Baking your way out of stress

Hamburger cupcakes

UTSA biology senior Kim Kang was stressed out. Armed with an iPod filled with her favorite tunes, Kang tackled her stress with music, creativity and a whole lot of cake frosting.

What started out as a way to relieve stress quickly turned into a hobby that has led to new creations and a spot on San Antonio Living. Here’s what she said about relieving stress.

(MG): What was the stress that drove you to bake?

(KK): The stress of taking 18 hours of biology courses. I’m studying to be an optometrist. I’m also minoring in business.

(MG): What previous experience with baking did you have?

(KK): Very little.

(MG): What was the toughest thing to learn about baking?

(KK): The most challenging part about baking is decorating [the cupcakes]. I have an image in my head of what I want my cupcakes to look like. I always think that they can look better, or I get new ideas to make it look better. Being a perfectionist doesn’t help me much because I always end up starting over or adding or replacing different parts of the decorations until I am satisfied with the way they look. Sometimes that can take hours!

(MG): What inspires you?

(KK): It’s not too challenging to come up with ideas because I start by getting a few ideas from books and magazines. I implement my own ideas with theirs and try to come up with something that I think will look good! Also, the seasons, holidays or special events inspire me. I like to bake things that go along with the seasons. I baked the hamburger cupcakes for a company picnic.

(MG): What are your favorite creations?

(KK): The hamburger cupcakes. They really do look like little hamburgers.

(MG): With the holidays approaching, do you have any specialty cakes in the works?

(KK): My family will get together in Houston for Thanksgiving, so I’ll be baking the turkey cupcakes.

(MG): What do you think stands out in your creations?

(KK): I think the detail of the decorations stand out in my cupcakes. If I am going to decorate the cupcake to make it look like a certain animal, I try my best to make sure that I get the texture right. For example, I wanted to make the baby chick cupcake look fuzzy and found that using coconut shavings did the trick.

(MG): Do you eat the treats you bake?

(KK): I have a huge sweet tooth, so I always give away what I bake; otherwise, I would eat them all.

(MG): Do you sell your treats?

(KK): I haven’t sold any, but after my appearance on San Antonio Living last summer, I received a few orders! I really just bake for family and friends. My co-workers are my biggest supporters. They’re also my guinea pigs. I try out new recipes on them.

(MG): Do you see baking these treats as a long term endeavor?

(KK): Maybe someday in the future. My best friend loves to bake too, and we decided that someday we’d like to give this a try. My family is really supportive too. But for now, I’m focusing on getting my biology degree to become an optometrist. Right now, baking is a fun hobby. It might be too much pressure to do this as a business right now.

(MG): Where do you think your creativity comes from?

(KK): My mom. We’re very close. She’s creative too. I remember watching my mom decorate my Valentine’s Day box in elementary school. She also made horses out of yarn and cardboard for one of my school projects. She always came up with projects for us to work on together on her days off. I also like the arts and crafts.

(MG): What kinds of arts and crafts are you interested in?

(KK): I enjoy scrapbooking, painting posters and banners for birthdays and coloring in coloring books – which is what I do during my study breaks. I also love to sew, but I don’t consider myself that good at it. I also love decorating my room, picture frames and jewelry.

(MG): What is your mom’s favorite cupcake?

(KK): My mom’s favorite cupcakes are the Thanksgiving turkey cupcakes. Thanksgiving is her favorite time of year because it’s one of the few times that the entire family gets together.

(MG): Are you still stressed out?

(KK): Not so much anymore. Baking allows me to be creative and distracts me from the pressures of studying. I wear my iPod while I’m baking and just focus on that.