An interview with Jessie Oleson Moore
“For me, there is no purer pleasure than birthday cake or a sweet, so how can I take that innocent, feel-good moment, and bring it to others on a daily basis?” says Jessie Oleson Moore. “I’ve found that conveying sweetness through illustrations, baked good lore and recipes, seems to be a way to make the world sweeter and more beautiful that is within my reach.” Jessie–who celebrates all things sweet on her blog, Cake Spy–shares so many ways to brighten anyone’s day with the recipes and stories for America’s favorite desserts in her new book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. I’m so happy she agreed to talk to me about what makes her life sweet.
How did you become interested in baking?
My mom used to make us the most epic birthday cakes. Like wedding cakes, but in kid-friendly colors and with candles. As you can imagine, they made me quite the popular kid when it came to parties that kids wanted to be invited to. I realized early on that cake was probably my entree into high society. Or, maybe to not be so tongue in cheek about it, I realized that sweets created the kind of culture of which I wanted to be part.
Did you bake or cook when you were a kid? If so, what kinds of things did you make?
I was very specific about what I liked and even had “recipes” for how I liked my meals (salad had carrots, lettuce, cucumber, no tomato, NO DRESSING!!!!!!!!!!!–per my age 5 notes). I loved decorating sugar cookies with my mom, and love-love-loved baking cakes with her, because usually my role was, you know, licking the spoon and overseeing the color of the frosting, fun stuff!
The tip for leveling a cake you shared on Cake Spy the other day is so cool! What other kinds of tricks and techniques do you like to use when you’re baking?
Often I am motivated by wanting to keep things simple. I don’t like having single-use tools around, so I love doing things like smoothing frosting with a (clean!) credit card or making my own cake stencil out of parchment rather than buying one.
How do you, as you say on your blog, go about “seeking sweetness in everyday life”?
Have you ever heard the term flâneur? It means (and I know this because I did a translation) “stroller,” “lounger,” “saunterer,” or “loafer.” I’m exactly that, but with my sights set on all things sweet. Sweet stuff is fraught with emotion for people–mostly good. For me, there is no purer pleasure than birthday cake or a sweet, so how can I take that innocent, feel-good moment, and bring it to others on a daily basis? I’ve found that conveying sweetness through illustrations, baked good lore and recipes, seems to be a way to make the world sweeter and more beautiful that is within my reach.
What’s your idea of a really great day? Does it involve baking and/or illustrating?
Today was a really great day. I didn’t bake, but I had last night, and I took pictures of my sweets this morning (they always look better in the morning light, you know?). I did yoga. I took a long walk. I had a delightful breakfast. I worked on setting up my new studio, which is slightly detatched from my new house. I did some illustrations for what I am hoping will be my third book–still in pitch form. I wrote about buttercream for a website I write for, Craftsy.com. I looked at myself in the mirror a ton because I just got cute new pink glasses. I took my pug out for a walk and cuddled him because it rained and thunder scares him. And I’m expecting the esteemed hottie I am lucky enough to live with to be home any minute. It does NOT get much better!
Treats really do look better in the morning light–and I imagine they look even better through fabulous pink glasses! What did you bake last night?
I made shortbread cookie truffles. They’re sort of like cake pops, but with crushed shortbread cookies instead of cake crumbs. If you are what you eat, then eaters of these babies are rich, sweet, and darn fine-looking.
Hopefully my book 3 pitch will be well received and I will get a MILLION DOLLAR ADVANCE. Okay, maybe a few thousand. I’d love to get to work on that. Also, I am starting to teach some baking classes which is HUGELY exciting to me!