Take one sweet Brit finishing up school, a love for cinnamon-topped muffins, and a knack for photography, and what do you get? Izy Hossack's fabulous blog Top with Cinnamon. Izy has been sharing some of her creations with us over the past few months, like her Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies and her Earl Grey Hot Cross Buns, and today we're very happy to congratulate Izy on the release of her first cookbook!
Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at the life of this active food blogger, including her favorite kitchen tool and her must-make dinner party recipes. And stay with us this week — we'll be back with a recipe from the book and a giveaway for you to win your very own copy!
How did Top with Cinnamon get started?
I started my blog after about a year of reading other food blogs. It was during the summer so I was super bored and wanted something to do. As I was already baking and experimenting with recipes, I thought I might as well have a way to document them! After two years of blogging I was contacted by Hardie Grant, my publisher, who asked if I'd be interested in creating a cookbook. I said yes (obviously!) and spent the next 6 months working on it.
Where did the name come from?
As obvious as it is, I love to top things with cinnamon. I put it on my coffee, I put it on toast with jam, I put it on fruity cakes and cookies. Come on, tell me the crispy cinnamon-sugar topping isn't your favorite part of a blueberry muffin!
How do you balance all the cooking and blogging with being a full-time student?
I've always loved making things and so I've had many craft-based hobbies throughout my life. I used to spend hours making miniature sculptures of food and jewelry. Food blogging has been my creative release (I studied chemistry, biology and maths for my A-levels!), so I just always found time to fit it in. I'd usually make the food on a Friday right after school so I'd still have time to go out. Then I'd dedicate Sunday to photographing it and doing my homework.
In your cookbook, you speak of growing up in a food-loving family — what's your first food memory?
I remember that when I was very young, my mum used to cook a separate kid-friendly meal for me and my brother, then when we went to bed she'd cook fancy dinner for her and my dad. I used to wake up mid-fancy-meal and come downstairs, point at the food and say "mum what is that? Can I try some?" Of course, she would let me taste some of her food, and apparently, I'd eat most of it!
What inspires your cooking and baking?
Mainly other food blogs! I especially find Pinterest and Instagram great because I can get an idea even just from the title of a recipe and a picture. Just discovering a new ingredient can make me think of a new creation. Also visiting restaurants is an awesome way to motivate me to make something. Sometimes it's about recreating a dish or just seeing a completely cool, new way of using an ingredient that I wouldn't have thought of.
What is the most-used tool in your kitchen? Why?
My food processor. I use it for so many different things, and it's the one piece of kitchen kit that I think everyone should have. It has a grater and slicer attachment so it's brilliant for prepping vegetables. I also use it to make nut flours, nut butters, frosting, ground flaxseed, cake batter, pestos and even bread dough. So so brilliant.
What ingredients are you always sure to have in the pantry for spur-of-the-moment cravings?
Bittersweet chocolate, desiccated coconut, raw sugar, oats and pecans. That way I can make super good oatmeal cookies all the time!
Which recipe from your cookbook should we make straight-away without delay?
If you want a really quick dinner party dessert, the Swedish Chocolate Cake is your best friend. It's a one-pot batter made on the stove so you only need a wooden spoon, and it bakes in about 20 minutes. It's gooey and rich on its own, so no frosting is required either.
For a comforting, hearty meal go for the Pork Ragu with Aubergine and Pappardelle. It's really simple to make and is really lovely to have as a wintery mid-week meal with lots of Parmesan cheese on top!
If we're having friends over for dinner, which recipes from your cookbook would be fun to have on the menu?
The Sweet Potato and Shredded Beef Chili is brilliant for gatherings. You put it all in a pot, leave it in the oven for a few hours, and you end up with a filling and tasty dinner. You can do loads of stuff with it too — it doesn't have to just be served with rice! You can serve it with some guacamole, salsa and tortillas so everyone can customise their dinner. Or for an extra treat, fill taco shells with the chili and rice, cover them with cheese sauce in a dish then bake them.
For dessert, as I said, the Swedish Chocolate cake is ace if you're in a rush. If you have a bit more time make the Sticky Banoffee Cake! No one will complain about a date-filled banana cake covered with sticky, salted caramel sauce.
Thanks, Izy! Come back tomorrow — we'll be sharing Izy's recipe for Pretzel Cinnamon Rolls!
→ Top with Cinnamon is out now! Find Izy's book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Top with Cinnamon by Izy Hossack
→ Read more of Izy's work on her personal blog: Top with Cinnamon