Baking began as a hobby for Calli Marie when she was 15 years old after she watched an episode of Food Network’s “Giada at Home” on television. At the age of 18, Calli enrolled in the culinary program at The Art Institute of Jacksonville. Calli attended classes during the day and in the evenings she worked as an overnight baker at a chain bakery and sandwich shop.
Calli’s formal education was complemented with the practical experience she received while working for several large scale production kitchens, including working as the Kitchen Manager at the Sulzbacher Center. There, Calli and her team prepared and served meals to approximately 500 homeless individuals, three times a day.
While Calli appreciated the real world experience she gained through her employment, she knew her passion was for baking. She eventually transitioned to working as a baker at several local Jacksonville businesses. With her hands kneading dough Calli finally fed her passion for baking.
Calli graduated from culinary school in 2013. Upon graduating, a professor advised Calli to leave Jacksonville and find somewhere else to establish herself as a baker. Calli, being the champion of Jacksonville that she is, resisted her professor’s advice. Instead, Calli sought ways to make a positive impact on the Jacksonville community through the culinary arts. This eventually led to Calli working at Brew, a coffee shop and craft beer bar in Jacksonville’s Five Points. Though she started as a Barista, Calli is now Brew’s Food Program Manager. She is responsible for Brew’s beautiful daily assortment of fresh baked cakes and pastries.
In addition to working at Brew, Calli is the author of “Bakes,” a 50-recipe home cookbook for coffee shop baking. “Bakes” brings the coffee shop experience home and assists you in recreating it in your own kitchen. Calli utilized Kickstarter to fund “Bakes,” and her campaign successfully raised $28,357.
In August 2016 Calli was one of six chefs featured in NOLA MOCA‘s “Women of the Knife,” a six-course dinner inspired by MOCA Jacksonville‘s exhibition “Confronting the Canvas: Women of Abstraction.” Her work has been featured on WJCT, Jacksonville Business Journal, Edible Northeast Florida, and VOID Magazine. Calli also contributed to the collaborative cookbook “The Chef’s Canvas: Recipes Inspired by the Collection of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.”
10 Questions with Callie Marie
What recipe in your cookbook, “Calli Marie BAKES,” best summarizes your personality?
Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Cake.
Makes 1, 3 layer, 8 x 2 inch cake
540 g | 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
24 g | 2 tablespoons baking powder
12 g | 1 teaspoon kosher salt
594 g | 3 cups granulated sugar, divided
333 g | 14 ounces water
198 g | 8 ounces vegetable oil
12 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
227 g | 1 cup cream cheese, softened
452 g | 2 cups butter, softened
41 g | ¼ cup strawberries
1,022 g | 9 cups powdered sugar
6 g | 1 teaspoon salt
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together 2 cups sugar, water, vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vanilla bean paste.
3. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and whisk together until combined. There will still be a few lumps.
4. In the bowl of your mixer beat egg whites on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until bubbles start to form and the eggs start turning into a white foam. Add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. With the mixer on low, pour in the wet batter and mix until it just comes together, about 1 minute. Don’t worry if there are still streaks of egg whites through the batter. Fold batter by hand using a spatula 3 or 4 times to incorporate any batter on the bottom of the bowl.
6. Spray 3, 8 x 2 inch cake pans generously with nonstick spray and portion the batter evenly between the pans by using a #12 green disher. Each pan should get the same amount of scoops.
7. Tap the pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles and to ensure an even cake.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch in the middle.
9. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, give the pan another tap on the counter and immediately invert the cake onto parchment paper and remove the pan. If the cake cools in the pan it will shrink and lose its airy texture.
10. Let the cake sit upside down on the parchment until it is completely cool.
11. Flip the cake over, trim the edges and level the top, then you are ready to frost!
For the Buttercream
12. Beat ingredients in mixer on low until your frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The strawberries will turn the frosting a bright pink.
