photo by my friend Michelle Masterson
My name is Michelle. I’m the baker, blogger and photographer behind Hummingbird High. Thanks for checking out my blog!
I first started stress baking during my sophomore year in college. Instead of studying for important exams, I would run to Safeway, buy a box cake mix, and bake for my friends. The first thing I ever baked was a batch of Pillsbury Funfetti cupcakes from a box mix in a tiny communal kitchen in my college dorm.
I've come a long way since then.
I started Hummingbird High back in 2011, when I first moved to Denver, Colorado. At the time, I was working a fairly intense and awful job. Every day, all I wanted to do was come home and bake to relieve the stress. However, whenever I would bake one of my favorite recipes (that had worked in the past), I found myself with sunken cakes, rock hard cookies, and cupcakes that looked like sticky puddles of goop. Having never lived anywhere besides coastal cities, I had no idea at the time that baking at high altitude is completely different from baking at sea level! There are weird quirks like water boiling at a different temperature, as well as air pressure being significantly lower — this affects the time in which you need to bake things at, and the amount of leavener you use in the recipe.
So I started a blog to help me learn more about high-altitude baking. I decided that the best way to do so was to bake through my favorite cookbook, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, and try and adapt the recipes to work at high altitude. And so Hummingbird High started out as a record of my attempts, trials and (many) errors, and eventually, my successes.
photo by my friend Kimothy Pikor
A lot of food bloggers out there think that baking through a cookbook is kind of a cop-out. But it taught me a lot of different things that I never would have figured out if I'd just kept bouncing from cookbook to cookbook, blog to blog, and recipe to recipe. It taught me how to have results that were consistent and delicious every time. My project was like a crash course in baking school — it taught me a lot about the chemistry of baking. I examined every failure and every puddle of goop through a scientific lens (probably to the dismay of many readers), and doing so taught me to understand how ingredients work together. It was only then that I realized I'd taken the baking process for granted my entire life. And for that, I'll always credit my time in Denver for teaching me how to troubleshoot recipes and becoming a better baker in general.
I've since moved back to Portland, Oregon (which is thankfully at sea-level!), and I'm at the point now where I understand the process and chemistry so well that I can come up with my own recipes. What you see on the blog today are mostly recipes I've made up, or tweaked and perfected from the cookbooks and blogs that I love. I've made sure to include meticulous baker's notes with each recipe to help you through the baking process or learn more about the dish. And even though the name “Hummingbird High” isn’t really relevant to the blog’s content anymore, I kept it as an ode to this initial project of baking through The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook — it is, after all, what made me the baker I am today.
Today, I love straightforward recipes with simple ingredients — I'm very much of the Mark Bittman philosophy that you can make delicious and beautiful food with unpretentious and unfussy ingredients. That being said, while I like to think the majority of recipes in this blog are accessible, I'm prone to occasionally indulging in exotic spices, quirky flavor combinations, and challenging undertakings. I blame the years I spent in San Francisco living next to Humphrey Slocombe's ice cream parlor. Oh, and my lady crush on Christina Tosi from Momofuku Milk Bar.
photo by my friend Michelle Masterson
Some of my favorite recipes are:
… this yellow birthday cake with chocolate ganache frosting that I made for Erlend, my boyfriend of 4 years who I occasionally name drop and use as a hand model.
… this lemon cream tart from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, which I’ve used different variations of in several of my recipes (like these lime meringue tartlets).
… this passionfruit cream pie, which doesn’t get enough love because passionfruit is hard to find (but believe me it’s totally worth it when you do).
… that post where I made those awesome dulce de leche swirled chocolate cookies and talked about the five things I’ve learned since graduating from college.
… this post where I made an absolutely divine chocolate crème fraîche cake for my mom’s birthday and tearily, emotionally thanked her for being such an awesome mom.
… that post where I blew everybody’s mind by dropping the bomb that I’m half-Jewish and promptly turned my favorite Girl Scout cookie into a Passover dessert.
And finally, here are some other posts that give you a little bit of insight into my blogging process:
… that time I was horrified I was turning into a bad blogger and consoled myself by eating all the brownie sandwich cookies.
... that time I wrote a FREE ebook filled with 12 dessert recipes as a Christmas present for my readers.
… that time I explained how I decided what I wanted to bake and everybody got tres leches cake for listening to me ramble.
And of course, if you have any more questions, check out my FAQ page! But truthfully, I’m surprised you’ve gotten this far — I know that I can be a little long winded. Thanks for sticking with me, and remember that I'd love to hear any thoughts and comments from you. Love me? Hate me? Feel free to let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org