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Live Chat with Lisa Snyder of The Bearfoot Baker

     

    Hang onto your pastry bags, folks! Yes, it's true! This month, Lisa Snyder, author of the well-known blog The Bearfoot Baker and the recently released book 100 Animal Cookies, joins us to chat about her personal cookie journey, the process of writing a cookie book, and her upcoming role as keynote speaker at CookieCon 2015. And this is just the beginning . . . Lisa's chat marks the first in our series of chats and Close-ups with this year's illustrious set of CookieCon instructors.

     

     

    As always, you're encouraged to log advance questions starting now! (It's super helpful for questions to be logged early, so our guests are able to prepare answers in advance and to field more questions on the day of the chat.) But note that these questions will reveal one at a time, in the order received, only after the chat goes live. Please don't expect questions or answers to appear immediately.

     

    Also, as with all of these chats, you have a special opportunity to see inside the minds of some of the most talented cookiers in the world. I challenge you to do your homework and push our guests with unexpected - maybe even tough - questions!

     

    "See" you at the chat!

     

    P.S. Stay tuned for our in-depth Cookier Close-up with Lisa coming later in April.

Hi, Lisa! It's so great to have you with us today on Cookie Connection. It's been so long since we last saw each other - I think it was at the very first CookieCon, which now seems like eons ago! And now you're going to be this year's keynote speaker. I can't wait to hear more about that gig and your new book, of course . . .
. . . but first, before we get started, just a few housekeeping notes for newbies to our chats: questions are answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until Lisa reads and answers them. We'll work through questions that were logged in advance first; then start working on questions asked live during the chat. That said, please be patient and do not re-post the same question. It may take some time to answer your question, depending on where it sits in the queue. But I will personally make sure every question gets answered before we're through!
Please also ask just one question at a time - it's easier for the featured guest to keep track of questions and for others to follow the dialogue this way. Thanks again!
OK, ready to get started, Lisa?
So I'm really curious about your book. First - congrats!! It's completely cute! Let's start with how that book deal came about. In my day and age, it used to be that wanna-be authors had to write elaborate book proposals, pitch them to a literary agent, and then hopefully have that agent find an interested publisher. Was this the process for you? How long did it take to go from concept to contract?
Thanks for having me Julia. It was wonderful meeting you at Cookie Con. I am a fan of yours and thrilled to see you in person. I am so honored to be here and can’t wait to chat with everyone.
Oops. I posted that first question rather fast. But let's go with it!
Everyone, the only "advance" questions were from me, so we're moving directly onto live Q&A. So there will be slight delays between questions as Lisa answers.
Lisa, typed your answers at the bottom of the chat stream where it says "Type Your Post". OK?
typed = type
I am so happy that Mike and Karen asked me to be the keynote speaker at Cookie Con this year! I can't wait to see everyone!
We're psyched you'll be there! Did you see my first question posted above? Re-posting it below now.
So I'm really curious about your book. First - congrats!! It's completely cute! Let's start with how that book deal came about. In my day and age, it used to be that wanna-be authors had to write elaborate book proposals, pitch them to a literary agent, and then hopefully have that agent find an interested publisher. Was this the process for you? How long did it take to go from concept to contract?
Well, have you ever opened an email that sounded kind of strange but decided to answer it anyway? That is what happened with the ‘100 Animals Cookie Book.” I received an email from Quintet Publishing asking if I would like to write a book for them. I thought it was a joke or something. Seriously, who would contact me out of the blue wanting to do a book. But as I read the email, I decided to answer them and the next thing I knew, I was baking and decorating more cookies than I could count! The staff at Quintet Publishing was wonderful to work with. They didn’t insist on big proposals or make me pitch the book to them. I was very grateful for that. Once we signed the contract I had about 3 months to make and ship all the cookies to the UK so they could take the photos. We actually sent the cookies in two batches to make things easier. The scariest part of the book for me was to ship the cookies knowing they would have to sit for a while before the photos were taken. I was terrified the royal icing would bleed but we got very lucky and didn’t have many problems.
