BEST FOOD PODCAST James Beard Awards, Webby Awards

Claire Saffitz Teaches the Internet To Bake

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Oct 07, 2019

In one hundred years, the only thing people will probably remember about our current moment in history is the politics – the turmoil, the scandals, the environmental crises. But, if a curious graduate student decides to study the Internet Age, they might stumble onto the thing called Websites. And if they stumble onto Websites, they just might read about a Website called YouTube. And if they read about a Website called YouTube, they might find this gem from the early 21st century – a beloved internet food show – called Gourmet Makes.

Claire Saffitz hosts Gourmet Makes from Bon Appétit, the wildly popular property of the mass media monolith Conde Nast. Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ were all birthed from Mother Nast. But in 2019, Claire’s little food show became one of Conde Nast’s most coveted commodities. Today, Claire, a Harvard-educated, Parisian-culinary-school-trained, and MacGill-refined chef, is one of the internet’s most relatable personalities.

The premise is simple. Claire makes artisanal (or “Gourmet”) versions of classic all-American junk foods. Skittles, Cheetos, Hot Pockets. In 30 to 45-minute episodes – a video length traditionally considered “too long” for consumable viral internet “content” – Claire charms viewers. But don’t let the simple frame deceive you. The star of the show is Claire’s ingenuity. Her skill, her deft problem-solving, and seemingly endless trove of baking knowledge shine as Claire transforms mass produced classics like Pop Tarts into a recipe you might actually want to make at home. Or absolutely not, as in the case of Gourmet Pop Rocks. You never know, until you see the process of trial and error unfold.

Gourmet Makes might seem like another viral video, more internet sugar meant to give you a quick high before you move onto the next thing. But, inspect the segment closely, and you’ll find the story of our times. A kitchen full of people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s – the generation soon to reshape the 21st century – reframing what it looks like to make media. Out with the thin veneer of perfection. Out with the picturesque food swaps. Out with the performatively manicured personalities. A sort of tempered rawness reigns. Cooks say what they really feel, look how they really look, and tell it like it really is. Or, as much as is possible in an edited mass media video.

One hundred years from now a curious historian might find in Gourmet Makes an early 21st century rejection of the idea that “everything is okay” – the state of the economy, the state of the environment, gender relations or labor relations. A desire to stop pretending and wade into mess. Problem solve. And maybe, after a lot of tinkering, a lot of frustration, a lot of help from friends, produce a result that isn’t perfect or ideal, but somehow seems a bit better than where we all started before. A Gourmet Pop Tart of sorts.

Today's sponsors:

Interstitial music in this show by Black Label Music:

- "Stacks" by Erick Anderson

- "Parking" by J.T. Bates

- "New Old" by J.T. Bates

- "Incidentally" by Black Label Productions

- "Soul Good" by Lance Conrad

- "Coming for A Change" by Stephen Sullivan

- "Summer of Our Lives" by Stephen Clinton Sullivan

Photo courtesy of Alex Lau, Bon Appétit.

Episode Transcript:

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[MONTAGE]

This is Claire Saffitz. If you’re someone who watches more YouTube than CBS, she probably needs no introduction. But just so we’re all on the same page... 

CLIP: Hey everyone, I’m Claire. I’m the in BA Test Kitchen. And today I am making Gourmet Pocky.

Claire is a chef. She’s from St. Louis. Went to the same high school as her celebrity crush Andy Cohen.

DAN: Oh wow. 

CLAIRE: I want him to know that. In case...

DAN: Is that where all the St. Louis Jews go?

CLAIRE: Many of them.

LAUGHS.

She went to Harvard. Went to Culinary school in France. Went to grad school at McGill for a year.

CLAIRE: I was like, I can handle a year more of school.

DAN: Right.

Now she’s a chef at Bon Appetit, and star of one of the biggest cooking shows on YouTube – Gourmet Makes. In each episode, Claire tries to figure out how to make an artisanal version of a classic junk food.

CLIP – Here’s how you make a Gourmet Starburst. // Here’s how you make a Gourmet Pop Tart.

Gourmet Makes is not like other cooking shows. And as you’ll hear today, that’s a big reason why people love it so much.

Stick around.

This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters, I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people.

