The Fearless Baker (not me!) Cookbook Giveaway

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Emily Luchetti Cookbook Signing

While perusing my newspaper’s food section a couple of weeks ago, I spied an event at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, CA that I just had to attend. Emily Luchetti, the highly-acclaimed executive pastry chef at Farallon and Waterbar Restaurants in San Francisco and now a dean at the French Culinary Institute (at the International Culinary Center) was signing her new cookbook, The Fearless Baker, and demonstrating how to bake a chocolate layer cake that evening.

Conquering Dough-a-phobia

“Fearless baker”, as you know, is not a descriptor you will find anywhere near my name but I’m fairly certain I am the intended audience for the book. The concept is to transform fearful novice bakers into fearless ones by writing and testing the recipes through the eyes of novice bakers. (why didn’t she call me?)

Last year, I wrote a post about my fear of dough or Dough-a-phobia, using Ms. Luchetti’s pie dough recipe from Classic Stars Desserts on page 290 (Pie dough with water)

I would indeed rate the recipe 5 stars because I successfully baked pie crust with her instructions on the first attempt. So Emily Luchetti plays a key role in my recovery from dough-a-phobia, compelling me to attend the event, watch her bake chocolate cake, and buy her new book in hope of one day becoming a “fearless baker” too.

French Culinary InstituteI quickly emailed Katie Myers, the head of admissions at the International Culinary Center and contact person listed in the newspaper, and requested a spot for that evening’s festivities. I shared a bit of my fear-ridden baking background and she agreed to squeeze me in for the event.

The demo kitchen at the Int'l Culinary CenterEmily Luchetti's demo at French culinary institute

The Event

The venue was lovely and Ms. Luchetti was warm and relaxed in her manner and shared many simple but useful tips about baking a chocolate layer cake. For example, sift your dry ingredients on to a piece of parchment paper which can then serve as your transport to slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet. And did you know that whipping the dark chocolate frosting mixture turns it from a rich dark brown to a fluffly light mocha color?

Emily Luchetti's chocolate layer cake

See the difference between unwhipped and whipped ganache frosting

As if sitting in a professional demo kitchen watching Emily Luchetti bake a luscious chocolate cake with ganache frosting wasn’t enough, we then were treated to our own yummy sample. And yes, I stopped long enough to take a picture.Emily Luchetti's chocolate layer cake

After the demo, I bought her new book and she signed it with a mantra I repeat before any new baking adventure: Be Fearless!the all important reminder from Emily Luchetti

The Giveaway

So in that spirit, I offer you, my readers, a cookbook giveaway! I will give away two copies of Emily Luchetti’s new book, The Fearless Baker. Here’s how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment with a story about your favorite baking success or your worst failure. I will pick my favorite story and award one copy to that person.


2. One more winner will be picked randomly and you can enter the following ways:

  • Tweet this messsage: I just entered to win a copy of @EmilyLuchetti ‘s cookbook The Fearless Baker @omgyummyblog ‘s giveaway:
  • Follow me on Twitter (@omgyummyblog)
  • Like my new Facebook fan page
  • Subscribe to my blog – you’ll find the subscribe button at the top right of the post

Besides your wonderful story, leave one comment to let me know how many ways you entered (tweeting, following, liking, subscribing).

Entries will be taken until midnight on June 20.

Good luck and happy summer baking!

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32 Responses to The Fearless Baker (not me!) Cookbook Giveaway

  1. domino June 20, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Beth – What a treat to have attended Emily’s event! Her Stars Desserts cookbook is definitely my go-to baking book. I have ALWAYS had success with her recipes. It’s definitely my favorite cookbook.

    As far as entering your contest, I “liked” your page on facebook, and I already subscribe to your blog. But, being the techno-phobe that I am, I have no idea how to follow you on Twitter.

    Would love to have a piece of that cake right about now!

    Thanks for documenting with the photos, too!

  2. Beth June 20, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Emily Luchetti is fabulous. I’d love to have a signed copy of her book; how cool!

    I think my biggest baking failures involve omitting baking powder or sugar or some other crucial ingredient when I was younger, but I think everyone has one or two of those. On the other hand, I think my biggest baking success was crafting a specific birthday cake. The request was: make a cake so unusual that most people wouldn’t want to try it based on the description alone.

    Thus was born the chocolate, pear, walnut, and blue cheese cake. Layers of chocolate-walnut cake, spread with homemade pear jam and chocolate & blue cheese ganache (after Harold McGee’s truffle recipe), all frosted with chocolate buttercream, and decorated with dried pear slices dipped in chocolate and walnut crumbs. It was actually delicious, but incredibly rich.

