behind the scenes

Inside Scoop: Master Class with Sally McKenney of Sally's Baking Addiction

We had the BEST time at our first-ever Master Class!

I couldn't imagine having anyone else kick off our Master Class series than the baking queen herself - Sally McKenney!! The tickets for this class LITERALLY SOLD OUT IN ONE MINUTE!!! ONE! 

image of people in class

For those that don't know, Sally is the baker, creator, photographer, and all around girl boss behind the popular website Sally's Baking Addiction. In 8 years, Sally's worked hard to build Sally's Baking Addiction into a well-known trusted resource for fellow dessert lovers who are also eager to bake from scratch. She's a three-time award-winning cookbook author, a mother, and huge inspiration to us all.

Over the years, Sally has become a source of inspiration, one of my biggest cheerleaders, and luckily for me, a dear friend. 

And what exactly is Master Class? It's our new baking class series where we invite some of our favorite bakers, personalities, and all around boss ladies at our headquarters to show us how they dough it. From baking techniques, to special ingredients, and even a little advice on how they make their dreams come true. Master Class has it all - and a side of cookie dough :) PLUS, a portion of each ticket price goes to a charity of the Master's choice. Sally chose the Philadelphia Chapter of For Goodness Cakes to receive a portion of ticket sales from this class.

During the class (and in honor of #nationalchocolatechipcookieday), we made (drum roll please)...Sally's GIANT Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the best parts was that I got to grill Sally on all the burning questions I've always wanted to ask. Here's what she had to say!

image of the Sally masterclass

Kristen: Tell us how you felt when you made the leap from SBA as a side hustle to concentrating on it full time? 

Sally: Nervous, but empowered. I was extremely motivated as I'd been dreaming about making Sally's Baking Addiction a full time career for awhile. I basically worked 24/7 for years and those long hours have all been worth it. I will never regret quitting my corporate job to pursue a dream!

What's the favorite part of what you do? 

There's so much I love. I'm thankful that I can connect with bakers all over the world, I'm thrilled that I'm able to create and bake in the kitchen, and I absolutely love food photography.  Even though the workload is heavy, there is so much good in everything I do. I'm grateful every single day.

 We know your photos look perfect and your blog is a huge success, but tell us about some of the struggles behind the scenes. What was your biggest fail? 

It's been a journey. I struggle with some recipe testing, I struggle with writing, I struggle with food photography. Some of the recipes you see have been tested over a dozen times, sometimes I write for an hour only to delete every single word, and the 5 photos on each blog post come from a 300+ photo batch. Not every recipe turns out perfect, not every blog post flows out of my brain, and not every photo is picture-perfect. I'm still learning. My biggest recipe fail was probably a couple years ago when I was trying to make a blood orange/chocolate swirled pound cake. No matter what I did, this cake was a disaster in every sense of the word. I also melted a spatula on the stove and my stand mixer fell off the counter (as it was mixing).... just to name a couple!

You make everything seem so easy! Are there things that are still difficult for you? 

Food photography is really hard for me and has been since I first picked up a DSLR in 2012. It doesn't come easy. I work REALLY hard at my lighting, styling, and editing. But that's actually why I love it-- because it's a challenge.

How do you pick your baking challenges? 

I usually ask the community! I get so many challenge recipe requests and I try to work through each to see if it would make sense as a Sally's Baking Challenge recipe for any given month.

Can you give us a hint about September's baking challenge? 

It's a homemade bread recipe, but that depends if the recipe I have in my head actually works! I haven't completed my recipe testing yet.

What's the most popular recipe on your blog? And what's your personal favorite? And what's Kevin's? 

My banana bread is the current most popular recipe on my blog. The most popular recipe changes each month, but that's been #1 for awhile. My personal favorite is my salted caramel apple pie. Forever my favorite dessert! As for my husband... he loves literally anything that includes peanut butter and chocolate. His top is definitely my peanut butter pie.

How has becoming a Mom changed you in regard to how you work and your perspective on what you do everyday? 

Navigating how to handle my career after I had my daughter was a very difficult transition period. For so many reasons, she's been the best blessing because having a child has forced me to find a schedule. Before having a baby, I was a bonafide workaholic and devoted every waking hour to my business. It was stressful. Now we only have childcare in place for certain hours of the day and certain days of the week, so my availability to work is limited. I've had to shift my schedule and pack everything into a finite amount of hours. I can't waste time during those hours and as it turns out, I work best under pressure! Luckily I have a wonderful team who helps me manage the workload, too.

image of kristen and sally

Sally brought so much sweetness to our first-ever Master Class! 

The memorable morning was filled with mimosas, oat milk nitro lattes, plenty of Sweetapolita sprinkles, and lots of cookie dough! And after the class, Sally stuck around to do a book signing... and the line was out the door!! Go girl!!

We can't thank Sally enough for joining us! We hope she comes back for ROUND 2 in the future.

Stay tuned for our future Master Classes! Let us know who else we should have host over at @cookiedonyc