It is officially October, it is officially fall, which means our live shows in DC and Richmond are just a few weeks away, and tickets are going fast. In DC I’ll be speaking with Chef Kwame Onwuachi of the restaurant Kith and Kin, and author of the memoir, Notes From A Young Black Chef. The Richmond show is part of the Fire Flour and Fork Festival, which USA Today named one of the top three food festivals in the country. Our show there will dig into the science of vegan cheese and explore Virginia’s wine scene. Those shows are on November 1st and 3rd. Details and ticket info at Sporkful dot com slash live.

Alright, let’s do this.

If you think about classic food TV shows, or even recipe videos on Instagram, they’re always perfect. Right? The chef has all the answers, everything looks amazing.

Now imagine you take out the set... the perfect food swaps… the cheesy catch phrases... the all-knowing chef. Replace all that with a kitchen where people are actually working. Claire’s show takes place in the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, so other chefs are running around in the background, and often popping in to give her input. 

Now imagine a world where the chef on camera tells you how they REALLY feel about their recipes.

CLAIRE: I hate starbursts. 

BRAD: I had a hard time. You had a hard time. 

CLAIRE: I would rather temper chocolate than do this again. 

And their colleagues do too.

MOLLY: It does feel a little treacherous for my teeth.

CLAIRE: Just let it warm up a little bit. 

MOLLY: I don’t love the way it tastes.

CLAIRE: Really?? 

The 25 or so episodes of Gourmet Makes on YouTube have racked up more than 135 million views in total. But as Claire told me, when the series first launched, she wasn’t sold on the concept:

CLAIRE: I hated it. I hated it for the first three or four episodes, at least. 

DAN: Why?

CLAIRE: Taking you know three or four days out of a week to shoot this video where at the end I had five homemade gushers. You know? After four days of work. And I just thought it was so pointless.

Claire says she was used to developing recipes, providing a service for people. It took her a while to see that Gourmet Makes provides its own kind of service. I mean, yes, it’s very entertaining. But I think it’s also educational. Claire and all the chefs in the test kitchen are so obviously smart and good at their jobs, and the show provides an inside look at how they work. 

For instance, Claire’s attempt to make Doritos. Part of what gives Doritos their trademark crunch is that they’re very flat and their air bubbles are very small. As Claire explains, to get such small bubbles, you need tortilla dough with very little water in it. So she tries all kinds of things to dry out her homemade tortilla dough – baking, dehydrating, griddling –

CLAIRE: So I wanna try a version where I just kinda let it hang out at room temp so there’s air circulation on both sides

Then Claire has to figure out what combination of spices gets her close to the Doritos flavor

CLAIRE: Because we’re dealing with nacho cheese, I’m gonna start with cheddar cheese powder.

She adds, garlic powder, salt, sugar, MSG, at the beginning she’s just guessing:

CLAIRE: What if I nailed it? I could totally crack the code. That’d be incredible.

Spoiler alert: She didn’t crack the code on the first try. In fact it took at least a dozen painstaking tweaks to get a spice blend and a chip that Claire said was really close to the original. 

CLAIRE: It doesn’t exactly have that smack you in the face, real front of the palate kind of response, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s delicious. There is no artificial off-taste at all, which I do think after your fifth Dorito maybe you start to experience a little of that. 

Claire doesn’t know what she’ll be making for an episode of Gourmet Makes until just before shooting begins. So she can’t do research beforehand. You watch her struggling to solve this culinary puzzle through trial and error. Growing up, Claire and her friends loved baking cakes from a mix. And she always loved science, and figuring things out. 

DAN: So let’s do a little bit of a lightning round here. What's the hardest thing you've had to make?

CLAIRE: Pop Rocks. 

DAN: OK.

CLAIRE: Well... is that the same thing as what's taken the longest? 

Because it's sort of different because Pop Rocks was truly impossible.

DAN: Well, which one involved the most suffering for you?

CLAIRE Oh Pop Rocks. 

CLIP: Not happy about this pop rocks thing.

CLAIRE: So Pop Rocks are cooked sugar that hardens and during the cooling process it is like pressurized and injected with CO2 which is trapped in this Crystal Sugar structure under pressure and so when you put it on your tongue and the saliva in your mouth starts to dissolve the sugar the gas escapes in these little pockets and causes that popping sensation. So I determined that this was truly impossible to create outside of any kind of factory or lab environment. We did all this research about pressure cookers and the amount of pressure needed to actually create pop rocks. And it was like 600 PSI and our pressure cooker only got up to 15 PSI so it was never gonna work. So I landed on basically combining an acid with baking soda to make… so the reaction was I would describe more of a fizzing than a popping right, which was actually quite off putting and people were sort of like weirded out when they tried it. But yeah. That one was I think of everything my least favorite. 

