This weeks Friday Food Reads is the new book by Joy Wilson called Homemade Decadence. I will say, I know of Joy the Baker, AKA Joy Wilson, but I have never tried one of her recipes. When I saw the cover of the book with the words “irresistibly sweet, salty, gooey, sticky, fluffy, creamy, crunchy treats,” how could I not want to pick it up and try out a few recipes. The two recipes I made from the book could be described easily by many of the words listed above plus the words home cooked and delicious.
Her story is cute. She is living and working out of a tiny bungalow in Venice, CA. Living many years in San Diego, I understand what she means by tiny bungalow. Hopefully she has at least 500 sq feet of living space, but I have seen many of those bungalows, and if it gets to 700 sq feet, she is living large. And it seems with many of those old bungalows, kitchen space was not a priority. Her oven is tiny size, the fridge is tiny, and if she has more than 5 kitchen cabinets, I’m super excited for her. She even makes mention of having to buy mini baking sheets because that is all that will fit into her oven. But what kept me reading is a statement she makes. “It’s not the size of one’s oven that makes a baker; it’s the amount of butter in one’s fridge and passion in one’s heart.”
I’m reminded of the time I staged at an Austin restaurant, Uchi. For those of you that don’t know what staging is, let me explain. During culinary school, when you have very limited restaurant experience, one can work for free at local restaurants to learn skills. It’s not a job, as we know a job to be. It’s a learning experience. The culinary student, me, gives up her time, and in exchange the restaurant gets free labor and teaches me how to work in a kitchen. It’s an invaluable experience, yet to this day, I still don’t understand how the labor boards allow it. But that’s an entirely different blog post.
So back to Uchi. Uchi is a restaurant that is in an old bungalow, maybe 800 sq feet. The kitchen is small to make the most of any other space in the house to allow for dining patrons. My first day there, I was assigned my workspace in the kitchen. It was the size of a half sheet pan. I was not to exceed the space because there was another kitchen worker standing right next to me carefully guarding their half sheet pan of space. But what those pastry chefs whipped out in that little amount of space was just amazing. It really was about the passion in their hearts and the desire to make the patrons happy.
One can see as they read through the cookbook, Joy is overflowing with the passion she has for baking. She has been doing it since childhood and it has created many wonderful memories for her, which she shares throughout the book. I made the banana bread biscotti and the peanut butter cream pie. The recipes were simple and easy to follow. Both were good, but that peanut butter cream pie was just good old fashion homemade comfort food. Sweet, creamy, fluffy. Did I say sweet? YUM