There is only one thing that’s more important in food blogging than good food, and that thing is good pictures. Obviously. A lot of food blogging seems to be centered around fancy cameras and heavily edited pictures, which is partly why I was so hesitant to start my own food blog. I had convinced myself that if I couldn’t take pictures for shit, I would never amount to anything. No one would read my blog, no matter how hard I worked or how much I wrote or how delicious my recipes were. It would be a very sad affair, overall.
|Potato-quality pictures = potato-quality blog. source|
Nevertheless, I signed up for Blogger and went ahead to post my potato-quality pictures with my glorious recipes (as you can see) and here we are. It hasn’t been overly sad as of yet, but still there is some internal pressure to post photographs that don’t look like, you know, doo-doo.
As it turns out, my all-knowing father had a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 lurking in the basement on one of those strange stone-age discs that people used to love so much—a CD-ROM? I really have no idea. But no matter; we downloaded the software to my laptop, and, like a kid in a candy store, I spent all of last night frolicking around with presets and colors and tools. It was great. I mean, look at this.
Now, I’ve had some experience using Photoshop in technology classes at school and such, but nothing that would be even remotely helpful for editing pictures of food. How do you even begin to do that? Do you, like, copy and paste sprigs of parsley onto the edge of plates and other shit like that?
So please forgive me for my, um, rather amateur photo editing skills. But I do think there was something gained in all of that frolicking. Observe this drastic change effected on a picture of my Irish cream chocolate cake truffles:
|Yuck. That looks fucking disgusting. Total potato.|
|Ah. So much better. Those truffles got sexy beach bodies now.|
When I wrote the Thin Mint cake post, I was sorely disappointed by the pictures I had taken of the full cake. By the time I realized the edges of the plate were rather reminiscent of a toilet bowl (sorry), it was too late. The cake had been eaten.
But now, with Photoshop, past wrongs can be righted. We can create pictures that truly represent how delicious this cake was. Witness:
|What the actual fuck is going on here...?|
|My nerves have been calmed by the smooth, rubbery, thoroughly-smudged surface of that frosting.|
I also fixed up a picture of the mint chocolate chip pancakes, the first recipe I posted on this blog. Those crumbs went AWOL faster than you can say “ew gross”.
|That is some perky chocolate sauce.|
No I don’t know what’s up with that picture. Yes I know it looks weird. Deal with it.
I took the time out of my evening to make some adjustments on this already scrumptious-looking Finnish baked pancake as well.
|Please explain that little light thing in the background. Please.|
|Now I can breathe easy. Thank you. Hail Photoshop.|
Don’t look so impressed; you’re embarrassing me. Here, have a look at this banana oat breakfast pudding (with chocolate peanut butter granola, obviously). Totally earth-shaking difference.
|Mmm, concrete in a mug with wood chips scattered on top.|
|It...it glows with the light of a thousand angels!|
Thank god for presets, is all I can say. There really is no end to their magic. View the magical transformation of this stack of funfetti pancakes—
|For some reason this picture makes me depressed.|
|Hold the fuck up. Those colors. Damn.|
But wait until you see this. you haven’t seen shit until you’ve seen this work of art. Behold: the Photoshopped salted dark chocolate Oreo-stuffed white chocolate chip vegan cookie bar with walnut streusel, red velvet coconut cheesecake swirls and salty caramelized drizzle sauce, plus sprinkles.
|HOLY FUCKING SHIT|
Please do me a favor and ignore the embarrassing front side of that cookie bar and direct your attention to the sweet, succulent caramel drizzle—it’s gorgeous, is it not? I even removed the crumbs from that little pool at the bottom. Truly a masterpiece. Belongs in the Louvre, if I do say so myself.
Yeah. Um. I have a lot of learning to do. Not only in the use of Photoshop, but in styling the food itself. That Thin Mint cake is ridiculously ugly, but it was probably the best thing I’d ever made—no exaggeration there. That said, I would like to communicate just how delicious that cake was through visuals. No one wants to make an ugly cake.
So we shall see. Literally.
I hope your appetite has not been ruined by all of those Photoshop disasters, because I have a great recipe for y’all today.
Last weekend, I stumbled upon the blog Sifting Focus via Pinterest—and boy was I inspired, rooting through the recipe archives. As always, there are too many cakes and too little time, so I settled for something simple and delicious-sounding, if not seasonal: pumpkin spice latte muffins.
Then I realized that not only is the recipe full of eggs, there is a whopping two cups of vegetable oil in a single batch of about two dozen muffins—that’s approximately two shit-tons of oil, or a few more shit-tons of oil than I’d prefer to have in my muffins. Although I think that would explain why the ones in Sifting Focus’s photos look so insanely rich and (I apologize in advance) moist.
