We still have to wait a bit longer before I announce our winner for the 2022 Great Bloggers Bake-Off, but in the meantime, I will share an interview from one of our past winners. Robbie is a fabulous cake baker. She is so innovative and creative. I just love it. Her cakes are truly works of art. hey are ALMOST too pretty to eat. Almost. 🙂
CATCHING UP WITH ROBBIE
One of the most exciting parts of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF is when our special BAKE OFF Judge Jeanne designates the STAR BAKER accolade. It seems the perfect way to pre-empt the BAKE OFF this weekend by catching up with one of our fabulous STAR BAKERS.
Two years ago, one of our special STAR BAKERS was the astoundingly talented Robbie Cheadle, creator of Robbie’s Inspiration and Robert Writes and also Robbie Cheadle, was awarded a STAR BAKER accolade for a stunning drumkit cake. Do you remember this showpiece?
Robbie has made a huge contribution to both THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF and also to WordPress. She has a true creative flare, which she expresses in her writing and in her baking.
We were thrilled that Robbie agreed to be interviewed for our special STAR BAKER feature this year. I suggest you make a cup of tea and sit down to enjoy our catch-up with the phenomenal Robbie Cheadle!
WHAT DO YOU FIND THE MOST JOYFUL PART OF BAKING?
I usually bake or cook for family events like birthdays, Christmas, or other religious holidays. I am the oldest of four girls and we all live in Johannesburg, South Africa, so we usually gather for events. My parents live in a separate cottage on the same property as my family, so these gatherings are usually hosted by me.
The best part of creating these cakes is sharing them with my family, in particular my sons, nieces, and nephews, and enjoying them together. It always amuses me that the small children eat the fondant icing. I find it too sweet personally. The actual creation of a cake is also satisfying, and it is nice to see a cake art idea taking form.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE RECIPE BOOK? OR A FAVOURITE BAKING SHOW?
I have four or five recipes for cakes that I have developed myself that I use for most of my cake artwork. My cake recipes are included in my book Silly Willy goes to Cape Town and in my Sir Chocolate series of books. You can purchase my books here:
Depending on the design of the cake, I usually use either my chocolate or vanilla sponge cake recipes for large platform bases or for carving. Sponge cake doesn’t collapse or break easily, and it also is much less crumbly that richer cake mixtures. For smaller cakes that are at the top of a stacked design or other tiering method, I use my rich chocolate or red velvet cake recipes.
I have also been known to make cakes in a variety of different flavours for stacked cakes. For my mom’s 80th birthday I made an enormous 5-tiered cake. I used my fruit cake recipe for the bottom tier that carried the most weight, my chocolate and vanilla sponge cake recipe for the second tier with a marbled effect, the third layer was my hummingbird cake recipe, the fourth, a rich chocolate cake, and the final tier was a small red velvet cake.
ROBBIE, YOU ARE AN INCREDIBLE WORDPRESS TALENT. YOU FEATURE FICTION AND FOODIE POSTS AMONGST MANY OTHER FASCINATING SUBJECTS ON YOUR BLOG. WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU SHARE WITH OTHER WORDPRESS USERS TO HELP THEM GAIN JOY FROM BLOGGING ON WORDPRESS?
My first comment about blogging is that you need to keep it joyful. It shouldn’t become a stressful exercise or an obligation. It is important to fit your blogging around your life and if you have periods where life runs away from you, it is okay to slow down with posting and visiting blogging friends for a while and come back to it when your life normalises again.
I like blogging because I have a large group of blogging friends who all share similar interests with me. My blogging friends are mainly other writers and authors, poets, bakers, people who like to cook, and photographers. These are all areas I have an interest in, so I read and enjoy their posts and they reciprocate which creates blogging friendships.
IN MANY LANDS, THE COST OF LIVING HAS BEEN INCREASING ANXIETY THIS YEAR – DO YOU HAVE ANY PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY OVER MONEY?
Managing anxiety over money obviously requires an element of sacrifice and self-control. When the cost of living goes up, you must make adjustments to accommodate for it, but you also need to keep the joy in life. A few tips I have are as follows:
- Work from home three times a week, if possible, to save on transport costs. You can also walk or cycle more it that is practical.
- Take local holidays and support local business which improves the local economy and is generally a lot cheaper than holidays abroad.
- Make changes to your cooking habits without losing taste. A few ideas are as follows:
a. Replace butter with a good quality oil or margarine. My cake recipes
mentioned above use cooking oil rather than butter which has become very expensive;
b. Add more pulse-based foods to meat dishes like stews and mince. I add
lentils to my mince and various beans to my stews to make them go further and also because pulses are very good for you;
c. I used a lot of canned tomatoes in dishes which I purchase in bulk when they are on special;
d. Lastly, I buy smaller quantities of fruit, yogurt, and vegetables. It is more expensive than the bulk purchases but lessens the amount of waste when produce isn’t used timeously and ends up being thrown away. It ends up being cheaper.
IF YOU HAD AN UNLIMITED BUDGET AND UNLIMITED TIME IS THERE A FANTASY BAKE YOU ENJOY MAKING?
I am fortunate, Mel, in that I am not on a very limited budget, so I am able to make the cakes and cake art I want to for special occasions.
My favourite artworks are the ones I made as Covid-19 memories, specially the twisted Old Woman who lived in a shoe themed cake. This cake featured a young mother and foster mother who has no home help and is managing everything in the home on her own during the lockdown. She is also supervising the home schooling of her children and foster children who are attending on-line classes.
WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY FROM THIS BEAUTIFUL PLANET WE CALL OUR HOME?
Gosh, that is a wide question, Mel. So many things bring me joy. I love the birds and flowers in my garden and in our local park. I enjoy looking at different fungi and all sorts of insects, especially spiders which fascinate me.
I love going to game parks and nature reserves where I can see wild animals in their natural habitat. These are just wonderful experiences.
I get a lot of joy from my family and my two sons. They have both suffered chronic illnesses and I am lucky to have them. When we go through periods of bad health with Michael, I always remember that I am lucky he is alive, and I am thankful for the wonderful doctors who tend to him and help us through the difficult patches.
I also get joy from people; I enjoy reading or hearing about their daily lives and joys. I am endlessly fascinated by how other people live and what makes them happy and unhappy.
IF SOMEONE SPECIAL WERE TO BAKE SOMETHING FOR YOU – WHAT WOULD BRING YOU THE MOST JOY?
Michael likes to cook and sometimes he makes pancakes for the family. Those are always very happy occasions.
Thank you, Mel, for this opportunity to chat about my love of baking and thank you also for The Great Bloggers Bake-Off, which is so much fun.
THANK YOU ROBBIE!!!
We have so much more in store for you from Robbie this weekend. So look out for her spectacular baking creations!