/The Artful Baker Cookbook Giveaway

The Artful Baker Cookbook Giveaway

Every book is an inexplicable miracle. So much work, stress, time, drama, doubt, hyperventilating, and money go into just writing the damn thing it’s amazing any books get written at all. After this exhausting process, most cookbook authors hand their labor of love over to a team of editors, designers, photographers, food stylists, and printers who turn tens of thousands of words into a viable tome. But not if you’re living baking legend Cenk Sönmezsoy. Nope. When Cenk finished writing his debut cookbook Cafe Fernando, his work had barely begun as he set about styling, photographing, designing, editing, color correcting, and overseeing every last detail of the books production, publication, and promotion. When all was said and done, the book took 4.5 years to complete and featured 103 recipes, 250 images, and 429 pages.

I am so proud of my friend for his incredible achievement and I am so thrilled that tomorrow Cafe Fernando’s English counterpart, The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker (Abrams, $50/£40)hits shelves. You may already be familiar with Cenk’s award winning Turkish-English blog Cafe Fernando. For over a decade, he has been publishing delicious desserts inspired by travel, ingredients, fashion, and even television. Just like his blog, this gorgeous volume is filled with stories and techniques that will draw you into the kitchen to bake, sift, beat, and churn things like Tahini and Leblebi (double-roasted chickpeas) Swirl Brownies, Pistachio and Matcha Sablés, and Grape and Kefir Ice Cream.

To celebrate The Artful Baker’s publication day, I am giving away 3 copies of this book that Dorie Greenspan describes as, “A rare book from a rare talent. Cenk is a gifted storyteller, an extraordinary pastry chef, and a man with a remarkable eye–-his images make you dream.” To enter, simply comment below describing your favorite dessert memory. The giveaway ends Wednesday October 18 at 6:00pm EST. I’ll pick my 3 favorite responses and mail you a copy of Cenk’s book. The offer is valid for residents of Europe, the US, and Canada only.

Not only is Cenk an amazing baker and writer, he is also a massive Golden Girls fan, which he touches on in the book. He dedicated this fruit tart to GG Blanche Devereaux and was kind enough to share his recipe here. Can’t you just imagine Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose at the kitchen table eating forkfuls of this tart?


Serves 9

2 ½ cups (650 grams) chilled Vanilla Pastry Cream (see below)
17 ounces (480 grams) Vanilla Bean Short Tart Dough, fully baked as a 9-inch (23-cm) square tart crust or a 10¼-inch (26-cm) round tart crust and cooled (see below)
1 cup (4.2 ounces; 120 grams) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise (top to bottom)
½ cup (2.7 ounces; 75 grams) fresh blackberries
1 cup (4.2 ounces; 120 grams) fresh raspberries
¾ cup (3.5 ounces; 100 grams) fresh blueberries
½ cup (2.8 ounces; 80 grams) stemmed fresh red currants
12 to 15 sprigs fresh chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata)

Make the pastry cream and tart dough according the sub-recipes below.

Whisk the chilled pastry cream until smooth and scrape it into the cooled tart crust. Spread evenly with a small offset spatula. Gently shake the pan to fill the corners of the crust and to smooth the top.

Starting with the larger pieces and working your way to the smaller berries and currants, arrange the fruits over the pastry cream, making sure that each slice will get its fair share of all varieties.

Pluck the young and tender top leaves from the mint sprigs and tuck them evenly among the fruits.

Set the tart in its pan on an overturned flat-bottomed bowl (or a wide can) and gently release the ring. Slip the tip of a small knife between the crust and the bottom of the tart pan and run it all around the edge to loosen the crust. Carefully slide the tart onto a serving plate, and serve.

