We’re In Flower Heaven With Blooms and Baking

Amy Ho is the insanely talented Vancouver-based baker behind the Constellation Inspiration blog and an Instagram feed. Now she’s taken the leap offline with her new floral-themed cookbook ‘Blooms and Baking’ and it is a beauty to behold.

by | Nov 6, 2020 | Food Books

An illustration of Amy Ho, constellation Inspiration

How did you get into baking?

I discovered my love of baking when I was in graduate school completing my Master’s in Psychology. I would take ‘baking breaks’ in between all the research and thesis writing. It sort of became my creative outlet in a way. I started sharing all the baked goods with my coworkers and classmates and people would ask me for the recipes. Instead of emailing everyone the recipe separately, I uploaded the recipes onto a blog along with a few photos to allow easier sharing.

 

When did you know you wanted to do a cookbook? 

I never thought of writing a cookbook, to be honest. The opportunity came up when my editor emailed me in the summer of 2018 proposing that we work on a book together. At first, I thought I was on an episode of Punk’d because why would anyone want a cookbook written by me, but it turned out to be a serious email. I took the call with my editor to talk about what she was envisioning and what I would want my cookbook to be about.

Why did you want your first cookbook to be flower-themed?

Writing a cookbook is a long process; most cookbooks take several years from start to finish. It is important to find a theme that will have longevity in popularity — unicorn cakes might be popular when you’re starting your manuscript but may have phased out by the publication date. At the same time, you need a theme that has not be done before. There haven’t been too many books about baking and decorating with flowers, which happens to be what I enjoy doing the most. My editor and I both agreed that using florals in baking isn’t just a fad and that this book can be enjoyed any time.

There seem to be recipes for beginner and advanced bakers out there. Which recipe would you recommend people try first?

I highly recommend the lavender earl grey sugar cookies! The recipe comes together really easily and can be made without a mixer. The dough also freezes really well if you want to save some of the cookie dough and bake it off at a later date.

Earl Grey Lavender Cookies from Blooms and Baking. Photo | Abby Wiseman

Earl Grey Lavender cookies stacked on top of each other

Check out Amy’s Earl Grey Lavender cookie recipe.

(They are amazing) 

Everything looks like perfection. Do you ever suck? (Please say yes for us mortals.)

LOL. I actually just laughed out loud. There are many bakes that don’t work out. Many deflated choux pastries, lots of dense cakes, and separated whipped creams. I just don’t show that much on social media. 😉

Where do you get your flowers? Any recommended shops for the amateur baker?

When using flowers in baking, you want to make sure the flowers you’re using is safe for consumption (culinary grade). For example, if you’re baking with lavender, make sure it is culinary lavender (you can get this at specialty kitchen stores or grocery stores) and not the one they use for potpourri. I try to use easy-to-find florals in my book (using chamomile from chamomile tea bags, rose petals purchased at a tea shop, orange blossom water purchased at grocery stores) and many of these culinary grade flowers are available online.

At Small Batch, we’re all about local. What are some of your favourite local ingredients to bake with, and why? 

I would say berries in the summer and apples in the fall. There are so many great berry farms in BC and I love to go berry picking in the summertime (strawberries are my favourite). My good friend Kelsey’s family owns Willow View Farms and that’s where I go for all my apples and plums. Kelsey is so knowledgeable and she makes great recommendations for types of apples for specific culinary purposes.

You’ve grown a loyal following on Instagram. What advice would you give to people just getting into it?

Don’t give up! It may seem very slow at first and you will end up feeling stuck all the time. Your love of baking (or whatever it is you’re sharing) should be the main reason why you’re sharing on platforms like Instagram. Your passion for your craft will help you get over that slump. It is also helpful to make friends who do something similar so you feel less alone in the situation. Many of my ‘blogging friends’ have become some of my closest friends.

The online world can be harsh. Are there baking trolls out there? What do you do about them? 

There will always be haters or trolls but the important thing is not to let it get to you (easier said than done though!). I think the thing I get the most negative comments about (which isn’t even related to the baking itself) is having my hair down in my baking photos or videos! I have my hair down in most of my photos because I want to look nice in the photos (vanity) but I do tie up my hair when I’m baking! I try my best to ignore it but it does suck sometimes.

An image of the Blooms and Baking cookbook surrounded by dried flowers, cookies and measuring cups

Blooms and Baking is full of drool-worthy recipes and photos. Photo | Abby Wiseman

What theme will your next cookbook be? 

If I were to work on a second cookbook in the future, I think I want it to be about Chinese baked goods! I grew up eating so many delicious baked goods from local Chinese bakeries and I would love to show my take on the treats while respecting where it came from and the traditional techniques behind each pastry.

Where can we find Blooms and Blossoms?

You can find it on any online retailer (Amazon, Book Depository) or in person at major bookstores like Indigo. It is important to support local (especially now) so if your independent bookstore carries it, that’s where I would recommend.

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Excellent work. Well done you. Bravo.

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