Sahana Vij, 18-year-old baker and recently published author of Bake Away, a cookbook inspired by creativity, experience, and expression, shares the story behind her love of baking and what moves her to connect with the world through food.
What sparked your early interest in baking and drew you in?
Sahana Vij: My parents introduced me into the world of cooking. From a very young age, I grew up around the kitchen filled with spices and new recipes. [When I was] around the age of 5, my mom taught me how to make French toast. I immediately fell in love with the methodology and creativity baking offered. From then on, I began to experiment with recipes online and study cookbooks. I never really repeated the same recipe twice and continued to challenge myself. So, I would say the creative freedom drew me to baking.
What inspired you to write Bake Away?
SV: As I mentioned earlier, I always loved to bake. However, throughout middle school and high school, I began to love to write as well. Around my freshman or sophomore year of high school, I asked my parents if I could combine both my passions into a cookbook. Supportive as always, they encouraged me to start writing the recipes. From then on, I wrote, edited, and published Bake Away.
One hundred percent of author royalties for this book are being donated to No Kid Hungry. What motivated you to team up with No Kid Hungry?
SV: My mom has always taught me the importance of giving back to the community and the urgent need to care about others in our world. I used to go with my parents to a women’s shelter and serve enchiladas, which served as one experience that taught me how food connects us. As I began working on the book, I knew I wanted to give the proceeds to No Kid Hungry because the children who will receive meals from the money are in much more urgent need for it than I am. I chose No Kid Hungry specifically because of how dedicated they are to working with students and helping them regain access to reduced-price and free school meals (especially during COVID-19). I felt it as a duty to give back and help young students regain access to these vital resources.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the new book? What makes it your favorite?
SV: My favorite recipe in the book is the chai cake. I specifically like it because it is a cake (my favorite dessert to make) but also because of the memory tied to it. My mom and my trips to a local Seattle, Washington, tearoom inspired this recipe, allowing me to relive the pot of chai my mom and I shared.
How has travel influenced your baking?
SV: Traveling has greatly influenced my baking because to visit most of my family, I have to travel. Since experiences with my family inspire each recipe throughout the book, the flavors and foods from where they live inspired my recipes.
To learn more about Sahana, be sure to follow her on Instagram (@bakeaway) and find her book, Bake Away: Twenty Recipes Capturing the Spirit of Creativity, Experience, and Expression, on her website, bakeaway.com.