DAN: Yeah. 

CLAIRE: And I told them I didn't want to do it and they didn't listen to me. They didn't care. Mostly I just complained for two days, and the editors edited it out. I would say ninety five percent complaining even though the whole video is still me just complaining. 

DAN: Right A lot of the pleasure of the show is watching you get stressed out. And frustrated... 

CLIP: Ugh. It’s been a while since I’ve pulled my hair out in one of these episodes. But I’m getting there.

DAN: ...how do you deal with the fact that that's part of what people look forward to? 

CLAIRE: That part happens naturally. So I don't have to feel like... I don't feel the pressure to deliver that reaction because that happens no matter what. So that's baked into the whole concept of Gourmet Makes. Which definitely occurred to me as being a problem that this job that I have now is predicated on me in some ways hating it and being stressed out. But it's not, it's not existential stress. It's in the moment. And then I go home and I kind of forget about it. It has actually made me better at stress management, I think for that reason. 

DAN: Which is something cooking a general can do for people I think. 

CLAIRE: Yeah I think… Well stress and cooking is an interesting... There's an interesting relationship there because I think we talk a lot about how cooking is a great stress reliever, and it can be such a fun project and you know a creative pursuit but then I think also people get very stressed out about cooking in general.

DAN: Right. That's true. 

CLAIRE: And people and I think people in food media can lose sight of that because we're cooking professionals and we don't necessarily have that same kind of stress. So I always try to remember that cooking involves sharp knives and hot things and you know and costs and time. 

DAN: Time. I mean time is often the biggest source of stress because you may have things. If you’ve got kids or appointments or work things that have to be done in a certain whatever...

CLAIRE: Right. 

DAN: That adds stress. 

CLAIRE: Right. And then there's a sink full of dishes and it's late and you're tired and so I try to always remember that cooking is a stressful process in many, many cases.

MUSIC.

DAN: So, Claire we have some questions about baking, cooking that I think are perfectly suited for you. Some listeners have called in. Some sent in voice memos. Are you ready to help us out?

CLAIRE: I’m ready.

DAN: Alright, we have a live caller on the line. She is our friend and colleague  Abigail Keel who produces the excellent podcast Unladylike. She’s also a Gourmet Makes superfan and she joins us now on the phone. Hey Abigail. 

ABIGAIL: Hi Dan. Hi Claire.

CLAIRE: Hi. 

ABIGAIL: Huge fan. Long time watcher, first time caller. Bon Appetit is my go-to for all cooking-related information these days. 

DAN: All right take it easy, Abigail. They haven't bought an ad, yknow.

ABIGAIL: Ok so sorry. I just want people to know. 

DAN: Just kidding. No, I appreciate that. So did you have a question or questions for Claire? 

ABIGAIL: I sure do. So my question is… I am from St. Louis. I know that you are too, Claire. And I was hoping that you could, one, just kind of enlighten the world on what a St. Louis style toasted ravioli is. And then, two, if you could give me some tips for how to make one, make them at home. 

CLAIRE: Ooo I love this question. Also, what high school did you go to? That's the question. 

ABIGAIL: I went to Metro. 

CLAIRE: Ah, Metro. We're just talking about how Andy Cohen and I went to the same high school which is I don't really I don't know if you're familiar with this but if you're from St. Louis, that's the question you ask someone if they’re from St. Louis. 

ABIGAIL: Oh, Very familiar. I thought about asking you but then I like to say Lewis right. But then I was like, too St. Louis insider.

DAN: So wait. Which high school did you go to Claire?

CLAIRE: I went to Clayton High School 

DAN: and Abigail you went to Metro. 

ABIGAIL: Yeah. 

DAN: So are you guys like rivals?

ABIGAIL: No... we're kind of neighbors. 

CLAIRE: Yeah. Yeah. Not rivals our rival was a different school. Got it. I won't say DAN: We’re not even going to give them the airtime. 

DAN: So St.. Louis toasted ravioli stuff clear what is that. 

