Happy 20th Birthday Dear Cake Bible!

This month of October is the official pub date. And the coming out party was fortuitously on the very day of Maida Heatter's birthday. (It was my dessert goddess Maida who wrote the amazingly wonderful intro for the book.) Our wonderful Hector offered to digitalize the original New York TImes photos that appeared shortly after the party on October 19, 1988. I sent it to him in Hawaii and he returned the original and e-mailed the electronic file so that you can all enjoy it. The only thing missing is the bottom of the page, just below the recipe for the Chocolate Domingo, the cake dedicated to Placido Domingo. Could it have been pure coincidence that just exactly below it was a photo of Pavarotti raising a toast--not to the cake as the caption read "Pavarotti ends diet"!

From: The New York Times

October 19, 1988

A Cake Wizard Brings Out a Book of Magic


LEAD: RARELY does a book on baking attract widespread attention in the food world. Rose Levy Beranbaum's ''Cake Bible'' is different. Even before its official publication date, Sept. 20, bakers and nonbakers alike were telling each other that it was one of the very few books that, like Paula Peck's ''Art of Fine Baking'' and Flo Braker's ''Simple Art of Perfect Baking,'' would serve as textbook and inspiration for a generation of dessert makers. Nearly 100,000 copies of ''The Cake Bible'' have already been printed, and the publisher is shipping 2,000 copies a week to bookstores.

Mrs. Beranbaum has long been known for the flavor and decoration of her cakes - pictures of them have often appeared on the covers of food magazines - and for her Cordon Rose cooking school in the kitchen of her Greenwich Village apartment. Two years ago she gave up both the cooking school and professional baking to devote herself to writing. (A video she made on baking is available by mail or telephone from Videocraft Classics, 1790 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10019; telephone 212-246-9849.) In her new book she gives meticulously detailed instructions for making and decorating the cakes that built her reputation. She also tells serious bakers how to adapt home recipes to produce very large cakes and explains the scientific principles underlying her techniques.

Recently the food professionals who often commissioned Mrs. Beranbaum to make cakes for special occasions were given a chance to taste their favorites at the Rainbow Room, where she presented 17 examples from her book, among them a chocolate cake the book describes as ''the creamiest truffle wedded to the purest chocolate mousse''; another that is named for Placido Domingo because it is ''the tenor of chocolate butter cakes'' with ''the most intense, round, full chocolate flavor notes of any I have experienced''; a cheesecake that ''converts people who think they don't like cheesecake'' and ''spoils those who are already devotees,'' and a streusel brioche for which she feels such ''unbridled enthusiasm'' that ''it is guaranteed to become part of your heirloom repertoire.''

The delirious language sounds like a result of eating a surfeit of the cakes she describes. She believes so strongly in the book, for example, that she gave herself the party.

''I never had a big wedding,'' she said in a recent interview (she is 44 years old and has been married for 13 years).

''And I wanted to thank the friends who have given me so much help.''

One friend is Maida Heatter, to whom she attributes her gift for ebullient recipe introductions (''she gives me the most appetite to taste what she's writing about'') and who has written the foreword.

''Persistence is my favorite quality,'' Mrs. Beranbaum said. That explains not only her dogged efforts at promotion but also the discipline behind her unusual techniques. For seven years she attended New York University at night while working days, and earned a B.S. and a master's degree in food science. Torn between medicine and either fashion or some other craft, she hit on food as a vocation only when she decided to write her dissertation on whether sifting dry ingredients affects the quality of yellow cake. The paper earned her the skepticism of the doctor she was dating at the time, but drew her closer to another doctor she soon started dating. This doctor, Elliott Beranbaum, a radiologist whose specialty was the gastrointestinal tract, told her he had found similar results (that sifting does not uniformly mix dry ingredients) in his research on digestion. A year later, they were married.

Embarked on her career in food, Mrs. Beranbaum discovered that ''I loved the texture of cake-mix cakes, but I didn't like their flavor.'' She set herself a mission: ''I wanted that soft, downy, fine-grained, tender cake but to have it buttery with no funny flavors.''

This quest led to years of experimentation, culminating in the decision to adapt the blending method used by producers of cake mixes. Instead of creaming butter and sugar and then alternately adding flour and liquid, Mrs. Beranbaum's recipes call for first blending all the dry ingredients with the butter and a small amount of liquid, and then beating in the remaining liquid.

The decision not to cream the butter and sugar, which contradicts the instructions of nearly every other serious book on baking, was momentous to her. ''I never had any idea it would take so long to learn so much, or how much easier it would be once I knew it,'' she said. ''Now, I can throw a cake together in 10 minutes. It's virtually as easy as a cake mix.''

The method requires little expertise, and the texture suffers less from overbeating - always a danger, after the flour is added, in cakes that call for the creaming method. ''I get just as much volume, in fact a higher cake, without creaming,'' she said, adding that there is one requirement for success with this method. ''If you don't soften the butter you've had it.''

This is easily done, she said, in a microwave oven. Her white spice poundcake recipe, which includes cinnamon, cloves and cocoa, is an example of her blending method.

Another long-term goal of Mrs. Beranbaum's was to make cakes and desserts less sweet, trying to lower the amount of sugar without ruining the recipe. Mrs. Beranbaum has also developed several low-cholesterol cakes by using fats other than butter.

