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Sweet Talk: The Baked Equation

Today on Sweet Talk we are chatting with my friend Melissa of The Baked Equation. Melissa is an amazing baker with a heart of gold. I’ve purchased her baked goods and let me tell you that if you have not had them then you are truly missing out. I’m talking about brownies that are rich, moist and decadent and salted butterscotch cookies that I couldn’t get enough of. I need to place an order again soon to try more things. Her decorated cookies are amazing. They have so much flavor. It’s so hard to describe but they make you want to keep eating and eating them. Melissa has really mastered enhancing flavors in her baked goods. As you’ll see in the photos below not only is she talented at baking but she sure can decorate. Welcome Melissa.

I am so excited to be a guest on the blog today. Melissa and I met over rainboots. Yes, a couple of years ago a pair of gorgeous cookie rainboots caught my eye. Let me introduce myself, my name is Melissa and I have a custom dessert company called The Baked Equation. My little company was born as a way to raise funds for our charity Micah 6:8 Sudan. I started blogging in October two years ago. Can you believe it? It is going to be my bloggy birthday on October 18th. I was so nervous diving into a world of amazing talent. Have you seen the dessert blogs out there? They are incredible and sometimes a little intimidating but I am so glad I decided to take a risk. The best part is meeting people like Melissa along the way.

Tell me about your name. Why did you choose The Baked Equation?
I actually have a blog post all about this which you can read hereMy husband and I spent hours trying to come up with different names.  
Where do you live?
We live in Phoenix, Arizona.
How long have you been baking?
I have always loved to bake, but it is not until the last two years that I have become a serious baker.
Is baking a hobby or a business?
It started as a hobby and I loved making cupcakes and cakes, but my hobby turned into a business to raise money for our charity when the cottage law passed.

When did you discover your love for decorated cookies?
My love for decorated cookies was not a love at first sight kind of thing. I actually swore up and down I would never make crazy decorated cookies.  A very important client of mine asked if I would make them. At first I resisted, but she kept asking. One day I thought I would give it a try. Googled for more information and found Sweet Sugarbelle and Sweetopia’s blogs. Thank goodness.  I am pretty sure I spent the entire weekend reading everything they had to sayI ran off to the store to buy some meringue powder, some piping tips and I was ready to give this a shot. I whipped up a batch of royal icing and tried to decorate a cookie. I should have spent more time reading about flooding consistency. I was awesome at making it too thin or way too thick.

You make some of the most beautiful decorated cakes I’ve seen. When did you discover your love for cakes?
Thank you so much. That comment is really humbling. My love for cake probably started when I had my first slice. Never did I think I would be able to make them, I just stared at them. We are so fortunate today to have so many resources at our finger tips. The amount of blogs with tutorials, YouTube videos, and sites like Craftsy which offer affordable online classes, it makes it easy to learn new techniques.

Do you love decorating cookies or cakes more?
My friends laugh at me. I have flip flopped over this a few times. I actually LOVE cookies more now. Cookies are so much more flexible than cakes. Once a set of cookies is flooded it can be set aside. Once you start a cake, you can’t just go off and leave it. I found there is more freedom while working on cookies and less stress. Cakes absolutely stress me out. I have a wedding cake this upcoming weekend and I am already stressing about it. Also, if something goes wrong on a cookie you can scrape the icing off and start over, or bake another cookie. But if something goes wrong on a cake it is very expensive to start over. Sometimes there is over $30 ingredients that just went into the trash.
What is your favorite cake decorating technique?
I love the process of smoothing a cake. I love getting the base coat completely even and measured. I could spend hours doing this.

I really love that you share recipes on your website. What advice can you give us in terms of recipe development?
You have to be willing to experiment. Some ideas turn out fantastic and others can be quite disappointing.  I have a dry erase board in my office. When a flavor combination pops into my mind, I add it to the list.   I often try to think of complimentary flavors and flavors that are popular in their season but with a twist. For example, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back and I am currently on a macaron kick. What could I do to make a pumpkin spice macaron different?  I started thinking of complimentary filling flavors. Maple? Caramel? Bourbon? I tried the bourbon and it was way too strong. I decided to add pure maple syrup. It was the perfect flavor. The maple mellowed out the bourbon and tasted great with the pumpkin spice in the macaron shell.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere. I love to window shop. Not to actually buy things but for inspiration. Store windows, patterns on furniture, wrapping paper, and cards inspire a lot of my designs. I also love tinkering with flavors. I love to create unique flavor combinations.

