Paris.

As you can probably tell from the title, this is not a usual recipe post but rather a travel blogpost. So my family and I have travelled to Europe for the holidays, and are currently in Paris leaving soon for Switzerland. During our time here, we’ve gone up the Eiffel Tower (via elevator), took a tour of the Louvre Museum, walked the Champs Elysees, went to the Palace of Versailles (but didn’t go inside because the line was too long), did a macaron cooking class, saw the Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe. Apart from these mandatory touristy things, we walked a lot, took a lot of trains, ate a tonne of food and got lost a time or two.

It has been an absolutely amazing experience, and I really hope you enjoy these photographs. Every street and alley way is so beautiful, featuring stunning and unique architecture, it was hard not to take a photo of everything. At the end of this blogpost, I have included a list of our favourite bakeries and restaurants.

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There are so many bakeries in Paris, probably at least one on every street, it was impossible to try them all. However, below are some of my family and I’s favourites.

Bakeries/Restaurants:
  • Chambelland – this bakery is 100% gluten-free, but everything is so delicious you won’t be able to tell the difference. It has sweet pastries such as lemon meringue tart and Paris brests, savoury focaccias and sandwiches and even soups. My personal favourites are the chouquettes (choux pastry coated in sugar), herb focaccia, cookie classique (a chocolate chip cookie with pecans) and pain de sucree (sugar bread).
  • Angelina – this patisserie was established in 1903, and is well known for their hot chocolate and Mont Blanc. My brother really enjoyed their mille feuille (aka vanilla slice).
  • Bistrot Richelieu – if you’re looking for a hearty meal, such as steak and fries, then this is the place to go. I really liked their escargot (snails) cooked with herb butter and duck confit. They have a wide variety of food and gluten-free options, and even delicious desserts including profiteroles and creme brulee.
  • Bears and Racoons – this is another gluten-free bakery selling mostly sandwiches and other small pastries. It is good for a simple, light lunch, and I enjoyed their smoked salmon sandwich.
  • Aux 2 Anges – this bakery has delicious chicken and salami baguettes, ham and cheese croissants, chouquettes and an amazing apple-caramel tarte tatin.
  • Il Quadrifoglio – this is a beautiful Italian restaurant by the river, featuring both pizza and pasta. The gluten-free options include pizza, linguini pasta and even lasagne which is my personal favourite.
  • Pierre Hemre – Pierre is the pastry king. He has numerous patisseries around Paris, all featuring a wide selection of intricate desserts and macarons of course (I like the vanilla macarons).
  • Helmut Newcake – this is another 100% gluten-free bakery. Before going on a gluten-free diet, my favourite food was croissants and I haven’t had one in a very long time. However, this has now changed because Helmut Newcake has amazing croissants (you won’t even tell they’re gluten-free!). They also have delicious eclairs, and this absolutely divine pastry called boule de noel (a combination of vanilla cream, crunchy chocolate-praline base and mouse, and caramel).

 