She is particularly proud of a chocolate chiffon cake made with walnut oil. ''I didn't know that chocolate and walnut oil had a synergistic effect until I tried them together,'' she said. ''It's so rare to have something that really tastes like chocolate and doesn't have saturated fat in it.''

The cake does include eggs. She has devised a chocolate angel food cake, however, that is virtually cholesterol-free and, in her opinion, the only low-cholesterol cake ''worth eating.''

Including as many recipes as she does that call for quantities of egg yolks and sticks of butter, Mrs. Beranbaum is hardly a health fanatic. ''It's so controversial, what's good for you and all that stuff,'' she said. ''But you'd be a fool to think that eating cakes is like taking vitamins. You don't have a dessert to improve your blood chemistry.''

She went on to say that everyone's health was helped by being in a good frame of mind. It's hard to finish a piece of Beranbaum cake in any other kind.

These recipes are from ''The Cake Bible'' by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

White Spice Poundcake

Preparation time: 20 minutes Baking time: 40 to 55 minutes Oil for greasing the pan Flour for dusting the pan 1/4 cup milk 4 large egg whites, about 1/2 cup 2 teaspoons brandy 2 cups sifted cake flour 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon cloves 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 6-cup fluted tube pan or loaf pan; if using a loaf pan, grease, line the bottom with parchment or wax paper, and then grease again and flour.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, lightly combine the milk, egg whites and brandy.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and half of the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 minute to aerate. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Scrape down the sides.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. The batter will almost fill the pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in a fluted tube pan (45 to 55 minutes in a loaf pan) or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.)
  5. For an attractive split down the middle of the crust when using a loaf pan, wait until the natural split is about to develop (about 20 minutes) and then with a lightly greased sharp knife or single-edged razor blade make a shallow mark 6 inches long down the middle of the cake. This must be done quickly so the oven door does not remain open very long or the cake will fall. When the cake splits, it will open along the mark.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and invert onto a greased wire rack. If baked in a loaf pan, to keep the bottom from splitting reinvert so the top is up. Cool completely before wrapping airtight.
  7. Yield: 10 servings.

Chocolate Lover's Angel Food Cake

Preparation time: 30 minutes Baking time: 40 minutes 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-processed) 2 teaspoons instant coffee 1/4 cup boiling water 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 3/4 cups sugar 1 cup sifted cake flour 1/4 teaspoon salt Whites of 16 large eggs, 2 cups 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine cocoa, coffee and boiling water and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla.
  3. In another medium-size bowl combine 3/4 cup sugar, the flour and salt, and whisk to blend.
  4. In a large bowl beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form when beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, beating until very stiff peaks form when beater is raised slowly. Remove 1 heaping cup of egg whites and place it on top of the cocoa mixture.
  5. Dust flour mixture over remaining whites, 1/4 cup at a time, and fold in quickly but gently, using a large balloon wire whisk or slotted skimmer. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until last addition.
  6. Whisk together the egg white and cocoa mixture, and fold into the batter until uniform. Pour into an ungreased, 10-inch, two-piece tube pan (the batter will come to within 3/4 inch of the top), run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets, and bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. (The center will rise above the pan while baking and sink slightly when done. The surface will have deep cracks like a souffle.)
  7. Invert the pan, placing the tube opening over the neck of a soda or wine bottle to suspend it well above the counter, and cool the cake completely in the pan, about 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Loosen the sides with a long metal spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin, sharp knife. (A wire cake tester works well around the core. To keep the sides attractive, press spatula against sides of the pan and avoid up-and-down motion.) Invert onto a serving plate. Wrap airtight.
  9. Yield: 14 servings.

Chef on Call

I went down to Washington D.C. two weeks ago to give a pie baking lesson for The Washington Post and it now can be found on:http://washingtonpost.com Put chef on call in the search box. If you do this a week from now you'll need to navigate to july 16, 2008 posting. It's a really fun piece--do check it out! If you'd like to read the story here see below but you'll need to go to the above link for the recipes and photos:

