I believe in real butter and copious amounts of chocolate. I believe in coaxing sugar crystals with gentle words of love and encouragement. I believe in baking up sweet little morsels of goodness that bring joy to my loved ones. My name is Dafna, and I attribute countless moments of unbridled glee to my KitchenAid stand mixer.
Baking has been, and continues to be, a journey for me. I took an interest in making cheesecake about 15 years ago and then moved on to other, more decadent treats. I soon realized that I had a knack for this sweet alchemy, and I enjoyed the challenge of trying new recipes. I took classes, started collecting cookbooks, and found that I was fascinated by the science underlying the perfect cookie. What made some cookies flat and others thick and chewy? Things really got interesting when I discovered cupcakes… I fell in love. Sweet, buttery, frosting-slathered love. I have since enjoyed exploring the complex nuances of baking, and I decided to create this blog in 2012 to share my experiments and recipes, and to continue learning and challenging myself.
The name Stellina evokes a number of different feelings and interests for me. It is an Italian word literally translating to “little star”, but it’s also an affectionate nickname meaning “sweet little one”. I have always loved the stars and constellations; I adore Italy and its other-worldly cuisine; and most of all, I love the connotation of the name– I wanted to choose something that symbolizes the “warm fuzzies” that baking elicits. I especially love to bake small treats, often developing a certain affection for my darling little morsels! Stellina represents all of these things.
I frequently examine the crumb of a cake or the texture of a cookie for an unusually long time, fascinated by its physical properties. One of my biggest goals for this blog is to learn more about baking science; I’ve come a long way, but there is always so much more to learn. I would like to transition from following recipes to creating recipes, and I’m getting there slowly; I would like to know scientifically how changing measurements of ingredients affects the finished product, and how to correct a recipe that comes out too dry/crumbly/flat. I hope to learn from people reading my posts, through my mistakes, and through continued research. My favorite “research” consists of visiting as many bakeries as possible, so I also like to chronicle the glorious treasures discovered in my travels. I really enjoy connecting with talented bakers from all over the world!
I have been inspired by a number of cookbooks, bakers, and pastry chefs over the years. My greatest influences currently are Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito at BAKED and Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin at Ovenly, both located in Brooklyn/NYC, as well Deb Perelman of the fabulous Smitten Kitchen blog, in addition to many other beloved sources. My favorite style of desserts is hearty American comfort treats with a twist, and in recent years, I’ve grown to incorporate a significant Italian influence as well. I use the best quality ingredients possible (no box mixes or Hershey’s here), and I like modern interpretations of the classics, or new creations inspired thereby. BAKED and Ovenly embody this style perfectly; they have reimagined and reinvented so many classic cookies, cakes, bars, and scones, and I frequently turn to one of their spectacular cookbooks for inspiration. These are unabashed baking geeks… like me! I also really appreciate Christina Tosi and her Momofuku Milk Bar for quite a different reason– she throws many “classic” baking techniques out the window, often turning the traditionally accepted science of baking on its head. Her book provides endless challenges when I want to try something completely new and different.
I hope you enjoy reading my posts, and I welcome your ideas, comments, and resources. Thank you for sharing my journey… and sweet treats. 🙂