Storage: Blanche is best shortly after she is made, but she will keep, wrapped airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Crème pâtissière, or pastry cream, should be in every home baker’s arsenal. Thickened with egg yolks and starch and enriched with butter, it may be flavoured with vanilla, chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, fruits, or other flavourings. When made with vanilla extract, this may be considered a master pastry cream that welcomes almost infinite variation. I’ll share two of my favourites—mocha and chocolate—but feel free to play with it by steeping the finely grated zest of a citrus fruit or aromatic tea leaves in the milk, or by adding extracts or liqueurs.

Makes 2½ cups (about 650 grams)

2 cups (480 grams) whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or 2 teaspoons (10 grams) pure vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (40 grams) corn-starch
Pinch of fine sea salt
3 1/2 tablespoons (1.7 ounces; 50 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

If using a vanilla bean, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk and the vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer. Take the pan off the heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. Retrieve the vanilla pod from the milk, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set the pan with the vanilla milk over medium heat and bring to just below a boil.

If using vanilla extract, simply bring the milk and vanilla extract to just below a boil. Take the pan off the heat and cover to keep the vanilla milk hot. Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water. Place a medium bowl over the ice bath with the bottom touching the water. Set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, corn-starch, and salt with a narrow wire whisk until the yolks lighten in colour, 2 to 3 minutes. While whisking the egg mixture constantly, drizzle in about half the hot vanilla milk. Add the rest of the hot vanilla milk all at once, then set the pan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture comes to a full boil and is thick enough to mound when dropped from the whisk, constantly whisking and scraping the bottom of the pan with the whisk, about 8 minutes.

Scrape the thickened pastry cream into the strainer over the ice bath and strain, pressing with a silicone spatula. Scrape any pastry cream clinging to the bottom of the strainer into the bowl. Add the butter pieces, whisking until blended. Stir the pastry cream frequently until it reaches room temperature, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the ice water and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The pastry cream is now ready to use.

Storage: The pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Vanilla Bean Short Tart Dough

This short tart dough, also known as pâte sablée, is sweet, tender, and rich. It is also too fragile to roll; instead, you simply press it into the pan. I use a combination of vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract for flavour. With half a vanilla bean plenty for a single batch, I always double the recipe to use the whole bean and freeze half for an impromptu tart.

Makes 17 ounces (480 grams), enough for one 9-inch (23-cm) square tart crust, one 10 ¼-inch (26-cm) round tart crust, one 13 ¾-by-4 ¼-inch (35-by-11-cm) rectangular tart crust, or eight 4¼-inch (11-cm) round tart crusts

9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces; 125 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 grams) heavy cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon (5 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
1 2/3 cups (233 grams) all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds at the lowest speed until the sugar is incorporated. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until blended, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour and beat at the lowest speed just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and press the dough into a ball with your hands. Pinch off a teaspoon-size piece of dough, wrap, and refrigerate for patching the baked crust later if needed. (The dough will keep, wrapped airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then let stand at room temperature until soft enough to press into the pan.)

To make a 9-inch (23-cm) square tart crust or a 10 ¼-inch (26-cm) round tart crust, use all of the dough.

To make a 13 ¾-by- 4 ¼-inch (35-by-11-cm) rectangular tart crust, measure out 12.7 ounces (360 grams) of the dough; reserve the rest for another use.

To make eight 4 ¼-inch (11-cm) round tartcrusts, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (2.1 ounces; 60 grams each). In all cases, use two-piece tart pans with removable bottoms.

For each crust, place the dough into the centre of a tart pan. Using the heel of your hand, press the dough across the bottom of the pan as smoothly and evenly as possible, accumulating excess dough along the seam of the pan. While pressing the excess dough along the seam and fluted sides of the pan with the index finger of one hand, push down on the rim of the pan with the thumb of the opposite hand to make an even and evenly thick edge, making sure it’s not too thick at the seam where the bottom meets the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C).

Crumple up a sheet of parchment paper and straighten it out half a dozen times to soften it, so that it will fit into the corners of the dough without sharp edges. Line the chilled dough with the parchment paper across the bottom and up the sides, pressing creases at the bottom and top edges. Fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans.

