Author Interview: Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum on where she finds recipe inspiration and the ingredients she always has on hand
Cookbook author, television host, cookware designer—Rose Levy Beranbaum has quite the resumé. She's a prolific recipe developer having authored 11 books with two more on the way (Rose's Ice Cream Bliss coming out May 2020, and The Cookie Bible coming out in the fall of 2021).
Rose Levy Beranbaum is best known for her comprehensive "Bibles”, massive tomes that take a top to bottom approach covering every detail of baking, including award-winning titles The Baking Bible and The Cake Bible. Fans love Rose's work for its reliability—she is obsessive about getting the details just right, she tells us, “I dictated the entire 1,000 page manuscript of The Cake Bible into a tape recorder and played it back against the galleys to ensure that all mistakes from the transition of typing were found.”
We chat with Rose about a few of her cooking influences, the way her cooking changes with the seasons, and what she always keeps in her pantry.
You are famous for your many “Bibles:” The Baking Bible, The Cake Bible, The Bread Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible. What is your approach to tackling such comprehensive subjects? What aspects must be included in a book to earn the name of “Bible”?
The title “Bible” was suggested to me by a dear friend, and renowned food writer, Bert Greene. He suggested it because I cover subjects in depth and with great detail. I value accuracy so much that I dictated the entire 1,000 page manuscript of The Cake Bible into a tape recorder and played it back against the galleys to ensure that all mistakes from the transition of typing were found (32 years ago manuscripts were retyped and the typist was paid by the page so the likelihood of errors, especially for numbers, was huge). For subsequent “Bibles,” I proofed each stage of production with my associate Woody. Since the advent of the internet, for the past 15 years I post any updates and corrections on my blog www.realbakingwithrose.com.
Tell us about Rose's Celebrations and why you wrote that book.
Although I'm known for baking, I also love cooking and wanted to share my favorite recipes. Rose’s Celebrations are the recipes I make mostly for special occasions.
Do you find that your baking changes seasonally? Which recipes do you turn to in the summer?
My baking doesn’t change with the seasons except for the availability of fresh fruit. For example, I prefer to make apple pies and galettes in apple season but I always freeze sour cherries for cherry pie, and berries for ice cream.
My cooking, however, does change with the season. Things like lamb stew, French onion soup, and osso buco, are cold weather dishes!
Where do you search to find new recipes or inspiration?
My favorite quote comes from Michael Batterberry who founded Fine Cooking Magazine and Food Arts: “Creativity is a bottomless well of inspiration.” I am always thinking of recipes and talking to other colleagues. When I want to try something new I refer to both cookbooks and the internet and then refer to my own recipes for balance of ingredients such as percentage of sugar (which I invariably decrease) and technique.
Who are your food writing heroes?
How many cookbooks do you own?
More than 1,500.
What was the last cookbook you recommended to somebody else?
The Artful Baker by Cenk Sönmezsoy.
What cookbook do you wish someone would write?
The Cookie Bible which will be my next book, in fall of 2021 after Rose's Ice Cream Bliss coming out in May 2020)!
What are the essential ingredients that you always have in your pantry? What would you make with those things?
Butter, chocolate, eggs, milk, cream, sugar, flour (cake flour, pastry flour, bleached all-purpose flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, bread flour, Wondra flour), instant yeast, fine sea salt. With these ingredients I can bake just about anything!
Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recommendations: