When I first came across the cover of this new cookbook, Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands To Yours, I was immediately smitten. I mean look at it, GOR-GE-OUS!!!! And when I learned it was for the first cookbook of Sarabeth Levine, I knew I had to have it.
See, Sarabeth is a New York icon. She is Pastry Chef and Founder of “Sarabeth’s” Restaurants with 6 locations in New York City, one in Long Island and one in Key West, Florida. She is the creator of the SARABETH’S line of jams and preserves which are sold nationally and abroad. And now, she has added cookbook author to her resume. Busy , huh! (Oh she also just started a blog too. Check it out.)
I went to the first signing of her book tour a few weeks ago at Williams Sonoma in NYC and had the pleasure of meeting her. When I told her I had a blog and wanted to interview her, she graciously agreed. What follows is a snippet of my conversation with this special lady.
Sarabeth – if you read this – it was truly a pleasure meeting you and speaking with you. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes with us in this wonderful book.
Oh and the book – it’s a gem folks. Not only does it have great photography and easy to follow recipes, but her tutorials for each section are invaluable. Grab it for yourself or for that special person in your life. For a preview, check out these Maple Walnut Muffins I made from the book.
ACB: How does it feel to see your first book on the shelves?
SL: Remember when Cinderella put on her beautiful gown and went to the ball? Deep down inside, she couldn’t believe she was there. And that’s how I feel because I’ve never really seen myself as an author. I have only seen myself as a pastry person…a baker. And I do not believe it yet. I’m really excited. I’m so proud of the book and I can’t even believe it’s mine.
ACB: After so many years in the business, what made you want to publish a cookbook?
SL: For 30 years, people have been coming to the bakery and asking for our recipes. However, I never had the recipes broken down in small quantities. I have been working on breaking them down for a while now. When Rizzoli approached me, I decided I was going to give the public the exact recipes they had grown to love from the bakery – no tweaks, no changes, same techniques, same equipment. They are a compilation of recipes I have created and others that have been brought to the bakery over the years – 30 years worth of recipes.
Everything has been done before; nothing is new. It’s just a little twist on this, a little twist on that. But the basics remain the same. So I was fine with giving out my recipes. I wanted them to be from my hands to yours (and everyone else’s) in the hopes that they would become your own.
ACB: What do you hope home bakers take away from the book?
SL: Seems simple, but I want my readers to learn how to bake. The book isn’t just recipes. Every chapter starts with a tutorial. And I can’t stress how important it is for bakers, new and old, to read the lessons before baking. I want them to read the lessons more than once. It doesn’t take that long. And then read the recipes a couple of times too and absorb the steps. Once you are comfortable the recipes, I welcome everyone to tweak/change and make them their own. I want people to be free and do their thing.
ACB: Can you share some tips you consider essential for home baking?
SL: First: You must read a recipe in its entirety before you begin baking.
Second: You must lay out all of your measured ingredients before you start baking.
Third: Learn how to properly cream butter and sugar together, an important element of many baked goods, which I explain in detail in the book.
ACB: What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
SL: I adore the first chapter – Morning Pastries. I so want my readers to embrace that chapter and share that experience with me. I love to eat them and I love to make them.
As for what I like to eat? That’s a tough one. I LOVE ice cream. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tarts and pies. And I love that that rice pudding recipe in the book! And those peach crumb pies dies are to die for. Oh, and that apple pie is very special. Oh, and the scones…I love everything!!!!
ACB: Do you think you have another book in you to publish?
ACB: So what’s next?
SL: I don’t see more bakeries; possibly more restaurants. But I never had a roadmap. I just followed the yellow brick road and will continue on to embrace anything that allows me to be creative.