For a partially baked crust, bake for 25 minutes, remove the pie weights and parchment, and continue baking until the edges and bottom are light golden, about 6 minutes longer (about 4 minutes longer for 4 ¼-inch [11-cm] round tart crusts). Patch any cracks or holes in the crust with small scraps of the reserved raw dough.

For a fully baked crust, bake for 25 minutes, remove the pie weights and parchment, and patch any cracks or holes in the crust with small scraps of the reserved raw dough. Continue baking until the edges are golden brown and the bottom is golden, 15 to 17 minutes longer (about 11 to 13 minutes longer for 4 ¼-inch [11-cm] round tart crusts).

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely. The tart crust is now ready to use.

The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker will be released by Abrams on October 17. Cover price is $50/£40.

Follow Cenk on Twitter, Instagram, and his website.

All images © 2017 Cenk Sönmezsoy.

2017-10-19T23:48:56+00:00 October 16th, 2017|Categories: Carbs, Food & Wine, Istanbul, Recipes, Travel|47 Comments


  1. Elizabeth Kelly October 16, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Homemade ice cream. We had the wood style crank maker. We’d do this in the garage during the summer. Sitting on the crank for weight, sprinkling rock salt on the ice to keep it churning. Peach, strawberry or whatever my mom would come up with. Yum

  2. Susanne Gardner October 16, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    One of my favorite desserts was my Mom’s homemade banana cake with chocolate fudge frosting. As an adult I would often request it for my birthday, The cake was rich and moist and the frosting decadent. (I’m sure is was just Hershey’s cocoa and powered sugar-nothing fancy) I was in my 50’s so my Mom had to be in her 70’s the last year she baked it for me. Well something went wrong because the cake was hardly an inch high and that fudge frosting more than covered the cake. But it tasted wonderful and I don’t think Mom realized anything was amiss. My Mom is gone now and I haven’t been able to duplicate the recipe. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could share a cup of coffee and a piece of thatcake with my Mom right now.

  3. Ingrid Turner October 16, 2017 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    A big family reunion Thanksgiving weekend a few years back, I was asked to bring dessert for the crowd for one night’s dinner. I made two Pavlovas covered in homemade whipped cream, kiwis, pomegranates and berries, and introduced my extended family to this classic I had learned about while I was living in England. The recipe had been given to me by my best friend there, an Aussie (the best cook I know!) who had married a Brit. Needless to say, the Pavlovas were a hit, and I loved being able to share food that was important to me across continents, passing it from a friend who is like family to all my real family!

  4. Lynda Flinn October 16, 2017 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Wow, that book looks incredible. So many dessert memories, often it’s the time, place and company that make food memorable. But to appreciate the hard work and dedication for exquisite French pastries is to understand what really goes in to the process. My favourite memory would be of the first kouigan amman I had in a little crepe cafe in old Quebec City. I couldn’t believe the incredible taste!

  5. Susan Accetura October 16, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie – this looks GORGEOUS! There have been a multitude of desserts in my life….but recently we hosted a small family dinner party…nothing fancy, just authentic. My husband made his classic Italian-American Sunday sauce and homemade slow-rise bread, and we had a nice bottle of something red. Our 14 year old son wanted to make a dessert and chose a chocolate pudding that he cooked in the afternoon and then put in the fridge to chill. When he left the dining room to get dessert, we heard a bit of fumbling…apparently he hadn’t added the eggs and nothing was set. We remained seated and let him figure it out. We heard some whisking and whipping and shortly he arrived with little cordial glasses of a very drinkable chocolate smoothie…the texture of a Torino hot chocolate….topped with whipped cream. All were delighted. Especially our guests, who were almost-Amish relatives from Lancaster County who had just partaken in a lovely chianti.
    Sometimes the failures (alternative results?) are the most enjoyable.

