Baking - Cakes - Say Hello

Say hello to Zainab from La Galette + Make Strawberry Polenta Cake

March 16, 2015

Strawberry Polenta Cake-2One day I stumbled upon La Gallette’s instagram page. Her photos were incredibly beautiful and after a quick stalk I realised she was 16. Sixteen. I was totally gobsmacked. I TEACH sixteen year olds and could not comprehend she was just like them {even though I have come across equally talented kids her age}.

This creative, gifted and now seventeen year old chick is Zainab from La Gallette and she has had me hooked on her photographs ever since that day. She’s all about {mostly} vegan, low sugar and healthy baking. So take a read after you pre heat the oven, you will have one of her recipes in the oven in no time. Maybe even her strawberry polenta cake?

Strawberry Polenta Cake-14

Currently you are…

I used to be a huge reader but I rarely get the time these days! Some books I’m reading in between little study sessions or before bed is ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn (it’s so good!) and ‘Javascript and Jquery’ by Jon Duckett. I have a huge obsession with front-end development and I study multimedia. It just seems so fascinating to me.

‘Arrow’. My current favourite TV show and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next episode, each episode is packed with bombshells- I’m in love. I’ve been also re-watching ‘Breaking Bad’, I could never get tired of that show and catching up on ‘The Walking Dead’.

Listening to

I have a really weird taste in music. Some day’s I might like a specific genre and the next day I’ll be all over another. This week, I’ve had chillstep (which is chill dubstep- don’t judge me!!) on shuffle. I’ve also been listening to ‘Bullet train’ by Stephen Swartz and ‘Stay low’ by Ryn Weaver.

Well I just ate lunch. A quinoa salad which had steamed broccoli (my favourite vegetable of all time), roasted almonds, cranberries, cucumber and mint. I’m drinking plain old green tea right now actually but that’s drinking so…

I’m actually building up my study notes and finishing off a motion graphics animation for school. As for baking- I have a jar of coconut oil out on the bench to soften. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, I’ll probably come up with something later in the day. Hopefully.

You’re an amazing photographer and food stylist all at the age of 17. How did these things come to be?
Aw shucks! I was never an artsy person. I like facts, numbers and solid answers so I surprised myself when I discovered that I loved photography and food styling. It mainly started when I began food blogging when I was about 13? I realised that photos were kind of BIG thing when blogging, people do eat with their eyes after all. I was a horrible photo-taker when I first started (I dare you to take a look at my older photos, your eyes will get all teary from the horrible-ness…) but I began to practice and experiment. Eventually I fell in love with it. I can’t go a day without taking a photo of some sort.

Your Instagram is full of perfectly composed shots that have me in awe. Be honest. How many photos do you take to get THE shot?
Thank you, again! Haha gosh, time to share my deepest darkest secret!! I’ll admit it takes around 4-8 photos to take the right one. Back when I first started I used to take around 25? Let’s keep this between us.

When I was 17 I had no idea what I wanted to do. I left school, worked then realised I wanted to be a teacher. What do you think you’ll do when you leave school this year?
To be honest, I’m still undecided. I’m finishing high school this year and it scares me that I still don’t know. I thought I wanted to be a chef but after working for a while in a couple commercial kitchens I realised that it just wasn’t my thing. Too much stress and teamwork. I’m not good with teamwork.

I’m really interested in computer sciences so maybe computer engineering or programming? All I know that I want to do something in the IT field. I also still see myself developing recipes for a couple companies in the future, still freelancing as much as I can.

You’ve written about how you wrote down all of your family recipes in a leather notebook. Tell us a few of your favourite recipes in the book.
Oh yes, it’s sitting on my shelf right now. Our family recipes are quite unique so I decided one holiday when I was around 12 years old to sit down with my Mum and write down all the recipes I could think of. My favourites is this coconut and walnut cake that my Mum makes all the time, it’s- I think- the first cake she ever baked for my Dad and myself so it’s quite close to my heart. There’s also this other recipe that’s sort of like a butterscotch brownie-fudge square, called ‘diheen’. It’s baked in the oven at 90C for 5 hours and that helps with the caramel flavour to develop. It’s time consuming and it’s totally worth it in the end.

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You’re from the inner suburbs of Sydney. Hit us with the BEST places to eat.
I actually don’t eat out a lot and I always make the time to create my own food but I do love this hole-in-the-wall, Joe Black, which is a teensy little squished coffee store in the heart of Sydney CBD, it’s in little secluded area and I’m so glad I found them. They make amazing coffee and vegan-friendly breakfast options.
I also love Pizza Mario in Surry Hills and Just Falafel in the inner-west which I’ve only eaten at once but I love it already.

Creativity can be a constant struggle. What do you do when creativity strikes? And when it won’t? And how do you nurture your creativity?
My mind is always coming up with these recipe ideas and I’m always thinking of something to create. However, just like any other person, I have these horrible times when I can’t think of anything exciting and new. When creativity strikes, I grab my tiny notebook that’s stuffed with recipe ideas and write it down before it slips through my fingertips. I have this idea that I want to create all the recipes in that book someday.

When I’m not feeling so creative, I always jump on the internet, scroll through some of my favourite Instagram feeds and I quickly find myself with ideas. Most of the time- I can be inspired by a page on a magazine, a couple flavour combinations which I come across or even colour schemes. The gluten-free citrus almond cake I created recently was inspired by the new blog colour scheme. It’s crazy.

I also have these days where I just take a step back and get some time to think through my options, whether it be school or work and that kind of helps me with finding the right idea. Listening to music and just relaxing also helps.

Blogging {and life, actually} requires you to be vulnerable. You’ve recently started doing some client work {such as Nourish Magazine} which I can image would be daunting. Have you had any struggles with being vulnerable and sharing your ideas? Do you have any tips to overcome this struggle?
I’m so so shy and quiet in ‘real’ life. It’s horrendous and I always seem to struggle when sharing my ideas, questioning myself on whether I’m putting myself too ‘out there’. I’ve always been like this and I often keep most things to myself. I think that the work I do, whether a magazine or some freelance work with companies, the blog and Instagram act as some sort of a channel where I can slightly share my thoughts in a much easier and less scary way, you could say.

Of course everything is daunting, my work can be often too much at times because I’m new to this whole thing. I’ve had struggles with sharing my thoughts on some topics and I find that we all seem to overthink other people’s reactions. Whist the internet can be a very judgemental place, there are many (and I say many) supportive people out there. Supportive comments and emails that I receive from people help me believe that. Their words often put happy tears in my eyes.

Whist I’m not a pro at giving self-confidence advice, if you’re struggling with sharing your thoughts and being ‘out there’ remember that there will be people who support you, take it one step at a time and try not to overthink it, it’s not as bad as you think it is- whatever ‘it’ is.

Tell me, what are you reading, watching, eating, listening to and making?


Strawberry Polenta Cake
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 175g coconut oil {I had to use some olive, because I ran out- it was delicious!}
  2. 250g Greek yogurt
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 4 large eggs
  5. 200g plain flour
  6. 150g polenta
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  9. zest of 1 lemon
  10. 1 cup sliced strawberrries
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line and grease a spring form tin.
  2. Place the coconut oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. Add the yoghurt and mix slowly until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking powder, polenta, lemon zest and half the strawberries.
  6. Place half the strawberries on the bottom of the tin and place the batter on top.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Adapted from La Gallette
Adapted from La Gallette
erin made this

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