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Cookier Close-up with emilybaking, Our June Site Artist!


What can I say? Her work is subtle, never overdone, and simply exquisite! Yes, you know who I mean – emilybaking, our honored June site artist for her winning contributions (below) to Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #13!



If you read my preliminary intro to emilybaking here, you know that she harks from Tokyo, Japan; she’s  a hobbyist decorator who first learned the cookie craft about two years ago from Noriko Forster (aka mintlemonade); and she’s soon to be a first-time mom! Woo hoo!

That’s all well and good, of course, but today I strive to dig a bit deeper, to “peel the onion” as they used to say in my business consultancy days, to get behind the sketchy bio that I painted in that initial forum post and to delve into the real heart and soul of emilybaking!

So, what are we waiting for?! Let’s go!

(FYI: Due to security reasons, emilybaking requested that I not share her real, full name or image on this site or anywhere online, so, hereafter, we’ll affectionately refer to her as Emily - or EB, short for emilybaking - and use one of her emilybaking avatars wherever I’d normally use her headshot.)

JMU: Hi, Emily! First, thank you for taking the time to answer my myriad interview questions, especially when your little one is due in the matter of a few weeks! Congratulations! You must be so excited! Since we’re on the subject of babies, let me start with some questions with how your cookie “baby” (meaning emilybaking) was born. What or who first spurred you to get interested in cookie decorating and to take your first, life-changing class with mintlemonade two years ago?

EB: Hello, Julia! Thank you so much for giving me this nice honor and opportunity! I think I will enjoy this interview!

I was aware of the existence of iced cookies long before two years ago . . . maybe ten years ago, in fact. My impression of them at that time was that their designs were quite strong, with lots of pop from bright primary colors. I thought they were cute, but they didn’t leave me thinking that I would like to try to make them myself.

Many years passed, and one day, I saw the iced cookies that my friend had made for her blog. Because she is a very fashionable person, her iced cookies were as well. I looked at them, was very interested, and thought, “I also want to make those!” Using the internet, I searched for a place where I could experience cookie decorating firsthand.

That’s when I found the workshop that mintlemonade was holding. Her works are very sophisticated and wonderful. I was very fascinated by their color and design.

JMU: Yes, her use of color is exceptional! (Side note: We have a live chat coming up with mintlemonade in July! Check it out here !) What were the three most important lessons that you learned from mintlemonade in that class?

EB: In her workshop, I learned these three things:
  • Cookie decorating is very difficult.
  • While cookies are challenging, the challenge is part of the fun.
  • And, while delicious sweets, cookies also have worth as art.

I like to see beautiful things, and I also love to eat delicious sweets. So cookie decorating is a special time for me – I can be absorbed in work and still feel excited!


JMU: It’s hard to believe that you’ve only been decorating for two years, as your cookies are always picture-perfect. How did you go about honing your craft in such a short period of time? I’m thinking you must practice a lot, which leads me to this follow-on question: How many cookies do you make a week and where (or to whom) do they all go? I know you don’t sell cookies, so what is the outlet for your finished work?

EB: Wow! Your words are an honor! For me, decorating cookies isn’t about feeling that I must practice; it’s more about the fun. So rather than saying I have practiced a lot, you might say I’ve enjoyed myself a lot!

In any given week, I'm decorating cookies about three to four days. (But, now with my pregnancy, I don’t always decorate that much.) My work is given to friends and family, or sometimes used in the workshops that I teach.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying making a simple photo book with photographs of my work as a record of my growth and trajectory.

JMU: Since you brought up the subject of teaching, let’s talk about it for a bit. In the brief bio you sent me, you said that you, from time to time, teach cookie decorating workshops not only in your home, but also in a local elementary school. What led you to teach cookie decorating in the first place? What appeals to you about teaching the craft? And how and when did you know that you had reached a level of skill that would attract students to your classes?

EB: When I started, I participated in workshops, and just enjoyed making others’ cookies.