  6. Tyla Tingle October 16, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    My Love of the Italian bomba- specifically from Dolce Notte in Fondi, a lovely little town just south of Rome, comes from a peculiar place- Afghanistan. I was ten years old that summer of 1969, when my dad up and moved our family to a land we only knew from Encyclopedia Britannica. I found my place in the kitchen with our cook, Amir. The mysteries of brilliant, aromatic herbs and spices revealed themselves as he taught me how to cook, weaving stories from the great travelers along the Silk Road to bring a recipe alive with taste and tale. He was certainly talented in the ways of making camel meat tender and palatable, but it was his jelly donuts that won my heart. My hands in the dough, my fingers in the sticky, homemade preserves, and sugar on the tip of my tongue. We created masterpieces. Warm, delicious, perfect.

  7. Lisa Barr October 17, 2017 at 12:15 am - Reply

    We were in Piemonte during the fall of 2015, staying in Annunziata. We walked down the street to Osteria Veglio for a wonderful dinner, but it’s the dessert that I can’t get out of my mind: roasted peaches topped with a chocolate-and-hazelnut ganache. I had the dessert with a glass of Barolo Chinato, which I tasted for the very first time and which paired beautifully with the peaches and chocolate. Even though we had several great restaurants booked during our stay, we had to return to Osteria Veglio once more before we left, just so I could have another serving of their dessert.

  8. Dena Landry October 17, 2017 at 12:46 am - Reply

    I grew up in a children’s home so i didn’t get to bake or get those young kitchen memories, But after I got married (to an Italian) , my mother in law had a tradition of making biscotti Italian cookies every Christmas We had to roll all that dough into little balls. Than bake.There would be those little balls of dough all over the kitchen, trying to find a place for another tray. Then dipping them Into the red or green frosting made from egg whites and powdered sugar. Giving them to relatives and friends that cam by. Well than my daughter joined us, we did it every christmas, And my daughter put them in nice containers and gave them to her friends, My mother In law passed at 103 yrs, But her tradition has continued. Now with my granddaughters! We look forward to spending the day just making cookies and memories. wish I could send the photo with those cookies on every inch of counter space.

  9. Janie October 17, 2017 at 1:18 am - Reply

    We were dining in a small restaurant in Acqui Terre in Piemonte. I remember being seated over a piece of plexiglass that was exposing the ruins beneath the dining room. I can’t really recall what I had for my main course, but I will never forget the hazelnut torta that I had for dessert. It was topped with barely whipped cream and the cake was rich and light at the same time. I took the tiniest bites trying to make it last. The owner came out and I begged for the recipe which I still have on a piece of paper . Of course she didn’t have exact measurements as she probably made this cake countless times. Since then I have tried many recipes in hopes of replicating this cake and I’ve found one that comes pretty close, but nothing will ever live up to the memory of my dessert that evening.

  10. Kathleen Lehmann October 17, 2017 at 2:04 am - Reply

    My post isn’t about my most memorable dessert experience; rather it’s about my first try at following a recipe in Italian. I get an Italian baking blog in my FB feed as a way to help me learn Italian. I finally decided to give it a try with a recipe for torta con cream al latte. As an experienced baker, it really wasn’t that difficult to follow the directions. I needed help with converting measurements to metric. My torta was molto bene!

  11. Christine Rocco October 17, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Making icebox cake as a child with my mom.Sometimes it was just the two of us and sometimes it was her and my friends at my sleepover parties, but the memory of the stovetop chocolate pudding and graham crackers being assembled and magically being transformed in hours was enough to get me interested in culinary arts.

  12. Holly Ingraham October 17, 2017 at 3:43 am - Reply

    When I was a little girl growing up in California my grandparents lived in the Anza desert. My grandmother had a small prized apple tree that grew fruit from her shear will to make it so, and every tiny sour apple that tree grew was a hard won piece of fruit. We had asked her if we could pick the apples and she told us we weren’t “to pick” a single one, as it was her dream to have enough apples to make a pie from her own tree.
    My brother, my cousin and I climbed that tree and we ate every little apple on the tree taking care not to pick a single apple. Later in the day my grandmother spotted her tree of apple cores and got very upset. After and hour or so, the whole family was in stitches of laughter. She harvested the cores, trimmed as much apple from each core as possible and was able to make several teeny tiny apple tarts. They were so delicious we of course wanted more, and of my grandmother reminded us there would be more, Next year, if the apples were all left in tact!!