From the time I signed the contract it was less then three months. The wanted to make a cookie for every step of the design so for the 100 cookies there over 1000 cookies shipped because I also provided extras incase something was broke during the shipping process.
Oops, here's the question for the last answer!
And how long did it take to write the book?
Whoa - I would be terrified shipping that many cookies too. But the photos look great!
Next question coming up . . .
Which do you like better, blogging or book writing? And why?
I love my job weather it is blogging or writing. I loved writing the book because it was something new and challenging. It really was a dream come true, but I love the connection I have with the people that follow my blog. When people email me and tell me stories like how they used my “What Does the Fox Say” cookie at a wedding where they couple just became “Mr. & Mrs. Fox” makes me very happy! LOL
This isn't a question, but to let you know I will be here but cannot see well enough to read. I'll be slow but not asking anything. Ummm, or I might . . . lol.
thanks to Julia and Lisa for this chat
Lisa, how did the book come about?  Were you approached, or did you shop your idea around?
Donaharrisburg-Glad you are here.
Bakerloo - Lisa answered this question already. Please see earlier response.
Love your work Lisa!  Your tutorials are always inspiring.  Where does inspiration come from for all your ideas? And is cookiing something you do full time?  Thx again!  Your generosity is so very appreciated
Everywhere! LOL Nature, kids clothing, cards, wrapping paper, scrapbooking supplies. I look at everything and wonder how I can make it into a cookie.
Holy cow!  That is truly incredible.  I lived in the UK for 3 years, and never had the courage to ship a single cookie overseas!  1,000 - that's incredible.
I know - I'm still reeling over the number!
Bakerloo Station-It was a bit stressful but a great experience.
Lisa, did you go to the UK to oversee the shoot or to touch up cookies?
Julia-No. The publisher took care of everything in the UK. They were really wondeful and did a great job. It was a joy working with them.
Do you have a lot of animal cutters or do you free hand cut them?
Donnaharrisburg-I have a LOT of cutters! Way more than I need but I also try to be creative with cutters so we can get new ideas and designs.
So now that the book is out, how, if at all, has your life changed?
thanks
Hey, all, don't be shy! Please jump in with some questions.
Julia-It has changed a bit. I never thought someone would ask me to sign a book! LOL It is still a little strange.
Pretty cool, eh?
Onto others' questions . . .
I am new to cookie decorating and am still working on consistency. I have read over and over again that experienced decorators "just know" when it's right. Is this the case for you or do you count with every batch? I find when I don't that it can be off. Preparing and bagging icing often seems to be the most time consuming part of the process. Will this get faster?
Julia-It is very cool. The best part was making more cookie friends as the book is sold overseas.
That's true . . . hadn't thought of that, as my books have only had US distribution.
recognition is great!
KellyCinCa- Mastering the royal icing is the hardest part. Once I started weighing my powdered sugar it really helped a lot. It will get easier. Keep it up and it will just click one day!
How thick do you flood your cookies ?  Is it thinly applied or more like piled on?
KellyCinCa-Always remember you can email me anytime with questions. I love helping!
Thank you! I was hoping that would be the case. I started in December and has gotten soooo much better!!
Donnaharrisburg-I usually use 15 second icing to outline and flood.
Lisa - I think she's asking how thick the layer ends up after you've iced. Is that right, Dona?
KellyCinCa-The more you do it the easier it will become.
when i watch videos it looks like flood is thickly applied     yes Julia
Donnaharrisburg-Sorry about that donna! I do apply my icing very thick. Almost to the point it will overflow. It seems to work with my humidity issues and allows the icing to dry flat.
Hi thanks for being here! Do you pack the cookies yourself, or have a service for it? What will be your recommendations for doing this?
mamacitaPR-I package the cookies myself. I actually have a post coming soon to the blog because I am really proud the none of the cookies I shipped broke. Not one!
OK, so 1,000 cookies was amazing enough - but NONE broken! Doubly amazing!
