Talking Sugar With Gesine Bullock-Prado
How to not sweat candymaking, sugar
When the cookbook review copies arrive, I automatically set aside the most interesting baking and dessert books for myself, and over the years, I've discovered some baking soul mates through cookbook pages. I recognized Gesine Bullock-Prado as a fellow traveler when her first book resonated strongly with me, and I eagerly anticipated the arrival of her new work earlier this spring. I spent many happy hours in the kitchen preparing everything from her signature Parisian macarons to peanut brittle. When I learned Bullock-Prado would be in town presenting a class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center, I jumped at the chance to interview the woman behind Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking With Sugar (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 252 pp., $29.95).
AC: I really liked the way you arranged the recipes in this book, working the reader up the candy thermometer and degrees of difficulty. How did this book come about?
GBP: I couldn't find the book I wanted about working with sugar, so I wrote this one. I'm self-taught, so I felt that the mistakes and successes I'd had teaching myself to prepare these recipes made it easier for me to explain to readers exactly why things needed to be done in a certain way and what would happen if they weren't.
AC: I read that you closed your pastry shop in Montpelier, Vermont. What are you doing now besides writing?
GBP: My husband and I restored an 18th century tavern and stagecoach stop next door to the King Arthur Flour plant in Norwich. I operate my online baking business [www.gesine.com] from there [selling those macarons], and I teach some classes at the King Arthur baking school. I love teaching people to make beautiful things.
AC: I've always loved the KAF catalog. What is the business like there?
GBP: It's great – employee-owned and -run. And everyone is a baker, so there are plenty of resources, and the flour is great quality – I never use anything else.
AC: You admit to having a wicked sweet tooth. How do you stay so thin?
GBP: I'm a marathon runner. I balance the sugar with marathons and raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of my mother.
AC: You've talked about restoring old buildings in Vermont, and we know your sister Sandra has restored several buildings in Downtown Austin. Is there an architect in the family tree somewhere?
GBP: No, it's just an addiction! [She laughs.] Really, it's more about stewardship of wonderful buildings than anything else.
AC: So, what else are you up to?
GBP: I'm part of an online baking community on Facebook called Bake It Like You Mean It. Members share recipes, post photos of things they've baked at home, ask me questions, things like that.
AC: Is there another baking book in the pipeline?
GBP: Yes. Pie It Forward, about regional pies and pie traditions, will be out next year.