From Rose, With Love Master Baker Beranbaum Teaches Tender Lessons By David Hagedorn Special to The Washington Post Wednesday, July 16, 2008; F01 "Everything I've done my entire life with pies is wrong!" Sarah Fairbrother declared in my Adams Morgan kitchen a few weeks ago. She had just watched Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of the landmark "Pie and Pastry Bible," roll out a silken, butter-infused circle of perfect pie crust dough and couldn't fathom how she would be able to make such a thing of beauty. Fairbrother, a 42-year-old project director for Cultural Tourism DC, also got a lesson in what happens when you ask Chef on Call for piemaking advice. "I lost my ability to make crust," she had written to us. "It just comes out dry or soggy (there's no in-between) and won't roll out. Can you help me make edible pie again?" It was a natural lesson for summer's fruit season. Beranbaum, 64, agreed to make a day trip from New York and give Fairbrother a three-hour tutorial, adapting recipes from her cookbook for flaky cream cheese pie crust, a two-crust peach pie, a cherry pie with a lattice top and a pecan pie, which Fairbrother specifically had requested. Beranbaum's method and appearance were neat, delicate and precise. In a soft, enthusiastic voice, she relayed a constant stream of anecdotes and information, bringing to mind my first favorite teacher. And she got in a few well-placed, good-natured zingers. "Could someone clean up some of this mess?" she inquired innocently at one point. "Someone who lives here?" The only actual demand she made, and understandably so, was that the lesson take place in an air-conditioned kitchen, which disqualified Fairbrother's Petworth home. The most important thing about pastry, Beranbaum stressed, was keeping it cool, because the minute it starts getting warm, butter is absorbed into the flour, and that can diminish the crust's flakiness. Beranbaum began the lesson at noon by addressing Fairbrother's dilemma. She explained scientifically how the crust's flavor, tenderness and golden-brown crispness depend on achieving the right balance of protein, fat, water and acid, and then maintaining that balance during baking. Given that she holds bachelor's and master's degrees in food science from New York University, it was not surprising that Beranbaum approached the subject matter in that way. Chemistry cannot be ignored or rushed; therefore, it follows that to make a good pie, no step in Beranbaum's process is expendable. Let's face it. The reason so many cooks make imperfect pies is that we take shortcuts and then rationalize failure by saying we lack a pastry chef's touch; that's more acceptable than admitting laziness or impatience. Beranbaum gets that concept. "I used to do unnecessary things, so I hate telling people to do unnecessary things," she said, letting on that she knew her meticulousness sometimes goes too far. "I once took the weight of beans every hour to see just exactly at what point they stopped absorbing water," she said with a giggle. Teacher and student stood side by side and started making a two-crust batch of flaky cream cheese pie crust, Beranbaum's favorite, which would be used for three kinds of pie. It's not as flaky and crisp as an all-butter crust, but it has a delicious extra tang and doesn't distort much during baking. To the classic ingredients of cream cheese pastry (cream cheese, butter, flour), she added vinegar to relax the dough when it is rolled out, cream to impart extra richness and baking powder to make it puff up in the oven, which translates into greater tenderness. All ingredients were kept cold at all times and combined in a food processor as minimally and quickly as possible. Beranbaum said that if you process the dough too much, you lose flakiness, but if you don't process it enough, big clumps of butter become holes in the rolled-out dough. "As soon as you can gather the dough together, then you knead it just slightly," Beranbaum explained. She recommends wearing food-safe latex gloves to do so (keeping hands cool) and preferably working on a cool counter. "When you're finished and you pull it, there should be a slight elasticity, just slight. You see all the nice buttery streaks, but it doesn't just break apart. Don't handle it much more after that." She wrapped the kneaded dough in plastic, formed it into a disk and relegated it to the refrigerator for a 45-minute rest, long enough to help make the dough easier to roll out and less elastic, to reduce shrinkage during baking. Fairbrother did the same with her half of the dough. What was truly amazing about the dough was that it was already cool at that point; cool enough, in fact, that it could have been rolled out right then, formed and sent to the fridge for resting. Beranbaum deemed 65 degrees the right temperature for dough that is to be rolled out. (If it has been refrigerated overnight rather than for 45 minutes, she suggests leaving it out for 10 minutes.) The rolling-out process, done in strokes from the dough's center that stopped short of the edges, was a breeze, thanks to a few bakers' helpers. Beranbaum placed a canvas pastry cloth rubbed with flour underneath the dough and covered the rolling pin with a cloth sleeve, both of which prevent sticking and overuse of flour. Fitted, 1/8 -inch-thick rings placed on the ends of the pin ensured the crust would be rolled to an even thickness. "When you can't roll it any thinner, you're done," she said. The hardest part was over. Well, perhaps Fairbrother didn't think so right then, but she soon got the hang of it. Onward to the fillings. Beranbaum had made a promise that her pecan pie would be distinctive, and she made good on it. She eschewed Karo corn syrup for Lyle's Golden Syrup, which is made from cane sugar. She baked the pie in a tart pan to equalize the ratio of nuts to filling to crust. Instead of relying only on cornstarch to thicken the peach pie filling, Beranbaum collected the fruit's juices, reduced them to a near-caramelized syrup and added them back to the peaches. Once assembled with its filling and top crust, the pie had to rest in the refrigerator before baking, a notion that exasperated Fairbrother a bit. "This is very demanding pie!" she blurted. So was the cherry pie, as it turned out. We had furnished bing cherries rather than the sour ones the recipe called for, so Beranbaum had to compensate for that variety's extra liquid by thickening the juice in a saucepan before baking the pie. Problem solved. Throughout the afternoon, directives on handling dough, making fillings, crimping edges and baking oven-ready pies came in waves. Key among them: • Use templates to cut out pre-measured sizes of top, bottom and lattice crusts. That will ensure a correct fit and avoid cumbersome trimming after the dough is in the pie pan. • If using a tart pan with a removable bottom, push the dough thinner against the sides. That will make it rise up higher than the rim. When the crust shrinks during baking, it will still have a good height. • For blind baking (baking a pastry shell before it is filled), use a large-urn coffee filter to hold rice as the weight that keeps the crust from rising. The filter absorbs butter from the crust, and the rice, which toasts slightly, can be used for pilaf. • Try baking a pie on the oven floor for the first 20 minutes or so. Use a clear glass pie plate so you can monitor darkness. Once the bottom crust is nice and dark, bring it up to the lowest rack and finish baking. • Baking a pie that starts out frozen is good; the bottom crust gets a chance to crisp before the filling has softened. Baking from frozen generally takes 20 extra minutes. (Freeze a pie only after it has rested in the refrigerator for an hour.) By 3 p.m., Fairbrother's head was swimming, and Beranbaum had a train to catch. The start-to-finish pecan pie came out of the oven; the cherry and peach pies were ready to go in. Beranbaum eyed them with approval, saying she could tell from the evident swirls of butter in the crusts that they were going to be good. Which reminded her of a story. She was in Oakland, Calif., years ago, visiting her brother, who had bought a pie for dessert. Her then-6-year-old nephew led her to it and voiced his disappointment. "He said, 'You can tell by looking at it that it's not going to be any good!' and I thought, 'I taught him something!' " Him and countless grateful others. David Hagedorn, chef and former restaurateur, can be reached at food@washpost.com. His Chef on Call column appears monthly.