Your cookies are gorgeous and the colours so vibrant - which brand of colourings do you use?
Sorry I meant pack\send
Thank you that was going to be my next question!
TrayKay-I use AmeriColor and Wilton. I like Americolor better because of the bottles. I like Wilton but wish I didn't have to use a toothpick to get the color out of the container.
Another icing question. After I color I try to let it rest to let air bubbles come to the top but I'm always nervous it will crust over. Do you have a set time that you wait before bagging?
KellyCinCa-I place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the icing. It actually touches the icing a little. It will allow the air bubbles rise and the the icing won't crust over.
OK, so back to the book. I'm also amazed that you had less than 3 months to come up with 100 cookies, plus write the book. (My book writing cycles have always been a year). How on earth did you come up with and execute 100 designs so fast? Were some of them old material?
Say yes, please, or my wounded ego won't be able to take it! (I just don't work that fast!)
Thanks!
smiling at Julia
Julia-I didn't sleep! LOL Lots of coffee and late nights! I wish I would have had more time but somehow it got done! A year would have been really nice!
Jullia-PS-Your books are amazing and I look at then often!!
Are you now super busy marketing the book - doing book signings and such, or are you back to your usual blogging routine?
Thanks - they seem so outdated to me now, as my work has evolved so much. I think that's the downside of books though - they are less immediate than blogging or video-blogging.
Julia-I am now back to my normal routine. I am kicking around the idea of a second book. I have my sketch pad ready and have been doodling.
More power to you - I don't think I'll do another (at least not for a long time). I prefer the immediacy of video, I think. OK, back to others' questions!
Keep 'em coming, folks!
yes  Lisa Julia's book/s etc. are very instructional detailed work
ooo  you can draw ?
donnaharisburg-I scribble! LOL I can understand my doodles but I doubt anyone else can.
Let me extend Dona's question by asking if you have an art background? How did you come to making such cute animal characters so seemingly easily?
i meant to ask that  lol
While she's answering, send your questions.
Julia- I don't have an art background. I think my high school art teacher thought I was a nightmare. She always put my pictures in the back where no one could see them. As for the book, I love animals that made the designs come a lot easier.
I'm excited to attend Cookie Con this year. Any tips for getting the most out of the experience?
Great question - Lisa's a CookieCon veteran (taught at the very first one), so she's the right person to ask!
KellyCinCa- I can't tell you how excited I am! The best advice I can give you is to go have fun and don't expect to get much sleep. It is an amazing experience and you will want to stay awake trying to soak it all in.
Do you have favorites in your book? And why?
mamacitaPR-I do have a few favorites. Can you guess which ones? Here is a hint-BEARS! LOL
Kelly - I'd also say; don't be intimidated. Just jump right in and introduce yourself to people and ask questions. Everyone is super friendly and willing to help at CookieCon.
Thanks! Praying everything works out so I can be there! I'll find you if I do!
This is fun! I too am a newbie to cookie decorating. I would like to know more about storing until ready to ship and shelf life.
Thanks! I will!
KellyCinCa-Also take something to keep business card in. People will hand them to you and it is a good way to make friends.
Great tip! Thank you!!
Did you see Carrot Top's question about storage/shelf life? Just checking 'cause I just threw a lot at you at once!
CarrotTop-I love your name by the way. I like to deliver my cookies within two days so they will be super fresh. I let the icing dry completely and then palce the cookies in an airtight container until time to bag them.
Back to CookieCon. So the first time, you taught airbrushing techniques. Do you have a favorite technique and is airbrushing it?
CarrotTop-Also, I always store them in a single layer so they don't get smashed or broken. It seems to work.
Julia-I do love airbrushing. It is my favorite techniuqu. I would love to do it more on the blog but I know eveyone doesn't own an airbrush so I don't use it as often as I would like.
Carrot Top - your followup question that you just posted is incomplete. Could you type it in again?
I like keeping things simple on the blog so everyone can make the cookies I share.
The friend I thought I might be traveling with cannot go. Is there a place to possibly find a roommate? Typically I probably wouldn't consider rooming with a stranger but this community seems so sweet (no pun intended)   that I'm gonna take the risk!!
Above is about CookieCon.