What one item in your kitchen can you not live without and why?

KitchenAid mixer. Without it I would just give up.
What is on your baking bucket list?
To go to France and take some pastry technique classes.
Since you are such an inspiration to me with photography I would love to know what goes through your mind when styling a photo?
This is actually so hard.  I am not a professional photographer, but I do the best that I can with what I have.  There are a few lenses I want and other photography equipment that would be great, but I just cannot justify the expense.  It is so tempting to want to buy a lot of props or different backgrounds, but it gets very expensive. What I try to do is use what I have around my home that would go with what I am doing. I may use some of the same props over and over again, but in a different way.
What three words best describe your cookie and cake style/philosophy?
Simple elegance {leave it to me to not follow the rules}.

Aside from cookies and baking what else do you like to do? Hobbies?
I love going to CrossFit with my son. We have a blast competing against each other and encouraging one another while working out. My other favorite thing is family movie night. Each week, we pick a movie and sit down together as a family and just have fun. No cell phones. No distractions. Just movie snacks and a relaxing evening.
Let’s have some fun now and do some rapid answer questions. Ready, set, go.
Royal or glaze? 
Royal.
Chill or no chill?  
Chill.
Sift or don’t sift? 
Sift.
Thick or thin? 
Goldilocks icing. Not too thin and not too thick, but just right.
Outline & flood or one consistency?
I have gone back and forth on this one. Currently, we are back to outlining and flooding. In Arizona, it is so dry. If we use a thicker consistency for a “one” consistency method it dries too fast while we are piping it on the cookie and does not come out completely flat.
Piping bags or bottles or both? 
Piping bags. Bottles hurt my hands.
Which do you prefer on cakes, buttercream or fondant? 
Fondant.
 
Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today Melissa. It was great getting to know you better. Not only do we share the same name but we practically started blogging on the same day. My two year bloggy birthday is October 20th. Crazy!
 
Be sure to visit Melissa’s website where you can see all the wonderful goodies that she has to offer as well as read her blog where she shares recipes and her beautiful work. Also, be sure to follow Melissa on Facebook so you won’t miss out on what she’s working on. 

Until the next Sweet Talk. Happy baking and creating friends.






I’m partying here.

Comments

  1. Great interview! I love Melissa and I doubly love her salted butterscotch cookies. They’re a massive favorite in our house!

  2. Tahnk you so much for having me 🙂

  3. I am so loving this Sweet Talk Feature! I am thinking I need to try some of Melissa’s legendary Salted Butterscotch Cookies, they look AMAZING!

  4. Another great interview! A fellow “cookier” that practically lives in my backyard and what beautiful work she does! Amazing!

  5. I love everything about Melissa! Such a generous soul. I have also ordered brownies and can honestly say they are fabulous!! My next order will have to be the Salted Butterscotch Cookies.

  6. Yay! I love Melissa’s work 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] Sweet Talk: The Baked Equation–this week we met Melissa, an Arizona baker who is making a difference with her baking through her charity Micah 6:8 Sudan.  I promise that I will get working on more tutorials soon. Once my blog project is completed and I know that it works I will get back on the train.  Here’s what caught my eye this week in blog land & on Pinterest: Slow Cooker Garlic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes {Mom on Timeout} – I really want to try these. They look delicious. Smoky Bacon & Corn Chowder {Creme de la Crumb} – This just screams comfort to me. I want to try this when the first cold front comes in.  Banana Nut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting {It Bakes Me Happy} – I’m the queen of letting bananas go bad. Instead of tossing them out I really need to make one of these cakes. Cake just make me happy.  The Best Turkey Chili You’ll Ever Taste {Eat Yourself Skinny} – This immediately got pinned because not only does it look great but, let’s face it, I need to be eating lighter if I plan on losing any weight.  How to Add a Ghost to Any Halloween Cookie {Semi Sweet Designs} – Mike is just brilliant and inspiring. Posts like this get my creative juices flowing and make me want to get working on new designs.  Top 10 Must See New Fall Shows 2013 {Not Your Momma’s Cookie} – I’m a TV junkie and Jennifer has great taste in not only food but in television shows. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of these shows.  That’s a wrap. I think I’ve talked your ear off enough. Have a wonderful week! […]

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