  13. Elian Tackeff October 17, 2017 at 3:54 am - Reply

    When I was 6 or 7 and living in Istanbul, my mom bought me a cake called “Japonaise” for my birthday. It was a combination of nougat, merengue and I think some chocolate. It was chewy but not too chewy, airy and dense at the same time, sweet but not overly sweet; it was the perfect cake! 48 years later I can still taste it but I’ve never been able to find it again!
    If I win Cenk’s book I’ll give it to my daughter who introduced me to Cafe Fernando, as I have already preordered my own copy!

  14. Nicole S October 17, 2017 at 5:38 am - Reply

    Mine is huckleberry pie. I’ve made it many times over the years: homemade shortcrust pastry (thanks, Grandma, for teaching me that), filling with 3/4 of the berries left uncooked, whipped cream with honey, toasted almonds.

    The most memorable was the time we came face-to-face with a grizzly bear when we were up the hill picking berries one morning. Once the bear had wandered away, no harm done, my mom headed back to the car and stayed there and that was it for berry picking that day. We only had enough berries for one pie (usually we’d get buckets full). I think it was the best tasting pie; apparently a bit of adrenalin is a great secret ingredient. But in the future I’d probably stick to our usual version.

  15. Irina Visan October 17, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

    I have two such special memories, though considering deserts are my favorite thing in the world, I could go on forever.

    The first is a traditional Romanian cake people do for Easter and Christmas. It’s called “cozonac” and it’s sort of a cinnamon bun dough filled with cocoa mixed with minced walnuts and egg whites prepared as you would for meringue. Every year I make a point of going back home in time to help my mom prepare them as I had always done this through my childhood. It’s our pre-holiday ritual and I wouldn’t ever want to go without it. Plus it’s the best way to learn how to make them.

    Another dear memory is having my very first tiramisu. My uncle who worked in Italian restaurants visited just in time for my birthday and taught mom and me how to make tiramisu. I asked for the same cake for my birthday for way too many years until I finally moved to another option. I then made the same tiramisu recipe for my boyfriend on our first trip together. It’s been 7 years since then and it’s still his favorite cake.

    I would also like to say just how much I admire Cenk’s work! I’ve been subscribed to his newsletter way before Facebook and Instagram were a thing and I am so happy that he got his book out. His deserts are more than just that, they are works of art!

  16. Andrea Kraus Nelson October 17, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    I lay this scene before you:
    A table is cressed in linen and set for a festive dinner at one end of my livingroom. A bevy of guests are enjoying cocktails and hors d’ourvres around the coffeetable. Dinner will be served imminently. The piece de resistance—the birthday cake—sits on the kitchen table awaiting its entrance later. It is a towering affair atop a pedestal cakeplate—four layers of cake filled with three layers of custard and fresh strawberries and slathered in whipped cream. Beautiful!
    The hostess, me, mingles and converses. At some point, my heart stops at an out of place sound—a plop—a sloosch—a splat! I head for the kitchen, trailing guests in my wake. It was a ski trail off the cakeplate, across the table edge, and onto the floor with skid marks of custard, whipped cream and berries left behind, Top two layers gone! What could.I do but laugh and serve the remnants in dessert dishes with a splash of Grand Marnier! My most memorable dessert.

  17. Neetu October 17, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Warm carrot halwa with almonds, made by my dad usually, with me as a 10 year old standing up on a chair next to him helping him stir… Sometimes whole black pepper for flavor… Sometimes with a bit of poppy seeds and cardamom… Wish to be a kid again!

