breakfastcakechocolatecold dessertcookbookscurrent obsessionsdessert

current obsession: baked explorations

by Grace Bonney

I planned to wait until Friday to write about this book, since that’s our recipe and entertaining day. But after three straight days of flipping through Baked bakery’s new cookbook, I cannot physically restrain myself from talking about it right. this. minute. Why? Because it’s that darn good.

Before I dive into the book, I’ve got a small confession to make: I’ve always been (and probably always will be) someone who lives to eat, rather than eats to live. I know it’s not the healthiest philosophy, but food has always provided me with a comfort that’s hard to put into words. Whether I’m happy or sad, a great meal always makes things better. I know I should go for a run or take a boxing class to work through stress, but for me, there’s no greater comfort that that first big bite into an amazing piece of cake or a deliciously fudgy brownie. We all have our vices and well, sweets are mine. So to say that Baked’s desserts are the most comforting (non-Mom-made) desserts I have ever eaten is the highest compliment I can give.

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented is packed full of the heart-warming and tummy-pleasing recipes that I love about Baked. From gooey Monkey Bubble Bread breakfast recipes to classic Whoopie Pies, Baked’s second cookbook has it all and then some. And this time around, that “and then some” means a few unexpected surprises like recipes for Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins, two versions of Mississippi Mud Cake, Strawberry Jell-O Salad with a pretzel crust and my favorite “What The?” recipe, Tomato Soup Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting. Sound a little wacky? Sure. But will I be buying the ingredients to try them this week? Absolutely. Primarily because I trust just about anything the Baked boys (Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis) tell me will taste good. Something about Renato and Matt, both personally and baked good-wise, has always felt special to me. Maybe it’s because they share my love of the deep South, or that they remind me of all the classic Southern desserts my grandmother would make when we visited her house in Richmond, but reading through this book felt like coming home to me.

I plan to take this book with me in a few weeks when we visit my family in Martha’s Vineyard. Aaron and I are cooking for the entire visiting family and I know that any one of these recipes (even the Tomato Soup Cupcakes) would be a hit. So as I bookmark my favorite pages to try next month, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy to try in your own kitchen. I very rarely say things like “I guarantee you’ll like it,” but this one is a home run for me. The recipes are fun and approachable and Tina Rupp‘s photographs are the perfect combination of baking-meets-Brimfield antiques. Click here to pick up a copy online ($19.77 at Amazon) or if you’re in Brooklyn or Charleston, stop by Baked’s bakeries to taste their sweets for yourself. You won’t regret it. Congrats to Matt and Renato on another wonderful book! xo, grace

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  • OMG I can so relate with your “vice”. I have the same! This is so delightfully yummy looking and I’m guessing tastes as good! Just looking at those images makes my mouth water!

  • A good meal (or just dessert, thank you) is a thing of beauty. Maybe not even a vice. A good meal is like taking a walk through an art gallery, admiring all the pieces.

    And chocolate cake is the Mona Lisa. To be savored over and over and over again.

    Stunning cookbook, Grace! Thank you so much for sharing. Will you please stop back in and let us know if the recipes work?

    • kimberly

      i sure will! i’m going to try some on our trip up north in october so i’ll share some pics on twitter :)


    • sooo amazing. i’ve had that one in the store before and the slices are criminally large- but in a good way ;)


  • Oh yummy perfection…A photo study of the reasons I can’t lose this stubborn 10 pounds. Also the reason why I shouldn’t care.

  • or lord this looks so good … and completely thrilled to see whoopie pies amongst the offerings.
    beautiful photography – those photos alone are food for the soul!

  • I hear you on the “live to eat” philosophy! My sweet tooth is huge! Those look amazing! And baking men… ;)

  • I second your guarantee Grace! Every single recipe I make from these guys turns out perfectly and completely delicious.

    Running out to get my copy of the new book today. :)

  • Yum! Their stuff looks so good! I just came across another one of their books, Baked – New Frontiers in Baking, at Hautelook.com for %50 off :)

  • omg…what gorgeous food photos. i always love when cookbooks have great photography : ) mmmmm everything looks/sounds amazing!

  • I, too, am a live-to eat-person. I try to balance it with exercise and don’t always use eating as a means of stress relief. However, I plan social gatherings around food, or drink; look forward to lunch at 8 AM; and a good meal out with my husband can almost always lift my spirits. I think growing up in the South (Texas is considered the South in this realm, for sure.) definitely plays a part in this hierarchy of priorities. Anyone with a grandmother in the South knows that biscuits and gravy are what we should have for breakfast and that a homemade dessert is always waiting for us when we arrive.

    This book looks incredible. Maybe I will pick one up and make something for my Grandmother next time she’s in town. :)

  • Thanks, Grace! I’ll check back on Twitter.

    It’s always a shame to get excited about a cookbook and then have the recipes turn out…bleh.

    Oh, and can I just say that your site keeps getting better and better? So often after following a blog or website for a couple of years I get bored. Or the content gets boring. Not here! Love it!!! Great work!

  • I’ve been a fan of BAKED and I’ve never even tried their sweet treats…It’s just all so beautiful and simple and well…it just inspires me to NEST, bake, cook and get cozy…While my friends are training for the upcoming marathon- I’ll be ordering up that book and baking. Thanks for the yummy photos!

  • Oh, my gosh! I am soooo excited about this, too! I love, love, love, LOVE Baked! My bday was over the weekend and I requested their red hot velvet cake. Sooo yummy! I can’t wait to get my hands on the new one. My sis told me that the thought of tomato soup cupcakes makes her gag, but if they are in the Baked cookbook, I will make them! I trust them completely!

  • Thank you, Grace!

    I now know what I need to buy with a gift certificate to a particular online store named after a river. Now to find the time to cook…

  • Cannot wait to get my hands on this! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Tina Rupp work in the past and it was such a neat experience to watch how she sets up her shots. Her work is gorgeous. Also, I’m such a fan of pastry chefs re-working classics. You’ve inspired me to go make my grandma’s poppy seed cake!

  • What an absolutely stunning book. So much old world warm charm, so much beautiful indulgence. Great review and some equally great pictures. I am truly inspired!

  • Grace,

    Right now, I don’t know whether I should slap you or kiss you! Curses! And, happy, happy, joy, joy! Can. Not. WAIT! Hee hee!

    Okay… I decided. MWAH! :)

  • Hello !
    Is there a place/website where I can find the Whiskey Pear Tart recipe ?
    I can’t find the book in France…