For food blogger Saadiyah Hendricks (31), baking is an act of creative freedom and a channel of self-empowerment.
In fact, the Cape Town-based recipe developer says baking is a deeply personal experience that aids more than just your taste buds. By being so deeply involved with the process, the reward at the end is equal parts personal achievement, affirmation, and deliciousness.
“The kitchen has become my haven, baking has been my form of escapism when I feel like unwinding, venting, expressing creativity or simply indulging my very prominent sweet tooth,” she says.
This prompted the working mom of two to create a blog, Sadie’s Bubbles Of Yum, in 2012 as an ode to her sweet tooth and halaal dietary needs.
Hers is a dessert blog dedicated to herself and her young children Hania (6) and Iman (4).
“What is important for me in today’s time is not to restrict them when they see what a woman is capable of doing. I want them to live their dreams the way they see fit,” she says boldly.
“I want them to grow up seeing that their mother was just as hardworking as their father and built a career and was not hampered in anyway by being a mother who has to juggle many hats that women must juggle every day,” she says.
“Every girl aspires to dream big and hopefully reach her goals before the kids start rolling in. My parents have pushed me since day one, they always motivated me to try and better myself. My drive stems from the household I was raised in,” she says.
Her baking passions had brewed within from a young age. So much so that when she was 18, Hendricks would often dream about the day that she would own her very own café bistro.
“I had this dream of relaxing and baking in the mornings and a regular customer would stroll into the café and say, ‘Saadiyah I want the usual please’. That’s the little heart-warming thing I grew up thinking.”
While it may have never become reality, Hendricks never let her baking passions fizzle. She now expresses her passions through her dedicated halaal dessert blog.
Baking passion runs deep
Baking is the unbreakable tether to her family, says Hendricks. During moments of festivity, her familial kitchen was often the meeting ground for the females of her family.
“Baking was how we bonded, it was how I connected with my mother, my maternal aunt and my cousins. When we all got together on family holidays we would laugh and reminisce about moments past.”
‘Every girl aspires to dream big and hopefully reach her goals before the kids start rolling in.’
Her bond with her mother, Shoneez, was sacred as she took the hot seat as the only girl of three children. A daughter will never stop needing her mother, Hendricks believes. Her mother held firm to the adage and had quite the sinister motive for taking her under wing in the kitchen, she explains.
“Having lost her own mother at a young age, she was a bit paranoid that she had to prepare me for life as a little girl. I made my first pot of food, which was mince curry, at the age of 10.”
From then on her mother would rope her into cooking with her. Eventually she got the task of having to cook on weekends for the family. Hendricks believe that was also mostly out of Shoneez’s paranoia of her daughter potentially losing her at a young age.
“Because she was the oldest of her siblings and I was the only girl she was scared that I would have the same fate of suddenly having to assume the responsibility of a role very similar to a mother. She basically had that as motivator to teach me from a young age.”
‘Explore, explore, explore and experiment a lot because there is so much to taste.’
But in the process they bonded. Hendricks’ mother is still her guide in the kitchen and to this day she regards her mother as her very own, personal cooking icon.
“Whenever I experiment with certain recipes and it maybe has to do with something traditional, I would call my mother and I would ask her for some tips. At the end of the call we would basically have some banter about how to perfect it, so she is still my go-to foodie.”
Savoury dishes are not her field of expertise, she professes. Today her Instagram page is a chocolate lover’s dream. “Give me chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on chocolate,” she giggles.
“Brownies, cookies, hot chocolate… I think my page clearly shows that I love chocolate!”
“It came from genuinely wanting to share my food adventures with people, having brands approach me and asking me to create recipes for them is surreal. The recognition that comes with that and the acknowledgement of having bigger brands wanting to work with me in the food space is something I can’t get used to.”
The world is your oyster, she says to home cooks and aspiring chefs. Through the power of the internet and social media, finding meal ideas is no longer limited to cookbooks in a retail outlet.
“One day you can be baking a wobbly Japanese cheesecake and the next you’re making a modern Lebanese lamb kofta. Explore, explore, explore and experiment a lot because there is so much to taste.”
Baking lessons learned
A cup as a unit of measurement in baking is far too vague, Hendricks recommends. Beginner bakers should get well acquainted with a measuring scale.
Baking is a science, Hendricks says firmly. “Invest in a scale to weigh out ingredients accurately.”
“Cups or grams, this is a big debate in international circles. I stand for measuring ingredients in grams, that way you get the exact quantities.”
Always remember that there are no shortcuts in baking, she adds.
“If it’s room temperature it’s room temperature. You can cut corners shoving things in a microwave, that’s all good and well, but when you actually take the time to get it to that point it will yield amazing results, if you absolutely follow it to the tee.”
A tip to live by, she believes, is to pay attention to the tricky fine print in recipes. “Read, read, read, so that you are mentally prepared for the task at hand.
“Sometimes we take one look at a recipe, we assume that we are ready to shoot and start popping things into the oven and later you will find that, no man, you actually had to proof overnight or ingredients need to be prepared a certain way or you need certain tools or equipment.
“Read through and pretend you are on a cooking show, have all your ingredients measured out, this way you are more excited to start baking.”