Joy the Baker Answers Part Two
If you had children and could only share one recipe with them, what would it be?
If I could only share one recipe with my kids, I’d no doubt teach them how to make a Sweet Potato Pie. Wait… I haven’t even taught you all how to make a Sweet Potato Pie! I’ll get on that. Pies are a big deal in my family, it’s the only real way to get out of doing the dishes at holiday time… “I made the pie!” and you’re sitting pretty on the couch at dish time. Brilliant!
What is your favorite cookbook specifically for cakes and cupcakes?
I’m a sucker for the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. It’s simple, approachable and has some really lovely recipes.
How do you like your coffee?
Two tablespoons of fresh ground coffee with 3 cups of hot water in a French press. Thow in some sugar and whole milk… press the press and coffee is a go!
What 3 things did you learn in culinary school that everyone should know?
Ah… as I mentioned before, I wasn’t one for the fancy-hat-wearing culinary school scene. I did take a three month Professional Baking Course here in Los Angeles to get my feet wet just after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. By then I had already been working hard in bakeries. I just wanted to see if professional culinary schooling was something that would float my boat.
When as our final class project we made a Croquembouche, I knew that large-and-in-charge-culinary school just wasn’t for me. Beautiful, yes. But what the heck am I going to do with a Croquembouche!?
I did learn some great things in the baking program. Here are three off the top of my head.
1. Always fluff flour before you measure it in a measuring cup, and don’t pack it in there too heavily before you level it off with a butter knife.
2. Baking recipes almost always call for large eggs. Using medium or jumbo eggs will throw off your recipe.
3. Don’t ever ever ever ever EVER touch boiling sugar. And if you do, thank the teacher that put the bowl of ice water next to your station to instantly cool your bad decisions.
AND! BONUS! Here are three things I taught myself in the kitchen. Good oven mits go a long long long way. Buttermilk lasts waaaay past it’s printed expiration date… weeks people… weeks. And, if you’re standing in the baking aisle at the grocery store and you’ve forgotten your list at home, just buy the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda… you’re probably out.
Is there a particular bakeware you would swear by?
Can I tell you a secret? I’m not super picky when it comes to bakeware. Heck… I’m the kind of baker that doesn’t even use parchment paper when I’m supposed to. There isn’t one name brand that overwhelms my kitchen. The only piece of glory that I swear by is my Kitchen Aid Mixer. The rest of my pans and such I get from my local restaurant supply store. They’re cheaper than those fancy kitchen stores and I know the products work because they have to stand up to restaurant type use.
What is the most intimidating food project you’ve ever taken on?
Wedding cakes are pretty daunting. Why? Well, you pretty much only get one shot. Much of the work comes together the morning of the wedding and there is absolutely zero room for error. It quickly becomes a high pressure situation.
I’m a pretty novice baker but I want to purchase a stand up mixer to help with my dough-making and such. Can you recommend the easiest to use and best bang for my buck.
I’m no kitchen snob… I promise you I’m not. The only piece of equipment I have in my kitchen that I feel like I couldn’t do without is my KitchenAid mixer. It means a lot to me. It’s got power. It’s got style. It understands me, and it wants to help me make the most delicious treat possible. The Artisan versions are a bit over the $200 mark, but worth every penny. I mean it.
I’ve always been under the impression that you did work in some type of bakery as well as baking for fun. If so – is it the coolest thing ever?
For as long as I’ve been working, I’ve been working around food. In the past several years I’ve spend a lot of time baking professionally. For a girl that loves baking, it was just lovely to hand people something that I had created and watch a smile form on their face. For the sleepy head in me, the 3am wake up call was brutal, to say the least.
Do you have a full-time job besides blogging?
Yes I do. I learn about food. I get to talk to people about food and eat gorgeous food. I work with a fantastic group of food people at a small restaurant in Los Angeles. It’s an amazing job. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by food and people that love it as much as I do. Believe it or not, I spend as much time here on my blog as I do at my restaurant job. This humble blog is no joke. This little corner of the internet that I’ve created means so much to me… and it’s growing thanks to you!
Where did you get that flower mold that you have on your website?
I got it a few years ago at a candy making shop. I don’t think they’re hard to find. Just look for a flat daisy flower chocolate mold. Ah Google… thank goodness for you.
Can I substitute orange juice for milk in most recipes?
I don’t think substituting milk for orange juice is the best idea. Orange juice is full of acids that are different from milk. Milk also has a creaminess that orange juice can’t compete with. On top of all that, milk often works a certain way with the leavening agents in a recipe. Buttermilk, for example, goes hand in hand with baking soda, because the acids in buttermilk react to the baking soda to help lift the baked good. If milk is a big part of a recipe, I would stick with milk. If it just calls for a teaspoon or two, you could probably safely experiment with orange juice or water. See what happens! That’s what baking is all about!
What is your favorite artist to listen to when making bread?
When I’m making bread I love to listen to episode after episode of This American Life. The stories keep my mind busy and the bread keeps my hands moving right along. For music, the Fleet Foxes seem to be getting me through the days with ease and smiles. Love em!
What is your favorite cookie?
A warm chocolate chip cookie, 10 minutes out of the oven with a glass of whole milk with ice cubes in it. Perfect world.
How long are you supposed to chill the dough in your Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?
For my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, I chill the dough for at least three hours, but usually overnight.
Will you send me cookies?
Maybe, but don’t count on it. Will you send me something back?
Do you have a recipe for macaroni and cheese? I woke up craving it..and if you did have a recipe, I bet it would be a good one.
I think that macaroni and cheese is one of those recipes that is best if someone else makes it for me. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I don’t have a recipe.
Part Three, because you’ve got questions and I sometimes have answers…. coming soon.