Warning: the following post is entirely biased. I am not being compensated in any way, but if I’m nice – Joy Wilson, a.k.a. Joy the Baker, might share the crumbs from her recipes for the next cookbook. I am in the neighborhood, and always an eager guinea pig for someone as creative in the kitchen as she is. BTW, her book is off the hook, so you DO want to read this post, because I have a signed copy to give-away!

Joy the Baker Cookbook

Joy the Baker Cookbook

I’ve been following Joy the Baker, voted one of the top fifty food blogs in the world by the London Times amongst numerous other prestigious awards, since forever. Okay, so I exaggerate, but almost since it’s inception in 2008. An intoxicating place where her endearing sense of humor, passionate recipes, and uncomplicated directions tease the flavors and textures to life in my mind  – without adding inches to my waistline, since her photos deftly take over where my imagination wanes. On the occasions a vicarious taste alone will not suffice, I make sure there’s plenty of company over to keep myself from devouring the entire batch. I’m overJOYed (pun intended) that she agreed to do this interview, even if I it was slightly under duress.

Joy answering questions in Pasadena Feb. 28, 2012

Joy answering questions in Pasadena Feb. 28, 2012

JA: The burning question at the forefront of my mind is when you bake those wickedly tempting goodies, can you eat just one, or do you just have an incredibly high metabolism?

JOY: I think I live on a balanced diet of doughnuts and kale.  I’m either eating cookies, or some sort of juice smoothie.  There isn’t really an in between.  This combination, combined with daily bike riding, feels good to me these days.

JA: What was your Easy Bake Oven speciality, and did you bake from scratch or use mixes?

JOY: I was the girl that begged for an easy bake oven every year until my dad granted me full use of the house oven at 8 years old.  I always baked from scratch, only because my parents thought it a waste to buy boxed mixes.

JA: What, if any, unusual ingredients would we find in your pantry?

JOY: I love various kinds of salts.  I have  truffle salt, smoked salt, and vanilla bean salt that is absolutely incredible on chocolate chip cookies.

JA: I have nightmares about being forced back into the high school chemistry lab – that’s why I’m primarily a cook, not a baker (that, plus the fact I can’t eat just one). Yet in my sneak peak of your book you actually make practical sense of of all the technical bits for the chemistry challenged; such as why size matters when it comes to using eggs. Did you ace chemistry?

JOY: Don’t even talk to me about chemistry.  The only tiny bit of science I know is about baking soda and buttermilk reactions in the oven.  That’s as deep as my knowledge goes.  And don’t even get me started on Calculus.  I’m out!

JA: I was already a fan, but I think I graduated to groupie status when you blogged about making your own brown sugar. What other self-made fixes do you have up your apron?

JOY: I often find myself making cake flour because I never have it on hand.  I simply measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, take away two tablespoons of that flour and replace it with cornstarch.  I then sift the mixture three or four times.  Boom!  Cake flour!

JA: You could probably turn hell (hot enough to bake) into heaven with your recipes, so what tools would you be sure to take with you? What tools would you suggest a novice baker be frugal over, and which ones, if any, do they need to splurge on?

JOY: Splurge on a good mixer.  I adore my Kitchen Aid. I love a good set of metal mixing bowls, and good quality, heat-resistant spatulas. I save on the frilly stuff, like plates, place settings and linens… thrift stores are GREAT for those sorts of finds.

JA: Ann Thornton has been in the news lately when she was dropped by Food Network for allegedly plagiarizing recipes by Martha Stewart and the Barefoot Comtessa (although FN denies this, and sites ratings for their action). What do you think distinguishes an original recipe from an adapted one when baking is really all about ratios?

JOY: It’s tough… because baking is soooo much about ratios.  I never claimed to have invented cookies, or cakes.  I think a recipe is adapted when you’ve added or subtracted several ingredients that speak to the core of what that baked good is.  Also, I am always quick to site my inspiration and sources when adapting recipes.  So little is truly original now, I have no problem mentioning the talented chefs I’m inspired by.

JA: Let’s talk photography. I can spot one of your food photos as easily as I can differentiate a Warhol from a Lichtenstein. You have such a distinct style of composition, color, and lighting. How did that evolve into the mouth-watering photos we see in your book, and on your blog today?