Chemical & Engineering News

Science & TechnologyJuly 7, 2008 Volume 86, Number 27 pp. 26-30 Kitchen Chemistry Our love of food is helping bring science to the masses Lisa M. Jarvis ".....Philosophical discussions on the place of science in cooking aside, ECC [Experimental Cuisine Collective] is helping to shift the conversation about chemistry and food away from merely an exercise in the esoteric—how to use sodium alginate to make faux caviar or how to use liquid nitrogen to make ice cream—toward one that is accessible to a wider audience. For example, Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of "The Cake Bible" and "The Bread Bible," presented an amazingly comprehensive explanation of flour during the group's January meeting. Bread is about as basic as it gets in terms of its ingredients, but the baking process itself is quite complex. She went through the wide varieties of flour, how they differ in terms of protein content, which can range from 8 to 14%, and what that means in terms of texture, flavor, and lift. She threw out phrases and words like "phenolic acid," which is responsible for the bitterness of whole wheat flour, and "glutenin" and "gliadin," the two proteins in flour that form gluten. She went on to explain how the ratio of those proteins influences the density of bread because gluten can absorb three times its weight in water. In the end, she made the perfect sponge cake, weighing and timing the addition of ingredients with the precision of an analytical chemist. The roughly 80 audience members—some chefs, but many simply fans of baking and of Levy Beranbaum's cookbooks—were surprisingly well versed in the science of their craft. They also appeared genuinely interested in thinking about the chemistry of the baking process and how to apply science to get better results in the kitchen. That kind of discussion—troubleshooting in the kitchen, defining the chemical makeup of ingredients, considering how those ingredients interact, and introducing concepts like reproducibility and hypothesis testing—is what Kirshenbaum hopes ECC can encourage. Although others involved in the group may have different goals, his primary objective is to engage a wider audience in chemistry."

From the heart & hearth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a homemade gift. While cookies are classic holiday offerings, the possibilities of distinctive gifts from the kitchen - individual-size cakes, mini cheesecakes and a sampler of homemade nibbles - abound. "The holidays are an ideal time to bake," says Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of "The Cake Bible" (William Morrow, 1988). "Life slows down and people want to celebrate. There isn't a gift that is more appreciated than a home-baked one."

Great Review of "Rose's Christmas Cookies"

Just got a wonderful holiday present in the mail--the advance copy of the Decemeber Woman's Day Magazine, soon to be on the stands. On page 136 is a terrific review, by associate food editor Ellen Greene, of my now SEVENTEEN year old book.It was my wind-down, treat-to-myself book after the exhaustive process of producing "The Cake Bible." Because of its seasonal name, it is rarely available in book stores but Jessica's Biscuit (800/878-4264) catalogue #D612 and Sweet Celebrations (800/328-6722) are both wise enough to know that these cookies know no season and always have copies in stock! (Though with this lovely mention their supply may run out quickly.) Of course they are also available on amazon.com (there's a link from this blog under my books)

Starched Thighs and Charred Chilis

really fun article in yesterday's washington post. click on the link:washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/05/AR2006090500256.html reprinted here with the kind permission of the author food editor Bonnie Benwick! Be sure to scroll down to Jacques Pepin's contribution--i can just picture his expression when what he reported happening happened! (just got the paper and saw that my esteemed friend Mitchell Davis is featured in an interview right next to the above mentioned article, re his new book "kitchen sense: more than 600 recipes to make you a great home cook"! bravo mitchel!!!) TALES FROM THE PROS Starched Thighs And Charred Chilis Wednesday, September 6, 2006; Page F01 Kitchen dramas? We've all had them, even the pros. The dramas turn out to be learning experiences -- at least that's what we tell ourselves. As proof, we asked some of our favorite culinary luminaries to share their own cooking class tales. Let these be a lesson to us all. -- Bonnie S. Benwick ROSE LEVY BERANBAUM, baker and cookbook author: I was teaching at Rich's Cooking School in Atlanta in August several years ago, and the demo kitchen was so hot my legs stuck together. In a moment of desperation/inspiration, I reached for what turned out to be the perfect solution -- and not just for my baking: cornstarch. DUFF GOLDMAN, owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and star of Food Network's "Ace of Cakes": When I was a student at the [Culinary Institute of America] at Greystone [Napa Valley, Calif.] I was known as the bread guy because I worked at a bread factory after school. One of my teachers, an amazing bread baker, asked me to make 200 baguettes for a big American Culinary Federation conference. I was really paying attention, baked 'em all . . . they had a nice jump on them. They were beautiful. I was so proud of myself. The next day my teacher came in and tore one in half to taste it. "Did you try one?" he asked. I'd forgotten the salt. I had to make another 200.

