Why I Write About Food 019: Rachel Conners of Bakerita

When she was a teenager, Rachel turned to baking for therapy. Today, she's a full-time professional blogger with hundreds of recipes to her name. Through blogging about baking, Rachel found her voice in the food world, and makes lives around her sweeter with healthy dessert recipes like the popular paleo banana bread with chocolate chunks. 

Tell us about Bakerita.
When I was sixteen, I was going through some personal struggles and I started baking, mostly as a form of personal therapy. Baking helped me clear my mind and quickly became one of my favorite activities, and when I started developing my own recipes, my sister suggested I combine my love for baking and writing by starting a blog! I’m part Hispanic, and in Spanish, adding the ending “-ita” implies something is small. Since I’m only five-feet tall, Bakerita, “the little baker”, seemed like a good fit.

I started blogging about my recipes and managed to keep it up all four years of college, much to the delight of my friends and roommates. I also started experimenting with gluten-free, refined sugar-free and vegan recipes after my sister’s diet forced her to cut out gluten, dairy and sugar, and I found I loved creating recipes that were more healthful but still incredibly delicious. Today, my site has both healthier recipes and dessert recipes that are on the more indulgent side, although most of the recipes I develop these days are on the healthier side. No matter what kind of desserts you like, I try to have something for everyone with a sweet tooth!

Why do you write about food?
I write about food because it allows me to connect with people over the subject I am most passionate about. By sharing my recipes, I feel like I get to become a part of my reader’s lives. Nothing makes me happier than knowing the recipe for my Snickers Cake was the centerpiece of a reader’s birthday party, or that one of my Ultimate Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies was the first baked good someone's gluten-intolerant son could ever have. Food has a way of bringing people together to connect, no matter how varied or different their lives are. Food is a universal language that speaks to all of us and by having a voice in the food world, I can help make lives a little more delicious, one recipe at a time.

Do you bake every day? Tell us what a typical day in your life is like as a full-time blogger?
No, I don’t! Usually my days will be primarily focused on either baking and photography, or writing, editing and other blog maintenance. On my baking and photography days, I will write and test out new recipes and then photograph them. On the baking days, I’ll usually try to get a couple recipes made and photographed for efficiency. On the other days, I do pretty much everything else! Those days will be spent (usually at a coffee shop) editing photos, writing out posts, scheduling posts, creating social media optimized images, scheduling out social media posts, reaching out to companies, and more, depending on the day! I’d like to say I have a set schedule for which days are baking days, but usually it depends on the weather. I photograph with natural light, which dictates my schedule a lot of the time. 

You started the blog when you were 16. What are the most important lessons you've learned from baking and blogging?
From baking, I have learned a lot about patience and precision. Baking is both an art and a science, and I had a lot to learn about the science part when I started baking. I was always the kid who excelled at reading and writing, but struggled with math and science. Now, I’m always dealing with fractions while I write and convert recipes, and thinking about the different chemical reactions that come from using different ingredients or methods of mixing. Patience often comes into play when I’ve tested a recipe once… twice… three times and it still isn’t working. It can get frustrating, but that’s where the precision comes in; sometimes a tablespoon or two of an ingredient makes all the difference between a success and a failure.

From blogging, I have learned an incredible amount, and the biggest lesson is that blogging is a passion project. If you’re not passionate about what you’re blogging about… why are you doing it? Without the passion, a blog falls flat and probably won’t gain traction, if the blogger even continues to blog. It is definitely a labor of love and growth doesn’t come easily and quickly for most. Blogging has become my business, and it consumes most facets of my life, but that’s something I embrace. Bakerita is associated so closely with my identity these days, and it’s something I’m so proud of. Without that love and drive, I can’t imagine doing what I do.

As a recent college graduate, do you see yourself branching out into different fields in the future?
I studied international business in college, and while it doesn’t seem directly applicable to running a food blog, so many of the business concepts I learned in school have helped me develop Bakerita as a business. I took a lot of classes geared towards entrepreneurship during my senior year and those courses were invaluable for turning Bakerita into my full-time profession. In the future, I could definitely see myself using my business degree, but it will most likely still be related to baking in some way! 

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty on my recent vacation and it was amazing! I also recently started receiving Martha Stewart Living and taking an hour to flip through it is always an incredible source of inspiration and I can’t get over all the gorgeous recipes and crafts. It always makes me want to run straight for the kitchen!

As for food blogs, I have a long list that I follow on Feedly, but two of my current favorites are Vanilla and Bean and The Kitchen McCabe. Both sites have gorgeous photography and their writers (Traci and Kayley) are both fabulous and engaging story tellers.

What's your favorite recipe on Bakerita?
That is one seriously hard question, but I have to go with my Chocolate Strawberry Brownies, which are gluten-free, grain-free and refined sugar-free, and how healthy they are amazes me every time I make them. And the Paleo Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread has been one of the most popular recipes on my site ever since I posted it, and for good reason. It tastes just like the chocolate chip banana bread I know and love from my childhood, but this one is sweetened entirely with bananas! People always go crazy for it.

Question from Sandy of Fan Girls Cook: Food blogging is hard work, how do you stay motivated when the demands of everyday life add up. Do you work recipes into your family meal planning or simply miss a post when you're too busy? (Click here to read Sandy's interview)
Because I'm a full-time food blogger, it's rare that I miss a post day, but sometimes when life gets in the way, it's just unavoidable! When it does happen, like a few weeks ago when my LASIK eye surgery didn't go quite right and I wasn't able to do the work I expected, I'll just miss a post. I'd rather skip a post than put out a post that's rushed or one I'm not proud of!

Visit Rachel's website at www.bakerita.com
Recommended Recipes:

Blackberry Crisp Tart
Chocolate Strawberry Brownies
Paleo Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINE LEONG. PHOTOS BY BAKERITA.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO READ MORE INTERVIEWS, CLICK HERE.