As most of you know by now, I’m a bit of a baking book fanatic. If you were to wander into my kitchen and look at my cookbook-case, you would just shake your head. Sad, perhaps, but true: most of my collection is comprised of baking books. Definitely more sweet than savory. I have some tried and true favorites – among them Ina Garten (love her recipes, but have gotten a little tired of her personality and show), Alice Medrich (a dessert and chocolate goddess), Martha Stewart (yes, I confess, I like Martha – she appeals to the perfectionist in me), and most importantly: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. These two hold a pretty high place of prominence on the top shelf.
Matt and Renato are the co-owners of a fabulous little bakery called Baked, in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. I cannot exactly pinpoint when this dynamic duo came across my radar, but when they did – let me just say that I sensed that we were kindred spirits. I love their pure, unadulterated love and passion for baking exploration; for turning the classic American dessert on its ear and making something super-extraordinary of it. I have yet to visit their immensely popular bakery (I believe most bakers now would call it a ‘mecca’ while visiting NYC), but my boyfriend Jake has – and he has even met Renato in person (I’m completely jealous). I will get there eventually. Oh yes, I will.
Fortunately for us bakers, we can still have a taste of Baked’s amazing baked goods and desserts at home. Matt and Renato have generously shared a treasure trove of their recipes in three beautiful baking books: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, Baked Explorations: Classic Desserts Reinvented, and most recently, Baked Elements: Our Ten Favorite Ingredients. If I were to classify all of my baking books in order of importance, the Baked books would be pretty high up there – in fact, they could almost be considered among my baking bibles. They are that good. As Deb Perelman, creator of Smitten Kitchen, states in her back-cover blurb of Baked Elements: “Nobody, nobody has a better grasp on the kinds of recipes that make people happily gum up the pages of a book with cookie dough or retire their grandmother’s famous recipe for cinnamon rolls (because it didn’t include pumpkin) than the Baked guys. This book is full of the stuff of American bakery-case dreams.” I couldn’t have said it better. The pages of my Baked Elements are ready to be gummed up.
Through the wonders of a little thing called Facebook, I’ve had the great privilege of getting in touch with Matt and Renato. Their support and advice to me has been tremendously invaluable. While I would be immensely flattered if they did read my blog, I certainly don’t expect it. I would, however, like to take a moment here to reiterate my deepest gratitude for being such huge inspirations to me. I love, love, LOVE the books, and only hope that there is more and more to come. I honestly don’t think Neufangled Desserts would exist without Baked.
For Neufangled Desserts fans and readers, I wanted to let you know that you, too, will find out more about Baked through my blog! (I still strongly urge you to go to Amazon, post-haste, and order your own Baked books now, of course…direct links are below. Go. NOW.) Neufangled Desserts will be joining Baked Sunday Mornings, a group of blogging bakers who bake their way through the Baked books and blog about their creations! I’m a bit behind – they’ve already gotten through most of the second book – but starting September 16th, we will be working on recipes from Baked Elements. The goal is for me to baked the assigned recipe (they actually have a baking calendar for all participating bloggers to follow), and post about my experiences with the recipe by Sunday at noon. That being said – stay tuned on Sundays for my latest blog! Please note that the actual recipe itself will not be posted, but you can look at the initial post on Baked Sunday Mornings’ website (www.bakedsundaymornings.com).
I’m excited about this new adventure and as always, welcome your thoughts and comments. Try the Baked recipes yourself and tell me what you think. I bet you will fall in love with Matt and Renato and their amazing recipes, just as I have. How can you not adore someone who created a 3-layer, deep, dark chocolate cake with salted caramel and fleur de sel? (The Sweet and Salty Cake from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking). Oh yeah… and believe me, it’s sinfully good. And that’s only one recipe, folks. There’s more to come…