KellyCinCa-Contact Mike and Karen. They are wondeful and might be able to help you find someone. I know they helped us all the first year.
Dona, I can't make sense of your last two questions - sorry. Can you try re-typing them?
Kelly - there is a CookieCon attendees Facebook group, where you can post requests like this. Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/404079749634080/
It's a closed group, so you still may have to ask Mike or Karen to join.
Julia-Thanks! That is awesome to know
Alternatively, there is a chat room and forum on this site, where you can post such questions. I'll send those links as Lisa answers the next question.
Lisa would you consider the plastic lids that cover the cookie sheets airtight or do you use something like tupperware?
I will do that!
Thanks Julia!
KellyCinCa-I know a lot of decorators who use those lids but I have never tried them. I am a good old fashioned tupperware girl! LOL If I ever try the lids I will do a post your you and let you know how I like them.
What do you store them in and how long do consider them fresh?
I think the above question was already answered. Lisa - do you have anything to add? For instance, how long could you push cookies before eating them and still have them be OK?
CarrotTop-I store them in airtight containers and like to give my cookies away within two days. I know they are fresh for 2-3 weeks but I like to deliver them quickly.
Lisa, do you own our own bakery?
Julia-I don't own a bakery. I have been blogging full-time for about three years now and I love it. It is the greatest job in the world.
Here's the link to Cookie Connection's CookieCon 2015 chat room: http://cookieconnection.juliau...-room/cookiecon-2015 Note that question posted here will disappear after 24 hours or so. So you may want to post the questions to our CookieCon forum as well, where the question will remain there forever. Getting that link now.
question = questions
I am planning on attending Cookie Con the first time too this year!  I can't wait to meet so many great cookie idols of mine and make new cookier friends!  Love your book Lisa! 
Lisa, do you have a video showing how to properly use canned sprays?
Adding a few more minutes to the chat. Is that all right with you, Lisa? We have five or so last questions in the queue.
CookieSweetArt-I can't wait to see you CookieSweetArt! Please find me when you get there. Also, bring your book and I will sign it for you.
Hi Ladies! Just getting on here and not sure how long I can stay with tending to four little ones and heading off to class w/ Aime of The Painted Pastry shortly...but wanted to say Hi Lisa! I love your sweet creations and look forward to reading through the feed!!
Donnaharrisburg-I do not have a video using the can sprays. I did use them once or twice but once I used the airbrush gun I geve up on the cans. The airbrush gun give you so much more control.
Great! Thank you, Julia.
Sorry I just posted twice!  New to this whole chat thing! I will bring it!  Thanks!  Dying to make the bears in the sleeping bags! 
thanks
How do you feel about baking ahead and freezing?
winn@CherryBlossoCreatins-HI!!
Hi, Winn!
CookieSweetArt-The bears in the sleeping bags are my favorite. They were a lot of fun to make.
KellyCinca-I like freezeing cookies that are undecorated. It really helps save time. I have never frozen cookies with icing because I have such humid weather I am scared to try it. Maybe one day!
I don't freeze iced cookies either. There's too much risk of colors mottling that I avoid it. Some do it with success, but I don't want the risk after all that decorating time.
Hi, Lisa. Do you deal with humidity in your locale? I'm in Central Florida with subtropical humidity most of the year. Any tips for dealing with it?
Julia my keyboard is acting weird   sorry
Humidity is my Kryptonite. It brings me to my knees! One of the best things for humidity is patients. Let each color of icing dry before you add the next. It doesn’t always work but it helps a lot! Once I learned patients, my second best humidity fighting friend is a fan. Seriously, a fan has saved my cookies from becoming bear food! Thanks to Sweet Sugar Belle for that trick. Other things people use is a heat gun or a food dehydrator. I personally have never tired the dehydrator but LilaLoa has and she loves it. I have tried a heat gun and I know some people who use but I didn’t take a fancy to it. I think I am too lay to stand there and hold it. Putting the cookies on a tray in front of the fan works best for me.
OK, Dona - I'm just deleting questions or comments that I can't read.
Do you use a dehydrator for your cookies?
CookieSweetArt-I personally have never tired the dehydrator but a lot of cookie decorators use them with great success. Julia, you use a dehydrator don't you?
Cookie SweetArt - Lisa answered this above, but posting your question anyway.
