Joy the Baker

Joy the Baker Answers Part Two

February 25, 2009

You Can Do It Apple Pie

Part Two!?  Catch up on Part One here!

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.

Graham Cracker Coffee

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.

culinary school

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.

Double Chocolate Wedding

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!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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!

Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 1

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.


79 Comments Add A Comment

  • I am holding my breath until you post the seet potato pie….hurry, I am turning blue.

  • Joy!!!
    It’s great to find another This American Life lover. It is fantastic for that long commute into the city… if only it was acceptable in Japanese society to eat your delicious food, or any food for that matter, on the commuter trains.

    I love these FAQ’s. Keep up all the amazing blogging and baking!

    Jody in Japan

    P.S. The two things I regret to have left in my parents garage in America… my Viking Sewing Machine and my Kitchen Aid Mixer!!!!!

  • Hello! I had asked the question about the bread making while listening to your favorite artist……and then I read it here and I’ve got to say Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite bands(I too, love This American Life). And I have to also say thank you for answering my questions. I want to send you cookies! You’re a doll, Joy!

  • i am simply in love with all your recipes, and this FAQ section is so intriguing :)

  • I would like a big cup of your french pressed coffee please! Your description has put my measly cup to shame. :)

  • Someone asked about stand mixers up above… I know it’s not “Ask Charity”, but I did want to point out that Kitchen Aid ain’t what it used to be- they used to be owned by Hobart, and had die-cast metal gears and parts in a metal housing. Unfortunately, now they are mostly plastic parts in a plastic housing, unless you wanna shell out the extra couple hundred bones for the premium model (which still has plastic). Also, the warranty isn’t the greatest.
    A couple other brands that are worth checking out are Cuisinart, and (believe it or not) Hamilton Beach’s All-Metal appliances. I ended up going with Cuisinart after researching mixers for 2 months- extremely happy with my mixer, whom I’ve named Arthur.
    Of course, Kitchen Aid is (imho) the prettiest mixer and is the only one with the bowl lift :)

  • A couple of months ago I agree to make my friend’s wedding cake. Oops! I’m sure it’ll all go perfectly as long as I have a batch of your warm chocolate chip cookies on hand, lots of coffee and the soothing strains of Fleet Foxes, I’m so with you there.

    Loving theses Q&As, as usual you’ve got me hooked to the computer.

  • for whomever asked for the good mac & cheese recipe… simply cook 3 cups macaroni noodles, then layer the noodles with cheese, salt, & pepper in a 2 quart bowl. fill halfway with milk. bake at 350 for 45 minutes. it’s also good with sausage or hot dogs… and lots of extra cheese :)

    and to you, joy… i’ll send you a hand-made goodie… a good pot holder, some fabric coasters, quilted dish towels, etc. if you send me a good batch of cookies. do we have a deal? ;-)

  • So interesting!! So inspiring!!

    I recently made your Super Soft Chocolate Cupcakes and they were delicious…only they weren’t poufy. They were soft and tasted fab, but didn’t have a rounded top. Flat – cupcakes!! Any idea what I did wrong???

  • These Q & A’s are fun to read and I love the photography.

    This American Life is the best to listen to when busy with your hands. I love listening to it when baking, drawing, designing or sewing – so almost anytime – except when emailing or doing math! And Fleet Foxes are great – loved their stop animation video! Awesome.

  • Thanks so much for all the Q&A! you are such an inspiration and full of life!!! I’d love to have YOUR perfect job too!

  • I have two daughters and sweet potato pie was the first recipe that I started to teach them, we’ve expanded it to a lot of Thanksgiving dinner but really, if they only learned the pie I’d still smile.

  • A woman after my own heart–sweet potato pie is where its at. And if you’re ever in middle-of-nowhere, FL, I promise you mac & cheese for dinner. ;-)

  • that chocolate chip cookie photo is to die for!!! and i would totally believe that a wedding cake would be the most stressful thing to make — but also so rewarding, i’m sure!!!

  • Oh yes PLEASE put up your recipe for Sweet Potato Pie…it IS my favorite!!

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