JOY: I’m a self-taught photographer, so the process has all been trial and error.  I want my photographs to speak of me.  I use lots of pattern and color and often odd compositions.  I shoot with mostly natural light, and have slowly taught myself about aperture, focus, shutter speed, and photo editing.  It’s all been a learning process.  My photos are untrained and imperfect, but they feel good to me… so I’m going with that.

JA: A genie just granted you three wishes, what would they be?

JOY: 1). Less suffering.  2). More smiles. 3). And warm doughnuts. Not necessarily for me… but for everyone in the world.

JA: What is next for Joy the Baker?

JOY: I’d love to write another book… perhaps exploring the savory side of Joy the Baker.  We’ll see if I can get that ball rolling.  Beyond that, I’m happy plugging away at the book and the podcasts, and trying to stay connected to beautiful people around me.

Meeting one of my favorite bloggers, and now author!

Meeting one of my favorite bloggers, now author, and getting your signed give-away copy

Those that know me, know how I abhor driving in traffic (previously I would have thought you needed a passport and a visa to drive that far), but I actually braved driving to Pasadena in rush hour traffic, because a). I wanted a signed copy of the book to give-away to one of you, b). I wanted my own copy of the book in time to make a birthday cake for myself, and c). Joy had mentioned she was nervous no one would turn up to her first book signing. I knew better, she is waaaaaay too enchanting, and adored by legions of fans, but I understand

Joy's Banana Rum Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Joy's Banana Rum Cake with Brown Butter Icing - I'm sure she would have made the icing and the photo much more beautiful to look at, but it sure tasted damn good!

Digging into the Banana Rum Cake

Digging into my delicious birthday cake

how scary that first signing can be, and I wanted to be supportive. She couldn’t have been more wrong. Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena was packed, standing room only, and they sold out of her books (glad I got there early)! The recipes are so imaginative and exciting – I can’t wait to try the vegan chocolate cupcakes next, and the photos are pure Joy at her best – GORGEOUS eye candy all the way through.

Signing the give-away copy

Joy signing the give-away copy

Signed copy give-away

The signed copy that could be yours, so enter now!


1). You must become a member of JulieAnneRhodes.com. It’s FREE, unless of course you’re a clever clogs, and realize that joining the premium membership pays for itself in money and time saved every week when you practice the Personal Chef Approach™.

2). Let me know what your favorite Joy the Baker recipe is in the comments section below, and post about the give-away on your Twitter feed and/or Facebook status. Better still, feel free to blog away about it!

3). To Earn more entries “like” Jewels from The Roving Stove on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter.

4). Please send one email listing all of your entries to dear jewels at julieannerhodes dot com no later then noon PST on March 31, 2012. All entries will be verified, and any that do not meet the rules and guidelines will be disqualified. Winner will be announced on Monday April 2nd, 2012!

Joy Wilson's Arroz con Pollo

Joy Wilson's scrumptious adaptation of Arroz con Pollo

BTW, Just to prove Joy Wilson is not a one trick pony, or solely a brilliant baker in this instance, she recently posted a recipe for Arroz con Pollo on her blog that she adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. As usual, the photo enticed me, so I made it for supper that evening, and now I make it for all of my clients, and they LOVE it too. I can’t wait for that cookbook ” exploring the savory side of Joy the Baker.” Find the Arroz con Pollo recipe here at Joy the Baker. Also, in honor of Saint Paddie’s Day you can find my Slow-Cooked Guinness Corned Beef Brisket as my recipe of the week for all to enjoy.

PS. Just in case you would like to meet Joy Wilson for yourself here is her book tour schedule.

PPS. As part of your qualifying entry for the signed cookbook give-away, what is your favorite Joy the Baker recipe ever (in the book, or on the blog)? Please leave your answer in the comments box below.

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  • March 15, 2012
    6:22 pm

    ” balanced diet of doughnuts and kale” hilariously funny and my new motto. I love this interview… like two friends talking shop over a plate of something wonderful and home made. It’s fantastic we are in the renaissance of homemade! Fantastic interview!