  18. Nicole October 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Homemade peach vanilla ice cream in the heat and heart of Texas, Memaw watching over all the cousins taking turns to get to the ice cream heaven!!!! Thanks Memaw for the beautiful memories

  19. Anne Wallace October 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    My favorite dessert memory… the one I will make next!

    It is hard to pick just one so how about my favorite first dessert memory, more specifically the first dessert I baked?

    I was a spunky rebel baker from tge get-go. In third grade I told my mother I wanted to enter a baking contest at our local YMCA. Mind you, my mother’s favorite cookbook was the “I Hate To Cook” cookbook (yup, a real title) and my baking experience was limited to licking beaters when my mother broke down and agreed once a year to make our birthday cakes.

    I chose a peanut butter icebox cookie. However, I changed it up with chopped peanuts and coconut. I remember my mother hesitation as she questioned whether I really wanted to do that???! I stood firm.

    At my first and last baking contest, my peanut butter coconut cookies landed a third-place ribbon. I never had the opportunity to make them again but I never forgot the lesson: Have fun in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to play with recipes to make them your own. Baking is a happy adventure with its own sweet rewards!

  20. Steph October 17, 2017 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I remember making angel food cakes with my grandma and adding the strawberrries

  21. MK October 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    It might have to be the first birthday cake my niece made for me (when she was 9!). She made it in her mother’s fancy bundt pan, because, she said, “Aunt MK is fancy.”

  22. Joy Q October 17, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    My favorite dessert memory has to be making apple and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner with my grandmother.

  23. Sarah Von Paul October 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Every time I see (or make) a strawberry-rhubarb pie, I get a warm feeling of love for my former neighbor- Granny. While she was not my grandma, my family and I lived next door to her for several years and she treated us like family. Gardening was one of her passions, and every summer she’d be out tending her projects. Helping her pick the tiny wild strawberries she tended was the best! Inevitably, there would be a strawberry-rhubarb pie made from scratch that she’d invite us to share. As a kid in Alaska, I was too far away from my real grandparents to get to know them well, but Granny and her generosity filled that void for me. We still keep in touch to this day, and strawberry-rhubarb pie is one of my favorite things to make!

  24. Michele Di Gerlando October 17, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    The picture that always sticks in my mind is my Mom with a kerchief wrapped around bobby pinned curls (the 50’s) and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while she rolled her dough for the best damn apple pie,I still have ever had. Maybe it was the ash that fell in it!!

  25. Kathryn Abajian October 17, 2017 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    It was set on the kitchen counter, a large flat tray filled edge to edge with fragile layers of golden pastry leaves—my grandmother’s Baklava. I’d been in her kitchen with her hours before as she rolled and rolled those those many thin layers of phyllo dough.
    My grandmother Margaret had strong arms, and opinions. Everything was done a certain way in her kitchen, and I completely believed her way was the right way. She didn’t let me help roll and I didn’t want to. I was afraid I’d tear the thin leaves of dough she “had to roll thin enough to read the newspaper through.” She couldn’t read English when she passed through Ellis Island in 1913, but she learned to speak and understand when her children brought it home from kindergarten. (That’s probably when she started sharing her flat bread with the neighbor children. She baked it daily in a hot clay pipe my grandfather had half buried in the ground with a fire flaring below it.)

    The fragile leaves of raw pastry that created the baklava were filled with finely chopped walnuts and honey. Before putting the tray In the hot oven, she cut each diamond shaped piece completely through with a sharp knife. I’d eat the small diamond slowly and carefully. It turns out, its its flavor transposed into a Mediterranean memory, now so easily recovered I don’t need to taste another in order to stand once again in my grandmother’s kitchen as she wraps one strong arm around me and whispers, “Bala Jon,” dear one.

  26. S Pinna October 17, 2017 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    When working in travel, a colleague and I went for a long weekend in Istanbul. It was a special deal for travel agents, and for an extra £30 we got 3 nights accommodation included.

