Dreaming of pancakes drizzled in hot maple syrup and chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven - Bismarck's 23-year-old Kristin Rosenau was not happy working on complex equations, problem sets and research as a graduate student with such a uniquely creative sweet-tooth.
Preparing to be an astroparticle physicist at McGill University, Quebec, Rosenau spent, on average, 15 hours a day doing physics.
"I didn't enjoy what I was doing, but I was good at it," Rosenau said. "As time passed, my misery grew and I looked for an escape from my structured life."
During meetings at the university, Rosenau routinely caught herself jotting down recipes in the margins of her notebooks or sketching wedding cake designs on her note cards. She baked pastries for her college peers and professors - quickly becoming known on campus as the girl who really knew her way with sugar and butter.
"Everyone enjoyed Kristin's bakery treats so much," Eileen Rosenau, her mother, said. "A professor even took up a collection to support her grocery bill."
After six years of intensely hitting the math and science books, traditional physics slowly became less and less Rosenau's prime focus.
"People made the assumption that Kristin was on the fast track to success as a physicist," Eileen Rosenau said, "but when she started to burn out at a young age, we understood that she wanted a career change in a pursuit of happiness."
In May 2010, Kristin created The Pastry Affair ( www.thepastryaffair.com ) - an Internet blog designed for the home baker that features recipes ranging from traditional cakes to Sunday brunch.
"It's a space where you will find a little bit of food, photography, butter, sugar and a whole lot of life," Kristin Rosenau said.
Three to six times a week, Kristin Rosenau bakes something "new to the world" in her home kitchen. Once cooled and frosted, she hunts for the perfect lighting and "photograph-quality" environment where she snaps pictures of her creations to post to her blog.
"My favorite recipes I've made so far are the s'mores pie, roasted cherry coconut ice cream and butterbeer cupcakes," Kristin Rosenau said. "My most unusual recipe is the chocolate avocado cupcakes with avocado buttercream; they are vegan and delicious."
Accompanying every recipe or post is a witty and reflective column written by the baker herself, based on her experiences of that particular week.
"She brings a real-life connection to the food," Eileen Rosenau said. "The storytelling and photography is a large part of the food blog."
Kristin Rosenau admits that during her preliminary stages of building the blog, she "didn't think anyone was going to read it except for (her) mom." Millions of hits later, she was proven wrong.
Appearing on lists with Martha Stewart, Kristin Rosenau and her recipes have been featured on Bon Appetit's website along with appearing in The Family Kitchen, The Kitchen and the Grae Magazine. Her accolades continue; She produced a cupcake that stood out among 21,000 other recipes at the Cupcake Camp Montreal. It was a finalist in Amateur Design.
"On a good day" Kristin Rosenau records a 250,000 hits on her site. As word is catching on, and her recipes are being noticed, the numbers are increasing. Nevertheless, Kristin Rosenau remains humble.
"I have to sit down in front of my computer and pretend there isn't all this pressure," she said. "It's great that my passion is being shared by all these people, but at the end of the day, I'm just a twenty-something girl who loves desserts."
Paid by advertisements, Kristin Rosenau's part-time career as a food blogger is nowhere near its end.
"People across the nation with really big blogs usually get a cookbook deal," Kristin Rosenau said. "That's way far in my future, but it would be incredibly awesome. I love what I'm doing and I want to keep doing it."
However in the meantime, she works as a children's camp counselor at the YMCA and recently landed a job at the Patisserie on Fourth.
Fortunately, her risky switch from honor roll to pastry roll is proving successful.
"I tried to stay faithful to physics, I really did," she said, "but pastries completely captured my heart."
"We came to admire her courage to make the change," Eileen Rosenau said. "She has proven that she can still work hard at something she loves and find success in more non-traditional opportunities."
After major life transitions and many relocations, Kristin Rosenau compares life to baking: "The flaws - a cookie that isn't completely round, a pancake that is unevenly browned, or a piece of cake that isn't perfectly sliced - are beautiful. The real secret is not everything is going to be perfect, but they will be satisfying in the same way."