The Broken Bread
The Broken Bread is where Kristan explores her creativity through cooking. It’s also where she shares her stories and the tales behind the dishes she makes. The Broken Bread was a 2014 finalist in Saveur’s Food Blog Awards for Best Baking and Desserts blog, and in 2015 is a finalist for Best-Designed Blog.
I’m so happy to have Kristan Raines of The Broken Bread, here on the show.
On Her Blog:
I was eight or nine years old when I got my first Easy-Bake Oven. I just fell in love with baking. Even though it was just a little microwave, but it popped out a cake and I got to decorate it and I thought it was so much fun.
And then photography has always been my life. So I would say with those two components, it actually came together.
Three and a half years ago when my husband and I got married, we moved to Seattle. We didn’t really know anybody. It was this new environment for me to explore things I’ve always wanted to.
I made a few friends and they actually showed me for the first time cooking blogs. I really wasn’t familiar with them until about three and a half years ago. On these blogs, I would just see gorgeous pictures and recipes. Thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do. I love baking. I love photography.” And then some of these stories would be so captivating and I could identify so much with that particular blog.
I would identify with what they were saying and I just thought, “John, this is what I want to do. Some of these women have cookbooks and they have these blogs that are actually generating some sort of income so that would be a dream.” So with that said, it was in Seattle when I first got there that I’m like, “Okay, I want to just explore this as a hobby.” It started as just a hobby.
I didn’t realize how much work would need to go into all this. I just thought food and pictures, this is great. But there are so many components that I was unaware of.
I would say baking of course comes the most natural to me because that is instinctively what I know and love to do. I would say that writing is probably the most difficult. My personality is very all over the place. I love activity and like going to the farmers’ market and cooking in the kitchen and making a mess. Sitting down and actually getting my words down collectively and organizing them, that probably takes the most time.
I think I’m also a very instant gratification type person so if I take a picture, I can see the image and I can correct it there. But writing takes a little more time and trying to get the emotion I want across is always and interesting struggle for me sometimes.
On Her Process for Getting Her Ideas onto Her Blog:
Each recipe, I would test probably between two or three times, depends how many times it takes me to get it right. I also do a lot of research beforehand. I study the type of technique. I try to understand all components each time I make something. There is a lot of pre-prep and practice and research beforehand.
I wish I had an organized way of putting it all together. It’s just whatever I’m inspired by. My blog is seasonally based. I go to the farmers’ market and I see all these persimmons are in season and I just thought, “Okay, how can I use this in some kind of meal or baked good.” From there, something comes out. I wish I had a formula because I would pump out a lot more. But it just sort of feels right at the moment what comes to the blog.
Tips for People Wanting to Start Baking:
Baking can definitely be overwhelming at times but I think pick something that you are really excited to make. I feel like from that point it will give you the motivation to nail it. But other than that, read the recipe. Read it four or five times, over and over so you have an idea of what’s going on because sometimes I’ve done this where I just start making it right away and I’m like, “Oh gosh, I forgot! This needs to be in room temperature,” or I kind of scramble.
I would say to make sure that you have all of your ingredients pre-measured, laid out on the table and maybe have an environment that’s not super distracting.
If you put too much of this and too much of that, that can sometimes end it something that doesn’t work out. Maybe it will taste great which is fine. As long as it tastes good, that’s the point. But just have everything organized and just take it slow. And if there is something in the recipe that you don’t know exactly what that means, just research it. It’s great with the Internet, you can actually pull up images to see what the texture will look like. So you feel like if you’re confident with that then it will lead to a successful baking adventure.
On Recipes Not Working Out:
So yeah, that happens. It can happen two ways for me.
Sometimes I won’t prepare ahead of time and I’ll forget something like sugar or the proper amount of lemon. It just doesn’t turn out right.
For a wedding for a friend last year, we were making pies and I made pastry cream a few times but I was in a kitchen at my mom’s house and two pies were baking and it’s like 98 degrees. I’m just stressed out making this. I’m like, “Okay, it’s done.” And I put it in the pie and I put all these berries on top of the pie and they just start sinking because it wasn’t set.
We walk outside because I’m like, “It will be fine.” Then the pie, you don’t even see any berries because they all sank to the bottom.
So I think it can be just bad preparation and just the process of experimenting, it’s not always going to be perfect.
On Baking for Beginners:
I would recommend quick breads. That would be like cakes, cupcakes, scones, biscuits. You can find a lot of simple methods that are two bowl methods.
If you don’t even want to bring out your handheld mixer or your standing mixer, you just need your oil, your eggs and then all of your dry ingredients. I think those are really great to start because they are just simpler. I would say a pumpkin bread would be great. On my blog, I had this recipe for apple yogurt cake that I really love. And I find those to be pretty easy to figure out in terms of simplicity and accessibility.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I have to admit I haven’t had cable for 10 years. So it’s whatever I come across really intentionally.
What are some food blogs or websites that we have to know about?
There are so, so many. I have a friend named Danielle she has Rustic. Joyful. Food. She is actually the first blogger I ever met face to face who had a food blog. So that was just an explosion of happiness for me. But she has a beautiful website that also is very much wholesome good meals, seasonally based, really beautiful pictures taken by her and her husband.
Another one would be Two Red Bowls. She, Cynthia, is really lovely. I actually got to meet her at the Saveur Awards and she is just lovely and her food photography is beautiful. Her food just always looks delicious. I think those are two fantastic blogs to visit absolutely.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter that make you happy?
I can probably only speak to Instagram the most. Tiffany Mitchell. She is from Offbeat and Inspired and I don’t know how she does it but every picture is just pure beauty on her Instagram page. You just look at it like, “I want to be there. I need to know where this place is. I need to order this exactly.” She has a really beautiful feed.
Then Adventures in Cooking. That’s the blog but it’s run by Eva. She has just this very moody beautiful gallery of images that make you feel so at peace and comfortable and inspired.
I mean those two girls just kill it.
What is something all home cooks should have in their pantry?
And spices, if you can have a few spices on hand, those are fantastic because you can always mix and make something taste almost brand new if you throw in a few fresh spices.
Name one ingredient you cannot live without.
It would probably be a jar of chili peppers. I eat chilis with everything. Little yellow or bright green chilis that I probably eat with almost every meal.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
One of the first cookbooks I bought when I moved up to Seattle was by Sur La Table and it was called The Art & Soul of Baking. I feel like that was really a profound book for me to have at the time because it is a wide range of recipes from quick breads to custards to pie crust.
If you want to bake, this is the book to go to. It also teaches you so much about the scientific components of what you’re making and how sugar works, and how lavender works. So it was teaching me how to become more confident as a baker.
You can’t just go in and be like, “Okay, I’ll just dump all these things in here and hope for the best.” It taught me the science of how to learn to do it on my own. That was a fantastic book.
Then What Katie Ate, her first cookbook that she released. That book for me visually was a huge inspiration as well as the recipes themselves. I just could sit in the corner and just flip through every single page and just fall in love with it.
So those two books fed me on two different levels but I love them both. Still do.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
Is it funny that I say anything by Phil Collins?
Yeah, he’s wonderful. I just hear him and I’m like, “All right. What do you guys want?”
Just his voice. I don’t know. Whatever he’s in is just pure gold to me. I listen to him and it really puts me in a good mood.