Why We Should All Be Cooking in Mugs
With more than 1.6 million YouTube subscribers – and over 115 million views -- Gemma Stafford helms of the world's largest online baking community at Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking. As the creator of the viral "Mug Meals" craze, Stafford has helped everyday people make great pizza, brownie, cupcake, and mac & cheese recipes come alive in a mug. Naturally, some of these recipes can be found in the chef’s new e-book, Gemma's Mug Meals.
Prior to becoming synonymous with Mug Meals, Stafford grew up in Southeastern Ireland. She studied under chef Darina Allen at the world-renowned Ballymaloe before moving onto culinary opportunities in Australia, Italy, and the United States. Ultimately this led to Stafford to start her own catering business.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Stafford -- now a resident of Southern California -- about her baking empire and how you two can start making great food in a mug.
The Daily Meal: What inspired you to first cook in mugs?
Gemma Stafford: My mug recipes came about from a simple request from one of my followers. I was asked to show people how to make a cake without an oven. At first I thought that's not possible, but the more I thought about it I realized you can make really great cake from the microwave. Once I made my first mug cake I knew I was on to something that my audience would really respond to, and they did.
Around how many mugs do you have at home? Do you collect mugs?
I have more mugs then you can imagine. I call them my treasures. I am always scouring shops for unique pieces to add to my collection. I love mugs so much that I am currently working on a Bigger Bolder Baking mug that will be perfect for my mug recipes.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the cookbook?
My favorite mug meal is my Microwave Mug Pizza. Simply because it works! I get hundreds of comments and emails from people telling me that they had great success, which is exactly what I hope for when creating recipes.
For someone who is not a natural in the kitchen, what is a good recipe to start with as a newbie?
I try and instill confidence in my Bold Bakers so that when they go into the kitchen, they know what to do to have success. My mug cakes are a great introduction to baking because there is very little risk. Just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes later you have a single serving cake for yourself. The baker gets instant gratification.
How do you like to spend your free time? Is food your career and your passion?
Everything I do revolves around food, and that's the way I like it! If I am not in the kitchen baking I'm doing recipe research. Also I spend a lot of time answering my followers on my website and social media and helping them with recipes. I can talk about food all day with people who have the same passion as I do.
As a lot of your meals have hearty ingredients, and you're around a kitchen so much, how do you manage to stay in great shape? Do you follow a particular diet?
I believe my saving grace is that I was bought up in Ireland on homemade meals made with good quality ingredients, and that's how I still cook today. By quality I don't mean buying the most expensive organic ingredients in the shop, but just being mindful of what is in your food and also how it was treated. In the long run it will stand to you.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in your hometown?
I'm from County Wexford, Ireland. A town that is along the water that yields amazing fish and shellfish. There is a famous hotel in Wexford called Kelly's that we went to as children. Communions and confirmations were celebrated there year after year. I went to dinner in their bistro the last time I was home with my husband and my dad and we had an amazing meal. A mix of great food in a place that is pretty nostalgic for me made it an unforgettable experience.
What about a favorite restaurant in New York?
I am a huge fan of Southern food so one of my favorite spots is The Red Rooster. I have always had a great meal there. Their cornbread is some of the best I have ever had, and I have eaten a lot!
Finally, Gemma, any last words for the kids?
If you want to bake but are afraid of failing, don't be. There is a recipe out there for everyone. Have confidence and you will succeed.
Who knows, maybe the simple coffee mug could become the next Instant Pot. Until then, we've got some simple recipe for the other kitchen item that'll make life easier.