    Turns out we’re staying at this 5-star swanky casino resort on the outskirts of the city. Every evening they had an amazing buffet dinner with desserts to die for. Day 2, my friend and I skip lunch and treat ourselves to the evening buffet. We have a small plate of savoury dishes and then pile into the desserts.

    Everything tasted amazing. Delicate pastries, slices of gateaux and giant profiteroles from a towering mountain covered in spun sugar are just a few that I can remember. It was kind of like that bit in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the guests are allowed to eat whatever they like in the room with the chocolate waterfall. One of those times when you pig out because you’d just regret it the next day if you didn’t.

  27. Julie October 17, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    My favorite memory isn’t of a dessert that I, or even someone I knew personally, made themselves. Instead it’s the memory of indulging in a selection of fresh Italian pastries from the local bakery near where my Grandparents lived in NY. We were always completely stuffed from our typical Italian multi-course dinner, but still always, always, always had room for cannoli or my absolute favorite, crispy, sfogliatelle. I will never forget those dinners with so many people around the table nor those delicious pastries…

  28. Audra October 17, 2017 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    I remember making cream puffs with my grandma

  29. Laura Sharp October 18, 2017 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Before we were married, my husband took me out for a walk on the beach. We were students at the time and lived a block from the shoreline, and as you would suspect, walks on the beach were wonderfully common place. We had come to a very picturesque spot when he stopped and to my big surprise, he proceeded to snatch out a cooler hidden in the dune grass! He revealed a gorgeous peach pie he had made himself, then proceeded to open his pack and pull out sparkling cider. It was such a lovely, romantic moment! The pie was absolutely delicious, made even sweeter by the moment!

  30. Elizabeth Van Marter October 18, 2017 at 2:57 am - Reply

    The memory of the first time I baked something to impress a boyfriend has stayed with me for more than 40 years. After we had been dating for some months, he began to meet different members of my family, and was made to listen to a near endless (and just a tad inflated) litany of my many charms and accomplishments. Chief among them was my unparalleled skill as a baker of fine desserts. He could not possibly have tasted anything as near perfect as one of my confections, said they.

    As his birthday approached, it became clear I would surely need to bake something for him . As skilled as my admiring family had portrayed me, how could I not offer to make a special treat for him? Thus, I inquired of his favorite dessert, which I learned was Lemon Meringue Pie. How relieved I was! What could be more simple than pie – especially this pie, which I could safely say I had mastered, with silky, tart custard, and ‘miles’ of sweet meringue with lightly toasted tips!

    The day of reckoning came, a particularly hot and humid day in June, for me to prepare his birthday treat. I followed the steps as I had done so many times before, confident that I could easily demonstrate my purported baking prowess to my beau.

    You must by now know the outcome: It was an utter, a total, a smashing disaster. I had created Lemon Meringue Soup, or so it seemed. The meringue was floppy, the custard liquid, the crust mushy. Beyond my great shame, I was saddened to recognize my relationship would no doubt be ending, for who could remain with such a pretender?

    Well, I continue to be surprised that it did not end! We somehow survived the epic dessert fail, and have been happily married for over 35 years. I am further happy to report that, over the years, I have many times acquitted myself as a baker of some talent, but the now humorous memory of my Lemon Meringue Soup lives on.

  31. Leah Shumack October 18, 2017 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Making homemade sugar cookies for Christmas with my grandma is one of my favorite dessert memories. We used to do it every year (even well into my 20s!!). I had my daughter and then she stepped in to be the #1 sprinkle decorator in the family. My daughter didn’t get to have as many years as I did with my gram before the dementia began to take over…but she was with us for a few years and we took care of her before she passed away 3 years ago. We continue the cookie tradition every year…even with all the short cut cookies that I do make the sugar cookies are the ones that I never take a short cut on.

