Exclusive Interview with Dana Schultz
The MinimalistBaker.com blog is one that I frequent often, to look at the amazing pictures, read Dana Schultz’s musings and to visit and re-visit their Photography School. I was very excited to see that she had written a book, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking. There is something about being able to hold a book in your hands and browse at one’s leisure. Just like her site the book promises food that is “10 ingredients or less, one bowl or less than 30 minutes to prepare”. Dana took some time to chat with us via email so that we could get a first-hand peek into her world.
Hi Dana! Thank you for taking a moment out of your busy schedule to chat with us. There are many followers of your blog, me included, who feel like we “know” you and I was so excited for you and all of your readers when I saw that you had a book, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking. As you mention in your introduction, there is something about holding a cookbook in your hands. I went from print to digital. You started online and now have the book. Tell us a little bit about how writing for print was different and how you chose recipes to bring us via the cookbook.
Thanks for the love! Writing the cookbook wasn’t much different than writing the blog, to be honest. I kept it pretty simple with short recipe descriptions and a brief introduction at the beginning of the book to invite people into our story and let them know a little bit about how we got to where we are. Writing these sections felt effortless because I felt like it was a conversation between me and the readers of our blog.
As far as the recipes, I chose dishes that were approachable and great for everyday like Chickpea Noodle Soup and my favorite green smoothie rather than the sensational recipes I like to post on the blog like Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream or General Tso’s Tofu. I wanted the book to be a kitchen companion of sorts, and not one that you only dust off at Thanksgiving or special occasions.
It has been 4 years since you started your blog, Minimalist Baker, with your husband John. What foods and approaches are most important to your fans?
The first and most important approach to food is simplicity. Our readers know that when they come to our blog every recipe will require 30 minutes or less, 1 bowl, or 10 ingredients or less to prepare. That’s important to me because that’s the way I cook and the way I search for recipes online and in cookbooks to actually make.
I also think our readers value healthy options, and special diet friendly recipes.
Is there one recipe that became incredibly popular on the blog that surprised you? Did you do a version of it for the book?
I think people love our Best Damn Vegan Biscuits. They’re undetectably dairy free. And yes, I did do a version of them for the cookbook where I infused cheese, garlic, and herb flavors into the dough and the result is reminiscent of Red Lobster’s famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits!
What are your favorite foods to work with and why?
My favorite foods to work with include bananas for their natural sweetness and ability to act like an egg in some recipes, as well as flaxseed for its ability to act like an egg in baking. I also love working with unsweetened plain almond milk because it’s so versatile and lends itself to sweet and savory dishes alike. I love coconut sugar and maple syrup for natural sweetness. Arrowroot starch is becoming a new love because of its ability to make a cheese sauce almost stringy and thick like the real thing!
Tell our readers how to get the most out of your recipes. What are some important things for them to pay attention to?
I always recommend reading the whole recipe start to finish and observing the required prep and cook time before starting, so they have an idea of what they’re getting into and aren’t surprised along the way. I also don’t recommend making too many substitutions or alterations to the recipes as vegan and gluten free baking especially can be tricky when you make too many swaps. Other than that, it’s pretty straight forward! I hope people love the recipes and go back to them over and over again.
We are featuring your Garlic “Cheddar” Herb Biscuits and also the Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Bites. Give us some inside info about those recipes so that we can make them as perfect as the pictures!
Those are two of the easiest, straightforward recipes in the book. For the biscuits, be sure not to overwork the dough or they can turn out tough. And don’t forget the melted vegan butter on top before baking for moisture and extra buttery flavor. For the coconut bites, be sure to pack the coconut mixture firmly into the Tablespoon and use a finger to gently slide it out in one swoop this will yield a perfect bite that won’t crumble.
Can you share anything about what’s next with your blog or foray into the book world? What is the Minimalist Baker team working on now?
We’re always working on improving our website design and functionality, as well as recipe and photograph quality. We’re also improving a few of our digital products at the moment. We may or may not have our sites set on another cookbook at some point. But for right now, we’re just pinching ourselves with how this first book turned out and can’t wait to hear what people think.
Dana, thank you so much for your time and we wish you the best with the book.
Thank you! I’m honored to be interviewed.