A year later
Exactly a year ago, freshly out of my MSc degree and jobless, I embarked on this food blogging adventure that has been such a delight so far! I didn’t exactly know what my aim was, apart form wishing to take my cooking out of my kitchen and into the world. Not thinking too much about it, I decided to do it.
A year ago I never would have imagined the number of things that I learned through food blogging. I’ve learnt more about blogging itself, about recipe writing, about SEO, about Instagram, Pinterest and the power of these networks. I’ve improved my photography and invested into building a small studio, I’ve learnt to keep my eyes open and leverage anything that can generate valuable content. I’ve learnt that hard work does pay off… Whether that’s in the number of my Instagram followers; or the number of saved recipes on Foodgawker; or the number of yums my recipes get on Yummly.
I’ve been keeping a diary to keep track of my progress and easily time-travel. Below are some excerpts.
Editing, editing and my back
“Today I woke up with a really sore back. Over the weekend I spent more than six hours shooting new photos for Berries and Spice, meaning that my body went through six hours of impossible positions trying to turn taste into pixels. Consequently, those six hours turned into a multitude of gigabits that required intensive editing in order to reach my increasingly higher photography standards.” (February 16th, 2016)
Having a good camera is not enough
“Half a year of learning, testing, shooting and editing seems like a lot at the beginning. Then reality struck again. I submitted some of my recipes and photos to Foodgawker and TasteSpotting. They were all rejected, and the feedback I received was mainly linked to composition and lighting, which were not good enough to have my recipes featured on these two wonderful platforms.” (February 17th, 2016)
“Today two (out of three) of the new recipes I submitted the previous day on FoodGawker were accepted and published! This led to a great number of 197 page views, making this day the second most popular day for Berries and Spice.” (February 23rd, 2016)
Today I have 82 recipes published on Foodgawker and one in the queue.
I have, in one year, posted 129 different recipes on the blog, all mine. (This one being the 130th)
Users have yummed my recipes more than 3000 times.
So far I’ve had 30102 unique views on the blog, with May bringing the most visitors (9780). May was all thanks to this garam masala salmon recipe.
For the coming year…
And while these numbers don’t seem like too much to any professional blogger, I am still in the process of learning. Throughout the year I’ve had some ups and downs. In April I got a new full time job, which made it difficult to juggle my time at first. I’ve had months in which I had the energy to invest a lot of time into Berries and Spice; I’ve also had months in which I barely managed to post one recipe every week.
A month ago, however, I started building a marketing strategy for Berries and Spice. I’ve also just launched my very first newsletter, which you can preview here. And while I’m still trying to improve my photography and writing, my skills as a food blogging marketer, hopefully this coming year, mixing my enthusiasm and passion, I will gain a lot more visitors on the blog and get a step closer to that food photography competition that I didn’t win last year and publishing a cookbook.
And now, la pièce-de-résistance, the rosemary and almond autumn fruit cake
- 12 eggs
- 1 pinch of salt
- 60g butter, melted
- 12 tbsp white flour
- 6 tbsp icing sugar
- 3 Williams pears, peeled
- 2 tbsp muscovado sugar
- 2 tbsp rosemary
- 2-3 whole star anise
- 3-4 allspice berries, whole
- 2 tbsp whisky
- 500g cream cheese
- 5 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tbsp rosemary
- 2 tbsp almond flakes
- 200g blackberries
- 100g raspberries
- 100g white grapes
- 5-6 fresh figs
- 2 tbsp almond flakes
- Preheat the oven at 170ºC.
- First of all prepare the dough. Separate the egg whites and the yolks.
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl until hard.
- Mix the egg yolks, a pinch of salt, butter and icing sugar until the colour becomes light.
- Add the flour to the yolks and beat well until properly incorporated.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites carefully, trying to keep the mix as fluffy as possible.
- Grease and flour the tray (I used two 15cm quiche trays) and add the dough to it.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden.
- Let it cool while you prepare the rest.
- While the cake base is in the oven, start poaching the pears. Add them to a pot with the sugar, whisky, rosemary, star anise and allspice berries.
- Fill the pot with water, add the pears and bring to boil.
- Once it's boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
- Remove the pears and let them dry before you use them for the cake. They should, at that point, no longer be soggy, or else they will make the whole cake soggy.
- Prepare the cream cheese fling by mixing the cream cheese, icing sugar, rosemary and almond flakes.
- Once the cake base has cooled down, slice the dough. My cake had 4 layers of dough, but it would work just as well with two, if you wish to make everything easier.
- Add one layer of the cake base, add cream cheese, then sprinkle raspberries. Add the second layer of cake and repeat until your cake is assembled.
- Cover the cake in cream cheese, and before you start decorating it, let it cool in the fridge for 15 minutes, for the cream cheese to harden.
- Using a cake spatula remove any excess of cream cheese and soften the surfaces of the cake.
- Decorate and enjoy!