Welcome!

I’m Natalie, and this here is my little corner of the Internet. Everything you see here on Sweetness and Bite, be it cake, cookies or something else sweet and oh-my-gawd-I-just-wanna-shove-it-in-my-face-y is made with love in my kitchen in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Ok, that was a little white lie (off to a bad start, aren’t I?), it’s actually my parents’ kitchen, seeing as it’s their house and all. They let me live here in exchange for baked goods (don’t panic, I pay rent, too). Our 20-year-old cat lives here as well, Rocky (aka Babycake, aka Cat Beast). Can you tell that I’m a weird crazy cat lady in the making?

Don’t worry though, this blog isn’t about cats. It really is about the food.

I started baking when I was a tiny little red-headed kid, sitting on the bench with my Mum. (She wasn’t on the bench, it was a very small kitchen back then, only room for one small butt on the bench). I insisted on making up my own recipes, with Mum just making sure everything was edible and that there was some baking powder in it. Then she and my poor father had to eat the resulting… muffin? cookie? Who knows what it was. If it wasn’t for science and whatnot, I’d be convinced that that’s what gave my dad Coeliac disease.

It’s not, but the Coeliac thing happens to be why most of my recipes on the blog are gluten-free. When my dad was diagnosed back in 2008, the gluten-free baked goods that were available were terrible, as were the flour blends that promised to be a “straight swap” for wheat flour (Liars! Snake oil peddlers and money thieves!) So I started tinkering with different flours, and recipes, and with a bit of time and patience (another white lie. There was no patience. I’m not a patient person) I got quite good at it, if I do say so myself. And I do.

I had a lot of time on my hands to experiment. That’s because way back when I was 13 years old I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (aka ME). I was pretty darn sick for a long time. Which, for a formerly very active, very academic teenager, pretty much sucked. My brain felt like mush, and my body struggled to recover from even the smallest exertion. I had to stop going to school, and while I’m a lot better now, I still need a ton of sleep and I’m still not 100% in the energy department. Think of an old phone battery that only charges to 60-70%. That’s me.

Because I wasn’t able to work, I was also rather lacking in the money department, so a few years after I got sick, when my health was beginning to improve enough for me to spend some time in the kitchen, I started making birthday cakes for my family instead of buying them presents.

Then one year my best friend asked if I could make her daughter’s 4th birthday cake (if you hear me mention my niece on the blog, that’s the little poppet I’m talking about). I made her a Cinderella carriage from a Wilton yearbook, and it was pretty awesome. I mean, for then. Now I’d not be caught dead piping all those godforsaken buttercream stars all over a cake. Boy did my hand cramp up that day! But that cake is what started it all. The whole cake decorating obsession just grew and grew, as did my skills, and as did the requests from people to tell them how I made them.

This leads us right back here to this blog and why I’m telling you about Sweetness and Bite. I started the website so I could share cake decorating tutorials and sweet recipes. After a few years as a hobby, this became my job. Not only do I get paid to play with food, but I also get to talk to other people who like to play with food.

If only teenage Natalie could have known we’d get to do this one day.

That’s enough about me, let’s talk about you! I’d love it if you’d take a look around.

Not sure where to start? If you’re here for the cakes, then head over and check out all my cake decorating tutorials. If you fancy some recipes, then feel free to peruse my recipe index. Need to decorate a gluten-free cake? Check out this post for tips.

Fancy a chat? You can send any questions or comments to me via my contact page, or come join me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest.

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Some of my favorite things