Batter Chatter: Interview with Jana Rosenlieb of The Cake Diva

Dude, that's a cake! Photo: Barbie Hull PhotographyLast week at CupcakeCamp Seattle 2011, I met a new friend: Jana Rosenlieb, aka The Cake Diva. She impressed me instantly in two ways: number one, she was adorable (see pictures below if you don't believe me), and number two, she was toting the most intricately constructed Fremont Troll inspired cupcake masterpiece. I loved her already, and so will you, after reading this interview:

So. Cake Diva. Tell me baby, what's your story? I grew up helping my Grandma Yancey (My Mom’s Mom). She made extra money Baking cakes, and catering. I was her helper. I licked beaters and grabbed eggs from the fridge. My Grandma was born and raised Amish. Everyone loved her cakes, and… well all of her cooking!
When she was finished baking, and cleaning up.  She would let me mix up crazy concoctions. I would mix eggs, flour, and sugar, salt and pepper. You name it! I would always try to get my Papa to eat it but he would refuse. He’d always ask “you trying to kill me girl?” My Grandma Yancey, my Mom and my Grandma Phifer (my Dad’s Mom) all taught me what I know. My Grandma Phifer was born and raised in Mississippi. She and my Grandpa also had their own catering business in Ohio before I was born.

I love baking and always have. My First apartment did not even have a stove or an oven. I had a hot plate and sunbeam fry skillet. But I had this great floor to ceiling tiled bathroom that steamed up better than any sauna. So I made coffee cake. I scrubbed my tub and filled it with hot water and filled this large bowl up with water so it wouldn’t float away and took my bread dough in to let it rise shut the door. I then baked the coffee cake in my sunbeam fry skillet. If you place a small rack inside and turn up the heat it acts like a tiny oven. Who knew tight? When it was finished that coffee cake was the fluffiest, and flakey coffee cake I had ever had. My Mom and Dad still talk about it.

About a year ago I was laid off. So I started rethinking what I was going to do next. So I decided to try cake baking for extra money like my Grandma. I started spreading the word that I bake. I bake for friends and friends of friends for “donation” for supplies.

I also entered last years “Cupcake Camp Seattle” and placed 2nd in the ‘Healthiest category’ with my “Vegan White Chocolate Mocha Cupcake”. In a vegan white chocolate Starbuck’s like cup.

Cake or pie? Cake always but then again I have never been known to turn down a great slice of pie!

Pants or skirts? Skirts! My sweet and very handsome husband is all REI and granola… and I am all Diva and skirts. He rolls his eyes at me and just says I love you!

Yes or no? Yes most likely….

Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Hmmm...Chocolate covered Strawberries!

What aspect of cake makes you channel your inner diva? Ohh man so many aspects. The smooth velvety texture, the sweet yummy melt in your mouth goodness. There are endless possibilities, all the different recipes, and the artistry. I think quite possibly Congress could settle many debates, if only cake was served at the meetings. Cake indicates fun and parties. Who can argue while eating something so delectable? Perhaps it is because they did not have “Cake Diva Cake”!

What is the last delicious thing you ate? I ate one of my Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Stout cupcakes. They had a whiskey ganache filling and were topped with a homemade Vegan Bailey’s style Irish Cream, butter cream frosting.  (That sounds a bit pompous huh…sorry) but I had not had the chance to taste it before leaving for Cupcake Camp. Well not this particular batch anyway. So when I got home. I was cleaning and grabbed one and was like this is awesome HAHAH.
Seriously though. We went to Vegas in February. I ate gnocchi with a marinara/ bolognese (which is marinara and fettuccini alfredo love child) sauce made with a white wine reduction, and imported Italian mascarpone cheese and it was topped with baby arugula. The flavors just danced in your mouth!  Man I am getting hungry!

Any plans to open a retail location? Yes, eventually! I would love to have a retail location or café style dessert place! I want to build clientele but it’s hard when you don’t have a commercial kitchen. Yet you need a commercial kitchen to build clientele but with out the clientele you cannot afford the commercial kitchen…AHHH… catch 22!

Please, tell us something I might not know about or expect of you. Surprise us. My son and I wrote 2 children’s books. It was something we did just to pass the time during the summer. I illustrated them, and he and I co-authored them. They are called “The Adventures of Angel and Mr. Kitty” depicted after our own crazy cats. They are available on or our website-

What is next for you and your business? I want to continue growing my clientele and get a commercial kitchen space. I want to be a household name. Maybe I will even have my own cooking show someday. I want people to dream about the Cake Diva! You know that song “Georgia on My Mind” and the lyrics say-

I said Georgia,
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Well I want those lyrics to go something like this.

I said Cake Diva,
Ohhh Cake Diva, one piece I find
Just a sweet, sweet slice keeps Cake Diva on my mind

...but before the music fades out, be sure to visit The Cake Diva online here! And on Facebook here!