MARCELLA HAZAN, master Italian cook, teacher and author: The only class I ever wanted to take was at Madame Chu's Cooking School in Manhattan. Now I'm 82, but I was something like 45 at the time. I decided to go there because I found out I liked Chinese food very much. But after the madam went on a sabbatical, her staff didn't know what to do. Since they knew I made Italian food, they gave me a piece of paper with six names and telephone numbers -- Italian cooking references. Call these people, they said. So I said to my husband, "Americans, they are crazy!" He said to me, "You like to teach? You teach." I never took another cooking class, because I got too busy doing my own. MOLLY STEVENS, food writer, editor and 2006 Cooking Teacher of the Year (International Association of Culinary Professionals): I once attended a class where the teacher was toasting chilis in a skillet, left them on the burner and went to do something else. The chilis burned and filled the entire room with a thick, throat-burning smoke. People started coughing and leaving. And then, worst of all, the teacher berated one of the assistants for burning the chilis when we all knew who was really responsible. PATRICIA WELLS, cooking teacher, author and food critic for the International Herald Tribune: Very early on -- 1995, I think -- [super chef and restaurateur] Joel Robuchon often came to our cooking school in Provence with two assistants to do the final Friday class. Philippe the pastry chef forgot about the tiny madeleines in the oven, and they were turned into tiny, perfectly formed black carbon madeleines. I saved a few as souvenirs. They are still perfectly formed black carbon madeleines, kept in a little glass jar in a cabinet there. NICK MALGIERI, author and baking program director at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York: In a CIA class with a very strict instructor during the 1971-72 academic year, one first-year student whispered to another, "Could you come look at my baked beans? I think when I doubled the recipe I quadrupled the amount of liquid." He took a look, and there was an awful lot of liquid. Way too much to cook off. Student No. 2 (me) went to distract the chef with some question about knife-sharpening while Student No. 1 emptied half a box of cornstarch into the beans. When the pot of beans was put out for the student meal, the chef especially commended the maker of the baked beans for having instinctively added the correct amount of liquid -- because they were so beautifully thickened. ANGELA SHELF MEDEARIS, Austin cooking class teacher and author, most recently, of "The Ethnic Vegetarian" (Rodale, 2004): I gave a private lesson in my home to a very cute, very athletic young couple. We were going to put together a menu plan and teach them how to cook for a week's worth. I try to incorporate using two things everyone has in their kitchen: a microwave and a broiler. To get started, I asked them, "Is your broiler located on the top or the bottom of your oven?" "Broiler?" They looked at each other. "We didn't know we had one." I knew it was going be a looong class. GALE GAND, pastry chef, author and restaurateur: In 1985, I went to take a class with Albert Kumin, at his International Pastry Arts Center outside New York City. It was really high-level stuff -- sugar pulling, European desserts. I once attended a class where the teacher was toasting chilis in a skillet, left them on the burner and went to do something else. The chilis burned and filled the entire room with a thick, throat-burning smoke. People started coughing and leaving. And then, worst of all, the teacher berated one of the assistants for burning the chilis when we all knew who was really responsible. PATRICIA WELLS, cooking teacher, author and food critic for the International Herald Tribune: Very early on -- 1995, I think -- [super chef and restaurateur] Joel Robuchon often came to our cooking school in Provence with two assistants to do the final Friday class. Philippe the pastry chef forgot about the tiny madeleines in the oven, and they were turned into tiny, perfectly formed black carbon madeleines. I saved a few as souvenirs. They are still perfectly formed black carbon madeleines, kept in a little glass jar in a cabinet there. NICK MALGIERI, author and baking program director at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York: In a CIA class with a very strict instructor during the 1971-72 academic year, one first-year student whispered to another, "Could you come look at my baked beans? I think when I doubled the recipe I quadrupled the amount of liquid." He took a look, and there was an awful lot of liquid. Way too much to cook off. Student No. 2 (me) went to distract the chef with some question about knife-sharpening while Student No. 1 emptied half a box of cornstarch into the beans. When the pot of beans was put out for the student meal, the chef especially commended the maker of the baked beans for having instinctively added the correct amount of liquid -- because they were so beautifully thickened. ANGELA SHELF MEDEARIS, Austin cooking class teacher and author, most recently, of "The Ethnic Vegetarian" (Rodale, 2004): I gave a private lesson in my home to a very cute, very athletic young couple. We were going to put together a menu plan and teach them how to cook for a week's worth. I try to incorporate using two things everyone has in their kitchen: a microwave and a broiler. To get started, I asked them, "Is your broiler located on the top or the bottom of your oven?" "Broiler?" They looked at each other. "We didn't know we had one." I knew it was going be a looong class. GALE GAND, pastry chef, author and restaurateur: In 1985, I went to take a class with Albert Kumin, at his International Pastry Arts Center outside New York City. It was really high-level stuff -- sugar pulling, European desserts. Jacques Pepin was one of the students. One of the others was a young woman who had come to learn how to make the decorations for her wedding cake, which she had planned to do while she was there. Lilies of the valley. You need hundreds! Jacques felt so sorry for her that after Day 2 or 3, he stopped doing the standard repertoire and spent the rest of the week helping her make little flowers. They got it all done. JACQUES PEPIN, chef, author and cooking teacher, reminded us of this story from his 2003 autobiography, "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen": At the beginning of my teaching career, I had to overcome a few issues with communication. Most of them involved me underestimating how little my students knew about cooking techniques that I'd learned so long ago I thought they were acquired as instinctually as breathing. One incident occurred while I was teaching a participation class for 14 people in the test kitchen of the New York Times. As usual, some students wanted to do everything, while other students preferred to sit and observe. In order to get her involved in the class, I asked one shy woman, who had been observing without getting involved in the work, to strain the stock, which had been cooking for three hours. She did strain it -- right down the drain -- and came back with the bones in a colander. "What do I do with these now?" she said. So much for the clarity of my teaching. PAM ANDERSON, food writer, cookbook author and former executive editor of Cook's Illustrated: The very first time I went on the road for a book tour was for "The Perfect Recipe" in 1998. I was supposed to make lemon meringue pie at a Saturday morning cooking school class in the Midwest. I got there early in the morning, but I hadn't told the volunteers to make things ahead. So the doughs weren't made properly. There was no frozen shortening. There wasn't a finished pie to show the class. The baked crusts pulled away from the edges, and as I recall, we served a kind of hot lemon meringue soup. . . . At least we all had a good laugh, and turned something negative into a positive, teaching-wise. I haven't made a pie on the road in a while. MOROU OUATTARA, former chef at Signatures in Washington, who's about to open Farrah Olivia restaurant in Old Town Alexandria: I wouldn't have the patience to take a class from someone else, but a couple of years ago I was doing a demonstration at the Food and Wine show in the old convention center. It was for 25 people, and I was showing them how to cure bison meat. Taste as you go, I said. Recipes don't stress enough that you should taste after each ingredient. Then I made the brine, with two cups of salt, two cups of sugar, a tablespoon of paprika, a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper, talking all the while as I added them. And then cumin, coriander, cinnamon and clove. I couldn't use my finger to taste (as chefs usually do) so I grabbed a big spoonful and drank it. Of course, it went down the wrong way. I started to choke and someone had to get water for me. Well, I told the group, I guess that proves you shouldn't taste! At least everybody laughed. A lot of people think cooking is magic, and that chefs know just what to do. We make mistakes. It's good to show that, in the end, it's all about having the courage to try and fail, and try again.