CLAIRE: Yes. I love this question because Saint Louis I think like a lot of sort of mid-sized cities has a lot of regional  hyper specific cuisine. And one of those items is toasted ravioli, which is basically a large ravioli usually meat-filled but can be cheese, and it is breaded and deep fried and then served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. So yeah they're really good. They're really really good. And I've never made them myself at home. So short of making your own meat-filled ravioli which I probably wouldn't do, I would boil the ravioli first to cook them. And then I would pat it try really, really well because water is the enemy when you’re deep frying. They're basically just coated in egg and then seasoned bread crumbs. So. I would use like you don't like don't get fancy with them. I would use like Progresso. Is it progresso or progressive? Like progressive 

DAN: Progresso 

CLAIRE Progresso breadcrumbs. Probably with like some salt and maybe some like Italian seasoning added in. So dip the ravioli an egg and then add breadcrumbs and then deep fried. You might have to flour them before you put them in the egg. Doing the kind of classic, three part breading.

DAN: So Abigail does that make sense? 

ABIGAIL: Yeah it does. I think I'm... I don't have a deep fryer. Is it something I could do in a frying pan?

CLAIRE: Yeah. If you have like a Dutch oven or anything anything with high sides. I like to deep frying in a Dutch oven because it just feels safer. 

CLAIRE: I think. Having never made them. 

DAN: So we just we understand the toasted ravioli is at no point toasted. 

CLAIRE: Correct. Correct. 

DAN: So why isn't it called fried ravioli?

CLAIRE: I don't know. I think in other places this exist but it's not called toasted ravioli. In St

DAN: Right. So by giving it like sort of a confusing name you set it apart from the other places that have the same food?

CLAIRE: Right. Right. Not that toasted gives it like a health halo? 

DAN: Right. Right. 

CLAIRE: But you’re also just not calling out that it's deep fried.

DAN: Any other questions for Claire and a gourmet makes related questions. 

ABIGAIL:  I don't think so. I just got to say that my favorite is the Cheeto episode because I love that you guys were dedicated to getting the finger coating of cheese which to me is the ultimate part of eating a Cheeto. 

CLAIRE: Yeah. If you don't stain all of your clothes while eating Cheetos, you did something wrong. 

CLIP: So crunchy. Can you hear that? The crunch? I would eat these.

DAN: Alrighty, well. Thanks for the call Abigail. 

ABIGAIL: Thank you

CLAIRE: Have a good one.

When we come back, Claire answers another listener question. And I dig up an old academic paper she wrote about cooking in the 1600s. Stick around.

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MUSIC

Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. Did you know that this fall, there’s a new apple coming to a supermarket near yo?. And as we learned in last week’s podcast, it’s been 20 years in the making:

DAN CHALRLES: I don’t think there ever was a launch like this before.

DAN P: So is there a risk here?

DAN: Yeah, there’s a risk. And I think the growers in Washington know there’s a risk.

How was this new apple invented? What makes it special? And will it live up to the hype? We hear the story behind the apple's conception and birth, with help from Helen Zaltzman of The Allusionist podcast, and NPR reporter Dan Charles. That episode is up now, check it out.

Now back to my conversation with Claire Saffitz, chef and star of the YouTube series Gourmet Makes. At this point I had another hard-hitting listener question for her.

DAN: Alright Claire. You’re holding up very well. Let’s keep on rolling with another question.

CALLER: Hi Dan this is Will from Green Bay. We're having a potluck at work and one of my co-workers signed up to bring a crustless cranberry pie, and this made me wonder does a pie require a crust to be a pie? My co-worker thought that possibly pie was defined by the simple shape of the serving vessel, but I feel strongly that a pie needs to have a crust to be a pie. Can you help me come to closure on this very important topic? 

DAN: Alright, this is big Claire. 

CLAIRE: Yeah I agree with the caller. I think that a pie needs a crust but it does bring up the idea of nomenclature and that many things can be called a pie that are maybe not what you and I think of as a traditional pie. But in general, I do think pie requires pastry, and I agree that in the absence of any bottom crust or top crust, it becomes more of a crumble or it just is the filling. 

DAN: Which bite of a slice of pie is the best bite. 

CLAIRE: Hmm.  That's a tough one because it depends on the filling and it depends on the pie. But if I had to pick one, I would say I really like that part where the pie crust meets the bottom edge like around the plate. I guess more accurately where the bottom meets the side.

DAN: Where the vertical side crust meets the bottom right. 

CLAIRE: Because if you do a good job of really patting the pastry into the plate then you have good contact there with whatever the vessel is whether it's glass or metal or ceramic. Often the very center of the pie can be a little bit pale because most fillings have liquid and so there's not a lot of browning across the bottom 

DAN: And there's less heat on that spot 

CLAIRE: Right like the center of the pie is the coldest and takes the longest to heat up. But around the edge right there in that little nook you often get like good browning. And the very edge can be sometimes a little bit too like there's too much crust. So that's kind of the sweet spot for me. 

