Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction: On authenticity, routines, and work ethic

Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction has many layers. She’s a wildly successful blogger and photographer, and three-time cookbook author of Sally’s Baking Addiction, Sally’s Candy Addiction, and Sally’s Cookie Addiction, the success of which launched her on a 20-city book tour.

Sally’s success also comes from years of consistent hard work, dating back to the launch of her blog and website, Sally’s Baking Addiction, in 2011: a committed love to the whats and hows of baking and, mostly, from shared recipes that are the crème de la crème and individually tested dozens of times.

Her work ethic? Simply stated, it falls back on diligence and passion, which during today’s trends and times can be an uncommon and coveted mindset.

That’s why her fan following (read: 1 million Facebook fans, and an Instagram account that emits wafts of warm cake) is loyal and quickly growing. She offers recipes and tutorials of nostalgic and new flavors that might taste, IMHO, better than your own grandma’s recipes. Need ideas for your Father’s Day cookout, for example? Try Sally’s six-ingredient homemade cheese crackers for a poppable appetizer or her currently trending one layer strawberry shortcake cake.

At the end of the day, Sally is everyone’s perfectionistic best friend. She’s a very skilled and encouraging teacher, coaching everyone who visits through every step of the way in the kitchen. Pick up a whisk, grab some confidence, and learn what motivates our favorite baking addict – Sally.

Q: To start off, you mention being drawn to baking at a young age, around the time you picked up your first mixing spoon. You also credit two people for your love of baking: your mom and grandma. What one recipe reminds you of your grandma, and why?

Yes, that’s right. I’ve always been drawn to the kitchen and baking has been one of my passions for years. I make a few of my Grandma’s recipes often and I still have the original scribbled recipe on an old piece of paper. Her handwriting and everything! Pecan rolls, which I published in my 2014 cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction, her pecan pie recipe, and Irish soda bread. I also make her homemade caramel corn every holiday season. She’s “with me” all year!

Q: In 2011, you created Sally’s Baking Addictionwhich houses a range of meticulously tested and decadent recipes – from homemade pistachio cupcakes with strawberry frosting to dark chocolate bread pudding. Your talent and vision for Sally’s Baking Addiction have since launched three cookbooks: Sally’s Baking AddictionSally’s Candy Addictionand Sally’s Cookie Addiction. How did you effectively build such a successful platform among so much competition?

The internet is constantly shifting and food blogging today isn’t what it used to be. The connection really isn’t there anymore, unless you work hard to develop and maintain your flock/squad/whatever the kids are calling it these days! I find it’s crucial to be yourself, flaws and all, and just be completely open and honest on your platform. I like to share my recipe fails and successes, along with a little sense of humor and vulnerability. People are looking for entertainment, ways to solve their problems (how to get dinner on the table in 20 minutes, etc.), and connection…and if you can relate to them and provide solutions, they will come…and stick around! And in the food blogging world, I find food photography plays a large role as well. Work on your photography and always be willing to learn and improve.

Q: Along those lines, and with so many other time commitments in life, how did you commit to yourself in establishing – and then maintaining – your website? What welcome sacrifices did you make, and what routines do you still have to this day? 

I’ve been blogging for so long and started it well before I was married and had a baby, so working on my website has been ingrained in my daily routine for nearly eight years. I’m also extremely passionate about it – working on my website, connecting with readers around the world, and being in the kitchen all bring me so much happiness. It’s easy to stay committed to something that brings you so much joy.

Q: Why is it important to share not only what to bake – but how to bake – on your site? 

There’s a big world out there full of novice bakers and those curious to learn about baking, so I find it crucial to explain the hows, whys, and whats of the baking world. How I developed this recipe, why it works, why it doesn’t, and so on. I’ve developed a passion for teaching others what I learn and I’m going to continue to do so!

Q: Why do you think baking intimidates some people? 

I think a lot of people are intimidated by from-scratch baking because of all the mistakes and recipe failures that COULD happen. It’s not like cooking, where if something goes wrong, you can usually fix it in the process. But with baking, if something goes wrong – it’s usually ruined. Baking is a science – it’s very particular. But if you have a dependable recipe and follow it precisely, you’ll be golden!

Q: Finally, what are your 2019 goals for Sally’s Baking Addiction?

I’d really like to go back into my post archives and update old recipe photos as well as spruce up the blog posts with more concise information and baking tips. Along with this, I hope to continue to provide well-tested baking recipes, along with video tutorials and my best photography.

Photo by Megan Brodie
Learn more about Sally McKenney and follow her on Instagram and Facebook
- Lisa Cleary