Victoria Sponge Cake {1 Year Blog Anniversary}

At the beginning of grade 10, we needed to write a letter to our “future selves” – meaning that we would receive this letter by the end of grade 12.  So the only memory of what I wrote, which is ingrained in my mind, is having the courage to one day start a blog or YouTube channel. But little did I know, about 2 months after this, that Beyond Our Sky was going to be born. So here is a collection of photographs from over past year that have become some of my very favourites, as well as a Victoria sponge cake to celebrate! brownies5-2.jpgMarch 24th 2016 seemed like just a normal day. I was 15 years old, the school term was almost finished, the holidays were about to begin, and I made the decision to just do it. The process seemed a lot more daunting in my mind, but I simply needed to create a WordPress account, choose a domain and theme, then after I got that part set up – I basically started cooking, photographing writing and posting. Most of the time people ask me why I started a blog since I’m only 16 years old, and it’s always so hard to explain because, quite truthfully, it was like the dream found me.  macaron9So the best way I can describe this feeling is like fishing (not that I know much about fishing!). You’re standing out there on a jetty, waiting for a fish but not really expecting anything, then suddenly there’s something pulling on your line. Boom. You just caught a fish. But out there, in the vastness of the sea, this fish managed to find your line similar to how the opportunity/dream finds you. So what were you doing to attract this fish? 1) You were being patient and 2) there was bait on your fishing line. And this basically explains the law of attraction – where we are able to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. french-toast2So you were focusing on catching a fish and you caught a fish. Simple. But the crazy thing about opportunity is that it is often unclear; like when you are fishing, you can hardly see the fish swimming in the water. To me, the opportunity to start a blog was clearly present at the time but in my head and through me eyes, I just couldn’t see it. cake7The law of attraction, in my case, works because I’ve been cooking for a long time now. I used to be obsessed with making cupcakes and I took photos of them on my iPhone 4. At the time, it seemed like something fun to do and was a hobby during the holidays, but I was unconscious and unaware to the fact that I was attracting this dream. protein balls12.jpgI was focusing on cooking, learning everyday through YouTube videos and other blogs until one day, unexpectedly, the fish managed to find my line. The opportunity was always present, like the fish are always swimming in the ocean, and I could have started a blog when I was 12 or 14 (it wouldn’t be very good though!) but it was only until 1 year ago that I realised it. cake26The whole essence and purpose of Beyond Our Sky is to make you realise your full potential. To open your eyes to world before you,  to see the beauty in your life and to live everyday as best you can. Make the most of what you have. Don’t be afraid. The sky is truly the limit. cake48.jpgSo why Michelle, why did you start a blog? …. because, why not?

Thank you everyone, in all sincerity, who has been there from the very beginning. It truly means the world to me and I never imagined Beyond Our Sky coming this far. Thank you for all the wonderfully kind comments, likes, follows, and compliments – I wouldn’t be here without every single one of you!

 

Victoria Sponge Cake

  • 250g softened butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 500mL cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • Strawberry filling (recipe below)
  • 350g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line 4 x 15cm (or 2 x 20cm) circular cake tins.
  2. In an electric mixer on high speed, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in colour. About 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition. Then add the vanilla extract. On the lowest speed, fold in the flour and add the milk. Beat until just combined and do not over mix.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Then allow to cool completely and transfer to wire rack.
  4. Assembly: Whip the cream and vanilla bean seeds to medium-stiff peaks. Place the first layer of cake onto platter/stand. Spread with cream and strawberry filling, and add a generous amount of chopped strawberries. Repeat with remaining layers and decorate with more cream, strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar.
Strawberry Filling
  • 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 35g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  1.  In a saucepan, combine the raspberries, 3 tablespoons of water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally and crushing the berries with the back of a spoon.
  2. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the berries have broken down. Dissolve the cornflour in the remaining 1 tablespoons of water. Whisk the slurry into the strawberry mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture back to a boil and whisk continuously for 1-2 more minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl. Then refrigerate to cool completely until ready to assemble.

 

 


