Photography below: courtesy of Liuba Zlatkova
I am very happy to present you today a lady who has inspired me for many years with her beautiful cakes and cookies: Liuba Zlatkova, aka Bubolinkata. She is an incredibly talented cake decorator but also a mother of four sons (which automatically makes her my hero ☺). Recently she became also the founder of the unique in its style Pregnancy School Bubolinche.
Daniela: Your blog is just wonderful: not only because of the pictures of your incredible cakes but also with the funny stories that you are sharing there. How did you decide to create it?
Liuba: The main instigator was my husband Plamen. When I was already two years into cake design, he started insisting that it wasn’t enough for me just to show my cakes on pictures. According to him, I was supposed to tell people the story of each cake because the story by itself was the soul of the cake, the thing that made it special and unique. I followed his opinion, even though I was skeptical. I haven’t expected at all that someone could be interested in reading such things. As the time went by I started writing also about my family, in addition to the cakes. The blog became my personal and very intimate place, where I’ve been sharing so many things. I am glad that people enjoy reading it and visiting me virtually.
Why did you stop your cake decorating activities and started a new initiative: the pregnancy school?
I left behind the cake decoration due to many reasons but the main one was that they were taking almost all my time. I couldn’t pay the needed attention to my husband and kids and this was really hard. For me the family has always been the first priority and I didn’t want to neglect them. For that reason at one stage I decided to minimize the number of cake orders that I was accepting. And when I became pregnant with my fourth kid, I stopped making cakes for good.
The new initiative came somehow naturally for me. Being a mother is my biggest dream came true. I love kids: not only my own but also the children of the others. I have been always interested in topics like childcare, child education, psychology, emotions, imagination, and character. Considering my four sons and the kids of all my friends and acquaintances who have grown up around me, I can bravely say that I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge in these areas. I want to pass them to the future parents in order to help them feel calmer and more prepared.
What is your favourite food?
Ooooooh, what do I not like!!! For me the food is one of the biggest pleasures in life! I love eating but slowly and with enjoyment, not to stuff myself. If I try thinking about any food that I hate, I can’t remember such. I love all tastes: sweet, salty, hot, sour. I am not a fan of any diets and eating regimens, that’s why I don’t deny myself anything. Since ever I have listened to my body needs and I believe that’s the most correct diet. I am very liberal also concerning my kids’ eating. I never force them to eat something, neither do I feed them by the hour. I respect their tastes and preferences even though they are very picky men. One likes something, another one – a different thing. Sometimes it is exhausting for me to please everyone.
With five men in the house, I suppose that you always cook very big quantities of food. How do you manage to stay organized in the kitchen?
I don’t consider cooking by itself hard because I like it. What makes me angry are the whims. My “favourite” moment is when there are five meals in the fridge and someone murmurs “Is there anything else?” Regarding the organization I am very strict. There is no way to maintain a house with five men without being organized to the maximum. And I don’t even have a dishwasher ☺
Which food is never missing in your fridge?
Hm, very interesting question! For sure sometimes even basic things are missing there. But in general I always try to stock up on milk and yogurt (because of the kids), eggs (because I am using them as a backup plan) and butter (I love it). On the other hand I have noticed a very strange fridge law: it is either completely full or empty as a hole. There is no middle position ☺
I couldn’t agree more with the last statement!
Do you remember the first meal that you cooked?
I started cooking when I was very young. I have a sister five years younger than me. When she was just one year old my parents used to leave her with me for a whole day and I was taking care about her. I also had to cook for her. Usually I was cooking macaroni or couscous which normally don’t need special culinary skills, but I regarded myself as a big chef. In the first year of primary school I was already able to cook scrambled eggs and to bake a bundt cake. I started preparing real meals quite late: only when I moved together with my husband: I was about 22-23 years old. He was impressed by my culinary skills. His favourite meals that I cooked for him were fried pancakes or chicken mishmash. Even today I still enjoy pleasing him with nice food. Both of us love trying new meals and we often experiment different recipes.
If it happens to you one night to stay at home only by yourself, what would you do?
Your questions are very funny! Since I have married, such thing happened to me only once. And actually I wasn’t completely on my own because I was nine months pregnant with our third son. My husband was travelling few days abroad for work so I sent our kids to stay with my parents: just in case if I started giving birth before he arrived I wanted to avoid being worried what to do with them. I had a great time! Probably everyone would think that I spent this night in calmness, laziness and pleasures. But the truth is that I was very active! I bought tones of flours and planted them on the balcony. I cleaned and tidied the house. On top of this I even organized a romantic surprise for my husband because it was the day of our church wedding anniversary. I waited for him until 3 am with lighted candles to come back from the airport!
If it happens to me now to stay by myself at home one night I have no idea what would I do. I never even thought about something like this. When you live in a house with so many kids, the chance of being left alone is close to zero.
Do you want to ask me something?
I am interested to know what your priority in life is and what is the thing that gives you most enjoyment?
I enjoy doing many things, like reading nice books, drinking cocktails on the beach or laughing like crazy together with my son. However the things that bring me most satisfaction are the creative activities: photography, writing, decorating cakes, jewelry making… But my first priority in life and my main source of happiness is my family.
I asked Liuba to present one of her favourite recipes. She chose Pavlova: a wonderful dessert with fresh fruit.
For the meringue layers:
5 egg whites
200 g sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 full tbs plain cornstarch
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
250 g mascarpone
250 g sour cream
250 ml heavy cream
For the topping:
300 g fresh strawberries
Optional: blueberry jam, dried cherries, dark raisins, mint leaves, dark chocolate
In a glass or plastic bowl beat together with an electric mixer the egg whites, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add gradually the sugar. Beat until stiff and shiny. Stop the mixer and add the cornstarch and vanilla. Stir carefully by hand.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Pour from the meringue mix and form an indented circle: like a nest. Make one more circle of the same size and another one bigger. Bake the layers in a preheated to 120˚C oven for about 90 minutes. Do not open the oven during baking! When the meringues are ready, switch off the oven but leave the layer inside until completely cool. For example if you bake the meringues in the evening, leave them in the oven for the whole night afterwards.
In a large bowl whip the heavy cream, well cooled. You can add also cream stabilizer for more security. In a different bowl beat the mascarpone. Different brands make different mascarpone consistency: if it is more liquid, beat with a mixer at least 10 minutes until it becomes fluffy and creamy. If it is thicker, add some heavy cream or sour cream before using the mixer.
When the mascarpone is ready, add the sour cream and mix by hand until homogeneous. Gradually fold the whipped cream.
Place one meringue layer on a serving plate. Pour the filling on top. Decorate with the strawberries and other ingredients by choice.