This Mother’s Day, we sat down with mom and home baker extraordinaire Kate Wood. One of our 9 Baking Bloggers to Follow, Kate balances raising two kids, a full time job as a dietitian, and still finds time to write, develop, and photograph the beautiful desserts on her blog, Wood and Spoon. Originally from Orlando, Florida (with brief stints in New York and Kentucky), Kate has started her family in Selma, Alabama—just a stone’s throw from our Bake from Scratch headquarters in Birmingham. Here, Kate opens up about her baking journey from daughterhood to motherhood, biscuit baking memories with her grandmother, and the importance of passing on the love of food to her own children. Follow along with Kate’s adventures on Instagram (@katie_clova) or Facebook (The Wood and Spoon). Find her recipe for her Berries and Cream Pie and even more ice box pies in our May/June Issue.
How do you make time for baking now that you’re having to balance a job, motherhood, and running a successful blog?
Kate Wood: Baking is a hobby for me, so it isn’t stressful or challenging most of the time, but it is something that I have to set aside intentional time for. It’s just like how some people set aside time for their favorite TV show or go to the gym, I set aside time to bake. After several years in the kitchen, I know how to split up the baking process. To the at-home mom trying to navigate the baking situation: Take advantage of nap time. The morning hours, when you kids aren’t awake yet, are a golden time to bake. And there’s nothing wrong with baking after they’ve gone to bed. Baking after bedtime is always rewarding because you’ll have a piece of cake to go with that glass of wine.
When did you start your baking journey? Did you grow up baking with your mom?
KW: I did not grow up in a family of bakers. My mom wears lots of hats, but a baker’s hat is probably not one of them. My grandmother did a little bit of baking and any family recipes I know, I learned from her. My baking really got serious when I was planning my wedding. My mother made her own wedding cake when she married my father. I thought, if my mom could make her own wedding cake—and she didn’t even like to bake—surely I could do it. This started a series of trial and error baking experiments. It was months of testing vanilla cake recipes, trying frostings, learning how to use a turntable, buying different types of spatulas—all of it. I think I mailed all of my friends vanilla cake that year because I was making it so frequently. In retrospect, the cake was nothing fancy and didn’t even taste good, but it was pretty cool to be able to say that I accomplished that. And I did it just like my mom.
You mentioned you baked with your grandmother. What was your experience baking with her like?
KW: My grandmother on my dad’s side, my mimi, used to make these amazing biscuits. She wasn’t from the South, so now I feel like I could teach her a thing or two about it, but growing up, these biscuits were amazing. She would always make a double batch so we would have her chicken and dumplings for dinner and then strawberry shortcake for dessert. I can still remember being eight years old and just dying to get my hands in a pot of flour.
What are you hoping to share with your kids through baking together?
KW: It’s not so much about making delicious biscuits or shortcake with my kids, but wanting to make memories with my kids. I think that taking time to share your passions with the people that you love is such a gift and it’s one that a lot of people don’t tap into. So even if my kids hate baking or cooking—or food altogether—at least for the years when they’re young they’ll know that I love them because I love baking, and I share it with them as often as possible. Hopefully that will be translated along the way.
Why do you think baking is such a wonderful way to express affection?
KW: Food is celebratory. There’s so much energy and focus that goes into the process of baking. It’s always intentional. Sometimes with cooking, the best meals kind of just happen based on what’s just in your refrigerator. But with baking there’s a lot of effort and time that goes into preparing something. So when you’re able to bake a cake for your baby on her birthday or share a stack of pancakes on a Saturday morning, those are intentional gifts. Time and intention always means love. Anytime you put those two things together, it’s something you want to do. It’s something important to you.