10 Months of Blogging

It’s absolutely crazy to think that I’ve been doing this for 10 months now. With assessment and exams finally finished, I thought I would reflect on how it has been so far. I have also put together a portfolio/collection of photographs which are a few of my very favourites. Most of the recipes should be found on Beyond Our Sky, but some pictures you may have seen on Instagram and I have yet to post the recipes. white-chocolate-and-raspberry-cake-26If you’re new here, then welcome and hello! My name is Michelle, I am fifteen years old (yes, I’m only fifteen) and from Brisbane, Australia. I like to bake (obviously) and love photography even more, I enjoy running but never find the motivation to do it, my favourite foods are mangoes, pineapples, any types of potato (baked, chips or whatever) and all things Mexican. I’m a bit of a loner, I like to write but don’t get good marks in English, and I hate loud environments. So there are some random facts about me. img_7467But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the things I’ve learnt through this blogging journey. So, yeah, I’ve learnt that you should take your time, that a crumb coat on a cake is very important, how to do a drip cake, how vital it is that your cakes are level, the importance of temperature and many other basic things like not to overwork your dough/batter. But that’s not what this post is about either and it’s not how Beyond Our Sky works. Yes, I did learn all those things… but the real question is what did I learn about life through blogging?IMG_2689Every experience you witness happens for a reason. Sometimes you never know that reason until months or even years later. But I know, with Beyond Our Sky, that I have learnt how to believe in myself and what perfection truly means. My friend and I usually spend mornings before school looking at other blogs, and of course I would be in awe of their amazing photographs. Then sometimes I would look at mine and think – why can’t my photos look that good? How come mine aren’t perfect? But that’s the thing – you can spend ages thinking you’re not good enough and get absolutely nowhere.img_7544I will never be the perfect blogger, the perfect photographer or have the perfect pictures. But what does perfection mean? Perfection to you may be different to what it means to me. So I believe you should focus on your progress instead. Have I achieved a lot over the past 10 months? Yes, my photographs have drastically improved from when I started. And most of all, I never imagined myself doing this. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, let alone 10 months ago. To me that’s amazing. To me that’s perfect realising how far I have come on this journey so far. It may not seem like the best blog, but it’s the best I can possibly do – and to me personally, that’s what I call perfection. Ice cream sandwich.jpgPeople always talk about this journey of “finding themselves”. I feel like a lot of us have this vision of who we imagine ourselves to be. I know I do. I used imagine myself, last year during grade 9, just being a girl in grade 10 and going through life like normal student at school. I used to imagine myself starting a blog or YouTube channel after grade 12. But you know, here I am, in grade 10, somehow managing to balance school, sport and a blog. And that leads me to another thing that I’ve learnt – to embrace life and the opportunities it grants you then pursue it with confidence. img_7119Life is unpredictable. If one door closes, an even bigger one will open. Make the most out of what you have in the time you are given. I can never truly answer why I started a blog, it kind of just came to me one day and so I asked my Mum – can I start a blog? She said yes. I took the chance and conquered my fears. I embraced it. I think she may regret saying yes now, because she probably thought it was just going to be one of those weird phases or holiday projects that doesn’t last very long. I don’t think my mum expected me to enjoy it as much as I do and nor did I. Salted Carmel.jpgThe thing which also amazes me is how I used to tell people that I wanted to start a blog. I never once believed that I was actually going to do it. The opportunity was lying right there before me, what was stopping me from pursuing it? And that’s another thing I’ve learnt through blogging – the restrictions and difficulties which come with chasing your dreams/purpose. You need to learn to overcome your boundaries and your fears. Maybe you are, fundamentally, the only person who is stopping you. Cookie.jpgWe are all scared of something. What it is or why we are in fear is a whole nother issue entirely. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared of disobeying my parents. I’m scared that I won’t live life to the fullest. So, with that being said, I like to look at life like a painting. You start with an idea of what you want to paint, then you draw a basic outline and start to add the base colours. As you continue your journey, you learn new things about yourself through the ins and outs of life, and as a result, your painting becomes more embellished with the finer details. Sometimes the idea you started with, may have changed throughout the course of the painting. But you learn to adapt, you learn to change and you learn to accept it. By the end of your life, your painting may not be perfect or the masterpiece you hoped – but whether you finished the painting or not is up to you. A painting should never be half-finished, because you should never live your life half-full. A painting should always be complete, which shows you have lived a life full of colour and made the most out of what you had in the time you were given. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece in order for it to be called perfection. It can be perfectly imperfect.IMG_2673So the purpose of Beyond Our Sky is to encourage people to appreciate the beauty in life and inspire others to chase their dreams. It’s all about getting out there and simply living since you never know what the future will hold.