YOUR STORY: Sugarface!

Warning! You're about to get really hungry! Everything that Catherine Allen bakes is truly a work of art! I had been seeing these gorgeous and delicious baked goods come up on my Facebook feed and finally asked about an interview. Catherine is the sweetest person and she's such a witty writer...you'll love reading this interview! After reading her heart and the story behind her baking business "Sugarface!" be sure to call her up to order some goodies.....enjoy!

1.) You are an incredible painter, how did you get into the art of beautiful baking?
I got into baking for the same reason I got into painting and really for the same reason I do anything....to avoid feeling sad! You can say I said that. But sad is my default emotion, so I like the purely physical aspect of baking, and for that matter painting and art in general. I spent a very long time on one painting last year and by the end of it, I was really burned out and sick of the smell of solvent. I  paint mostly cake (Wayne Thiebaud, anyone?), so baking seemed like a great way to recoup. Lots of people bake for that reason- it's comforting!

I think art is in everything human people do- so baking falls into that category and all our moms and grandmas are and have been artists, and deserve that kind of respect. Go gals. And really I actually believe that. There's a book called "What Good are the Arts?" by a guy named John Carey that's got my back, at least in part, on this matter....eh. Next question!

2.) What kinds of baked goods do you create? Do you bake gluten free or specialty goods?
I make anything people ask for. I'm starting to do more gluten free things, and vegan is no problem. I think I told you this whole Sugarface! thing is a potential business and mostly now a big huge experiment. I'm fortunate to have friends who have friends who will order from me, and I do my best to accommodate all requests. Until I know that I absolutely don't want to do something, I'll do it!
I make French macarons, but no one knows what those are, and they are very finicky! So I don't sell as many as I just make for fun. But that's like, an example of a specialty item. Plus it's gluten-free and has been since it's existed as a thing. Mostly though I make what people ask for, and so far what they ask for are pies, decorated cookies, brownies, and cakes. Can do!

3.) What’s your favorite creation so far?
So far I've most enjoyed...hhhmmm, everything that I'm making for the first time. Gosh it's fun to read everything that's ever been written about say, peanut brittle, and then get in there and actually have it turn out, ha, or fail miserably. But you learn either way, and then you know how to do something else, and you can incorporate it into any number of other items. There's a peanut butter cookie I like to make with brittle and banana and cereal and it's pretty good I think. My dad likes it too.

4.) Have you ever had a big disaster in the kitchen? What keeps you going?
Oh yes big disasters every week followed by tears and threats of quitting forever, but then I wake up the next day and compulsively have to try again. More often than not I find that I have really learned a lot overnight. I learn the most from messing things up and that's a great lesson I'd not learned until I started baking. Failure is such a valuable tool. Gosh it is! I hate it so much! But it's like gold.
The worst so far would be a tie between the countless pounds of almonds I lost to failed macarons (yes, one "o"), and the seven dozen decorated cookies I lost due to badly mixed royal icing. Those I had to remake in 36 hours- mix up dough, bake, decorate, pack, and ship. Almost died, and had to miss a fun family trip to top it off. Thank you family for letting me stay home to fix my mistakes.
I keep going because my husband encourages me to keep going and I have a hard time quitting when I have a shred of interest left. My husband is a coooooooool dude. He scrapes me off the kitchen floor daily and listens to bake-talk til he should be blue in the face. But he's into it and very supportive.

5.) Where did you get the name “Sugarface!” for your baking business?
I thought Sugarface! would be a good name because it came to me one day when i was working at Starbucks. I thought....gee, thanks brain. You must really hate working here! It told me that yes, it was in fact sick of low pay and zero ownership. Ha, one or the other of those two things is fine! But never both. Like i said....it's an experi-business, and in a year or two I'll make decisions about what's next. I've just got to learn the ropes for now. I've got to decide what exactly I like to make, and what people like to order, as well as learning the pure business side of things that makes it possible to be free and creative! So I'm trying to surround myself with people who are better at that than me. ahem, you, with the blog and what not, should be one of those people......

6.) How does “Sugarface” fit into your everyday life?
Sugarface! is part of each day because i wake up and my kitchen is always there. As of September 2011 it's actually legal to sell baked goods from home in the state of Texas. No candies or refrigerated items, but cakes, cookies, and pies are okay, so long as customers pay for them at your house. So that's my place of work....I keep bakers hours and work as long as I'm able to work. I read a lot. I JOINED PINTEREST because that seems like a great way to understand more clearly the things people like. I don't know what else because my head is consumed with this. I have friends in culinary school whom I annoy with questions. I love French pastry technique because its highly technical and in that way, very like painting. So my mother-in-law’s baking textbooks from the Odessa College culinary program are always on loan at my house. I really love Cooks Illustrated. And ladies! They know EVERYTHING! I ask a group of ladies about baking and come away with a wealth of information! Baking is the girliest thing I’ve ever done and I feel like I finally connect in some way with other females. AWESOME!

7.) What do you love most about what you do?
I love making things that a wide variety of people can enjoy. On any level. Baking is the first thing I’ve tried that's been successful in this way.
8.) Each batch of cookies I’ve seen on is full of creative detail! Do you have a certain process? About how long does it take?
Those decorated cookies do require a fair bit of attention....I am still developing my own way of making them. It can take anywhere from three to six days to complete one order....from baking to packed and ready to go there's quite a lot that goes on. I think of them now more like I would a specialty cake. They are definitely a luxury item.
9.) How could someone contact you to order?
To order you can contact me on Facebook, just my regular old Facebook account (experiment!!) or by phone at (432)889-8307.

Thanks Catherine! You're amazing and I know Sugarface! is bound for success!


Jenna Knight said...

I LOVE Catherine and I LOVE Sugarface! huge FAN! I have ordered some cookies and I may have eaten 1/2 of them myself! LOL

Jacque said...

I love everything Catherine does! Everything she touches is art. I want the cookies and desserts to look like as fabulous of a masterpiece on my body as they do on my wall! Your painting and your baking make me happy too! Thanks so much.