The Best Part About Writing Cookbooks

is the feedback... is the knowledge that other people are sharing the pleasure of one's work, and to see that one's little life is touching the lives of others.below is a wonderful e-mail (which i have been given permission to share) from a newly born bread baker! Dear MS Beranbaum, I am a salesman who called on large commercial bakeries in the Midwest. I have always wanted to bake good breads, did not know where to start. Last summer my daughter purchased your book "The bread bible" for my birthday. You have completely removed the mystery of how to get good results. The variety of bread recipes gives me the opportunity to make great things at home. Thank you for putting such a great book on the market. I will be giving copies to my friends who like to use their kitchens. Best wishes for the new year. Sincerely, Steven R. Alderson

Interview in IACP Food Forum

The following is an interview I did with Marguerite Thomas for IACP Food Forum, the publication of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. It was published in the early part of 2006. You can download the 500k PDF here.Let's start with the beginning, The Cake Bible, the book that made your name when it came out in 1988. The Pastry Bible and The Bread Bible followed. Did you first come up with the concept of a book, or a series, and the "Bible" title, or did you write the first book and then you and your editors worked out that brilliant title? I had it in back of my mind to do a "bible" sort of definitive book, and though the word "bible" did occur to me, I would never have had the temerity to call it that if, not for [the late food writer] Bert Greene, who was my best friend. He came up with the title entirely on his own. He insisted that I call it a bible because, he said, I was his muse and he knew that's what the book would be because of my approach to baking. I resisted at first, but when everyone at the publishing company starting calling it by this name -- and giving it more respect -- I started to reconsider. It's hard to imagine not liking that title. I asked the bicoastal restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, whose opinion I greatly valued, what he thought of it, and he said it would be like sticking my chin out and saying, "Here! Punch me!" This clever assessment helped me to realize that I believed 100 percent in what I was doing and that I was willing and ready to take it on the chin! Was The Cake Bible your first book? My first book was Romantic and Classic Cakes (Irena Chalmers Great American Cooking Schools Series, 1981). It was written on an IBM Selectric typewriter, and it was a great dress rehearsal for a larger book. I could never have written The Cake Bible, with all its depth and continuity, without a computer. (More after the jump)

