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About me

Hi! My name is Monika Topolko and I’m the baker, writer, designer and photographer behind BakeNoir.com. I am a 30-year-old English teacher, librarian and rock singer (yup!), a beloved wife, new mom, and an occasional crafter. I live in a small picturesque town in north-west of Croatia. We moved here three years ago, wanting to settle down and run away from the bustling life in a big city. I used to dream about growing my own fruit and vegetables, but it turned out I couldn’t garden to save my life. I’ve just started yet another gardening project on my balcony, so fingers crossed it works this time. I’m obsessed with everything old, vintage and retro, including furniture, kitchen equipment, music and films (hence the name BakeNoir).
The two things I love most are food and photography. I honestly can’t say which gives me more pleasure. With my camera in one hand and a fork in another, I’m as happy as a pig in peach orchard. I’m nuts about cheese, red wine, lemons & thyme, chilies, strawberries, caramel and chocolate, though not necessarily all at once. I despise dates and soggy french fries. Other than that I’m not particularly picky and will try anything at least once.

About BakeNoir.com

Despite the blog’s name, I don’t just bake, although I wouldn’t mind living solely off rich and buttery pastry or scrumptious cakes. Eating that much sweets is apparently not very good for you, so I try to incorporate fruit, veggies, grains and bunch of other healthy stuff in my diet too. Most of the time I cook healthy, nutritious and light meals. I use fresh organic products whenever I can and generally avoid fried food, except doughnuts, of course. I usually reduce the amounts of sugar and butter in my sweet recipes as well, and try to keep them as guilt free as I can. Yes, I am aware that desserts can’t really be guilt free. I’m just trying to make myself feel better when I indulge in sweets. Just humor me, please.
What you’ll find here is a variety of sweet and savory recipes, from nutritious soups and simple salads, through comfort food and meals that were stepped up a bit, to all kinds of simple and elaborate desserts, cakes and sweets. I will also present some traditional Croatian recipes, ingredients and customs. I don’t do extremely rich meals, fried food or junk food in general. I much rather go out when I feel like eating junk. That happens exactly four times a year, just in case you’re wondering. That way my house doesn’t reek of hot oil and fries. The food you’ll find on this site is all home cooked and barely tweaked before being shot.BakeNoir.com is a celebration of good food, not only as one of life’s ultimate pleasures, but also as a chief motif in my photography – a place where food meets art.

How it all started

When I started a food blog on a whim five years ago, I had no idea it would grow on me so quickly. My first blog was called Sweet Sensation and was written in Croatian. Its popularity flourished quite unexpectedly, reaching audience from the whole region. This was at a time when the concept of food blogging was almost nonexistant in this part of Europe, which allowed me, and a few other foodies, to set the trend and encourage others to start blogging. Pretty soon visitors from all over the world started stopping by, often complaining about the language barrier. It was then that I realized I should have put more thought into setting up the blog in the first place. I started translating my recipes to English, but soon realized that just won’t cut it. I decided I had to start from scratch and create a site that would be written in English and available to all visitors and food lovers around the globe. That’s how BakeNoir.com came to be.

Getting around

To browse through my recipes, I suggest you head on to the Recipe Index page where you’ll find all of the recipes organized into numerous categories and subcategories. All the recipes published on this site have an English and Croatian version. Croatian visitors can browse through the Croatian version of the Recipe Index. If you are looking for something specific or just don’t feel like browsing through a bunch of recipes, you can find what you’re looking for by using the search box on the right sidebar.On the top right side of each recipe there are three useful icons. When you’ve found a recipe you love, you can click on the icon in the middle to download the recipe in PDF format. You can also add the recipe to Pouch for later viewing. To do that, just click on the first icon from the left. Once you’ve added a recipe to Pouch, click on the small magnifier to open the Pouch and see the list of your favorite recipes stored there. You can add as many recipes as you like to Pouch and they will be waiting for you there until you decide to remove them. To acess those recipes at a later time, you could also visit the Recipe Index and scroll down to see a list of recipes stored in your Pouch. For recipes stored in Pouch you can generate single PDF files or download all recipes at once in PDF format. Pouch is cookie based and tied to a single computer or mobile device. That means, if you delete cookies, you’ll lose Pouch contents. The third icon takes you to the Recipe Index where you can browse through all recipes.If you like or don’t like a particular recipe, you can rate it by giving it 1 to 5 stars.

Most of the recipes on BakeNoir.com are published in the metric system because I’m from Europe where we’re quite familiar with using kitchen scales. To make your cooking and baking life easier, I’ve prepared a handy kitchen conversions chart with all the basic kitchen equivalents, including length and oven temperature equivalents. You can also download the conversions chart in PDF format.

Copyright & Photography

All photographs and written content on this blog is my work, unless otherwise noted. This means that all content is copyright protected. Please do not publish any of my images, recipes or content without prior permission and approval. If you are interested in using my texts or photographs please contact me. If you would like to feature my work on your site, you can re-write the recipe in your own words or simply link back to my original post for readers to access the recipe. Please do not re-print the recipe word-for-word, along with my photographs and always provide credit and attribution by linking back to my site or post. Thank you so much!Also, I am available for freelance work as a food writer and photographer. Feel free to browse through my photography portfolio and contact me for further information.

Comments & Feedback

I love hearing what you think and appreciate your feedback and comments so please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment at the end of a particular post. If you have any questions or suggestions, please use the contact form. I do my best to reply to the messages I receive, but sometimes life gets in the way. I apologize in advance if that happens.