creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of Baking Birthday Cakes with Dana Phillips

The Joy of Baking Birthday Cakes with Dana Phillips

Cake sculpting is an art form, and gifting a personalized cake to someone is as much a source of joy for the giver as the receiver. Dana Phillips shares how she got started baking and decorating elaborate cakes as a promise to her children, and how it grew into a way to spread joy to so many others in her life. As a Certified Wilton-method cake decorating instructor, Dana takes us on her sweet journey through the wonderland of cake and gives us tips to help us bake and decorate with joy and confidence.

Topics discussed in this episode:
– How Dana’s children lead her to pursue cake baking and decorating
– Her favorite cake flavor profiles and designs
– Cake baking tips and ingredient substitutions to make delicious gluten-free and dairy-free cake
– Product brands for gluten-free flour and flavor extracts

Links to resources:

– Dana on Instagram — @pixiestavern
– Christa on Twitter—@christanyc
– Christa on Instagram — @christarosenyc
– Christa on Facebook — @AuthorChrista
– Christa on Medium—@christaavampato
– Christa on TikTok — @christanyc
– Christa’s website — ChristaAvampato.com
Wilton cake classes
King Arthur gluten-free flours and mixes
Earth Balance vegan butter
Thrive extracts
– Michael’s cake baking and decorating tools

About Dana: 
 “City girl who moved into the woods with a knack for making edible art.” As a young mom the one thing Dana thought would be the most memorable tradition she could create for her kids was customized homemade cakes for their birthdays. She’s 53 cakes in and her three kids who are almost all adults can’t imagine life without a cake from her. When she’s not baking she’s fighting for a better South for future generations, getting the dinner party and game nights planned now that everyone is vaxxed (nothing beats making good food for good people), disappearing into the woods to see the stars, and going on countless motorcycle adventures with her partner, Adam.

creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of Baking Challah with Vicki Eastus

The Joy of Baking Challah with Vicki Eastus

What could be better than freshly baked challah? Talking about baking challah with one of my nearest and dearest friends! In this episode of the JoyProject podcast, Vicki tells us how she got started baking challah with her daughter during the COVID-19 lockdown. She shares her baking process, the traditions of challah, and the joy and memories that food provides for all of us. We also talk about the storytelling community that brought us together and the stories that connect us to our past, to history, and to one another.

About Vicki:
Vicki Eastus is a lawyer, teacher, improviser and storyteller. A native Texan, Vicki declared herself a feminist at age 10 and started her long career as an advocate for women. She has been a campus advocate on sexual harassment issues, a lawyer for the largest group of women to ever successfully sue the government for sex discrimination, and a Title IX Coordinator. Vicki earned her B.A. in Russian literature, focusing on Russian formalist criticism and the distinction between plot and story. She carried those concepts into her legal career, bending traditional legal writing rules to make her clients’ stories more compelling. Now a professor at New York Law School, she integrates storytelling and improvisational techniques into her classes on legal analysis and advocacy. She has given presentations at national and international legal conferences on using storytelling and improvisation to teach legal analysis and to help law students find their legal voices.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • How Vicki bucked her fear and started baking her own challah with her daughter
  • Some of the traditions and history around challah baking
  • The memories and joy we can all find in homemade and home baked food
  • The inspiring work of Jose Andres and his organization, World Central Kitchen
  • The Instagram account @challahbakeoff

Links to resources:

creativity

JoyProject podcast: The Joy of The Great British Bake Off with Abby Anklam

The Joy of The Great British Bake Off with Abby Anklam

If ever there was a television show founded on pure joy, it’s The Great British Bake Off. Professional writer and home baker Abby Anklam joins us on the JoyProject podcast to talk about how she started watching Bake Off and her favorite parts of the show that make it a delight to watch. Abby also shares the bakes she tried at home that were inspired by the show and the bakes she plans to try after everything she’s learned as an avid watcher and fan. We also chat about her job as a writer and illustrator of children’s books.

About Abby:
Abigail Anklam is a writer and illustrator who writes books for young readers.

Growing up, she loved reading about fantastic adventures in incredible places and longed to have adventures of her own, just like Lucy in Narnia, Mowgli in the Jungle, or White Fang in the Arctic. So it’s no wonder that she left her Virginia home to find adventure in faraway places, like Arkansas, Italy, Arizona, & China.

During her adventures, Abigail has filled many roles. She has been a student, an actor, a zookeeper, an artist, a teacher, a bookseller, an archer, and more! She loves to learn new skills, visit new places, and try new things. Along the way, she’s experienced different ways of life, met all kinds of wonderful people, and learned about all sorts of fascinating animals. Many of those experiences and interests have found their way into her writing and art.

Right now, Abigail is working on her first children’s novel. It’s a mystery story that involves a bear, an animal trainer, and an escape from the circus. To read a sample of Abigail’s published work, click here. You’ll find an excerpt from According to Their Kinds, a collection of short animal-related stories (for adults).​

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • What makes The Great British Bake Off such a joy to watch
  • How Bake Off is different (and better!) than U.S.-based competition shows
  • What fans of Bake Off learn from the show and apply to their own baking
  • Those adorable illustrations of the bakes that have become a hallmark of the show
  • Abby’s work as a writer and illustrator of children’s books
  • The Story community where I met Abby
  • Junior Bake Off — the newest show in the Bake Off franchise now on Netflix in the U.S.
  • A quote about joy from Jaiya John sent to me by my wonderful friend, artist Rachael Harms Mahlandt

Links to resources:

creativity

In the pause: Baking bread as a holy act

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Homemade bagels from my kitchen. ~CRA

Tell bread to rise and it ignores you. It will rise of its own accord. You can’t make it rise faster. It often requires work, and lots of it. Baking bread is a contact sport, and you must give it your hands, arms, and heart. In all these ways, it is a holy act. It is an act of patience, belief, and faith.

Lately the only thing that makes me feel better is cooking and baking, and baking bread most of all. I can’t write or read or multi-task while I bake bread. It helps me to pause, be quiet, and reflect. It demands my mind, my hands, and my attention for a certain amount of time, and then it demands I leave it alone for a good long while.

So if you’re feeling lost or disillusioned or confused, even angry or sad or disappointed, I suggest stocking your cupboard with the magic combination of flour, salt, and yeast. Add some water, tuck it away for a while in a warm, cozy place, and magical things will begin to happen. It will rise. And you will rise with it.