    ONE recipe only? ack… hard one. I’d have to say the Garlic Bread in a pot. I had been making plain old bread to go with your soup recipes until this came along and it never lasts in this house. From kids to the Englishman who is fairly anti-herb… it’s a short life! So easy, so good and such an aroma!

    • March 16, 2012
      10:34 am

      Rach – if I could bake like you, I’d try it too, but bread scares me.

  • March 15, 2012
    7:37 pm

    All I know is that every time I get her email with a fabulous recipe, I want to make it right then and there. Of course, I would be the size of a house if I did. Boy oh boy, some are just too good…I am determined to make the lemon meringue pie milkshake this summer!

    • March 16, 2012
      10:33 am

      I hear ya sista – I gain weight just looking at them, but they are so worth an occasional splurge.

  • March 16, 2012
    8:37 am

    Love. Her. The mini pretzel dogs are really, really good…but it’s hard to choose!!

    • March 16, 2012
      10:32 am

      Ooooh I haven’t tried those yet! She really does need to do the Savory Side of Joy cookbook too!

  • March 16, 2012
    12:44 pm

    So many! But I did just send an e-mail. I like the Russian Grandma’s apple pie cake. Pie and Cake? Yes, please!

    • March 16, 2012
      8:16 pm

      I know – she has a very prolific culinary imagination to go with the skill to pull it off beautifully. Wait until you see the book!

  • March 16, 2012
    9:11 pm

    Great interview Jewels! really enjoyed reading that… although I am not delighted that having just finished a bowl of steamed kale for dinner, I am now craving donuts, cookies and thinking about those vegan chocolate cupcakes! You know where guinneapig #1 is if you need her xo

  • March 16, 2012
    9:34 pm

    Hey Beckielou – let’s make the vegan chocolate avocado cupcakes to celebrate Millie’s return (the more Brown sisters, the less I will eat), and then take the dogs for a much longer walk?

  • March 17, 2012
    11:27 am

    Brilliant interview and glad you braved driving to Pasadena to get the signed copies! Good luck to all entering!!!

    • March 17, 2012
      3:21 pm

      It was fun once I got there, and thankfully the traffic had dissipated by the time I came home.

  • March 18, 2012
    9:12 am

    I don’t read much about baking and make do with recipes that I’ve inherited or collected over the years. But, after seeing your birthday cake, I’m going to have to look up Joy’s blog and add it to my list of reads for the week. Love her tip on how to make cake flour! Since cupboard space is limited, I generally only have all purpose and whole wheat flour on hand. Now, I can make that all important cake flour if I need it. So many times, I’ve gone to another recipe because I didn’t have the right flour on hand. Glad you got to the book signing and home safely!

    • March 18, 2012
      5:57 pm

      I don’t bake too often either Ruthee – I don’t want the temptation around, but Joy’s food photos are so gorgeous, I enjoy everything vicariously, and only indulge on special occasions.

  • March 18, 2012
    9:53 am

    I am DYING to try her ‘Chocolate Orange Cream Cheese Pound Cake’. It sounds like heaven..I’m off a few days this week and it is my goal to get into the kitchen and “whip something up”.

  • March 19, 2012
    9:54 am

    I always think about baking cakes but rarely ever do. But I think the Banana Rum Cake is a must try for me!! And she makes Arrox Con Pollo too? Sign me up!!

  • March 20, 2012
    12:27 am

    I love her mocha rum cake…. mainly because it has rum in it.

    • March 20, 2012
      9:26 am

      Then you are going to LOVE the banana rum cake with brown butter icing too!

  • March 21, 2012
    2:16 pm

    I think I’d vote for the Butterscotch Pudding with Carmelized Bananas (probably without the whiskey, though…). I can’t abide by the diet of donuts and kale – I have doctors orders *not* to eat much in the way of leafy green veggies right now (have to love those blood thinners and their hatred of Vitamin K). More donuts for me!

    • March 28, 2012
      8:28 am

      I think I dreamt about that butterscotch pudding last night – right up my alley!

  • March 30, 2012
    9:55 pm

    Since the sweet-tart Oatmeal Cherry White Chocolate Cookies include a whole grain and a fruit, it could be classified as a health food. Right? Right?!?