A Youtube phenomenon (3.5 million subscribers and counting), successful blogger, purveyor of her own makeup range, author, ambassador for The Global Goals and actress in training, it’s a wonder that 27 year old Tanya Burr has time to preheat an oven and whip up a batch of biscuits at all. With baking playing such a big part in her downtime, however, and given the popularity of her baking vlogs and recipes, it’s certainly a smart move that she’s turned her hobby into a business venture, last week publishing a baking centred cookbook, Tanya Bakes. Unsurprisingly it’s already selling like hotcakes and has a spot within the Amazon Top 10, while the hashtag #TanyaBakes is simmering along nicely on social media.
Having started her career in the beauty industry, on counter at Laura Mercier before launching her beauty focussed vlog in 2009, Tanya has made the transition from makeup marvel to passionate amateur baker very smoothly indeed, but unlike her beauty ventures, she’s the first to admit that her foray into baking is fairly amateur. She has fun, she makes mistakes (look up the S’Mores Cupcakes online before you make them) and she bases her ideas and recipe selection on happy memories rather than technical impressiveness. Given the interest in her daily life and relationship with fellow Youtuber Jim Chapman, this is all just as well, but what the impelled the already time starved Burr to embark on a larger cookery project, and how does she make sure that her switch to the kitchen stays relevant to her audience? We took a tea break with Tanya to discuss the joys of baking, relating to her fans and how she switches off from life online.
Get The Gloss: You've been baking since you were young - what is it about baking in particular that appeals to you so much?
Tanya Burr: For me the ritual of baking is so much more than making cakes - some of my happiest memories are linked to the process of baking and enjoying what I’ve made with others. It’s such a stress reliever, and also satisfying in that it’s a science; it’s very soothing when a recipe works! I enjoy every aspect of baking, from making a big mess and then meticulously cleaning my surfaces to weighing out ingredients. Another lovely side effect of spending a day or afternoon baking it that it makes your house smell amazing. It’s just a very wholesome thing to do, and I love it!
GTG: How does the book reflect you as a person?
TB: I didn’t give that much thought when I initially came to make the book, I just knew I wanted to keep it personal. My mum’s bakes are in there, as are recipes from friends and family and special times in my life. Basically, I’ve packed in everything I love!
GTG: You yourself admit that you're not a pro baker - how do you avoid being too perfectionist?
TB: Prep plays a part, and as baking is such a precise art, with the right measurements you shouldn’t go too far wrong. Knowing your oven is key, and is resisting the urge to constantly open the oven door! I’m not a perfectionist though as I view baking as fun rather than something to attain.
GTG: When you’re not baking, you’re known for your beauty reviews, vlogs and blogs. What’s your one foolproof, failsafe beauty product at the moment?
TB: Good Genes by Sunday Riley , £85, is just incredible. It’s a serum/mask hybrid and I absolutely love it- it smoothes skin like nothing else.
GTG: How about fitness? Do you workout often, and what's your preferred way to stay active? Do you have a favourite class?
TB: I’m very spontaneous when it comes to fitness- I definitely don’t have a routine. I’m not particularly consistent, but I do love yoga. Basically I do what I feel like, when I feel like it! There’s a great place near my house that runs HIIT classes, so I might pop down to one of those every so often.
GTG: As you've mentioned in the book, you've had your fair share of jobs in the past. As a successful vlogger, blogger and influencer, what would be your ultimate career advice for young women starting out in the world of work?
TB: Never, ever take no for an answer! Also dreaming big is important. Both of those have worked out well for me.
GTG: How do you make time for baking amongst the demands of editing, meetings and keeping your site and social media feeds up to date?
TB: Recently baking has actually been the bulk of my work, so I’m glad that now I can do it to relax again. I wouldn’t normally bake during the working day, so I’m back to doing it in my spare time.
GTG: Lots of your baking creations reference social media, either by way of inspiration or in reference to presentation and how a cake might look in a photo. What's your personal approach to social media? How do you deal with the pros and cons of sharing your life online, and do you ever manage to switch off?
TB: I do detach myself from it, but I have to be very strict with myself. I’m constantly on my phone during the day, that’s part of my job, but at the end of the day I try to switch it off as constantly checking in with social media can become a bit intense. In terms of dealing with the pros and cons, I try my best not to take any kind of feedback too seriously.
GTG: You encourage readers to write down their 'top ten baking moments' at the back of the book. What would be your top moment?
TB: Probably every time I licked the bowl when baking with my mum! That’s not very specific I know. I also remember baking a lot with my good friend Vanessa, who is the master of chocolate fondants.
GTG: You mention having a dream of opening your very own bakery- might you pursue baking as a full time career in future? Would you ever take a break from the digital world?
TB: Not at the moment, as my full time job is online, but when I’m in my thirties with kids, not living in London, it’s definitely a possibility. It’s a dream for when I’m older!
Tanya’s Rhubarb and Custard Muffins
When I came up with the idea for a rhubarb and custard muffin I was so excited. Rhubarb crumble with custard is one of my all-time favourite puddings, so to take those flavours and put them inside a soft pillowy muffin was a no-brainer!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
You will need a 12-hole cupcake/muffin tray
35g caster sugar
300g self-raising flour
150g light brown soft sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
100ml ready-made custard
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/GM4. Line the cupcake/muffin tray with paper cases.
Wash and chop the rhubarb into chunky pieces, then arrange in a shallow dish and cover with the caster sugar. Set aside to macerate for 15 minutes.
Mix together the flour and sugar, then add the vanilla extract, buttermilk, egg and vegetable oil and combine to form a smooth batter. Add the rhubarb, reserving 12 pieces to decorate, and fold through the mixture.
Divide half of the batter between the muffin cases, then top each one with a spoonful of custard. Carefully add the remaining batter to each case to cover the custard, then pop a rhubarb piece on top of each muffin.
Bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Click here for your chance to win a Magimix Patissier Multifunction, along with a copy of Tanya Bakes
Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr is published by Michael Joseph, £16.99
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Follow Tanya on Instagram @TanyaBurr , and Anna @AnnyHunter