Did you set out on a straight path directly into the world of food? No, in 1967 I was actually a student at FIT [New York's Fashion Institute of Technology]. I had a job as a medical secretary at the time, and the doctor I worked for persuaded me that I was too thin-skinned to survive in the tough garment worker environment. I realized he was right, so I transferred all my credits to New York University to major in food. Who were the people who most influenced you when you were growing up? My mother was a pioneer of sorts, being the only woman in the entire dental school where she was a student. Because she worked full-time, I was raised by my grandmother, who had been a sample maker in the garment industry. She taught me magical things, such as how to make a piercing whistle from a single blade of grass, how to draw nectar from a honeysuckle blossom, how to cross-stitch, and how to tell a story (she regaled me with tales from czarist Russia, which she called the Old Country.) My father was a skilled cabinet-maker and still marches to his own drummer. But it was my great-uncle Nat, who was the designer of the Movado Museum watch, who taught me how to think beyond the obvious. You have written cookbooks and articles about food not related to baking (Rose's Celebrations, in 1992, and Rose's Melting Pot, in 1994, both published by William Morrow), but many of us have always felt that baking and cooking require very different mindsets -- a left brain-right brain kind of thing maybe. As someone who has been successful in both, give us your take on this truism. Julia Child advised me that it is very hard to get out of the baking pigeonhole, but that it could be done. Baking requires precision. With cooking, one can be more free-spirited. It took me years to feel free to cook by heart without measuring or being locked into a recipe, including my own! (I once found myself saying "it says" -- and then realized the "it" was I.) I find that most bakers can cook well, but the reverse is not necessarily the case. Book editor Maria Guarneschelli has said that the best food book authors she's worked with have all been uniquely focused on their careers. You, of course, are among the ones she mentioned. Is this particular kind of focus something you've developed, or is it an inherent part of your personality? Maria and I always worked well together because we agreed on so many basic principles, including this one. I have long considered my ability to focus my greatest asset. I'm not sure if it is genetic or if I learned by example, because both my parents embodied this quality. What aspect of your personal road to success are you most proud of? My greatest joy, and what I consider my greatest achievement, is having touched other people's lives in a positive way. For example, people who have never baked before have started successful businesses using my recipes. You are a prodigious writer of books and articles, and you also have successfully marketed many products. Tell us about your most recent venture. I am the spokesperson for Lékué of Spain. I also have my own line of ceramic bakeware with them called roselevybakeware. It includes Rose's Perfect Pie Plate and a Sweetheart Crème Brûlée set. (Both Lékué and my line are distributed by Harold Imports). Along with books, articles, product lines, and the rest, you put together and obtained all the underwriting for a 13-episode baking show on PBS. Do you have an agent who helps you market all these unusually successful concepts? I have two business managers who handle everything including my book contracts. One is also the business manager for the Rolling Stones, the other is working on the upcoming Canadian Olympics [in Vancouver, in 2010], so their vision goes beyond my food world. Do you have any tips for others about how to keep one's name out there once a book, television show, or a magazine series has come out? I was greatly influenced in this by my friend and colleague Shirley Corriher. In the early days of IACP she advised me to travel and teach in order to get my name out there. She said that at most schools the owners also make sure to get their guest-teachers publicity via local radio, TV, and print. Since we share a great love of food science, the food profession, and people in general, Shirley and I made a point of attending every food symposium we could, including the chefs groups, which at that time were entirely separate from IACP. I also wrote as much as possible for the food magazines. I think this helped establish my credibility with the press so that when my first big book came out they were already acquainted with my work, and they did wonders to publicize it. Did you like the process of creating and appearing on your own TV show? Do you feel that you can reach people in a different way through television rather than print? "Show and Tell" was always my favorite subject at school, and TV is the "show" to the "tell" of my books. I find the process of cookbook writing more gratifying than the process of television production because during most of the former I have total control and can be obsessive about detail. TV is a huge challenge. It forces you to think in an entirely different way, and to give up control. For a good performance one must trust the producer. But TV also provides a huge opportunity to reach many more people and to demonstrate visually techniques that are difficult to grasp, even with the most carefully chosen words. Have you had ideas that were held close to your heart but that you have not been able to bring to fruition? I've always longed to do a four-color cake book. Having studied fashion design, I have a strong feeling for the visual art of design. And I think people want and need to see what a cake looks like. I've been exceptionally fortunate in being able to realize most of my goals and visions, and now that I have just signed a contract with Pam Chirls at Wiley for a comprehensive four-color cake book, I will realize this dream too. When you were growing up in New York City, was good baking, or simply good food, a part of your home environment? Neither! My mother was a dentist, so sweets were not big in our household. But her mother, who lived with us, used to have a candy store, and she would make rock candy, crystallized on dental floss. I only remember my grandmother baking once in all those years. It was an apple pie, and it was wonderful. Her comment when I praised it was that it wasn't worth the trouble. Grandma wasn't a very good cook either, so my interest in food was avoidance more than enthusiasm. But when I discovered how wonderful food could be when prepared well, I was completely seduced by the possibilities. I wanted to spend all my time cooking and baking. Surprisingly, my mother turned out to be an excellent cook after her retirement. Actually, perhaps it wasn't so surprising. I remember her saying when I was growing up that she loved to eat. Of course at the time I thought she was crazy! You have attended all but three IACP conferences, most recently the regional conference in Sweden. You've also traveled twice to Australia to be a presenter at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Any other major, or upcoming, trips? I have been a presenter at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and I traveled to Japan to research sugar for an article for Food Arts. Earlier this year I was in Ireland, and I have upcoming trips planned to France and Spain. In addition to networking at conferences (and aside from the basic hedonistic pleasure that many of us get from travel), in what way do these experiences influence your work? My baking and cooking have both been influenced profoundly by my extensive travels around the world -- by my exposure to different ingredients and how they are used in cooking and baking. In recent years, the Internet has also provided an amazingly effective vehicle for connecting to people. Recently a woman living in Samoa reported her pleasure in being able to make a multigrain bread from my newest book for her husband, who longed for the bread of his childhood in Germany. I love that you've included the Internet as another means of world travel -- because, of course, you're right to underscore the point that the connection to other people is one of the most compelling reasons for visiting a foreign culture. And in its own way, the Internet enables us to do some of that. I'm really excited about the possibilities of my new baking blog, sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. It will provide a platform for sharing ideas. The world has never seemed so wonderfully and easily accessible. I envision you typically starting each day with a wonderful breakfast of homemade chocolate croissants, or muffins and scones just out of the oven. Of course if this vision of your early morning routine is anything close to accurate, you must have the metabolism of a hummingbird to maintain your trim shape. My routine actually begins with a one-mile swim at a nearby pool. Then coffee, and around 11:30 a small lunch, often something I've baked. If I'm wandering around New York during the day, my lunch is usually a banana from a stand. I usually walk wherever I'm going, as I spend so much time at the computer. I try to get exercise whenever I can since I don't consider baking much exercise! Come to think of it, my greatest achievement is not getting fatter than I am given the temptation of wonderful food and desserts I am always surround by. Who -- in the entire world -- would you most like to have dinner with some day? I love this question. "Some day" implies someone with whom I've not yet dined, but if it could be a repeat dinner it would unquestionably be Michael Batterberry, the visionary publisher of Food Arts magazine. He is wondrously erudite and endlessly fascinating, funny, warm, and entertaining. And his knowledge of food and wine are legendary. But if I had to choose a fantasy -- a never-before-experienced dining partner -- I can narrow it down to three. Lionel Poilâne, if only he were still alive. (He was arguably the world's most well-known bread baker, who started a movement towards a return to artisinal bread that spread from Paris around the world). I met Poilâne once at the Chocolate Show in Paris and was utterly taken by his charm, his passion for life, and his métier. And I'd want to dine with Pat Conroy, my favorite novelist, and a brilliant raconteur who also adores food and wine. Also, Martha Stewart, who constantly inspires me with her genius for innovation, self-creation, and a towering creative talent in so many of the arts, including business. I could learn so much from even one dinner with any of these delightful people. As with any author of cookbooks, you surely have more food than you and your husband and friends can possibly consume. Even with plenty of freezer space, have you come up with any creative way to dispose of baked trial runs (short of the garbage disposal)? The garbage disposal starves in my house. A neighbor once told me, as I was headed to the incinerator room, that my failures are her life's delights! Whatever we can't consume I give to the people who work in our building. I've known most of them for over 30 years now and they have become like family. In fact, several of the handymen have very discerning palates and are great "tasters." Alec, from Croatia, is an excellent cook, and Willy, the doorman, used to be a baker. Kenny and Eddy are teaching me Spanish -- just in time for my trip to Spain! It's great to get feedback so close to home. Speaking of feedback, do you have other tasters whose opinion you rely on? My husband Elliott has a fantastic palate, and thankfully is completely honest. I value his discernment and input. But having said that, ultimately I go mainly with my own taste. As Elliott once advised me in his direct but loving way: they're paying for your taste buds, not mine! Rose Levy Beranbaum has written numerous books, including The Cake Bible (William Morrow, 1988), a culinary best seller currently in its 34th printing. Other award-winning books include Rose's Christmas Cookies (Morrow, 1990) and The Pie and Pastry Bible (Scribner, 1998). Her newest and most all-inclusive publication is The Bread Bible (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003). She is currently working on a comprehensive book on cakes for John Wiley & Sons. Beranbaum is a contributing editor to Food Arts Magazine, and her work has appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Bride's, Reader's Digest, and Hemispheres. She has been a guest on a number of television shows, and now appears in her own PBS show called Baking Magic. She also writes a blog called "Real Baking with Rose," sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. She recently launched a new product line, roselevybakeware, and is spokesperson for Lékué, a silicone bakeware manufacturer based in Spain. Beranbaum lives with her husband of 30 years, Elliott Beranbaum, in New York City. MARGUERITE THOMAS is travel editor for The Wine News and she writes "The Intrepid Gastronome", a monthly column for the Los Angeles Times International Syndication. She is the author of The Elegant Peasant, Light and Simple Variations on Traditional Country Fare (Jeremy P. Tarcher)

