What is it about baking that makes me swoon? The truth is precision has always appealed to me – the art and science of exactness played a major role in originally drawing me into the kitchen. Unlike cooking, baking is a sure thing. You don’t need much skill if you know how to follow a recipe to a T. I cherished that certitude; I could rely on it, especially before I had the confidence I now have in the kitchen. I suppose the pleasure I take in baking is less about the result and more about the process of creation – the slow measuring, leveling, sifting and folding combined with the perfect touch of heat – that transforms the simplest of ingredients like eggs, flour and butter from a sloppy mess into something capable of filling your home with the swooniest aroma. The satisfaction that comes from pulling something out of the oven that is perfectly golden and risen is like a kind of magic. The excitement and the divine smells always make me feel like a little girl!
There’s also a devotion in baking. It calls for a bit of solitude and focus. For me, baking is – well, me time. A time to be indulgent and get lost in the process of feeling a bit like a wizard in the kitchen. And then there are the oohs and ahhs that come from sharing your delicious experiment. Baking is just an AH-mazing experience in my book.
So when I was recently invited into the kitchen at Rose Bakery to bake with head chef Matthew Lodes wizardry, I jumped at the opportunity. The original Rose Bakery was created in Paris by Rose Carrarini an Englishwoman and self-taught pastry chef who boasts an unfussy approach to all she creates. This NYC installment of Rose Bakery lives inside the incredible Dover Street Market, a seven-story multi-level brand bazaar housing avant-garde fashion that is artfully displayed in a rotating emporium of creative installations.
Together Matthew and I created Rose’s original and timeless lemon-polenta cake, a recipe she highlighted in her first cookbook Breakfast Lunch Tea. Matthew then surprised me by asking if I had ever tempered chocolate. Huh? I had to be honest and say I wasn’t sure, to which he replied, “oh trust me you would know.” He then proceeded to wash down the stainless steel countertop and I just assumed he was a neat freak, but there was a method to this chocolate madness! Matthew poured an entire bowl of warmed chocolate over the cold silver surface and my reaction was immediate joy – and then we got to play with it – drizzle it, spread it about, scoop it up, repeat! I surly went coo coo for cocoa, I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory! Pure chocolate bliss – SWOON.