About two years ago, Sogoal Zolghadri was starting her business: Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop. She crafted a batch of Free-People-inspired cookies, packaged them up, and sent them to our home office. I’m not sure who opened the package that day, but now, two years later, I’ve come across the designs on Etsy. “I have to interview this girl,” I say to myself. Her cookies are too amazing, her artwork too creative.
A few weeks later, and I’m walking into Sogoal’s Brooklyn apartment on a Sunday morning. Immediately, I’m greeted with plates of cookies, and a look into her dreamy space with pops of color and fun sprinkled throughout. It was a treat to find such an interesting and happy soul behind her beautiful edible art. What Sogoal is doing, pursuing her creative dreams, is the stuff that makes me do what I do. She houses the kind of inspiration that I love to seek out and share with others.
Read on for a look into her world, and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re feeling inspired by her craft, scroll to the end for a basic recipe and try it out yourself. Can’t get enough? Follow Sogoal on Instagram @sogishoneybakeshop for a healthy dose of creative cookie inspiration.
Tell me about your background and how you came to live in Brooklyn doing what you’re doing?
I’m originally from San Diego, born and raised. I always wanted to try pastry arts, but my parents said no. Senior year, as I was finishing up my thesis in watercolor, I still had this hankering to give it a go, so I started interning at a bakery. I stayed on after graduation, and two years later I was a lead cake decorator. Quarter life crisis rolled around, and my best friend was out here. As soon as I found a job, I hopped on a plane. We lived together in Bushwick for a while and then meandered over to Greenpoint.
Has art has always been a big part of your life?
Yes. When I was little, my mom would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would tell her that I wanted to be an artist who sold their paintings on the streets of Paris. I don’t know exactly where I got that from. In college I had this itch to pursue something more serious, and without telling my parents, made the switch from communications to fine art.
Wow. What was your parents’ reaction?
I’m first generation – my mom is from Vietnam, my dad is Iranian. They are very traditional, and they kind of had a path lined up for me. When I told them, they freaked, but I think that they realized I was determined enough to make it into something. It’s still very unusual to both of them, but they see that it has picked up and I’m making a living for myself. They are very supportive now.
I’m curious, what inspired you start blending your artwork with the cookies?
One of my good friends, who was also my coworker at the bakery in San Diego, was trolling through blogs and found a woman who was painting on cookies. At first I thought it was weird, I didn’t know you could do that. After work one day, my friend had baked and iced these cookies. We popped a bottle of Chardonnay, made some tea, and we were like, “let’s just try it!” So we did, and it was fun! Difficult at first. You’re painting on a sugary surface, it’s bazaar, it’s weird and unfamiliar. It became a fun hobby to decompress after work and school, and it opened up a way for me to do the designs I always wanted to do, but couldn’t because my school work was so serious.
Where do you like to look around for inspiration?
It’s everywhere. I’m a very visual person. It could be just the feel of a restaurant; it could be the designs on dishware or the trim of a dress. It’s a painting in a waiting room. I just love color. And I use Pinterest, of course.
Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots that you go to in Brooklyn?
Café Mogador, for any event – going with your mom, your boyfriend – I don’t care, I’ll find any excuse to go there. Not too far away from there is Bakeri. They have amazing, amazing pastries and really great coffee. I also go to Union Square farmer’s market as much as I can. The color inspiration there is outrageous.
What are your favorite kind of pastries to eat yourself?
Pie. If it was calorie-free, I could eat a whole pie easily. Apple pie.
Coffee or Tea?
Raised on tea….but…coffee. I guess I’m American now.
Are you a reader?
I am, but as of late I’ve been so busy that it’s audio books. Over the summer I listened to two of Anthony Bourdain’s books. I love how self-aware he is. His writing style is so vivid and honest.
What do you usually listen to while you’re working?
Serial. Podcasts. Audio books from famous female comedians. Sometimes my work can be mindless, so I like the idea of taking something in while I’m doing it.
Lastly, what does free mean to you?
Pursuing a personal goal that you actually want as opposed to a goal that you’re supposed to want. To put it into context, working for myself can be really stressful. I’m only 25 and I’m learning new things every day. But the satisfaction and the reward make it worth it. My heart is full. I’m breathing in this wonderful delicious air that is exciting and new and challenging. I go to sleep every night being like “whoa, I’m doing something.” I feel like I’m flying sometimes.
Sogi’s Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe
PREP: 90 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours
YIELD: makes 32
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
Step 1: In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
Step 2: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
Step 3: Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks.
Royal Icing Recipe + Paint
PREP: 7 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 7 minutes
YIELD: makes 3.5 cups
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Gel food coloring + water
Step 1: In large stand mixer, combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Step 2: Mix food coloring with water to create paint. Play around with water to gel proportions until you figure out what works for different techniques.
Step 3: Paint away!
Thank you Sogoal for sharing you’re beautiful world of sugar, color, and art!
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