Dorie Greenspan Still Finds Joy in Baking
This Week on Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady
In this episode of Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, Dorie Greenspan joins Roxanne Coady to discuss her new book, Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple, out now from Mariner Books.
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From the episode:
Dorie Greenspan: People say baking is harder than cooking and I think it’s easier, because if you have a good baking recipe, you follow it….It’s like one judgment call after another. I mean, really, with baking, you follow the recipe! You make something delicious and then you can play around. …Change the flavors, change the shape, change the size. You can put a different icing on it. I think baking is playful.
Baking is a slower process. And what I tell people who say, I don’t know if I can bake is to have patience. Find pleasure in the process. Find pleasure in measuring. I think the ingredients are beautiful when they’re measured out. I think it’s possible that baking can be a more meditative activity than cooking.
You know, Roxanne, I truly for all the years that I’ve been baking and all the joy that I still find in baking. I hadn’t thought about it [as being very present] or quite like that. I do think it’s meditative. I do know that once I start, I feel like I’m breathing just because and you do have to concentrate. So I think when I say that you need patience and you need to, you know, find a way to find the process pleasurable, You do need to be present! You should be present while you’re cooking as well!!
I had this vision of our home being the place where everyone would come, and I wanted to feed people. I wanted them to stay and talk and I wanted food to be part of our life, and so I taught myself to cook from cookbooks.
I was fired [from a job] for creative insubordination! … I was mortified! Then recently, somebody said to me that if I ever were to write a memoir, that would be a great title—Creative Insubordination Anyway, I was fired for that, and then I worked in another bakery and I quit because I knew they would fire me if I didn’t quit. I was terrible in a bakery, but when I started writing about food, I had the chance to work alongside chefs in order to be able to learn their recipes and write for them.
[In making brioche] you have to beat, beat, beat. I find it fascinating because when you put a lot of butter in…a good dough kind of separates and you think, Oh no, what’s happened? Then you put more butter in and you keep beating and it comes together and you watch it. You watch this dough change and it is just the dough itself is beautiful. It’s got a satin look to it. And when you stretch it, it just pulls and it’s really satisfying to me!
The everything cake is really simple. It has weight. It has eight ingredients and I think it has nine variations, but you don’t need a mixer to make this. Just a bowl and you stir in the ingredients. It’s a very plain but comforting cake that can be played around with. In my cookbook the photo has pieces of tangerine. But you could put apples, you could put some booze in there, you could put some dried fruit. You could even add berries…. You could keep changing it all the more fabulous. This could be your signature cake!
There are so many people who have important roles in a cookbook. But for me, it starts here in this kitchen alone, and it’s an idea. The idea has to be sustainable as I work very slowly. So it’s got to be an idea that will hold my interest for years! I work primarily alone. I work in the kitchen, my notebook, I work in pencil and on paper. I write everything down!!
I’ve been changing through the years, what I like to eat, what I like to make, what I like to share with friends has just gotten simpler and simpler and simpler.
It’s seems easier to be together these days, now the evenings are longer. you have an hour or so before dinner where you have a glass of wine and you have a little nibble. And then you sit down and you eat and then you have dessert at the table and you’ve still got another hour or so that you’re just talking into the evening.
I want to feed my friends and family the best food that I can. I also love to experiment on them. It gives me a chance to play in the kitchen when I have people coming. But the most important thing is that sense of people being together, being happy to be together and having a chance to really talk to one another.
I do have instructions for storing [food.] If you can make something ahead, if it can be frozen, so many things can be frozen. For some things, you’re even better when they’re frozen!! You can make pie dough ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. I have a whole cocoa cranberry linzer torte in the freezer!!
I have the same hope for everybody. I teasingly say that I’m an evangelist for home baking. Somebody called me a cheerleader today and I thought, Yeah, that’s what I am. I always hope that it will encourage people to get into the kitchen and to bake, to cook, to make things that they love and to share them with people that they love.
Inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, Dorie Greenspan is the author of 14 cookbooks, including Baking with Dorie; Dorie’s Cookies, a 2017 James Beard Award-winner for Best Baking and Dessert book; Around My French Table, a New York Times bestseller that was named Cookbook of the Year by the IACP; Baking Chez Moi, also a Times bestseller; and Baking: From My Home to Yours, a James Beard Award winner. She lives in New York City, Westbrook, Connecticut, and Paris.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.