Saltie Cooks - With @Ghenetactually
Date Updated: 21/11/2022
Ghenet is a London based lifestyle blogger who originates from New York. Ghenet practises what she has coined ‘Slow, cosy living with a sprinkle of joy’ and is obsessed with all things fashion, food and the 1990s!
This week we spent some time catching up with Ghenet and she very kin
Where did your passion for baking stem from? Have you always loved to cook and bake?
I’ve always loved food. My dad cooks and I have very distinct memories of watching him in the kitchen. He wasn’t a baker though, so I guess I took up that mantle, even as a kid! I’d make pancakes and cookies and pies and things! I find baking very calming. I enjoy cooking as well, but I do find it a lot more overwhelming. My husband is more the cook in our house, though with the lockdown, he’s still working, where I’m not. So I’ve been cooking a lot more. Baking will always be my true love though. I have a raging sweet tooth, so anything that ends in cake is a bonus in my book!
As a New Yorker who now resides in London how has this influenced your culinary skills? Have you brought over some tips and tricks from the States?
Absolutely! My frame of reference for things is still a little different. While I’ve discovered some amazing desserts (I’m looking at you, sticky toffee pudding) the things I love to bake are the things I’ve always loved to bake. Like snickerdoodles. Most of my friends here had never had them, before I shared some with them! I brought a few of the cookbooks I loved with me, so lots of recipes I use are American. I’m branching out though! I’ve gotten very into Bake Off, so I’ve tried a few Mary Berry recipes. It’s all part of the fun! Culturally, there are differences, but at the end of the day, everyone loves cake, and I love to share my bakes!
What are your Top 5 essentials for the kitchen? In terms of anything from kitchen tools to secret ingredients to ambiance!
Hmm… I’d say, always have unsalted butter in your fridge. I always have at least three or four blocks of it in the fridge. I just bake that much! In terms of tools, a good set of scales is essential. I have one of those vintage ones, and while I’d probably benefit from getting digital ones, but I’m so comfortably using them that I’m a bit scared to. I’ve also got a stash of little cake boxes on hand. So if I happen to bake something, I can pack some up to share with friends. That’s my favorite thing about baking, really. I love a good soundtrack as well. One of my favorite things to listen to is the Waitress Broadway Cast Recording. I’ll sing along while I bake and it’s pretty joyful. Lastly, I’d say collect some nice plates. We spend so much time in our kitchen preparing meals, and the plate is an extension of that. A nice plate only adds to the experience. I have a sweet set of dessert plates and it’s just that extra little touch to me!
Now for something a bit tougher... what is your all-time favourite comfort meal?
Mac’n’cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food. I crave it when it’s cold, when it’s rainy and I want to be cozy. There’s something about a gooey cheesy dish fresh from the oven that really warms my proverbial cockles. Plus it’s a dish you can mix up. I have my recipe and my husband has his. My mother-in-law has her own. We went to a friend’s house and he’d made lobster mac’n’cheese. It’s such a delightful dish that is universally enjoyed, but one that it’s easy to put your own twist on. I think that’s what makes it special!
Seasons have a huge effect on what we eat - what are your go-to Summer spreads?
My appetite really changes with the seasons. When it’s cold out, I crave those kind of stodgy, heart-warming meals. In the summer, I just want to eat fruit! Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, mangos… I love it all and I eat it constantly! We’ve got lighter fare on the menu for dinner this week as well: homemade pita bread and hummus with a caprese salad on the side; a leek and asparagus quiche with corn on the cob and a sundried tomato salad. Roasted asparagus… I do think it’s important to cook seasonally! My friend Gem has a food blog called The Mothercooker, and she’s always sharing seasonal recipes!
As we’ve mentioned you now live in London - what are your Top 3 hotspots for a cup o' tea (or coffee!) and cake in the capital?
Only 3? I have a running list of coffee shops in London to go to! For me, coffee is a very social thing. I meet friends for coffee, and it’s a real treat! I love Drink Shop Do near Kings Cross… they’ve always got tasty cake, and they have such fun activities you can do as well! Paper & Cup in Shoreditch is another favorite. They’ve got shelves and shelves of books and it’s a lovely atmosphere. They’re also a not-for-profit social enterprise that offers support to people recovering from addiction. I love popping in there for an hour or two! I’d also recommend Blackbird Bakery. They have a few locations in South London, and their bread and pastry are amazing! I bulk buy their mince pies at Christmas!
What inspired you with your recipe for the American Style Coffee Cake?
I was craving a piece of home! I tried to talk to my husband about it, and he thought I meant coffee-flavored cake! So I was determined to make some just the way I remembered it from home. The light spongey cake, the cinnamony crumble on top… perfect with a cup of tea. It took some trial and error but I got there in the end! I don’t think my husband minded too much because it all got eaten! Maybe that’s why I still bake so many ‘American’ things. It’s kind of a way of staying connected!
American Style Coffee Cake recipe
- 280g plain flour.
- 300g sugar .
- 1 tsp salt .
- 2 tsp baking powder.
- 1/4 tsp baking soda.
- 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature .
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature.
- 300g greek yogurt .
- 2 tsp vanilla extract .
For the crumb topping:
- 200g brown sugar .
- 100g sugar .
- 1 tbsp cinnamon .
- 1/2 tsp salt .
- 230g unsalted butter, melted.
- 300g plain flour .
- 9″ x 13″ baking dish .
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat to 165ºC fan. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and set aside.
- Make the crumb topping by whisking together the sugars and cinnamon. Add the butter and stir until just combined. Add the flour and mix using a fork, until large crumbs appear. It should have a crumbly texture but be careful not to overmix it! Set aside for later.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for your cake batter. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix.
- Slowly add in the greek yogurt and the dry ingredients, alternating each one. Continue to mix, just until the batter goes smooth and there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into your prepared dish, making sure it spread evenly. Then, sprinkle on the crumb mixture on top.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check at the halfway mark - if the crumbs start getting too dark, cover with tin foil!
- Once finished, allow the cake to cool completely.
- If you want to add a little extra flair, whisk together 125g of icing sugar, 2 tbsp milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and drizzle it over the cake! Let the icing set before serving with a nice cup of tea or coffee!
Want to try your hand at Ghenet’s cake or share your own culinary confection with us? Don’t forget to tag us using the hashtag #SaltieCooks for a chance to win a pair of Salties.
We will be giving away a pair of rainbow bright Salt-Waters to 5X lucky winners so get cooking!