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Tell us about the Mini Banana Maple Pancake Muffins that are featured in Home Baked Comfort.
Well, it was a recipe on my blog, and I just tweaked it. It's one I did for mini chocolate chip pancake muffins. Whenever I make pancakes I'm always the last one to eat, and that's just no fun not eating together. I like the idea of being able to make a bunch at one time and you can dip them and go.
We'll get to the cake pops of course, but what is your inspiration for all of the other desserts and treats that you do on your website?
You know it's hard to say, there's not really one thing that inspires me. Obviously seasons, that gets my brain going, but I like to make cute things. For example I made some little mini pumpkin pies a couple years ago, and that was just me wanting to take a pumpkin pie and make it more portable and cute.
There's definitely a theme with the cuteness.
I do have more fun when I try to make something cute because I know it's going to make someone smile at the other end of the computer. Sometimes if I do something that's more traditional I photograph it in a way that makes it more appealing. I don't use a lot of props, I don't use a lot of dishes -- I focus on the sweets themselves.
How did you get into baking and what about it keeps you going?
I wouldn't call it baking that interested me as much as the cake decorating. I had taken a class on making basics, like frosting and cookies. It was a food stylist that taught a class, and if it weren't for her I wouldn't be doing this now. I left that class and had been introduced to a new world. I didn't stop smiling for a couple weeks. I'd baked before but I hadn't ever made anything from scratch. I had never made homemade frosting, so I didn't know how easy it was. Once I made some homemade buttercream frosting I said, "Oh my gosh, what have I been doing wrong all these years!" I just started playing at home.
How did the name Bakerella come about?
It was kind of a stream of thought. I wanted to be anonymous on the internet with what I was doing because nobody knew I baked and I just wanted to keep it to myself. I started thinking "Jane Dough" kind of things, and then I started thinking "Jane Fondant," but I didn't want my name to be Fondant. I wanted to be more generic. I thought about her name and her movie Barbarella, and then I just thought "Bakerella." And that's really how it came about.
So as far as the cake pops, is that something you saw someplace and decided to run with it?
No, I pretty much started that craze. I know cake balls have been around, but the concept of putting them right side up on a stick and changing their shapes I had not seen before. When I first tasted a cake ball I was just amazed at how I had lived this long and had not known they existed. I said, "This would look so cute as a lollipop." I had no idea how to make them pink at the time, I didn't know candy coating came in different colors. Really I was just trying to make them cute, to make something that people would enjoy looking at. I evolved the cake pop slowly. You could actually see the transitions on the site -- using edible pens, trying to put candy underneath the coating to make ears. Finally a publisher came calling and that's how I got the book.
So what would you say are the biggest tips for a cake pop maker?
Well, most people have a problem with dipping, but there are lots of things that could affect the problem with dipping. You want your cake balls to be firm when you dip them. The best way to do that is to chill them, and I usually chill them in the freezer first, then just move them to the refrigerator to keep them cold. If they're too cold it can cause you problems too. When it comes to the actual candy coating and dipping, you want to use a bowl that's deep enough so you can dip your pop in and take it out without having to dip a couple times. You definitely don't want to stir it. You want to put it in, take it out, and then tap off any excess. It helps if your coating is fluid. Some coatings are thicker -- you can add a product called Paramount Crystals to it to thin it out. I just use vegetable oil most of the time.
Which cake pop is your favorite design right now?
The cupcake pop is near and dear to my heart because that's where it all started. I've had fun making the Mr. Potato Head cake pops. It's amazing what you can replicate using a sprinkle or a little piece of candy. My eyes are always open and now I look at candy not to eat, but I look at it as an eye or an arm or shoes.
You did a kidney cake pop inspired by your struggle with kidney disease. Has baking helped you cope with that illness?
When I got sick I had this uproaring of well wishes from people. I normally don't talk about myself, and I wouldn't have told people I was sick, except I couldn't blog for so long that I wanted to let everyone know what was going on. I've had kidney disease for twenty years, and my first transplant was eighteen years ago. When I got sick I had already been doing the blog, so I wouldn't necessary say that the baking helped me cope.
Who do you admire most in your life? We're thinking your mother?
Definitely my mom. She is always there for me. I couldn't have not taken her kidney. She was going to give it to me no matter what, and I was worried about having her doing that because I wouldn't want anything to happen to her. She wanted to give it to me the first time but back then we waited because I was already on dialysis. It was just meant to be this time.
That's a very sweet sentiment. So, one last question. What's next for Bakerella?
Well, I'm always open to new things. Everything has been fun little adventures along the way, and I just kind of roll with whatever happens or whatever opportunities come up. I'm not trying to have anything grand. I'm just doing what I think is fun, what I think people will like.