DAN: Claire that is a fantastic answer. I agree with you 100 percent. And here's another thing I want to talk about because I am on record as saying clear that square or rectangular pies are better than round pies because they have more of the exact bites. They have more perimeter and so they have more of the exact bites that you and I just discussed and you Instagram recently a picture of a slab you made. 

CLAIRE: I love the name also. Slab pie. 

DAN: Yes it sounds so no frills but get me just as fancy. Well first, define slab pie for me?

CLAIRE: it basically sheet pan pie. So it's pie crust that's pressed into and filled into a sheet pan with like low sides so a square pan and instead of a pie plate.

DAN: And then a thin filling layer around a top crust 

CLAIRE: Right. I's a much higher proportion of crust filling than you usually get in a pie. 

DAN: And you wrote why isn't slab high more of a thing considering it bakes faster than a pie is more easily sliced and some would say has a better ratio of filling to crust? Then the juices ran all over my oven so maybe that's why.

CLAIRE: Yeah I was just going to say I know why. I know the answer that question because they're they are tricky to make. You don't think they're tricky to make but if you because one of the reasons I make slab pie is because it feeds a lot. It’s a huge dessert. But it's a lot of work if like the amount of elbow grease it takes to roll out a pie crust that big is tremendous. And of course I was baking in the summer and it was just like a disaster. I was sweating, it was hot in my kitchen. The pastry was getting warm. I had billowing smoke coming out of my oven. I know why slab pie isn’t a thing and that's because it's a lot of work to make. But I do love making them. It's a really great way to feed a whole crowd.

Clearly Claire knows her stuff. But baking pie -- that’s something she does all the time. Of course she knows it. I wanted to dig a little deeper...

DAN: Now I talk about things that I think you don't get asked about enough. You have a master's in French Culinary History Master's in History with a focus in French culinary history.

CLAIRE: Correct. 

DAN: I want to talk about your paper for the Journal of Canadian Food Culture and Cuisine entitled Constructing the politics of cookery: Authorial strategy and domestic politics and English cookery books 1655 to 1670. 

CLAIRE: Wow, you really went deep in the research. I'm so impressed. 

DAN: Yeah. That’s how we do it here on the Sporkful. 

CLAIRE: I’m also like, did I write that?

DAN: Yes. 

CLAIRE: I can't believe that. I sound so smart in the title of that paper. 

DAN: First thing I want to say about the title. Can you and I join forces to bring back the word cookery? 

CLAIRE: Sure. 

DAN: Because that is a great word. 

CLAIRE: I love cookery and I also love the word marketing as meaning like to go shopping for ingredients. 

DAN: Yes. 

CLAIRE: Like to go to the market. 

DAN Let's go let's go marketing so we can engage in some cookery right. 

CLAIRE: I’ll work on both of those. I’ll work them into Gourmet Makes 

DAN: Yes please. Yes. Thank you. Let me throw out a few of the themes from the paper. 

CLAIRE: OK. Did you read the paper?

DAN: Yes. 

CLAIRE: Oh my God. 

DAN: And my producer Ngofeen he originally found it. He read it. We talked about it. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was very well done and I learned a lot from it. 

CLAIRE: Can I tell you the one thing I think is in there? I remember this portion of one of the cookbooks I read and they're all sort of written for for cooking professionals basically like cooks for big fancy families or for royals and sort of this was happening with the professionalization of cooking. And it was a passage describing creating a big centerpiece for a banquet where you bake pies and haul them out and you fill them with life some with life crows and others with live frogs and you like an unlid them during the banquet and they all fly out and jump around. And then one involved creating a horse and filling it with claret wine and then like shooting arrows at the horse they like bled during the wet and it was actually the arrows. 

DAN: You start the party with the arrow in Oh he's okay and then just pull the arrow out and the wine comes pouring out like blood and then you unleash the frogs and the birds and they go flying all over the place. I guess at some point in history that constituted a party right. 

CLAIRE: I guess they were supposed to fill eggs with like rosewater and have the ladies throw them around. 

DAN: Yeah I mean that why did that fall out of favor.

CLAIRE: I don't know. It's a lot of work. 

DAN: That was not easy. 

CLAIRE: No. 