You utilized crowdsourcing and Kickstarter to fund the publication of your cookbook, “Bakes”. What insight or recommendations can you provide to an artist looking at crowdsourcing as a funding option? What were the benefits of crowdsourcing and did you experience any setbacks or limitations by opting to crowdsource instead of other more traditional forms of funding?
Honestly, when we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign I was terrified. $25,000 is a lot of money! I had to say to myself, “If you get the money then that’s awesome and you keep going. If you don’t you’re still the same person you were before you asked for it and keep going.” I had nothing to lose. I am such an advocate for putting yourself, your goals, your dreams, and your desires out into the world. If you are passionate, genuine, and hardworking then someone will notice and they’ll help you.
You want to start a Kickstarter? Then do it. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. The benefits are endless. You are not constricted like you are when you receive a loan from a bank. You just have to deliver what you promised to the people who support you most.
What recipe(s) opened your eyes to the world of culinary arts? What was the source of the recipe(s)?
When I was in middle school, Nickelodeon was on channel 19. All I watched was that channel. One day when I got home from school our cable provider changed and channel 19 was now Food Network. I remember Giada was on. She was making roasted chicken en papillote and I was hooked. The next day I asked my mom if I could make dinner and, long story short, I have been making dinner ever since.
Do you have any patterns, routines, or rituals when you enter the kitchen?
Yes! I think most chefs will say yes to this. The first hour of my shift is almost always the same. One thing that’s necessary to have a good working kitchen is being efficient. It is all about being organized and managing your time.
Every kitchen is ran differently but they all have their timelines, prep lists, and checklists before service. Most of the things I bake these days are second nature to me. You can find me listening to a podcast (probably Reply All), drinking a soy vanilla bean cold brew, and baking kolaches pretty much every night of the week at BREW.
What role does trial and error play when you create something new? Can you recall an instance where a past failure led to a future success?
When baking, trial and error is always so frustrating. A dough can look right, feel right, and smell right. But if the slightest thing is off you won’t know until it’s baked, which is usually hours after you begin making it. There was a day that we ran out of flour at BREW but I still needed to put something out to sell so I messed around until I made a completely flour free peanut butter cookie and now that recipe is in my cookbook.
The medium you use to express your creativity has a definitive shelf life. The result of your work is temporary in the sense that it is intended to be consumed. What have you learned about yourself through your pursuit of excellence in a medium that is impermanent?
Edward Lee says it best, “There’s something that affects your psyche when you know that every single day you are going to create something which will be consumed/destroyed. The fact that we spend days, hours, all this time making this food and it just goes away in the course of minutes. And that’s it, it’s gone and the moment the food goes out, it’s lost forever. But there is a beauty to that. We can never hold on or hang on to that purity no matter how much we try. Rather than avoiding it, why not just embrace it wholeheartedly? It puts cooking in a very special place for me.”
How do you approach food plating and how important are ascetics when presenting food, both in a retail setting and in a cookbook?
Plating and ascetics are most pastry chefs’ favorite part of creating a dish. It’s where we can make a guests jaw drop. Luckily for me, everything that we do retail is the same as it is in the cookbook. Coffee shop baking is so approachable for at-home bakers.
How does it make you feel when you see someone eating something you’ve made and they either verbally express or express through their body language how much they’re enjoying every bite?
It’s the reason why I do what I do. To create that feeling of momentary bliss and joy is all I ever want to come out of my baking.
You have more than 26,000 followers on Instagram. How have you grown your audience and how do you utilize social media to serve your art?
Once upon a time, before Instagram was as huge as it is now, they had a suggested users page that was curated by their staff. One day I got an email from them saying they loved my feed and that they wanted to put me on that list. The rest is history. Now I am lucky to be featured on feeds ranging from Mind of A Chef, Old Navy, King Arthur Flour, and Food and Wine. My Instagram is where most of my cake orders come from, it’s a portfolio for me.
What role has community played in the development of your craft and career?
When you do crowdfunding you learn that the community not only loves your product but they also love you and want you to succeed. It’s a beautiful and humbling thing. I wouldn’t have BAKES without the support of my community and for that I am forever thankful.