I’ve am longtime fan of Gesine Bullock-Prado. I own every single one of her books and often dream of someday (someday!) being able to bake at her level. She possesses a rare talent for inventing dreamy cakes and succulent sweets, and even elevating things like everyday cookies to a whole new gourmet level. Luckily for us, this spring she has given us yet another incredible baking book: Let Them Eat Cake: Classic Decadent Desserts with Vegan, Gluten-Free & Healthy Variations. There are over 80 recipes for popular homemade sweets and variations on how to make them healthier, gluten-free, and even vegan. Genius! Earlier this month Gesine and I had a quick email chat about her new book and I am thrilled to share it here today. And don’t forget to enter to win a copy below!
1) This is the baking book of my dreams. You update all favorites and give me ways to make them (successfully) for my gluten intolerant/food allergy friends. Hurray! How did you learn all these excellent variations when you don’t struggle with food intolerance yourself? You’re the first person I’ve found that can remove gluten from a cookie without making it taste like cardboard.
I was, for better or worse, raised as vegan (macrobiotic) with intermittent bouts of utter butter and sugar (and pork) insanity when we went back to Germany in the summers. Baking (and cooking) with an eye to both vegan and health concerns is forever ingrained in my soul. And despite my deep resentment at having been forced to bring tempeh in my grade school lunch, I thank my mother, begrudgingly, for making this way of eating and cooking a way of life.
Now, I get giddy when I see new products that expand my alternative baking horizons. My background also benefitted me in my pastry shop and had to bake for customers with food allergies and intolerances. Gluten free baking came naturally since so many European treats are naturally GF (I started my pastry career 10+ years ago making French macaron years before it was the new cupcake and it’s, the ultimate GF pastry) and when a celiac suffering customer craved something all-American, I reveled in the challenge and got to play with all manner of GF flour combos.
I’m also a marathon runner and I find when I’m in training, I want a baked treat that can also act as legitimate fuel for a long run. I’ve developed healthier versions throughout the years where I use nutrient rich grains, healthy fats and sweeteners, like organic palm sugar, that have a low glycemic index and a host of healthy minerals.
2) I see a lot of German and Vermont influences in your baking (marzipan! maple! The Big Winooski!) As you continue to develop recipes and expand your repertoire how do these places play a role in your kitchen?
We have a farm and everything around me influences my baking life. I use our goose and duck eggs to make gorgeous meals and insane cakes and I bring my eggs to the other instructors at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center when I teach to spread the eggy love. We tap our maples and sugar each year, so we’re never without the syrup. I keep bees and our little buzzers do their thing and make us honey. We get apples, plums, cherries, berries and even peaches from our land. We get tons of veggies too but it probably won’t surprise you that I lean towards the sweetness in life.
3) Looking at the variety of recipes in here I’ll admit I’d have had a hard time narrowing down what to include. Are these some of your all-stars? How did you choose?
I’m a mercurial baker and eater. I change with the temperature. This winter, with the insane cold, I’ve been all about chocolate, caramel and shortbread. I’ve also been making loads of puff pastry. Nothing like a few pounds of butter to nurse away the wintertime blues. Come spring time and sugaring season, I’ll be deeply invested in all things maple while I pray for temperatures above freezing. So the recipes are among my favorites with plenty of caramel, chocolate and buttery goodness but my main focus was to choose a well-rounded selection for every baking occasion. So if someone says to you, “Can you bring a Thanksgiving pie….but make it gluten free?”, I’ve got you covered.
4) Can we please pray that spring is on the horizon here in the Northeast? What desserts can you recommend for our spring table? I have a lot of baking for Easter and Mother’s Day coming up!
I hate to be a broken record but spring is all about maple for me. But it’s also about the hope of sunshine and rebirth and that always makes me thing of fresh fruit tarts. The brightness of fresh fruit, arranged just so, is magical. Add some pastry cream and a flaky quick puff crust, you’ve just entered heaven. And despite my love of all things sweet, I have to say that spring means asparagus. It’s the first thing to pop out of the ground here, even when there’s still snow littering the asparagus plots. I grab my garden shears, snip off as many stalks as I need and tear back to the kitchen to sauté or blanch them so they retain 100% of their sweetness. It’s worth the danger to run with scissors just to taste the freshest of asparagus. Most of the sweetness is lost and toughness sets in after the first day of harvest so getting those puppies prepared minutes after cutting is a beautiful culinary experience. One of my favorite savory tarts with crazy with asparagus.
5) What’s next for all these amazing desserts and books you produce? I need to see you make them on television!
I’m lucky that the lovely folks at The Talk and Today Show ask me back regularly. I have a great time flying through recipes with those lovely and interesting people. We’ll see what else pops up in the future. Frankly, I’m just happy puttering around in my little animal filled world, exploring the thing I love most: baking.
Thanks for the lovely chat, Gesine!
To enter to win a copy of Let Them Eat Cake!
1) Share your favorite classic dessert and a variation on it you’d love to learn how to make (healthier, gluten-free, vegan, etc.)
2) Follow Kelsey Banfield on Facebook.
3) Contest runs from March 16th at 7:00am until March 23rd at 7am. Winner will be announced in the March 27th newsletter. Good luck!