DAN: Well the first thing that I really liked about the paper paper was just one thing that I learned from it was just that you know the whole there's such a massive industry today in sort of all kinds of advice books and websites that are going to tell you how to live your life better. And that's often the theme of cooking books like we're gonna make this easy for you we're going to help you do better at this and then there's all kinds of lifestyle advice. That is not new. 

CLAIRE: Oh not at all.

DAN: The quantity of it may be new but I feel like oftentimes we look at that as something short of the modern day. Maybe there's much more of it now because everyone can have their own channel. But the idea that there are people out there who position themselves as experts and that there's a demand for I'm very fascinated by the demand for these kinds of books

CLAIRE: Right. They were these sort of like advice books for people that ran big household right. It's interesting because I think now this is a thing I'll have to fact check myself about. But I think that cookbooks in the publishing world are still put into that category like along with sort of self-help books but it's prescriptive nonfiction I think is a category so it's still thought of that way as an end. Now of course as you point out like cookbooks are very aspirational and they're very lifestyle driven. And so I think that's what a lot of people are buying into when they buy cookbooks now but at now as it was. 

Exactly. 

DAN: Exactly what your paper showed it's not new right. 

CLAIRE: It makes me think about all this. Did I talk about the origins of the restaurant in the paper? 

DAN: And I don't think so. 

CLAIRE: Oh hey this is another thing that I started which I found fascinating was what what what how did modern restaurants basically. How do they turn into what we think of them today? Because in the early modern era, They were mostly there with these kind of like boarding houses where you could get a meal but it wasn't really what we think of as a modern restaurant where you could go and sit down and order something and then something be brought to your table 

DAN: It was like Game of Thrones restaurants. 

CLAIRE: Right. Exactly. Exactly. So I started sort of the first restaurant which was in Paris. And I don't remember the year and I don't remember the author of the book that I read that describes all of this. So I might get some of the details wrong, but it was basically, the word restaurant comes from the French word for restoration. So it was basically a place where these restorative broths were served and you could go and basically sit in your own little private like nook and drink these broths. So it was really a place that was seen as recuperative. And interestingly, it was where you went not to eat food. You just went to sip these broths that would restore you and you could do in this kind of a semi private space, and that was kind of considered the first restaurant. Of course it was in Paris.

Before Claire left, I wanted to talk about her NEXT project. A new cookbook, that comes out next year. 

CLAIRE: So I'm working on a book now that's all baking and there is some savory but it's mostly desserts. I hope people take the idea that cooking or the baking rather is just as creative and expressive and sort of improvisational as cooking. I think often I hear people say I'm a cook but I don't bake. Or like I don't know I don't I'm not a baker I don't do that. There's too many rules that kind of thing. So I guess there's rules in baking. But as long as you have a good foundation and that's what I hope the book provides there's all these ways that you can it can be really creative in your approach. So I want people to sort of give baking more of a chance I guess. 

DAN: What do you attribute that difference in the perceptions of cooking and baking to. 

CLAIRE: I think there's this idea that cooking is more than baking rather is more the domain of women. And that you see there is kind of there can be sort of a macho way presentation of cooking where when you see chefs that are very often men cooking. There's like tattoos and like lots of fire and flame and that that's seen as like as more expressive and creative whereas baking is like I think people associate it with being kind of type A and very precise and, like, yes, you have to measure things. That's important. You need proportions. But I think baking is is more flexible than people give it credit for. So it's sort of a book about the rules of baking and then how to break them.

DAN: And I think…  I think you probably… you make a similar point with Gourmet Makes a lot of the time because you see the behind the scenes of the improvisation. You know like it's obvious that there's a lot of improvisation in your work. 

CLAIRE: Mm hmm. Yeah. You say improvisation, I say guessing which is what it feels like a lot of the time. Just stabbing in the dark. But thank you.

MUSIC

That’s Claire Saffitz, her YouTube series is called Gourmet Makes.

Next week on the show, we explore the use of the word plantation in food branding. What are marketers trying to evoke when they call a product Plantation Rum, or Plantation Mint Tea? And how do different Americans hear those words? We’ll discuss.

In the mean time check out last week’s show, all about a brand new type of apple that’s about to arrive in stores near you. It’s been 20 years in the making. Will it live up to the hype? Hear the story, that one’s up now.

And remember to get tickets for our live shows in DC and Richmond in just a few weeks! Tickets are going fast, get details at Sporkful dot com slash live.

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