A blog interview: Piece of Cake

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piece of cake blogShauna Sever of the the Piece of Cake Blog is a talented chef with a near bottomless passion for pastries and a desire to share her love of cooking with the world. Shauna regularly appears on TV’s Best of the Bay, and is currently working on her first cookbook.  Her culinary adventures are documented on her blog with an absolutely infectious zeal. and readers would do well to check out Piece of Cake’s Recipe Box for great home cooking tips and ideas – be warned though, her savory photos immediately triggered this writer’s sweet tooth and they’ll be sure to get yours too!

Why did you start baking?
As much as I love to cook, baking attracts me on a whole different level. Not that I’m a brainiac, but I love the fact that it’s a good dose of chemistry in addition to the creativity. I enjoy the technique of it and the attention to detail that baking requires — you can sort of get lost in a recipe and the process, like a mini-vacation in the kitchen. Plus, sugar and butter just turn people on — there’s nothing like presenting someone with something you’ve baked from scratch. Spreading joy is what baking’s all about.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
piece of cake blogI live for the creative outlet of blogging. I started my blog nearly four years ago, when I was married but childless with all the spare time in the world (which I didn’t realize at the time, ha!). I went on a bit of a hiatus in the early months of raising my daughter, and when I came back to the blog, I really did it in earnest, with more purpose than ever. Having something creative to focus on during such a crazy, baby-focused time basically kept me sane. Now my blog has evolved to become a space where I can send ideas and successes and failures out into the world, and share them with an awesome community of readers and other bloggers. It’s a very unique thing. It’s also propelled me towards other opportunities that I never would have had if it weren’t for the blog, like writing the book and changing the focus of my TV hosting gigs to food-focused projects.

Do you have a favorite recipe? Why is it your favorite?
I have about 100 different “favorites”! But one recipe that really holds a special place in my heart is my Mom’s Cheesecake. It’s a very simple, wacky, Midwestern sort of recipe, a crustless cheesecake made with a bit of Bisquick and a slick of sour cream topping. People sort of melt when you give them this — it is simply divine. It’s also my first memory of dessert — my mom has always been more of a cook than a baker, and this was one of the few desserts she made when I was growing up.

What’s your next project going to be?
I’m currently immersed in rounds of editing for my first cookbook, which comes out in early March, so I’m pumped about that.

What’s the best advice ever given to you (with regard to baking, blogging, or anything else)?
Do what you love, as often as possible. If you have a few different things you like, figure out a creative way to marry them.

Any recommendations for people who want to start their own blog? 
Just start! It’s food, on the internet. Right? So don’t overthink it. With blogging, it’s such a crowded field, you’ll go bananas trying to figure out some kind of magical algorithm to make yourself the next Pioneer Woman or something. Just write about things that inspire and enliven you, and you’ll eventually draw other people to you who are like-minded. And that way, if you remain with a small audience, they will be loyal and engaged, and if you do happen to blow up and become a widely-read blog, you’ll be able to keep churning out content that is organic to who you are and you’ll avoid burnout. Some people might call that “developing your brand”, but at the end of the day, it’s about putting stuff out there that’s uniquely You.  And know that as you continue to write and grow, that style might change, and that’s okay too.

Who is your food icon?
If I ever met Ina Garten or Lynne Rosetto Kasper, I would lose it. They are my Food Oprahs.

Do you have any must-have items for this Fall?
A Le Creuset Dutch oven, loads of dark brown sugar and wine. Lots of wine.

What are/were your favorite and least favorite trends in cooking?
If I see one more article about “street food”, my eyes might permanently roll back in my head. I’ve really enjoyed some of it, but I just don’t get the hype. Now, the hype about salty sweets? Love it. Genius. I also hope the cupcake never, ever goes away and I don’t care who knows it.

What equipment do you use?
I’m a big believer in having the right tool for the job. It makes the process of cooking and baking so much more enjoyable. Spend a little more for the workhorses — good knives, a KitchenAid mixer — and visit a restaurant supply store for great deals on the rest.

How often do you work?
Pretty much everyday. With the book, blog and TV stuff, the project focus depends on the day.  For blog-focused work, I usually dedicate two days or so to baking, photos and writing.

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