundle of contradictions; a mom, wife, daughter, friend, traveller, someone transformed from a fiercely independent woman to a SAHM, who is trying to juggle some freelancing and blogging to balance her life. A foodie to the core, I can’t live without my spices, my oven and my books. Last but not the least, a strong feminist who wants to stand up for equality for women in all walks of life.
While I was growing up I remember my mom making those tutty- fruity cakes for us by baking it in the cooker and how excited we would be seeing them. I think the interest was really sparked at that time. As I grew up, it grew with me but I really explored baking fully only after I took a break from my work. I started baking something almost every week; the positive results and the fact that my son loved what came out of the oven helped too. Playing with recipes, altering the ingredients gave me happiness and after sometime I decided to go ahead and do a 6 week baking course to learn the technicalities involved. Right now my focus is usually healthy baking, using whole wheat flour, less butter etc.
Q2. What do you find most satisfying about baking?
The aroma that takes over the house when the oven is at work, the fact that you can turn an otherwise fried dish into a healthy baked one, knowing that there is so much to experiment with and finally serving the dish to family and friends and seeing the satisfaction on their faces –priceless.
Q3. What is your favourite thing to bake?
Breads without a doubt – I love working with yeast. The kneading, rising of the flour, the smell; it all feels like magic still.
Q4. How easily are quality baking materials available in India?
That’s my sore point with baking – the availability of materials in India, although the situation is most definitely improving. 10 years back if I would bake a cake I couldn’t think of doing anything that required ingredients apart from what we have at home. Now in every city there are some specialised shops from where you can source your ingredients, though most likely at a premium. Sometimes the quality of the ingredients is not as good and I regularly source them from my dear friends going on trips abroad. I am hoping that will completely change over the years as I can already see a positive trend.
Q5. Baking seems pretty interesting but as it is not very predominant in Indian households, many are not used to it. What would you say to others who would like to try but are hesitant?
To begin with it’s a science. Simply follow the recipe fully and start small. According to me the best thing to start baking is muffins as there is little that can go wrong and a lot that can make one happy. Get encouraged by small wins and don’t get discouraged by a little failure here and there. I have myself dumped many a sunken cake into the dustbin! We all have disasters, just learn from them and keep at it; the fruits at the end are too sweet to be ignored.
Q6. Which are your favourite baking blog posts in Sinamon Tales so far? Also what other related blogs/ sites do you enjoy or find useful?
Aaah hard to pick one! There are many which are close to my heart, some for the memories and some because I was impressed with the output. To name a few Apple Pie With A Twist, Pull Apart Fruit Buns and for the sake of sheer memory the Train Cake I made for my son.
One site every baker should have bookmarked is the Joy Of Baking, lovely recipes that always work, they have recipes that are really easy for the beginners and ones that challenge the seasoned pros. Apart from that I really do enjoy Shaheen’s and Deeba’s blogs for baking inspiration and recipes.
Q7. What advice would you give beginners? Where to start and what are the basic materials required?
Don’t be afraid is the most important thing I would like to say. Apart from that I am running a series on my blog called Baking Basics that deals with what one needs and how to go about. That can very well be a starting point.
Previous Interviews With Hobby Bloggers:
Gardening Enthusiast: Priyanka Goel
Wildlife Enthusiast: Radha Rangarajan
Needlecraft Enthusiast: Nima Titus