I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Anne from Flour and Floral! She's an amazing baker and food photographer, and has a blog filled with delicious recipes. From growing up on a farm in Canada to now residing in Maryland, Jennifer Anne's journey is so fun to read! Be sure to check out her site and her Instagram for even more baking inspiration. (Links at the end of the interview!)
1. What was it like growing up on a farm in Canada? How did food play a role in your life then?
Growing up on a farm along with being surrounded by a whole community of farms, gave me such a HUGE appreciation for food. I saw and experienced firsthand the love and labor that went into raising animals (which were chickens, turkeys, and hogs in my case) and growing a big beautiful garden of vegetables. It was common knowledge for me right from the get go that food didn't just come from the refrigerators at the grocery store, rather it came from the hands of hard-working family farmers, like mine! In my opinion it was the best way to grow up and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)
2. What is your first memory of dessert?
My first memories of dessert were probably during our family gatherings at Christmas time. I come from a substantially large family (understatement) and at these gatherings there would be a table set up with a huge spread of all different kinds of delicious desserts and Christmas candies. My cousins and I sneaking handful after handful of candies and topping our plates off with goodies were some of the most fun memories for me! Food and nostalgia go hand in hand, don't they?
Also, another important memory of dessert is my mom's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They're the best and I've probably made them over a hundred times!
3. What is your favorite thing you like to bake?
Any baker can agree with me that it's SO hard to choose, but since I have to pick...it would be fluffy lemon blueberry cupcakes, piped with a smooth cream cheese frosting, topped with fresh blueberries and sprinkling of lemon zest. It has the deliciousness aspect of it, as well as the allowance to be creative with the piping and finishing touches! Any dessert with berries is probably my favorite to bake and eat of course.
4. What is your favorite bakery (in Canada and/or America) and what do you order there?
So, there is this bakery near my hometown in Winnipeg, MB, Canada called Jenna Rae Cakes. It's co-owned by twin sisters who are a team made in heaven; one sister focuses on the creative aspect of cake design while the other sister does all the photography, marketing, and branding. (Totally makes me wish I had a twin sister to team up with!) I've only been there once, but it was absolutely amazing! I ordered an assortment of macarons that came in a beautiful white and gold box, and they had this fuzzy peach flavor that was to-die-for. I still dream about it to this day. Look them up on Instagram--their brand is just gorgeous! (https://www.instagram.com/jennaraecakes/)
5. Studying at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute, can you share one of the most valuable tips you learned?
I learned SO much, but the most valuable tip would be the art of multitasking. Got your butter and sugar creaming in the stand mixer? Instead of just standing there watching it mix, use that time to hand wash the measuring spoons you just used. Clean as you go! The cleaner you keep the kitchen, the less stressed and chaotic your brain will feel.
6. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I'm kind of an odd-bird in this way. Whatever I may be particularly craving, I'll start searching for photos/recipes of that on Google, Pinterest, or Instagram. While browsing through people's beautiful creations, I'll ask myself the following questions: how I can make this dessert better to suit my own personal style of baking/what can I do to put my own spin on it/make the flavours pop even more? We all have different styles and tastes and as cliché as it sounds, it's important to be yourself and let your own unique style shine through! So I guess you could say the gorgeous creations of other bakers inspire me!
Also, I rarely bake with the seasons. Berry desserts in the middle of December? Yes please!
7. Is there a recipe you would like to share?
I would LOVE to share with you my recipe for Heart-Shaped Fruit Puff Pastries with Vanilla Glaze! (https://flourandfloral.com/heart-shaped-fruit-puff-pastries-vanilla-glaze/) Valentines Day is coming up quick and these would be absolutely perfect for your Valentines Day breakfast, brunch, and/or dessert! (Or if you're anything like me, they're perfect for any meal of the day, all year round!) Wouldn't your sweetie LOVE to bite into a buttery, flaky, sweet berry jam-filled dessert drizzled with a delicious vanilla glaze? I know I would!
8. What is your favorite cookbook?
On the cooking side of things, my favorite cookbook would be "Mennonite Girls Can Cook". I'm of Canadian-German-Mennonite descent (completely different from Pennsylvania Mennonite just so you know--we don't wear bonnets, haha) so I love learning how to cook and bake things from my family history. Plus, one of the authors is from my hometown and i've totally met her. :D
On the baking side of things, I LOVE Tessa Huff's cookbook "Layered - Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes"! She definitely inspired me to pursue a love for layer cakes! She's also coming out with a new cookbook in 2019, and I cannot wait!
9. What is your favorite brand of flour?
My favorite brand of flour is King Arthur Flour. They're a brand I can trust; they use American-grown wheat, and never bleach their flour. They also have a pretty cool history of being the first flour company in the US dating all the way back to 1790! Wow! I always have it stocked in my large glass jar on my countertop along with a backup supply in my cupboards, because as a home-baker I'm ALWAYS gonna need flour! Right?!
10. Where do you usually shop for ingredients and supplies?
Unfortunately, there's not much for baking supplies stores in my area of Maryland, so my weekly shopping trips are to...Wal-Mart. It helps that Wal-Mart is a 2 minute drive from my apartment and that they have a whole Wilton cake decorating aisle along with all of the ingredients that I need! It's definitely a good one stop shop for me! I'm also an Amazon Prime member and I use it to order specialty items like my favorite vanilla bean paste by Nielsen Massey or certain sprinkles I've been eyeing.