IN CONVERSATION WITH: ALIX CAREY “THE UNICORN COOKBOOK”October 16, 2017
Baker Alix Carey has fulfilled all of our childhood dreams with her brand new cookbook The Unicorn Cookbook which is full of delicious, unicorn-inspired treats like over-the-rainbow cakes, pink velvet cookies, happiness pancakes and intergalactic ice cubes. Here, we talk to her about how she got into baking, why she decided to create The Unicorn Cookbook and get some tips for creating these bakes ourselves…
Have you always loved baking?
I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember. I come from a family of keen bakers that descends right down to my great grandmother, a lady who was renowned for her melt-in-the-mouth pastry. I grew up surrounded by baking and would often spend Saturdays in the kitchen helping my mum bake pies and cakes. The idea of spending a weekend baking now brings me such nostalgia and it’s become my go to when I need to relax.
How did you go from keen baker to feeling like you could create your own cookbook?
Since starting my blog in 2015, where I document all of my weekend creations, I knew that the end goal for me would be to create my own cookbook. I just never knew it would happen this soon. In addition to baking, writing is also something I’ve always been very fond of and after graduating from my Journalism and English degree I was determined that whether it was as a journalist or not, I would continue writing in whatever capacity I could. Combining the two therefore felt like a natural thing to do – my two passions side by side.
Why did you decide to create your cookbook?
I’ve always dreamt of writing my own cookbook and it’s not often an opportunity to make that wish a reality comes your way, so when your team at Urban Outfitters approached me to create The Unicorn Cookbook I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been known as a dreamer. I could sit with my head in the clouds for hours and I’m the type of person who wishes on stars and likes that idea of finding the end of a rainbow, so I had every confidence in my ability to bring the idea to life and I’m so thrilled Urban Outfitters believed in me too.
What was the process like for creating the book?
Initially the process was quite daunting as I work full time in London and only had the weekends to bake, style, shoot and write every recipe. However, I’m very organised, so once I’d decided on the contents, I quickly set out a schedule for every weekend and ensured I stuck to it. I was pretty strict on myself but once I found my groove I became quite good at juggling three bakes at time. The worst part was probably the washing up as I don’t have a dishwasher so I was constantly in and out of the sink.
Overall I really enjoyed the whole process but can’t lie and say it was a completely easy ride. There were days some bakes didn’t work, but I’m just thankful for all the support of my boyfriend (who dealt with the stress and the mess) and my friends and family for all their encouragement along the way.
What’s your favourite recipe from the book?
Oh goodness, that’s a tough question there are so many. I think if I was opening the book for the first time I’d be immediately drawn to the Rainbow Cheesecake Brownies, Make A Wish Shortbreads and Over the Rainbow Macarons.
How did you come to create all the recipes in the book?
I think the hardest part was thinking of the recipes. You can literally make anything Unicorn with a touch of food colouring and sparkles but I was limited to a certain number and needed to cover as much range as possible. I also wanted to ensure the book captured the full spectrum of Unicorn so did lots of research at the beginning. I settled on three key types of Unicorn to use throughout the book and went from there. The happy rainbow unicorn who lives amongst the cloud, the magical enchanted unicorn who lives in the forest, and the intergalactic unicorn who flies amid the stars. Aside from the actual baking, I think it was building all these recipes I enjoyed the most as it gave me such creative freedom and I was really able to let me imagination run wild with ideas.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with and favourite flavours create?
To put it simple, bread, yeast and water. I absolutely love baking bread. One, because it’s one of few bakes in life that takes as little as three ingredients to make, and two, because I love watching those three ingredients come to life as the yeast grows. With regards to flavours my go-to in cakes is always chocolate orange but in bread I like to use lots of herbs – a recent favourite was a Cypriot Mint and Halloumi bread.
What are your tips for getting in baking for someone who’s never even picked up a spatula before?
Enjoy it but follow the recipe. It’s as simple as that. The moment you go off on a tangent and “wing it” in baking it fails. I have a whole section on my blog called “Tips and Tutorials” where I’ve written “Beginners Guide to Baking” and “Baking Hazards to Avoid” – to name a few, and I mention in almost all of them that baking is a science and it’s so important to follow the recipe. It’s also equally important to enjoy what you’re baking and avoid doing it under any stress as it’s in those moments you either rush it or make mistakes and that only adds to your angst
What are three ingredients we will always find in your cupboard?
Flour, Sugar and yeast. You’ll never find me without the ingredients for a simple sponge, after all, cake is where it all began for me so it’s where I turn when I want to bake. But in addition to cakes as I mentioned earlier I also love baking bread so always ensure I have enough yeast.
Why do you think everyone loves unicorns?
I think it’s the mystery, charm and magic of unicorns that makes them so popular. I did so much research in the process of this book to ensure I represented the unicorn in its full glory. So much in fact I found myself wondering for a tiny moment if they were actually real. Seriously, it’s amazing how much information people put out there about Unicorns.
But not only this, I think they’re also a chance for people to escape from the doom and gloom. After all unicorns represent positivity, righteous power and happiness and we all need a bit more of that in the world right now.
What would you cook for a wintry unicorn-themed dinner party? What would be your go-to dishes?
I think I would start with a Squash and Coconut Soup served with slices of my Rainbow Swirl Bread, then I would make a Beef and Ale Rainbow crusted pie served with mash and a brightly coloured vegetable medley, and finally I’d finish with my Rainbow Cheesecake Brownie and a cup of Dreamy Hot Chocolate.
Who knows? I’d love the opportunity to create another cookbook whether that be another theme such as Unicorns or something more generic. I do have a few ideas up my sleeve. Baking is and will always be such a huge passion of mine and as long as I continue enjoying it I don’t think I’ll ever stop whether that be professionally or simple kept as a weekend hobby. Either way it’s in my future, we’ll just have to see what happens.
Shop The Unicorn Cookbook: Magical Recipes for Lovers of the Mythical Creature By Alix Carey
Follow Alix’s blog My Kitchen Drawer – www.mykitchensdrawer.com