One unfailingly happy place on Instagram is the @javi.bakes account. Cakes and pastels and cute quotes are a delight for the slightly weary soul. The baker behind the 'gram is Javi Cerda who impressively manages this outlet alongside another full-time job. Naturally, we wanted to talk all things baking, kitchen aesthetics and inspiration (plus get our hands on one of her delectable recipes).
What is your favourite thing about cooking/food?
As cliched as this may sound, my favourite thing about cooking and food is the freedom to be creative and experiment! As a seasoned cake baker and decorator, I take great pleasure in going on the design journey, which often means thinking of unique colour combinations and quirky, vintage buttercream designs. Eating it all up afterwards is pretty good too.
How did you find your passion?
I've had a sweet spot for baking since I was in my early high school years, but it was only when I started decorating cakes for my friends and family that my passion really soared. I'm a perfectionist so the meticulous nature of baking always really appealed to me. When I stumbled upon the vintage cake trend, I couldn't help but give it a go! Seeing people enjoy and appreciate my work is the biggest cherry on top.
What are your top three pantry staples? And top three fridge essentials?
As you might expect from any baker, my top three pantry staples are sugar, flour and cocoa powder.
My top three fridge essentials are milk, butter and eggs. They're called staples for a reason!
Do you have a go-to outfit or looks for days spent in the kitchen?
Like everyone else experiencing lockdown, I have a newfound appreciation for comfortable loungewear and athleisure. You can count on me reaching for a pair of leggings or trackies to effortlessly take me from couch to kitchen - there's nothing quite like expensive activewear to complement buttercream stains! I will be pairing these glamorous lewks with my favourite pair of Reliquia gold hoop earrings.
What is one thing we should all learn to cook?
Eggs! They are truly a jack of all trades, and can be cooked in so many different ways and used in countless dishes. Shakshuka, quiche, omelettes, baked eggs...these have all been go-to lockdown meals for me.
Do you have any tips for those of us still in lockdown? How can we find new ideas, motivation and keep things alive in the kitchen?
Seize this moment! Use the extra time at home to whip out those dusty cookbooks and experiment with new recipes. Practice meals to impress your friends for when we can host dinner parties again. Challenge yourself by thinking of creative ways to use the ingredients you already have - this is a critical skill in the kitchen!
Start your own side hustle or business like I did.
My favourite place to find new recipes and motivation is the Instagram explore page!
What recipe can we share?
I would love to share my signature brownie recipe! These are perfectly dense and fudgy.
200g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
3 large eggs
275g white granulated / caster sugar
Choc chips or raspberries to add extra oomph
Step 1: Cut 200g of butter into small cubes and place into a medium microwavable bowl. Break 200g dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the same bowl.
Step 2: Microwave this mixture in 30 second intervals until the butter and chocolate have melted. Leave this to cool.
Step 3: While you wait for the chocolate mixture to cool, preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and prepare your brownie tin by lining it with baking paper.
Step 4: Break 3 eggs into a separate bowl and add the sugar. Use an electric mixer to whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture is pale, fluffy and doubled in volume.
Step 5: Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggy mixture, and gently fold using a spatula until combined. Be gentle and careful not to overmix.
Step 6: Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and gently fold again. It may look dusty but be patient and keep folding until it comes together.
Step 7: Mix in choc chips, raspberries, nuts or any additions you'd like.
Step 8: Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and place in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. You will know it is done when the top has a shiny, papery crust and a knife inserted comes out slightly gooey.
Step 9: Take the tray out of the oven and leave to cool down, then cut the brownies into squares. Enjoy!