If you’ve seen any of the other sweets on this blog, you know I am not one to shy away from fat and sugar and all of those other lovely ingredients that make the world go round. Breakfast food is an exception. I can stand putting two cups of sugar in a batch of muffins, but I’m afraid I had to draw the line at two shit-tons of oil—and so, at risk of sounding like a desperate dieter, I replaced seventy-five percent of the fat with applesauce. I also veganized these sugary bitches by using my favorite wonder ingredients: tofu and chia seeds. Sounds super yum, Baby June.
Miraculously, I don’t think much was lost in translation. The cake was very rich and dense, almost gooey (presumably thanks to the tofu), and the combination of espresso and spices lent a lovely flavor. They were wonderful on their own, unadorned, but obviously I had to add cashew cream cheese filling and espresso glaze. You know, for the gainz.
|This photo may or may not be edited.|
Wow, appetizing pics, June.
But trust me. They’re delicious. Even my father, who would never pass up a steak or slab of bacon, gobbled these tofu-infused, vegan bitches right up.
|Check out those artistic splotches of glaze.|
Then again, the massive amount of sugar might have helped.
Here is the recipe.
Pumpkin spice latte muffins
Adapted from Sifting Focus
Makes about fourteen muffins
187 grams ● all-purpose flour ● 1 ½ cups
5 grams ● baking soda ● 1 ½ teaspoons
5 grams ● baking powder ● 1 teaspoon
3 grams ● cinnamon ● 1 teaspoon
1 gram ● cloves ● ¼ teaspoon
1 gram ● nutmeg ● ¼ teaspoon
2 grams ● allspice ● ½ teaspoon
184 grams ● applesauce ● ¾ cup
54 grams ● vegetable oil ● ¼ cup
200 grams ● granulated sugar ● 1 cup
230 grams ● canned pumpkin puree ● 7.5 ounces
6 grams ● espresso powder ● 1 tablespoon
124 grams ● silken tofu, blended until smooth ● ½ cup
15 grams ● chia seeds ● 1 tablespoon
50 grams ● water ● 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
Cashew cream cheese filling
85 grams ● cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained ● ½ cup
20 grams ● maple syrup ● 1 tablespoon
4 grams ● vanilla extract ● 1 teaspoon
8 grams ● lemon juice ● ½ tablespoon
45 grams ● nondairy milk ● 3 tablespoons
30 grams ● coconut oil ● 2 tablespoons
3 grams ● espresso powder ● ½ tablespoon
23 grams ● full-fat coconut milk, room temperature ● 1 ½ tablespoons
60 grams ● powdered sugar ● ½ cup
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease ten regular muffin tins. In a small bowl, mix together 5 grams / 1 teaspoon water and 6 grams / 1 tablespoon espresso powder until dissolved. Combine other 45 grams / 3 tablespoons water with chia seeds in another bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. In a large bowl, whisk together applesauce, vegetable oil, sugar, pumpkin puree, dissolved espresso powder, tofu, and chia egg until thoroughly combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined.
Fill each muffin tin about ¾ of the way full, about 1/3 cup per tin. Bake about 25 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Wait ten minutes before removing from tins. Allow to cool completely before stuffing and covering in glaze.
To make cream cheese filling, blend all ingredients in a food processor (or a powerful blender) until smooth. You can fill the muffins however you want; I went the simple, if rough-on-the-edges route by cutting my own holes (as described by Baking Bites), but you can also use a piping bag (as described by Cookies and Cups). Either way, these will be delicious.
To make glaze, melt coconut oil and allow to cool slightly. Warm coconut milk slightly in the microwave, then stir in espresso powder to dissolve. Stir in coconut oil, powdered sugar, and salt until combined. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. If too thick, add a bit more cream. Drizzle over cooled muffins and nosh. If you want, you can make candied pumpkin seeds a la Sifting Focus.
Unfortunately, my muffins had rather flat tops compared to the pictures on the original blog post. It’s not absolutely terrible, since they taste amazing, but if I were to make these again I might try reducing the amount of tofu, or maybe adding a bit more baking powder. I’m no expert—it could have been anything. Just mentioning it in case you would like to try these. And you should, flat tops or not.
|Artisticness level over 9000!|
You might notice another foray into Photoshop-land here, with my “Pin-able picture the length of a football field”, as Joy the Baker would say. And truth be told, I did not shoot the photo vertically. That is why it looks weird. I apologize. I will try to remember to shoot some photographs vertically next time.
It is for the betterment of our world.
|Just look at that cream cheese. Stunning.|
But all’s well that’s stuffed with cream cheese and glazed with espresso and sugar, amirite?
Thank you for dancing til the end.