I’m not a huge Reddit fan, but it happened that I read the other day a thread about how some food bloggers focus on photography and post recipes that rarely succeed, how they make every recipe sound like it’s the best when in fact it may not be, how they make it look more like a business and less like something personal. The thread had dozens of comment from people stating the same thing and pointing towards quite famous bloggers out there whose photography and work I admired many times. I had mixed feelings reading this – on one side there’s the blogger community which I enjoy being part of and can totally relate to the work behind a blog and on the other side there’s the reader that tries the recipe, the reader that we care so much or should care about, the people we interact with who feel betrayed when a recipe fails.
I understand both parties and believe me, being a blogger is not the easy thing many people think, it’s not as fun as you might expect sometimes, making your recipes stand out is hard and oh boy, when you meet insensitive people, the Internet can be cruel. But this doesn’t mean we should post just anything and expect to form a community around a blog even though the recipes aren’t as good as we make them look in our photography. Yes, photography can be deceiving, I know it well, there’s plenty of tricks out there to make food look great so I believe this is why people feel betrayed when a recipe fails. They have high expectations, they want it to look like in the pictures, without being aware that a recipe’s success depends on many things and sometimes differently sourced ingredients can change the final result. But I still trust bloggers more than I trust recipe sites to source my recipes from. It’s probably that feeling of familiar I get when I read the stories, might be the preparation pictures you get to see sometimes, but I love reading blogs and sometimes comparing one recipe with another.
But I can totally relate to the person who had recipe failures from various bloggers, I’ve been there myself and it does bother me when I see someone saying it is the best recipe in the world – if you read more blogs you will probably find a similar recipe being presented as the best in the world and so on. It has to do with the way bloggers describe their recipe so people build these high expectations and if it doesn’t turn out according to that, they feel disappointed.
This thread also led to another thing I have been thinking about – how important is the story in a blog post compared to the recipe itself?! I’m a journalist so words are my friends, especially in writing, but I have to admit that sometimes writing more than the recipe itself is a struggle and I feel bad to just say how good the recipe is. I know it is, I don’t post recipes if I’m not happy with them, but writing entire paragraphs about how good it is and how amazing it tastes is just not my cup of tea. I tried it, it doesn’t feel like me, it feels like I’m trying to sell my recipes to you, my readers, when in fact I’m not. I want you to try the recipes I post, obviously, but only if you think you might like them, not because I say so many times in a paragraph and use all these pretty words to build a story around a recipe. But then I go to a different blog and I see this beautiful writing, studded with gorgeous words about the recipe and dessert that I feel bad I didn’t do the same … and this goes on forever. So I am curious, how important do you think the story is compared to the recipe? Do you read the stories that come with the recipes or just go to the recipe itself? Have you ever tried a recipe based on a blogger’s description?
Now let’s go back to today’s recipe which is a buttery, fragrant rhubarb cake with a crispy streusel topping. I’m not a huge fan of rhubarb, unless it comes in this classic combination with strawberries. So once the cake was baked, I made a simple strawberry compote and topped each serving of cake with it, plus a dollop of whipped mascarpone. Yes, simple mascarpone cream, whipped just to become airy. I find to be heavenly in this combination.. well, any combination, I’m a mascarpone addict!
- 4 eggs
- 90g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 130g all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 50g butter, melted and chilled
- 250g rhubarb, sliced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 50g butter, softened
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 300g strawberries
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 40g sugar
- 2 cardamom seeds, crushed
- Mascarpone cream for serving
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F and lined a round cake pan (22cm) with baking paper.
- Sift the flour with salt.
- Combine the eggs with sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer for 10 minutes until triple in volume.
- Stir in the vanilla extract then begin folding in the flour, spoon after spoon, mixing with a spatula until the flour is incorporated.
- Take 4 tablespoons of batter into a small bowl and stir in the melted butter. This is done because the butter (and other type of fat for that matter) tends to sink at the bottom of the bowl, forcing you to mix into the batter vigurously, thus destroying the air bubbles you effortesly incorporated in the eggs earlier. But if you do it in a small batch of dough first, the final batter won't be damaged at all.
- Transfer the butter mixture back into the bowl and carefully fold it in.
- Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and place aside.
- Mix the rhubarb with cornstarch and sugar and top the cake with slices of rhubarb.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until sandy.
