In the world of baking, there are the newcomers, the up-and-comers, and the authorities. Ten years ago, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito were the newcomers. They opened their first bakery, Baked, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in January of 2005. Three years later, they released their first cookbook. Six years, three more cookbooks, and a new bakery location later, Lewis and Poliafito have more than earned their spot as modern-day baking authorities. Their latest volume, Baked Occasions, cements their position by celebrating a year of desserts.
We featured Baked Elements, the duo's third book, when it debuted in September, 2012. What I remember best is the warm, friendly tone of the writing, and the highly stylized look and feel of the photos within. The recipes were elevated versions of classic American desserts, with a unique twist. While Baked Elements featured recipes organized by ingredient, Baked Occasions is much broader in content, using holidays, birthdays, and even Derby Day to turn out 75 new recipes.
If you're wondering which 75 holidays could possibly merit their own pie, cake, or cookie, then you aren't thinking hard enough. Part of the charm of Baked, and the men behind it, is the philosophy that any gathering, no matter how small, is an occasion. And an occasion is worthy of dessert. Take the Salted Caramel Soufflé, made to celebrate Julia Child's birthday and her years of being the ambassador for French cuisine in the home kitchen. Sure, it might not be a federal holiday, but it's a big deal in the Baked world. And the aforementioned Derby Day does get its own little treat: Derby Cookies are described as "buttery brown sugar bourbon walnut balls," which says more than we possibly could.
And what about personal holidays? Days that commemorate our own families, our own successes, our own milestones? You would be remiss not to prepare a Baked Ultimate Birthday Cake for all of the above. It's the cake that graces the front cover of the book, and is stuffed to the gills with rainbow sprinkles. Elements of childhood nostalgia, spun into grown-up recipes, are what Baked, and Baked Occasions, specialize in.
The last recipe we've chosen to feature are Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Chocolate Brownies. Certainly they're for Halloween? Thanksgiving? Neither. They're made for Christopher Columbus Day, because Columbus Day is in October, and October is the month where most of the modern world becomes obsessed with all things pumpkin. Being that October is still upon us, we couldn't think of a better time to try them out.
You don't always need a reason to make something special, but Baked Occasions turns even the plainest day into something worth celebrating.
Win A Copy!
Thanks to the generous folks over at Abrams, we are giving away five (5) copies of Baked Occasions this week. All you have to do is tell us about the dessert you make for special occasions.
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