A Baker’s Dozen: Thank You, Rose Levy Beranbaum…

by Dianne Boate

… for once again transporting all of us who love baking into the prospect of new realms of baking experience. Flavor, texture, method and yes, sexy appearances fill the pages of The Baking Bible , a brand new book of 105 recipes guaranteed to lure you right back into your kitchen to get out the ingredients and bake!

One of the best aspects of this book is that Rose is talking to you with loving authority, guiding firmly, leading you to success. She cares about what ingredients you use, how you measure them, how you put them together, how the actual baking is done, and afterward, how to care for your new treasures and how long you can keep them. She has a blog — Real Baking with Rose — where you can even ask questions that will be answered. (So superior to what happened to me once in a baking class, when I asked about something simple relating to pastry, and the teacher’s answer was, “My DEAR, that was covered in Basic Pastry.” Was I sorry when that establishment, with all its fine cookware and pretension, went out of business?)

MousselineButtercream

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe for Mousseline Buttercream, made by Dianne Boate in 1988.

I have been baking out of Rose’s books for about 25 years. The Cake Bible was my first Rose book, purchased as a special reward to myself for overseeing a major holiday event at Randall Museum. Within a couple of years I made quite a few recipes, but one really stood out. It was the Mousseline Buttercream frosting that Rose promised would not dissolve in hot weather conditions. With an order for a major wedding cake to be served in Napa Valley in the summertime, I took the plunge with this frosting. Everything turned out just wonderfully; I sent a picture of the cake with a letter to Rose in New York. Two days later, she had received my letter, called me on the phone; we talked for an hour and have been friends ever since.

BakingBible

Examining The Baking Bible

First time around is a little overwhelming because it all sounds and looks so good you want to mark every page. This is not dissimilar to seeing a beautiful plant that you want to draw and so you start, only to find out that you cannot see all of it at once, it must be gradually perceived, as in layers. Good cookbooks will always hold mysteries for you to find and solve, and I have a theory why this is—namely, that baking is rooted in the science of deeper matters we don’t concern ourselves with as we open a sack of flour and measure out a cup. Physics and mathematics and molecules are suspended in the unseen ethers as we add the liquid to the flour, then some baking powder, and marvel that this thing is happening! Thing is, we do not have to think about it, because Rose has already done that!

The four sections of recipes offer a great variety of exceptional quality. This time I am choosing a less complicated recipe to try first. The reason for that is elementary—I happen to have all the ingredients, now. (Think about this, it may lead you to baking sooner than later.) It is the Crumpets, on page 433. This is a prime example of how Rose is always seeking to improve “perfect” recipes.

In every section there are loads of Tips and special pages for Golden Rules, priceless additions. Pay attention, please!

RoseLevyBeranbaum

Rose Levy Beranbaum. (Photo by Matthew Septimus.)

Rose as a Conductor

Quite a vision came to me as I was reading The Baking Bible : Rose in a spiffy black satin suit, wielding a baton, standing in front of a very large orchestra fanned out in the usual shape, but wait! The instruments are made of ingredients, and Rose is keeping them all in tempo, from the minute grains of sea salt to the big fat tubas of flour sacks, making sure that every voice is heard, that every flavor is added at just the right time for this special symphony, a one-woman effort to make all of our lives more rewarding. The name of the symphony might be Variations on a Theme of Chocolate Pavarotti with Wicked Good Ganache, While Dreaming of White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Mousseline and the Renee Fleming Golden Chiffon.

Rose Levy Beranbaum and Woody Wolston at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.

Rose Levy Beranbaum and Woody Wolston at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.

Is this Baking Heaven? Are we there yet?

Click here for excerpts from The Baking Bible in issue 31 of EatDrinkFilms.

Please support your local bookstore or purchase The Baking Bible through our affiliate links at IndieBound and Amazon. For other books by Levy, please visit Indiebound or Amazon.

DianneBoateDianne Boate, a former staff member of the original Dating Game television show, and later, The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, is The Hat Lady, maker of custom millinery, and The Cake Lady, a special events baker for 30 years in the Bay Area. Between cake assignments she has had several one-woman photography shows, and participated as a botanical illustrator in group shows benefiting the Conservatory of Flowers, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Marin Cancer Institute, and University of California Alumni Association. Her website can be found at www.boatecollection.com.

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