Hooked on Books with The Baker Sisters: Jean Parker and Rachel Smith

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in English Tutoring, Featured, Hooked On Books, Local, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

Hooked on Books with The Baker Sisters: Jean Parker and Rachel Smith

There are countless benefits to learning to cook from an early age. Knowing your way around the kitchen is a valuable like skill that encourages an interest in nutrition, exploring creativity and new cultures from around the world. We would be remiss not to mention that it is also educational, helping to build skills in reading comprehension, math, and science (our in-person and online tutors are professional certified teachers after all). Our tutoring service believes in making learning fun, which is why Jean Parker and Rachel Smith’s mix & match cookbook caught our eye. In our latest Hooked on Books, we feature their debut title, Baking Wonderland, with kid-friendly instructions, colourful pages, and animated recipes. Read on to bake on!

Do recipes for wonderland cookies, confetti cake and buttercream bomb get your mouth watering? If you are nodding your head, you are in luck. Our latest Hooked on Books interview is with Jean Parker and Rachel Smith, best known for hosting Food Network Canada’s The Baker Sisters. Their debut culinary title, Baking Wonderland, is designed for families with easy-to-follow instructions, helpful food safety tips, and fun-filled recipes that encourage kids to play with their food. It makes a perfect birthday or holiday gift for young chefs. Jean and Rachel are bursting with excitement to share their baking insights with us in our latest Hooked on Books.

What is Hooked on Books?

Our in-person and online tutoring team at Teachers on Call love to read and encourage students and their families to do the same. With Hooked on Books, we introduce our community to the latest children’s book with behind-the-scenes interviews to learn more about the creators. A large focus is introducing readers to Canadian authors and illustrators from coast to coast with a mix of emerging and well-known literary talent. In our latest interview, we are featuring Ontario’s The Baker Sisters – Jean Parker and Rachel Smith!

About our Creators: Jean Parker and Rachel Smith

Jean and Rachel live with their families in and around the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario. While Jean is living in Northumberland County and Rachel is living in Durham, they speak on the phone almost every ten minutes, so are never truly apart. They have transformed their culinary talent and love of dessert into a successful butter tart company, television career, and now cookbook authors (included in The Globe & Mail’s Top 100 Books of 2023). What are they up to next? You will just have to read our interview with them to find out!

An Interview with The Baker Sisters: Jean Parker and Rachel Smith

In our latest Hooked on Books, our president & CEO, Joanne Sallay, interviews The Baker Sisters. Check out Jean and Rachel’s answers below!

Tell us about your debut mix & match cookbook for kids?

We've created a cookbook full of delicious cookie, cupcake, donut, and cake recipes as well as frostings, glazes, milks, and toppings. We are encouraging our young baker to use their imaginations and mix and match them to build their dream dessert! The recipes are all easy to follow, fun and tasty - we don't hold back on the flavour!  

It's also a beautiful book!  We collaborated with an all-female creative team and filled the pages of Baking Wonderland with whimsical illustrations and photography. It really is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly! 

You wear many “chef hats” from Food Network Canada co-hosts to entrepreneurs. What motivated you both to add published authors to the list? 

Through our travel-food show The Baker Sisters, we met a lot of amazing people on the road. A lot of great conversations about baking came from that job - many of which were with beginner bakers and kids. One thing was constant - baking is a magical thing but often comes with a daunting feeling - a desire to get it "perfect" and that the final results have to "look" a certain way. This cookbook came from us wanting to continue that conversation. We wanted to keep the magic but completely let go of all the pressure! 

There are so many fun recipes in Baking Wonderland, chocolate moose, confetti cake and poop cookies, just to name a few. Who inspired these creations, and do you have a favourite dessert?

A lot of our recipes came from the treats we enjoyed growing up, flavours that stemmed from our mom's recipe book. Also, we wanted to make sure that we had a range of flavours that would all play with each other. Taste-testing flavour combinations was one of our kids favourite parts of developing this book. "Should we try peanut and lemon?" Why not?! 

As for the names- we had a blast! If a recipe "sounded" boring- we would change it, always asking ourselves, could this be more fun?  Banana Princess Cream became "Princess Banana Lips" and our gluten free chocolate cookie became our signature "Poop Cookie". Baking shouldn't be too serious after all. 

As for favourites, it's really really hard to pick but Jean loves the "Lemony Olive Oil Cake" paired with the tangy "Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting" and Rachel is coconuts for the "I'm Coconuts for You Donut" topped with "Good Eh? Glaze" and "Toasted Coconut!"  

Safety in the kitchen is an important consideration for young chefs. What do you suggest for families teaching young children to cook? 

Stay organized!  Preparation is the biggest key to success when baking. Which is why we designed the "Get Ready" section at the start of every recipe. If you take time to gather and measure your ingredients you're already ahead. Also taking the time, in general, is really important - one of the things we love about baking is that it requires a slower pace. For instance, you can't rush the rise on our Pillow Donuts- they wouldn't be pillowy! And we intentionally lowered the bake temperatures and simplified the steps to build in that needed time and space. The results will be delicious! 

For your fans interested in learning more about your programs and author visits, where can they find you and what do you recommend?

Baking is an amazing vehicle for exploring art, science, reading and math. We have developed these awesome food-forward kid programs for schools, libraries and community centres across Canada that explore all the above. We play games, learn some cool and interesting stuff about food and baking and play with our food (every program has a decorating element that is irresistible!).  You can find more detailed information on our website

What’s next for The Baker Sisters?

We're building a baking empire lol- we have started designing a kids bakeware line that really addresses young bakers needs in the kitchen and we're writing our second book, and don't forget the stickers and stationery! Yes. We have a lot going on, and we're really excited about all of it!!!!!!! 

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Jean Parker and Rachel Smith spotlighting Baking Wonderland. Happy Reading and Baking!

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