Chef's own kitchen: Teen baker Amelia Ferrier of Melie's Kitchen
Not many 18-year-olds have to juggle their busy university timetables with a booming cake-making business, but Amelia Ferrier, whose first cookbook was published in 2016, isn't your typical teenager.
Ferrier splits her time between baking in the tiny oven in her Otago University student halls and cooking up a storm in the spacious kitchen of her family home in Remuera, Auckland.
Ferrier described her light-filled family kitchen as a spacious, practical cooking space which is shared by the whole family.
"You'll find there is nothing in here that is extra special," Ferrier said. "However, I annoy my brother and sister because I take up a lot of space."
How did you get into baking?
I've always loved making things and I was always in the kitchen helping mum. I think I ended up heading down the baking path as opposed to the savoury side of things because I've always loved detailed, pretty, floral designs and it's so detailed and hands-on. My love for French patisserie was also a big influence on my style today, which is a mix between home-style baking but with the detail and flavours of French patisserie.
What inspired you to start your Instagram account/blog and turn your passion for baking into a job?
I've always loved packaging gifts and giving them to people and I'd always quite liked the idea of making a business out of it. I used to bring cupcakes to sell at school when I was in year nine and that's how it started from there. I would sell them at school and then people started ordering them and it has just kept growing into the cake ordering business that I've got going now.
How would you describe your kitchen?
It's very spacious and I've got access to everything I need wherever I am. It's also got a nice big oven which helps with the cake orders because I can fit four cakes it at a time. It's a family kitchen/ sharing space.
Yeah, you'll find there is nothing in here that is extra special. I annoy my brother and sister a lot because I take up a lot of space. I literally have to write notes so they don't touch anything.
Is it hard to go from your home kitchen to a small uni halls oven?
I've always cooked in other people's kitchens, so I'm used to making do with minimal space, but it is very tiny. This means I can't bake my normal cakes down there, I can only do little things. I'm making do though, I realise I'm very lucky to have an oven because a lot of uni halls don't have one at all, so I feel very grateful.
How do you fit your passion for baking in with your studies?
I do take my studies very seriously because I've always been an analytical person, which is funny because you'd think I'd be more whimsical due to the creative side of my job. I make sure I always write a to-do list, as I find that it keeps me organised, and I set aside an hour of study for each lecture I attended that day. However, because I'm quite organised I usually end up with a lot of spare time for baking, which is always nice.
What is your favourite thing to bake?
Besides from cakes, because I do them every weekend, probably tarts. I also love pastries and have a lot of fun making eclairs and profiteroles.
What is your favourite kitchen utensil?
I'd have to say my cake mixer and I also love my $5 cake cutter that levels off the top of the cakes and is great for making perfect, even layers.
If you could change one thing abut your kitchen, what would it be?
There is a lady with a baking programme on the Food Channel called Anna Olson and she has these incredible drawers, which are like a normal kitchen drawer but are just for her flour and sugar. She can literally just open the drawer and scoop it out. This kitchen works well for me, but that is one thing that I think is really cool.
What is one baking trick you've learned over the years?
Use room temperature eggs when you're baking. If you add an egg to butter when it is too cold it just solidifies the butter and makes it harder to whip. Using a room temperature egg helps make the mixture creamy and smooth.
What makes a good kitchen?
A good oven is crucial for me. I find it really annoying when you try to cook in someone else's oven and the temperatures aren't right or it's too narrow. Lots of bench space is also a must. It's nice working in a kitchen with an island because that means you can spread yourself out and not be crammed into a small area. As a cake baker, it's crucial to have a big workspace.
Other than the kitchen, where is your favourite place to be at home?
I like being outside a lot or snuggling up in my bed, especially in the afternoon when the sun is coming in and it's nice and cozy.
Do you have any advice for budding bakers?
My main priority was always to be original because if you're doing something different from everyone else, that draws in attention from other people. So, if you're starting your own business just try to come up with your own unique ideas.