Caryna Camerino, owner of the Camerino Bakery, Cakery and Café in Dublin, is supposed to be on maternity leave right now, with her baby boy Nico just born in February, but then Covid-19 struck and changed her plans. Here she talks to Lizzie Gore-Grimes about the camaraderie she's found in a crisis and how baking saved her in a time of stress.
When Canadian-born Caryna Camerino found herself stuck in an extremely stressful job, she took comfort in baking. “I had never baked before,” she admits. “I come from a very multicultural family of super keen cooks, but none of them are bakers. My mum is Israeli, my father Italian, my grandmother French and my grandfather Romanian and I’m first-generation Canadian, so there are a lot of flavour influences there.”
Caryna arrived in Ireland 17 years ago on a two-day stopover while backpacking around Europe, and she’s been here ever since. “I fell in love with Ireland. I started by extending my trip for a week, and then another… and another. I eventually wangled myself a one-year work visa and a job.”
The job was in the HR department of a busy engineering firm. It was boom time in Ireland and things couldn’t have been better. “The job was busy and buzzing, I worked hard and was thrilled when they agreed to sponsor me so I could stay in Ireland,” says Caryna.
But then the crash came and things took a nose-dive. “Suddenly my job was all about lay-offs and crisis-management. It was so negative and stressful but I couldn’t leave, or I would have to leave the country.
I felt so frazzled. I tried yoga but couldn’t stay still for long enough and was too distracted to read so I decided to try baking
“I felt so frazzled. I tried yoga but couldn’t stay still for long enough and was too distracted to read so I decided to try baking.”
Yes that all sounds very familiar. “When I’m baking, I’m completely absorbed; I find it so meditative. It engages all your senses: touch, smell, taste, sight – you get to watch something transform in front of you – from dry ingredients, to batter, to cake. Not to mention the final endorphin rush of seeing the reaction from others when they eat it.”
So Caryna started baking. A lot.
Caryna has been baking ever since moving to Ireland from Canada 17 years ago. Photo: Supplied
Saved by the stall
It got to the stage where there’s only so much baked goods you can bring into the office before it becomes weird
“It got to the stage where there’s only so much baked goods you can bring into the office before it becomes weird,” she recalls with a laugh. “So I enquired about a stall at the Ranelagh Farmer’s Market, which took place then (in 2008) in the yard of the local multi-denominational school every Sunday, and was thrilled when I got a place and approval from the FSA to prepare food in my kitchen.”
Caryna started by making recipes from a favourite childhood recipe book Second Helpings by Norene Gilletz, but as it was a North American book she had to experiment quite a bit to make the recipes work here. “It wasn’t just about converting measurements, I quickly realised that the ingredients were different and lots of subtle tweaks were needed.”
From this experimentation period, Caryna’s legendary peanut butter brownies emerged – along with her raspberry cheesecake brownie and chocolate fudge brownie. “As I got feedback from customers each week, I would keep refining the recipe.”
Lovin' from the oven
It was a crazy busy period for Caryna who was now working just as many hours in the kitchen at home baking as she was in her office day job. But four years later she was able to leave office life behind her, apply for citizenship and launch her bakery brand, Lovin’ From The Oven.
Since then Caryna’s Camerino Bakery, Cakery and Café business has taken off with three locations now in Dublin: a seated café in Merrion Square, a take-away bakery in Capel Street and a third bakery kitchen. While the retail premises are closed at the moment, they are still busy baking to supply wholesale and online orders.
Not the maternity leave I had imagined
“I am actually supposed to be on maternity leave right now!” says Caryna. “I had a baby boy, Nico, in February. He was only a few weeks old when all the madness began and we had to close premises and reorganise everything. But luckily enough I had organised cover for myself so we have all pitched in together; my staff have been amazing as has my stepdaughter Sally who was supposed to be doing her Leaving Cert but instead is helping me out immensely.
“It is definitely not the maternity leave I might have imagined, but everyone has been so supportive and helpful, it has been amazing.”
The secret, revealed
“Some people might think it’s strange that I have shared my peanut butter brownie recipe as they are undoubtedly one of our bestsellers, giving away our secret sauce in a way, but people enjoying them is what matters most to me.
When I travelled to Canada for my brother's wedding, I sneaked three packs of Kerrygold in my suitcase to make the (wedding cake) frosting!
“There is no denying that the secret to their deliciousness is the Irish Kerrygold butter. When I travelled to Canada five years ago for my brother’s wedding, I had promised to make them a chocolate biscuit cake and I was so determined to make it with Kerrygold that I made the cake here and brought it all the way over with me and sneaked three packs of butter in my suitcase to make the frosting!”
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This recipe might need to come with a warning... can brownies be too good? We're very excited to share Caryna Camerino's @camerinobakery ultimate Peanut Butter Brownie recipe, she tells us 'These are the brownies you want to make, with a crispy crust and a gooey centre' ?? You can find the full recipe over on our website: https://kerrygold.com/ie/recipes/peanut-butter-brownies/ . . . . . #homecooking #irelandlockdown #cookalong #kerrygold #butter #grassfed #instafood #foodie #kerrygoldbutter #grassfedbutter #healthyliving #realfood #ireland #recipe #instafood #cooking #delicious #healthy #homemade #recipes #foodlover #sweet #foodpics #baking #irishfood
Caryna’s top tips for home baking:
- Use the best quality ingredients you can. It will make your job so much easier.
- Have all your ingredients at room temperature before you start. Take the amount of butter you need and the eggs out of the fridge the night before, and the amount of milk needed out of the fridge for an hour beforehand for best baking results.
- Check your oven for hot spots. To test your oven for uneven cooking temperatures, place a sheet of baking paper on a tray and line it with desiccated coconut. Then pop it in the oven at a regular baking temperature (180°) for a few minutes. If your oven has hot spots the coconut will burn in that area. When baking, keep your cake (or bread) away from the hot spot.
Kerrygold’s new #AtHomeWithKerrygold series enlists the help of their favourite kitchen experts who have shared tried and tested recipes for you to make at home. From impressive brunch recipes, to date night hits and ideas on what to bake with kids there is something for everyone! Follow @KerrygoldIRL on Instagram for easy-to-follow video tutorials on each recipe.
Click here to view all of the recipes.