Lindsey Bell is the kind of girl that I would love to have as a best friend. She is adorably quirky, has a delightful enthusiasm for art and anything beautiful, and she bakes some seriously delicious desserts. Bell, however, is not to be underestimated. Her blog, Hot Polka Dot, has received widespread recognition and has even landed her the Canadian Food Bloggers Association Award for Best Baking and Dessert Blog.
Since early 2010, Bell has been creating, writing about, and photographing desserts from her home kitchen in Edmonton, Canada. Her natural, conversational style of writing endears her to her audience, and her ability to make something playful, beautiful, and delectable out of simple ingredients has set her apart in the vast world of food blogging. Lindsey responded to our questions with her characteristic joy, and we’re sure that after reading her responses, you’ll want to be her best friend too.
Where does the name “Hot Polka Dot” come from, and who designed the adorable tree logo for your site?
I’ve always been a huge fan of polka dots! I think they represent everything that’s pretty, fresh, and cute, which is always a mood I try to communicate in my food and photography. Since I do a fair bit of baking on the blog, it naturally transformed into Hot Polka Dot. A little alliteration never hurt anyone either. I’m proud to say that I designed the tree logo myself! Design is another one of my many hobbies, and I like to dabble with my own blog design.
A couple years ago, you participated in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog. What was that experience like, and would you ever participate in a food blogging competition again?
Project Food Blog was such a rush! It forced me into a position where I was both confident and second guessing myself, both excited and dreading the next task. It pushed my perfectionism and eye for detail into overdrive as we were challenged to go above and beyond each week. It was a huge learning experience for me since it pushed me outside of my comfort zone time and time again. Each week I discovered something new about food blogging, and I feel like I’ve grown so much from it. It was so stressful and thrilling at the same time, plus I met so many food bloggers I still consider kindred spirits today. I was grateful to get as far as I did in the competition, and I would definitely do it again.
If you were challenged to a baking “throwdown,” which recipe would be your secret weapon?
Honestly my Oma’s Chocolate Chip Cookie is probably my most adapted recipe. To create my original recipes, I like to start from somewhere I’m comfortable with, and nothing could be more comforting than warm chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ve transformed this recipe into so many different cookies just by adding oats, cinnamon, dried cranberries, peanut butter, cocoa powder, or even jam. I pride myself on my creativity, and it’s surprisingly simple to create your own recipes just by tweaking a few things here and there. I fantasize about being on shows like Chopped and Iron Chef where you are forced to play with flavors and exotic ingredients. Armed with my Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, I think I could accomplish a lot.
Are there any culinary tools that you are particularly excited about right now?
I’m presently engaged in a passionate love affair with my OXO cherry pitter. Before I purchased this handy little tool, I would rage over my makeshift cherry pitter comprised of a meat thermometer and an uncapped Pepsi bottle. Needless to say, there was a lot of stabbing and suspicious looking cherry juice everywhere. I adore cherries and, since it’s cherry season, I’ve been eating them almost everyday. In my yogurt, on cheesecake, in doughnuts, or just in my face.
By sharing your occasional baking mishaps on Hot Polka Dot, you bring the art of baking back down to earth and let your readers know that even really experienced bakers have to figure things out by trial and error sometimes. What are some of the best “mistakes” you have ever made in the kitchen?
Right from the start I knew I didn’t want to be one of those perfect food bloggers. Perfect is boring. Perfect is meaningless. Perfect doesn’t teach you anything. I think one of the biggest myths about baking is that it’s all about exact measurements and specific ingredients. While there is a science to baking, there’s also a lot of room to play. The most fun I have in the kitchen is when I experiment with recipes and test the limits of ingredients. One of my best “mistakes” would have to be my Honey Almond Flower Cookies. I was out of corn syrup like the recipe called for, so I used honey instead which imparted a floral sweetness that corn syrup can’t accomplish. To this day I still make these cookies with honey, and they’re one of my favorite cookies.
OK, this last question is downright unfair, but if you had to choose one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Actually this question is probably the easiest for me! The one dessert I could eat exclusively for the rest of my life is, without a doubt, my Angel Icebox Dessert. Maybe it’s because it took me so long to perfect the recipe. Maybe it’s because it’s a family favorite. Maybe it’s because it’s made out of individual melt-in-your-mouth vanilla pavlovas slathered with velvety vanilla custard topped with a handsome dollop of whipped cream and sprinkled with toasted almonds. My heart skips a beat just thinking of it!
Keep up with Lindsey Bell and Hot Polka Dot: