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Bake Like Abi

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My name is Abi Portillo — vocalist, voice over talent, travel and lifestyle blogger, and music enthusiast.

Earlier this year, I quit my job because I realized that my entire life pretty much revolved around driving the length of EDSA to sit in front of a computer, and that was no way to live. So, quit I did, and decided that I wanted to be what I like to call a “thrillionaire” — investing in experiences and the things that make me happy.

Since then I’ve been exploring — I’ve wandered the streets of Manila; hopped around some of the most beautiful places in the Philippines; visited exotic countries, just taking it all in.

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Music is also an integral part of my life. I am an aspiring bass player, and for the last 8 years or so, I’ve been the front woman of Abi Rode, a blues/rock n’ roll band.

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After doing a bit of traveling, and noticing that I liked to create playlists for each of my trips (or to soundtrack my life in general), it felt like the natural step forward was to take the things that I thoroughly enjoy — music, writing, eating, taking photos, experiencing new things and places— and put them all together in a blog, for a full, sensory replication of my experiences. That’s when www.stinglikeabi.com was born. In there I have travel stories, photos, itineraries, and tips; music playlists to go with them; food and places to eat. More recently, I’ve added beauty product reviews and tips on how to be environmentally-conscious, as I’ve really been making an effort to live a green lifestyle. sting-like-abi

I fell in love with baked goods at a young age. My mom would buy me boxes of instant brownies when I was maybe around 9 years old. However, I didn’t start baking from scratch until I was around 18.

My love for baking probably stemmed from my love of eating, haha! I come from a family of eaters (on both sides). And although many of them are fantastic cooks, my mom, aunts, and grandmother generally cooked savory food; there were no dessert people. And this was a problem, because I have the biggest sweet tooth; I LOVE DESSERT. And not just dessert: CAKE.

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Strawberry-Topped Chocolate Layer Cake

Because no one else was doing it, I started making cakes and cupcakes for myself. And every time the result turned out right, I was encouraged to keep doing it more.

I am inspired by the contestants on the show ‘Masterchef’. I think they’re amazing! I have a special admiration for the kids, but I remember this one Masterchef moment in particular that really sent me into the kitchen with a fire in my belly (pun intended): Sharone Hakman’s Hazelnut and Pistachio Cupcake with Hazelnut Cream Cheese Icing. Oh. My. Goodness.

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Dark Cherry and Dark Chocolate Black Forrest Cake

I bake whenever the mood strikes. But, for sure, I try something new during holidays and long breaks.

I’m fonder of cupcakes and muffins, but only because they’re so much easier to consume and then store away. I’m most known (because it’s my favorite thing to bake) for my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s a fall/winter recipe, but I don’t wait for Halloween or Christmas to come around to make them; I’ll do them anytime during the year.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

One insight that I discovered that made my baking life easier was brought upon by my tendency to be impatient. Like many, I find prepping the most tedious part of baking. I find the whole process of gathering and measuring my ingredients so slow. On the other hand, after doing it often enough, I realized that this is the bit that calms me and lets me zone out. So, to make my life easier, I acquiesce to the tediousness of the process instead of fighting it.

a559dcda-e2e8-4d6c-aade-8074a3220e86Chocolate Paleo Cupcakes with Honey

One recipe that I found most challenging was when I tried making Bacon, Cheese, and Rosemary Breakfast Muffins. For whatever reason, they turned out to be denser than I expected muffins to be. So I took all the muffins, removed the liners, crushed them, rolled them all back into one giant dough, flattened them out into one sheet, cut them into biscuits, and baked them again. It turned out well! And they went nicely with salmon flavored cream cheese.

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Chocolate Paleo Cupcakes with Paleo Chocolate, Avocado, Vanilla, Honey Ganache

Most memorable baking experience? I have one good one, and one bad one.

The bad: I once tried to make Red Velvet Cupcakes. The recipe called for sour cream, and I didn’t have any with me, so I substituted it with a milk and vinegar mixture. I was new at baking then, and didn’t know that I couldn’t use low-fat milk to bake. I pulled them out of the oven, and they were completely liquid! The ingredients had separated from each other. It was the most disgusting, unbaked batch I have ever made.

The good: I made a really pretty Mixed Berry Naked Cake for my mom’s birthday. Apart from it turning out really well on the first try, it made her really happy!

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Mixed Berry Naked Cake

My baking goals are really simple. The reason that I bake, besides to satisfy my cravings, is really to make the people I love happy. I just want to keep doing that.

Another one would be to learn an entire healthy baking repertoire that doesn’t sacrifice the things that I love about baked goods and desserts. I’d like to learn recipes for cakes and cookies that use natural, unprocessed sweeteners and ingredients, without taking away the pleasure of flavor. That way, I can really have my cake, and eat it, too.

Some baking tips I can leave you with: Use fresh ingredients and don’t scrimp on the fat! I’ve wasted many good cakes from using cake flour I didn’t know had already gone bad, and using low-fat milk instead of full cream. Also, work over a tray, instead of a table top; it has made cleaning up (which I also hate doing) so much easier for me.

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