    And, in fact, most people did not want to try it based on the description alone. Their loss.

    PS – I also followed you on twitter.

    • highdesertstamperConnie SMith June 20, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      I’ll have to say my worst baking experience was one time I was helping my daughter recreate some “colonial” type breads, and we kept leaving something out of the recipe(with 2 young girls helping you that’s not hard).. it was Sally Lund Bread.. it took 3 tries before it tasted decent!!

  3. Orly @yumivore June 19, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Sounds like you had a delightful time at the ICC event, and the cake falls under your OMG Yummy mantra. Well beyond novice Beth you’re a fearless baker in my book!

  4. rebecca June 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    wow what a neat event and awesome cake to sample nice giveaway have tweeted it

  5. Hector June 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Well, my experience was an amusing one. A little bit of background first.
    My mother is an AMAZING cook. She grew up in Panindicuaro, Michoacan. She was raised by her aunts, who had a restaurant in town. She started working t it since she was 5 years old, carrying the corn to the mill and coming back with masa for tortillas and other Mexican dishes. She’s very inventive and I’ve always been amazed by her talent. One thing that she did particularly well was baking cakes. She got asked in a regular basis by neighbors, friends, relatives, and even strangers (recommended by the aforementioned) to bake cakes for their special events. I loved the delicious alchemy involved in making a cake and I tried to learn all her secrets. I can not say that I’ve succeeded, as whenever I try one of my creations, there is a pang inside reminding me of that delicious flavor her cakes evoked. I haven’t seen her in almost 6 years now.
    So, a long time ago I decided to impress a woman with my cake making abilities. I got invited to her home with her family and, as a polite gesture, decided to bring a small cake. Suffice to say, her family and friends loved it. As a way to establish a closer relationship, I asked the woman “Would you like to learn how to make this cake?” She agreed and I was in 7th heaven.
    I arrived next weekend with all my ingredients, ready to show her how to reproduce my last week’s effort. I separated the ingredients, measured everything to milligrams, got everything ready. I’m putting things in a bowl and I ask the woman “Can I use your hand mixer to integrate everything?” She gives me a very blank stare.
    “We don’t have one”
    My heart fell to the ground. “Are you sure?” I asked, unable to believe that a household didn’t have a hand mixer available. She checked everywhere, asked her mother, a neighbor (he wasn’t home). No blender available.
    “Do you have a whisk?”
    I managed to find a big salad fork and started mixing everything by hand. After a couple of minutes, the mix was the way I wanted it. I put it in the oven and tackled my biggest fear.
    Frosting. I tend to make a very simple one, just heavy cream with confectionery sugar and a couple of drops of lime juice. But I use a hand blender for that. You can imagine how tired my arm was that night.
    The cake turned up great, I managed to whip the heavy cream to a good consistency and her family was impressed. A couple of weeks after this event, her mom welcomed me to their home with a hand mixer exclaiming, very excited “LOOK! We finally got one!”

  6. Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies June 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m following you on Twitter (ps152).

  7. Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies June 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    I sent the tweet.

  8. Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies June 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Once I tried making my mom’s pumpkin bread. But, in my haste, I wrote the recipe and skipped over the part requiring baking powder. I then made the bread, but they didn’t rise and were super dense instead of fluffy. I was about to throw them out, but when I took a taste they were so good that I renamed them “Pumpkin Blondies” and found a new and delicious treat.

  9. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide June 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    That looks wonderful. Great trick about the icing.

  10. Karen Knoblaugh June 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi Beth,
    I’m already a follower on Twitter, FB, and a subscriber – I think you write beautifully and have a gift for this!

    I baked a lot when I had the time and never really had problems, except for two experiences:

    Once, I burned a batch of chocolate chip cookies when I was a kid, and was ready to throw them out, until my grandfather felt so sorry for me that he ate one – and he actually liked it! From then on, he wanted me to literally burn his cookies for him. Not so sure how healthy that was for him, but it was a wonderful gesture from a truly loving man.

    My other not-so-good experience was again, when I was little, when I didn’t cool the cookie tray before loading it up with the next batch of dough. I never saw such a sorry looking cookie, actually it was a tray full of cooked dough without a single individual cookie on it! Never made that error again, but I did find out that they tasted just as good (after all, who else was going to eat them!).
    Keep up the great blog!
    Karen Knoblaugh

  11. Missy June 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    My favorite baking experience has to be Irish Carbomb cupcakes with my college culinary club. I’m the Vice President, and while I am by no means the lead baker, I can help with some lesser parts of the baking. Sometimes I do get removed from my “country cookin’ ” and onto baking tasks and… that is always an interesting time, it always tastes good, but it’s by no means as good as some of our bakers goods.

