I was sent Amber Rose’s book, Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier Cakes and Desserts Full of Fruit and Flavorfor review and the minute I flipped through the pages, I knew this woman had an original voice and approach to baking. The recipes are healthful, yet they remain firmly planted within the arena of classic baking. The design and format beautifully support her goal of bringing delicious, lighter, healthier – nourishing – fare to her readers. There are many recipes using spelt flour and fruit as sweeteners. We chatted with Amber, a native New Zealander, about her approach to baking and how it overlaps with her role as a Doula (someone who offers support during labor, birth and provides aftercare for mother and child).
Love, Bake, Nourish by Amber Rose © 2014 Kyle Books, and the photographs © Ali Allen.
Dédé Wilson: Amber, we are inspired by your ability to take sugar and butter and flour and create nourishing desserts. Tell us about your approach and why, indeed, these recipes nourish us.
Amber Rose: My approach to baking started in my childhood. I was brought up with a wholesome approach to food, with all of the food on our family table being whole grain, seasonal, organic and as natural as possible, with most of it coming from my mother’s amazing garden and orchard. I guess this influenced the way I think creatively towards dreaming up new flavor combinations and how my taste buds work.
I love to use seasonal fruits and natural sweeteners like honey and syrups to sweeten rather than refined sugar. This gives a more natural nourishing bake and gives more complex layers of flavor. This makes my baking good for your body and still feels like your having a treat.
You use spelt flour quite a bit. Tell us what we need to know if we haven’t worked with it before. Also, is there anything special we should know if we want to substitute it in recipes of our own?
Spelt flour has a lot less gluten, so less people react to it, even some people who have gluten intolerances can have spelt. It has a slightly different texture than normal white flour, due to it having less gluten, so I find the crumb of the cake is moister and more delicate. It has a lovely flavor and goes well with pretty much everything. You can easily substitute it for conventional flour. If you’re substituting it for whole-grain spelt, just add a couple of tablespoons of extra liquid, as it absorbs more moisture. Nothing worse than a dry cake!
Spelt flour contains more micronutrients than processed white flour due to the type of grain that it comes from, so it’s better for you on several accounts.
Tell us about your connection with baking and being a doula. Is there an overlap for you?
I love baking and I also love being a doula. There is definitely an overlap, as both things are about nurturing. It’s really important as a doula to nurture and look after a woman who is pregnant, in labor or a new mother. My job is to make her feel safe, secure and armed with all the tools she needs to feel confident and supported in whichever part of her journey she is on. What better way than to cook super delicious healthy food and cakes that nourish her and, in turn, her baby?
We are featuring your Lemony Hazelnut Cake with Blueberries and the Rose Water and Pistachio Pavlova. Where did these recipes come from? What were the inspirations for these recipes? Also, give us some insider tips for our readers who want to prepare them.
I love layering textures and flavors. Adding nuts into a cake mix can really add a lot of flavor and crunch, I add to this by combining the flavor of the nuts with a particular sweetener and then a certain fruit. That is how I created the lemony hazelnut and blueberry cake. I think hazelnuts and blueberries have a natural affinity, then maple syrup brings it all together. Blueberries are one of the most nutritious berries, due to the color of their skins, so it’s a huge treat, but such a nourishing one, full of goodness, micronutrients, healthy fats, fiber, and to top it all off it looks amazing.
The rose water and pistachio Pavlova is also about textures and flavors; what could be more heavenly than rose water and rose petals with the beautiful jewel-like quality of the green pistachios? It’s gluten-free, with some unrefined sugar, but totally delicious and wonderful enough to be baked for any special occasion.
Amber, Thank you so much for your creativity and beautiful body of work.