It's time for another Woman Crush Wednesday! Can you dig it? I certainly hope so. This week's feature is literally cooking up some major badassery. *Cue Chris Traeger voice* So who is this gal, exactly? Amalia Pagura, a queen I met at work about a year ago, is a baker, a blogger, and a seriously rad person located in the Pacific Northwest. Her beautiful blog, Cake to Crumb, includes not only delicious recipes and lovely photos, but also, a ton of humor. And if there're two things I adore, they're baked goods and a good laugh. So grab yourself some tea, coffee, maybe even wine, and if possible, a croissant. It's going to be a good chat. Trust me.
Q: Hey gal! So, let’s start at the beginning: when did you first start baking?
A: I started baking when I was in my early teens. I don’t remember an exact age, all I remember is being bored as hell and really wanting to eat cake. So I decided to make a red velvet cake from scratch and I fell in love. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to stop!
Q: What is it about baking specifically that inspires you to keep pursuing it?
A: I have a crazy sweet tooth, so a lot of the time I pursue it for myself. I’m selfish, yes. But also feeding people and seeing them enjoy something I made is really cool. I like fattening people up, it’s a joy of mine. It’s also really fun trying new and different recipes and methods when it comes to baking. There’s always room to learn and improve!
Q: Was cooking a big part of your childhood growing up?
A: Definitely! My mom cooked homemade meals everyday. She would also bake and sell cakes to friends and family as well as homemade pasta noodles. My dad has been making and selling homemade sausage and cured meats for about 20 years now. So cooking has definitely been a big part of my childhood. It continues to inspire and influence me to this day.
Q: What made you decide to start a blog about your baking adventures?
A: Really I was just bored. I was young, I had the time, so I decided why not? I was not the after-school-activity type of person so this became one of my hobbies. Suck it track and field.
Q: If you could only bake one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: This question is probably my worst nightmare. The internal struggle I’m having right now is very real. I don’t know. Probably croissants because I have a serious weakness for pastries and I love butter (more butter more better). Plus, they’re so versatile, they can be made savory or sweet. I think I’m just trying to convince myself I made the right decision here. Help.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about baking? The process? The flavors? The end result?
A: Eating. I like the eating part. But sure, maybe a couple other things too. Like the fact that a few simple ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, etc. can make something as delicious as cake or bread, is incredible to me. It brings people together. I just love shoving food down people’s throats. It tears people apart, because you better believe I’m getting the last piece of whatever. The process of baking can also be therapeutic for a lot of people, including myself. Until you screw something up and all hell breaks loose. I don’t know, it’s a combo of everything really. I’m not sure I can pinpoint just one thing that’s my favorite. Well actually that’s not true, we already established that eating is my favorite part.
Q: For me, I relate baking to being around family, late night chats with friends, and generally, nostalgia. Does baking give you a similar feeling? This is probably a corny question, but with something like baking, which relies so heavily on the senses, I’m curious!
A: Yes, definitely. There’s something very homey about baking. It reminds me a lot of my mom. She was always in the kitchen, cooking and baking. Now being older, I can really appreciate that. I think I used to take it for granted. But now, I love recreating old childhood recipes and baking with her. There’s a ton of nostalgia there, for sure!
"I would rather have dinner with the two people I love the most (her parents). They’ve shaped me into the person I am today and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of burgers, fries, and chocolate cake."
Q: If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be and why? (Also, what would be served at this dinner?)
A: You know what’s funny, my first reaction is to say my parents. Trust me, I know that probably sounds crazy and stupid. But rather than have dinner with some famous person, who would most likely have zero interest in me or my questions, I would rather have dinner with the two people I love the most. They’ve shaped me into the person I am today and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of burgers, fries, and chocolate cake. The last person I would have dinner with is gonna be another cheesy one. Get ready. Jesus. Come on now. I just have too many damn questions. Plus, my parents would FREAK.
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Scone or biscuit? Scone. No, biscuit. No, scone.
Early bird or night owl? Early bird.
Parks and Recreation or The Office? Damn that’s tough! The Office.
Reading or audiobooks? Reading.
Sweet or savory? Sweet.
Getaway in the woods or the beach? The beach.
Q: If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Don’t sweat the small stuff. You live life once, enjoy it.
Q: What’s your process for coming up with recipes? Lots of trial and error or do you have more of a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of approach?
A: I used to be super meticulous when it came to recipes and baking, but I think I’m a little more laid back now. Baking is a science so obviously there’s gonna be trial and error involved. But really I just wanna have fun in the kitchen. So nowadays I think I have more of a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of approach. Add a little of this in there, take a little of that out, see if these flavors work together. In the end, I think it’s important to have a healthy balance of both.
Q: Who’s one baker that inspires you? This can be a famous baker, a family member, even yourself!
A: Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga are two women who inspire me. They partnered together, developed killer ass recipes, quit their jobs and opened up a bakery called Ovenly. What’s really great is that they work with several non-profit organizations when hiring their employees. People who have been incarcerated, people on parole, or those who might have a difficult time finding a job for some reason or another. Their mission is to make an impact on the community around them and I think that’s really awesome! They’re super badass.
Thanks again, Amalia! Who else is both hungry and inspired right now? To snag some of these yummy recipes for yourself, head on over Cake to Crumb. I think you'll be glad you did.