  32. Shea Balentine October 18, 2017 at 11:31 am - Reply

    My dad and I have always made chocolate oatmeal cookies.. it’s one of the few things we did together. We always thought it was so funny that mom could try to make them, but they never would set up…they would just be chocolate oatmeal goo. But when he and I did it, they turned out perfect every time. As an adult with my own family, I still use the same recipe that he and I used that was handed down from his mother. The kids and I make them together… and haven’t had them not set up even once! Mom still refuses to make them and just asks me to send over a few cookies after we they are done.. lol =)

  33. Katie Bellamy October 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    When I was younger my Mom hardly ever kept sweets in the house. When I would get home from school I’d thumb through her Betty Crocker cookbook and look up a recipe that we had all the ingredients. I found a great one for homemade brownies. My Mom was amazed at how good they were! So needless to say, I made them a lot!

  34. Nedret Ü. October 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    My grandmother used to make ” aşure” ( ş:sh) once a year . This was a big project for eveybody in our household. My father ‘s job was to get the best ingredients, Best of everything. My grandma used to soak, boil, cook for a day or so… I used to help, observe, watch, critique her along the way. When the pudding like aşure mixture was poured into the bowls, it was my duty to decorate them. Decorate them with pinenut, pomagranete, almonds, etc. Feeling like an artist who was making the final touch-ups on an precious art piece.And these art pieces were to share with our neighbors too. I used take them door to door with a great pride.

  35. Linda October 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    My favourite dessert memory is the first time I tried tiramisu in a cafe. It’s my favourite dessert now!

  36. Darlene Owen October 18, 2017 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    My favorite dessert memory was a cake my sister made for me of ray wedding. It was beautiful, she is very talented baker.

  37. Peggy Johnson October 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Every Christmas my mom would make beautiful tasty desserts from different countries for our Christmas Dessert table. We had quite the variety because each year she wanted to try “a new recipe” and then I started to experiment with new types of desserts. This has become a tradition in our family for the past 50 years.

  38. LeAnn Harbert October 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    My favorite memory is helping my Mother decorate my sons first birthday cake

  39. angie w October 18, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    My favorite is making fancy cakes for different family member’s birthdays. Always a great way to celebrate and they’re always delighted.

  40. Gina Rock October 18, 2017 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    My favorite memory was making my kids birthday cakes every year! It’s so much fun and they always got to pick out their favorite character or theme!

  41. Leela October 19, 2017 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Making tons of cookies with my mom for big events.

  42. kelly woods October 19, 2017 at 4:18 am - Reply

    I love baking with my daughter- we love to make memories and love the end result- great desserts 🙂

  43. Richard Brandt October 19, 2017 at 5:02 am - Reply

    My favorite dessert memory is the Bananas Foster Cheesecake at the Half Shell Oyster House.

  44. Amaryah Orenstein October 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    When I was a kid I loved the mocha icing on my mother’s walnut torte so much that I snuck into the freezer and bit all the rosettes off the cake (I also convinced my sister to join in the act) and when my mom retrieved the cake (just hours before her company arrived) and found the marks of our braces in the cake, we told her it was mice!!!

  45. Katie Parla October 20, 2017 at 12:18 am - Reply

    WOW can I just say that these memories are amazing. Bear encounters, fruit tree theft, troubleshooting kids, these stories have it all! I wish I could send every one of you a book! The decision was super hard–so hard that instead of just giving 3 books away to entries here and on instagram, I am going to give away a total of 5 books! Congrats Tyla, Kathryn, and Dena. Head over to insta to read some fun stories and see the two other winners from that platform. And of course if you are so inclined, you can support Cenk and his awesome book by buying it online or at a retailer near you (ideally an independent bookshop if you can!). And if you happen to be in NYC or the Bay Area, go see !

  46. Tyla Tingle October 20, 2017 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Bowing my head in honor of Kathryn and Dena and a grateful smile for my own dear copy! Grazie, Katie!

  47. elisabeth a. fondell November 2, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I’m so sad to have missed this giveaway, looks just truly lovely!

    And that fruit tart, o.m.g. I must make this!


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