After about six months of workshop participation, I started to create original work at home and gave it to the people around me. One of them was a soap-carving teacher. (It’s a traditional Thai craft to carve things such as soap, vegetables, and fruit using a single knife.) Anyway, she loved what I gave her, and also became interested [in decorating]. She said, "Tell me how to make these! I also want to make cookies!" She later gathered a few people who were interested in cookie decorating, and I taught my first class.

Then, I began to be asked by others to teach. I felt the joy of sharing with people the fun and charm of cookie decorating! Teaching has also motivated me to “up” my skills!

JMU: How often do you teach? How many students are in your typical class? And how many cookies over what period of time do students usually create in each class?

EB: I hold workshops at home about once or twice a month, for small groups of two to three people. Class time is about three hours, and we typically decorate four to five cookies.


JMU: Can you tell us a little more about how you have designed your cookie decorating workshops for success? For instance, what’s the typical cost to students? Do you supply them with all of the cookies, or do they do the baking too? Do you supply them with tools, or are they expected to bring their own? How long do you typically spend preparing for each class, and what type of preparation do you do to ensure that the class runs smoothly?

EB: My workshops are color-making and decorating classes, so I provide all of the cookies and necessary tools.

My typical preparation . . . Make the cookie dough, and bake it. Make the royal icing, and add color to it (except for the portion we color in class). Make samples for the students, prepare a recipe sheet, assemble the necessary tools, and so on. I prepare everything by myself, so I usually have two to three days of preparation for a single class.

In order for the class to operate smoothly, I'm careful about the volume of content that I teach, i.e., how much technique versus design.

JMU: Phew, those are some lucky students! I hope you charge a lot to cover all of that prep work!  So, why have you opted to stay a hobbyist decorator and to teach rather than sell your cookies?

EB: In the future, I think I will sell my work. But for now, I just want to share with many people the pleasure of cookie decorating. The iced cookies sold in Japan usually have vivid or pastel colors. Because I like cooler, softer colors, such as shabby chic and earth tones, I’d like to take advantage of this difference when I sell my work.


JMU: Oh, I bet you could! Let’s turn to your cookie craft for a bit. Your sets are immediately recognizable by their soft color palettes and perfectly smooth icing. What are your tips for mixing such subtle and wonderful colors? What type and brand of food coloring do you use and why?

EB: I use Wilton food coloring for all colors, and CK Products only for white. However, the colors that are available here in Japan are limited. (Basically, I have black, brown, golden yellow, lemon yellow, orange, pink, rose pink, Christmas red, no-taste red, violet, sky blue, royal blue, leaf green, moss green, and kelly green.)

I mix these limited colors, two to four colors at a time, to make my color(s) of preference. To make a shabby chic or earthy hue, I mix a dark color, like black or brown, into a brighter color. (For example, leaf green + black, sky blue + brown, and so on.) In addition, if you mix any leftover royal icing (already colored), you can make subtle colors that you’d never have imagined (as I did in my work, "Life Is Beautiful Cookies", below.)

Life is Beautiful

JMU: Thanks for those coloring tips! And what are your tips for making perfectly smooth royal icing topcoats? Do you make royal icing from scratch, or do you use a readymade royal icing mix or meringue powder? If either of the latter, which brand do you use and why?

EB: I do not use readymade royal icing mix. I make royal icing from scratch using dried egg whites and powdered sugar. I buy them from cotta, an online shop in Japan that sells their original products.

In order to make a smooth royal icing topcoat, pipe the outline carefully, mix the royal icing well, bake the cookies flat . . . I'm careful with all of these things.

JMU: As always, I love to use these interviews to learn more about the sweets culture in other countries. When I think of Japanese sweets, wagashi and mochi (a type of wagashi, as I understand) immediately come to mind, but not decorated cookies. When did decorated cookies start catching on in Japan, and, in your opinion, who or what was responsible for them beginning to get the attention of decorators like you and mintlemonade?

EB: Yes, wagashi and mochi are traditional confectionery in Japan. Recently in Japan, not only cookies, but various decorated foods and sweets have become more prevalent . . . things like rolled cakes, donuts, cupcakes, sushi, Japanese hot pot (called “nabe”), decorative packed lunches (called "bento"), and more . . .