Yes, I do. I love it. It really helps prevent craters and gives the icing a nice satin finish.
I have the Nesco dehydrator, which is a love-hate thing. It does all of the above, but it's small and the rack stack and are sloped. I think the larger Excalibur with sliding racks . . .
. . . is probably worth the extra investment.
rack stack = racks stack
Julia-I am going to have to try that. Thanks for letting us know what you use.
I used to blog a lot and for family reasons decided to step away from it for a bit but would love to pick it up again and add to my site-any tips on content or involving others in baking community in blog? I love to write and I love to share the sugar love and being a fabulous blogger yourself I would appreciate the tips
I too was fearful to freeze a decorated cookie
Kelly - that makes three of us: you, me and Lisa!
ty
Thank you for your thoughts on humidity. I use a fan, am not a fan of the heat gun, and will try my dehydrator soon. Best wishes.
Winn@CherryBlossomCreations-One thing I have noticed about blogging, write what YOU are passionate about and it will work. If you force a topic, it never does as well as when you follow your heart and write about what you love. And being consistent is a great way to connect with loyal followers.
I just baked ahead for the first time. Good to know I won't compromise the end result.
Hi Lisa! Hi Julia! This is going to be my first time going to the Cookiecon, and I'm so excited to meet you both!!
My question is: how do you get that shine in your cookies?
Gigi's Patisseries-Good luck with the fan. It has saved many a cookie here in Tennessee.
I have been using one that I already owned and I do have a love- hate thing as well!  I think it may get a little hotter than most so trying to figure out solutions instead of buying a new one.
KellyCinCa-I always encourage people to make practice batches. You can play with them without messing up an order or birthday cookies.
YolisYummies-The shine comes from drying them under a fan. Sweet Sugar Belle told us about it years ago and it really does work well. Here is her post if you want to check it out. http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2011/04/my-1-fan-wfmw/
Kelly et al. - Here's the link to the Cookie Connection forum for making CookieCon 2015 roommate connections. http://cookieconnection.juliau...-roommate-connection
Be the first to post there!
I too use the fan but just read that when using the airbrush it might be better to let them dry without. Do you see a difference in the outcome airbrushed cookies that have been air dried vs with the fan?
Just read through feed-wow! That is a lot of cookies shipped!! I have a hard time shipping 60+ overseas to a soldier!! Thanks for the blogging tips too Lisa!! I have to run and tend to kids but thanks again Julia for this forum and Lisa for joining us! perhaps I will see you at CC this year! ?
See you later, Winn. Have a great weekend.
KellyCinCa-I use a fan to dry the base coat and then I let the air brush colors dry on their own.
Winn@Cherry Blossom Creations-I look forward to seeing you at CC.
I've found that when I dehydrate my cookies, they get shinier (as noted above) and sometimes this sheen causes the airbrush coloring to bead up more. Lisa - have you notices this too? How do you prevent this from happening?
Julia-I have never tried that Julia. I always let them air dry without a fan. I normally don't have issues with the air brush colors bleeding. It is my base colors that I struggle with.
Time check - we have three more questions in the queue and only 7 minutes to go. I'm going to add a few more minutes to the chat, just to be sure we get through these last three questions. But I don't want to keep Lisa too long on a busy weekend, so we'll conclude after those three questions.
It's not bleeding; it's beading up - but I think this corroborates the theory that it's probably best not to dehydrate cookies before airbrushing as colors will go down more uniformly.
Have either of you put cookies in the oven to dry?
Airbrushing is the next tool to learn for me. Wish Cookie Con was here now for this phase!! Thankful for your posts on the airbrush Lisa!
Julia-WOW. I learned something new!
donnaharrisburg-I have never tried to dry cookies in the oven. I know ArtyMcGoo did on one of her McGoo U tutorials. She said it worked well. We may need to try it.
I have dried in the oven, but I don't like it. It may be that my lowest oven setting is 150F.
KellyCinCa-If you ever need anything email me. I am happy to help you get addicted to air brushing!
Julia-That is my lowest temp also. I think I might just keep doing the fan trick. Thanks for the tip.
That temp is too hot, and the cookies quickly over-puff and crack if not watched like a hawk. If you can run your oven at lower temps (95-110F), it probably will work fine - or just with pilot light on.
