On Friday, Stella Parks's BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts won a James Beard Award in the Baking and Desserts books category. We aren't surprised in the least, but we are incredibly proud, which is why we can't resist the opportunity to heap praise on both her and the indispensable book she's created.
It took Stella about six years to write BraveTart, and once you start leafing through it, you'll understand why. Far more than a cookbook, it's also a quirky, entertaining, and meticulously sourced encyclopedia of American desserts: the history behind them, and the mythology, too. But if a reliable cookbook is all you're after, BraveTart is a gold mine. Stella's recipes for classics like devil's food cake, cinnamon rolls, and the glossiest, darkest, richest brownies—along with DIY versions of childhood treats, like homemade Oreos and Fig Newtons—truly work, providing the kind of detailed guidance and visual cues that will help you produce delicious results time and again. Beyond that, Stella demystifies the science of baking, with thorough explanations of the importance of measuring by weight, what sugar contributes to a recipe beyond sweetness (and why cutting back on it can have serious consequences), and the impact of pan materials on your cakes, muffins, and pies.
It's no surprise that Stella's visits to the New York office are the Serious Eats staff's favorite days of the month, since they guarantee a weeklong feast of sweets—like light and airy chiffon cake, speculoos ice cream, no-bake cheesecake gorgeously colored with freeze-dried fruit, and much more (tough life, isn't it?). Stella's cookbook won't exactly substitute for having your very own tireless pastry chef on hand, but, as legions of fans can already attest, it'll equip you with everything you need to work your own sweet magic.
Congrats to our very own BraveTart, for this beyond-well-deserved recognition of the talent, passion, and hard work that have made you a pastry wizard in not just our eyes but the food-loving world's.