Along with the decorated food, handmade crafts have also become more widespread, with a variety of classes being held here in Japan. Compared to a few years ago, cookie decorating classes have also increased in the whole of Japan.

Therefore, there are more and more cookie decorators, and the attention is turned up.


JMU: Would you also say that there is growing interest among the Japanese in buying decorated cookies  - not just learning about them? Or are most Japanese cookie decorators making cookies for the sheer artistry and only as a hobby?

EB: Decorated cookies are also sold in Japan, and the demand seems to be a little bit more than in recent years. So, yes, I think that Japanese cookie decorators are decorating both as a hobby, or for art, and for selling.

JMU: Do you think interest in decorated cookies, both as a hobby and a business, will continue to grow in Japan? Why or why not?

EB: I think interest in cookie decorating in Japan will continue to increase in the future. Right now, interest in decorated cookies is definitely growing. They’re being used for wedding gifts, toppers on birthday cakes, etc.

JMU: Enough about the future of cookies, and onto your future! I know your first baby is due in July! His/her arrival is certainly going to be life-altering! How, if at all, do you envision emilybaking changing once your baby is born?

EB: Yes, I'm sure my life will change greatly! My new arrival will surely affect the inspiration of my work. Indeed, I may have less time, and I may do cookie work less frequently. However, I feel that I can make my work more full of love than ever!

Image 6 ADJ

JMU: Oh, I bet your new one will be a wonderful cookie muse – I look forward to seeing the new designs that s/he spurs you to create! And, last but not least, what are your hopes and goals for emilybaking over the next three years – once you’ve had a chance to settle into motherhood, that is? 

EB: Well . . . I still have no clear vision other than, "I want to make people smile because of my food" or "I want to make people feel happy because of my food". But more than anything, I want to continue to create work that keeps me excited! Thank you!

JMU: Thank you for this wonderful interview, and best of luck juggling your new love with your love of cookie decorating!

All cookies and photos by emilybaking.

Interested in learning more about emilybaking? Please check out her profile and portfolio right here on Cookie Connection - and, of course, her Facebook page too!

Cookier Close-ups is the place on Cookie Connection where we celebrate the change-makers of the cookie decorating world. Whether forging new enterprises, inventing novel decorating techniques, or consistently charming us with their cookie decorating prowess, each of our featured thought leaders has redefined in his/her distinctive way how we interact, create, or otherwise do business here in cookie space!

If there are other cookiers you'd really like to get to know, please post requests in this forum. We'll do our best to round them up for an upcoming Cookier Close-up! Thanks!


Images (9)
  • Emily's Cookier Close-up Banner: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Emily's Winning June Banner: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Emily's Winning June Background: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Seashell Set: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Seaside-Themed Set: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Wedding Set: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Life is Beautiful Cookies: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Another Wedding Set: Cookies and Photo by emilybaking
  • Heart of Roses (Emily's Avatar, Above): Cookies and Photo by emilybaking

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Comments (10)

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Such a beautiful interview! Emily Baking and Mintlemonade are my cookie heroes, was very interesting reading about them. My best wishes to Emily for her next amazing projects and for her becoming a mother very soon! ❤️

I loved reading about you, I could feel your passion for the cookie art, and I can relate to what you said. I am sure the new arrival will inspire your work and I look forward to seeing that cookies full of love! Thak you for sharing and thank you Julia for another wonderful interview.

Interesting interview. Congrats for this wonderful news. I love everything you do.  ❤️❤️❤️ You're a Great Artist indeed. 

Thanks Julia for your efforts ❤️❤️❤️

Last edited by Magadiuz

Most important point first - all my best wishes for you, the father-to-be, and, of course, the new earthling who will soon arrive! I keep my fingers crossed that s/he will not be like my nephews and niece so that you will still have time to sleep and make cookies

It seems like the cookie scene in Japan is much more developed than in Germany, when you teach so many classes. That gives me hope for the future. But I truly wonder how you can press so many things into just three hours. This is how long I let a base coat dry at least before I proceed with any further steps. Normally even more than that...

I hope that your journey into selling cookies will be successful but that we will still sometimes be able to enjoy posts from you.  

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