Will you be demonstrating airbrushing also at CookieCon?
Julia-I think I would forget them! LOL I better leave well enough alone!
Cookie SweetArt-I will do anything that Karen and Mike want me to do! I am there to help with whatever they need.
How do you find time for all you do?
ok   ty to both of   you
CookieBarn-I am so blessed. My kids are grown and I give my husband cereal for dinner. A lot! LOL
i haven't tried the oven either. I've read  some do;   seems to me they'll be too dry. Low 100 for me.
Dona - see my comments about oven-drying above. At the right temp, it should be similar to a dehydrator.
Donnaharrisburg-I have often wondered if the extra heat would dry the cookie out a little.
My hubby loves cereal, which is very fortunate for me!
Julia-I love your hubby! LOL
If in dehydrator at 95F for just a few minutes (no more than 10 are typically needed to quick-set the icing), the cookie texture doesn't change much.
Thank you Lisa! I also want to thank you for the transfers sheets, I use them all the time. Are you planing to have more in your website?
I wish my hubby liked cereal...I would be stocking up and practicing more!
YolisYummies- Royal icing transfers are amazing. They really do help save time when decorating but they also help with bleeding and add character to your cookies. Since I got my new computer it has been a little harder to make templates but I have found something that works. Expect to see some exciting new templates soon!
You ladies are still on here!! Haha! My husband loves cereal and so do the twins
Yeah for Kellogs!!
Hey, gang. We're no longer accepting new questions. We still have 3 to go, and I have a hard stop at 11:30 am.
We'll get through those 3 (I think); you can always email Lisa if you had something you were dying to ask but we ran out of time!
Yes email me!! I love helping people develop their skills! It is why I started blogging.
I have watched several reviews by the "pros" on airbrushes and it seems everyone has a different preference. Do you have a recommendation.
I got mine from Mike and Karen and it has been a great machine. I know a lot of people use the one from Michael’s because you can use a 50% off coupon. I am all for saving money. I hear it is a good machine as well.
Debb - there's also a good post here on Cookie Connection about the airbrushes people are using . ..
Here's the link if you haven't already read it: http://cookieconnection.juliau...-the-best-one-to-get
Royal Icing question for you...I usually end up with the same type of consistency each time I make it...except this last time..I ended up with a super fluffy meringue type icing.  Any ideas what I may have done? Beat I usually use SugarDeaux's recipe if you're familyar with it.
blog  is that youtube?
No, I don't believe Lisa is on YouTube, Dona. It's her written blog. The link can be found in the chat description at the very top of this chat room.
*gracie-I am not familiar with her recipe but I do know if you mix the icing a little too long it will cause it to get fluffy and spongy. Maybe try adding less water especially on humid days.
ty
Thanks for making yourself available!
donnaharrisburg-I have a blog at www.thebearfootbaker.com
Two more questions! Here's the next . . .
I've seen several reviews on airbrush machines but it seems there isn't just one that stands out.  Do you have a preference.
*gracie-I am happy to help!
Oops - this one from Debb was already answered. Moving on . . .
I gmhave not tried the dehydrator or oven as I like a good soft cookie-so does my husbands! Any tips on soft baked recipes or how to keep a softer cookie?
Good question Winn...I was going to ask, too!
Debb-I like to use Silpats. It helps keep the cookie from getting over cookied on the bottom. My cookie recipe is for a softer cookie. Lila Loa has a great cookie recipe you might want to try.
OK, gang, that's a wrap!
Many thanks to Lisa for spending time with us today!
ty
Haha I wrote husbands...i only have one!!
Thank you Lisa and Julia great chat....It has been great to actually ask those questions that run thru my mind and have them answered!!
We'll be interviewing her for an in-depth Cookier Closeup as well, which we hope to post in April. So stay tuned for that!
Thank you all so much for allowing me to be here today. I an honer chatting with you. Like I said before, if you ever need anything, I am only an email away!
Thanks - so great catching up with you here. It's been too long! Congrats again on your book and CookieCon keynote speaker honor!!
Thanks again ladies!! Have a wonderful weekend!!
That's great! Julia, I look forward to that Closeup.  Thanks Lisa for answering! Looking forward to more on your blog!
A great weekend to all! Closing the chat now!
This chat has ended.
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