Press Mentions

i'll update this blog entry with press mentions when they happen.PUBLICATIONS July 7, 2006, Associated Press (ASAP) Idiot in the Kitchen: Baking Brownies by Howie Rumberg March 19, 2006, New York Times. The Way We Eat: As Easy as... by Jennifer Steinhauer January 15, 2006 NY Daily News NOW Section, page 32, "Perfectly Simple" October 23, 2005, Quoted in Time Magazine, Ain't That Sweet! A slew of specialty sugars are taking chefs beyond brown and white, By Stacie Stukin Time Magazine, October 4, 2004: Article on home bread baking: "Heavenly Loaves." The Gourmet Retailer, September 2004, The Cake Bible listed as one of the top 25 most influencial books of the past 25 years. Bon Appetit, January 2004, page 17: "A must for bread baking novices and seasoned kneaders alike." Fine Cooking, January 2004, page 23: New books for every food lover on your holiday list New York Times Book Review December 7, 2003: Cooking Round up by Corby Kummer USA Today December 5, 2003: "for lovers of bread, here's a slice of heaven" USA Today December 4, 2003 "Just what you knead: 9 delicious reads " Santa's Favorite Cookies Magazine: My Chocolate Swirl Velvet Cake December 2003 Food & Wine, December 2003: 10 Best Cookbooks of the Year New York Magazine, December 1, 2003, page 104 "Flour Power" Newsweek November 17, 2003 page 80: Top Baking Books Publisher's Weekly, November, 2003: Top 10 Cookbooks of the Year