- Spread the streusel over the rhubarb and bake the cake in the preheated oven at 350F for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when done and let it cool completely.
- Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over low heat and cook for a few minutes just until the fruits are softened, but not mushy.
- Allow it to cool completely.
- Serve the cake topped with mascarpone cream and strawberry compote.
Rubarba e o noutate pentru mine, am descoperit-o anul trecut multumita Lidl, caci nu prea e de gasit prin partile astea de Romanie si imi place tare in combinatie cu capsunele. Motiv pentru care tortul a fost insotit de un compot foarte simplu de capsune aromat cu putin cardamom. Si un mot de mascarpone simplu, usor batut cat sa se aereze, desi merge si frisca bine batuta, e doar o chestie de gust personal. Mascarpone e noua mea slabiciune si ma furisez si in miezul noptii pentru o lingurita din branza asta cremoasa, onctuoasa, grasa. Dar recunosc ca ultima felie de tort am acoperit-o bine cu smantana acra (ramasesem fara mascarpone si nu aveam nici frisca) si a fost la fel de buna. E genul ala de comfort food din care nu te mai poti opri din mancat.
- 4 oua
- 90g zahar
- 130g faina alba
- 1 praf de sare
- 1 lingurita extract de vanilie
- 50g unt gras, topit
- 250g rubarba, felii
- 1 lingura amidon
- 2 linguri zahar brun
Topping crocant – streusel:
- 50g unt la temperatura camerei
- 100g faina alba
- 1 praf de sare
- 2 linguri zahar pudra
Compot de capsune:
- 300g capsune proaspete, taiate in jumatati
- 1/2 cana suc proaspat de portocale
- 40g zahar
- 2 pastai de cardamom, usor zdrobite
- Mascarpone sau frisca pentru servire
Mod de preparare:
- Pre-incalziti cuptorul la 180C si tapetati o tava rotunda (22cm) cu hartie de copt.
- Amestecati rubarba cu amidonul si zaharul brun intr-un bol si dati deoparte.
- Mixati ouale cu zaharul si vanilia pana isi tripleaza volumul.
- Incorporati treptat faina cernuta cu un praf de sare. Luati deoparte cateva linguri de blat si amestecati cu untul topit. Turnati amestecul inapoi in bolul cu blat si amestecati usor cu o spatula.
- Turnati blatul in tava pregatita si acoperiti cu felii de rubarba.
- Amestecati toate ingredientele intr-un bol si faramitati bine cu varful degetelor pana obtineti o compozitie nisipoasa.
- Intindeti streusel-ul peste rubarba si coaceti tortul pentru 35-40 minute. Lasati sa se raceasca in tava.
Compot de capsune:
- Combinati toate ingredientele intr-un vas si fierbeti cateva minute pana fructele se inmoaie usor.
- Lasati sa se raceasca inainte de servire.
Hannah | The Swirling Spoon says
So many interesting thoughts in your post Oana! Like you I often trust bloggers more than recipe sites, for a few reasons: there are usually more photographs of the food from different angles and at different stages, so you can get a good idea of what the cake, say, should look like inside and out. Also if the blogger tried and failed the recipe a few times they usually mention this somewhere in the post or point it out in the recipe steps (Oh Ladycakes is really great for that!) so you know to avoid those mistakes.
As for content.. I always try to find something light to talk about in my posts. Usually it’s just something silly that I did during the week or a memory related to the recipe. Then I try to dedicate a paragraph to discussing the recipe and any key points to pay attention to. But I generally assume that people aren’t going to read the whole thing. It’s such a dilemma trying to find something meaningful to write about that will be worth people’s precious time to read. The worst is reading a blog post and feeling like there was no point to it, but then I think I’m guilty of this most of the time 😉
Hannah | The Swirling Spoon says
Phew, that got so long I forgot to mention how gorgeous this cake is.
Thank you, Hannah!
I think the worst is when you read a post and feel like the blogger is trying to sell you the recipe, it feels like too much struggle to write that post, it feels forced. Then again, I tried this before as well and it’s just not my style.
I too get the feeling that most people don’t read the story, just the recipe. If I have the time, I read it, if I don’t, I just skim through it or even skip it. I think the recipe is the one to stand out so I much rather make the recipe damn good than the story.
I don’t seem to have found the best mix of story and recipe yet.. pfff who said blogging was easy had no idea wha he was talking about 😀