A Baker’s Dozen: Treasured Friendships and Treasured Recipes

by Dianne Boate

What do baking and letter writing have in common? Passion! Communication! Adventure!

Mary-Frances-Kennedy-FisherTwo of my most revered friendships came about because of letters I wrote. Last year I told you about Rose Levy Beranbaum; today, I would like to share another story about meeting M.F.K. Fisher, and share the recipe she loved most of all the things I made for her. The recipe is called “Starlight Sugar Crisps,” from a 1950s Pillsbury Bakeoff book, a croissant type of pastry laced with vanilla sugar.

Flashing back for a moment, someone lent me The Art Of Eating, an anthology of five books written by M.F.K. Fisher. Her style, sensibilities and wry humor captured me instantly. She made me fall in love with France all over again.

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Eat Like the Stars – Diana Dors

by Jenny Hammerton

Are you on a diet after the excesses of the holidays?  I sure am.

Gwyneth Paltrow is by no means the first movie star to dish out advice on how to eat healthily, and drop some pounds along the way. Gloria Swanson raged against sugar in all its forms, Greta Garbo was bosom buddies with health-food guru Gaylord Hauser, and famously hearty eater Elizabeth Taylor wrote a legendary diet book called Elizabeth Takes Off in the 1980s.

But when I’m feeling an excess of adipose tissue, it’s Diana Dors who I turn to. Continue reading

Baker’s Dozen: The Secret Cake of the Brown Derby

IMG_1362by Dianne Boate

You should always be ready for surprises. In researching the origin of one of my favorite cakes, chiffon, I discovered it was invented in 1927 by a caterer named Mr. Harry Baker, in the Los Angeles area.

Louella Parsons (left) dining at the Brown Derby.

Louella Parsons (left) dining at the Brown Derby.

He kept the recipe a secret for a long time and finally sold it to General Mills. But before that happened he had the brilliant idea to take a cake to The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, where it became a popular item on the menu with movie stars – and Louella Parsons, one of the leading gossip columnists of the day. Whatever Louella wanted, Louella got, so her idea that grapefruit was nonfattening resulted in a grapefruit-flavored frosting for the popular cake. (Do we want to try that? Maybe…)

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