  12. Diane June 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I, too, have a pie crust story. The summer that my husband and I were married (43 years now!), we spent a month up at Lake Tahoe where he had a job building cabins. Being alone most of the day, I decide that I would learn how to make the “perfect pie crust.” It was summer, so I chose the peach pie recipe from Joy of Cooking. I must have tried 10 different pie crust recipes until I finally settled on the recipe from the back of the Crisco can…… I have used that recipe ever since. It is one of the few recipes that call for sifted flour that I actually DO sift my flour! And peach pie became one of my favorites!!! I don’t use a food processor, chill the dough, use milk, or anything fancy. I don’t a pastry blender, just a fork. Just basic Crisco, flour, salt and water. And I will only use Crisco, not any other brand of shortening! So that’s my story! And I have never been afraid to make a pie since! someday, tho, I would love to go to a really good cooking class!!!!!

  13. purplelarkspur June 13, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    My worst baking failure was last year. I tried to make ice box cookies (from a Martha recipe). They did not hold up well in the oven! When I took them out, each of the stacks had slid into a blob. Not pretty!

  14. purplelarkspur June 13, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I follow you on Twitter. I am @purplelarkspur

  15. purplelarkspur June 13, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I Tweeted!!/PurpleLarkspur/status/80319927709478912

  16. sandy corman June 13, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I wish I could say I had a bad or good baking experience, however I do not bake. Grandma spoiled me as she did all the baking and to my shame I never learned her secrets or her capabilities to bake. However, Beth, you seem to be on your way to becoming a very good baker. Keep it up.

  17. Kimberly June 13, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    When I was little, I spent countless hours in my grandmother’s kitchen, watching her cook and bake. She was a tiny lady with a ferocious sweet tooth that never seemed to affect her waistline, an old-school baker who believed that pie crust should be made with lard, and every little problem could be vanquished with big, soft sugar cookies adorned with colored sprinkles and jotz.

    Even as a kid, my attempts at baking Wilma-style, were a joyous undertaking, though some of the results were definitely not the same as hers, they were well-received by my family – infact, my brother Jake still mentions my lemon meringue pie as a favorite. Going through my vegetarian and vegan phases posed new challenges; as a girl who lives to bake, the idea that a vegan chocolate cake would be as good, if not better, than my grandmother’s seemed blasphemous. But I tricked many into believing it wasn’t, and happily gave the recipe away after the big reveal that indeed, it contained no butter, eggs, milk or honey.

    And now, as a grown-up with an arsenal of baking gadgets to rival a professional’s stash, I still find that the greatest accomplishments to emerge from my humble oven are the ones made reaching for the lard and butter, channeling my beloved grandma, and infusing her love and lessons into each thing. And in that, there’s no failure.

  18. Georgia Bibeau June 13, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I’ve always thought I was a better baker than a cook. However, when it came to pie crust, I always just did what my mother did – pillsbury pie crust mix (just add water). I was never a huge fan of pie crust. But that may j ust be the reason why. I understood why my mother did it — time. She just had way too much to do and she was never a big baker — she was a much better cook (oh, and a fabulous cook she was/is). So, one year at Thanksgiving (I always do a big Thanksgiving for my extended family of “orphans”), after my husband SHAMED me into making my own crust, I went to my trusty “New Basics Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins of the Silver Palate. Their recipe was rather long and exhausting, but the crust turned out fairly well. I was pretty surprised. Sometime in the next year, I went to America’s Test Kitchen (my then new favorite site) because I decided I wanted to make a quiche. They had a great recipe for quiche which included a recipe for single, pre-cooked crust It was still a long process, so I always double it, because it freezes well, but seems a lot easier to me with the use of a food processor. I have used this crust ever since for every pie and quiche I have made, even the double crust. I love crust now and I am no longer afraid of making it. I’ve read all the rules (cool kitchen and all that) and now making a crust is like second nature and I can’t wait to have some of whatever I’m putting into it.

  19. Sandi June 13, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    @txsimplysandi is now following you on twitter

  20. Sandi June 13, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I “tweeted” this post @txsimplysandi

  21. Sandi June 13, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I “liked’ your new fan page on Facebook

  22. Sandi June 13, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I am a pretty good cook. I sometimes make silly mistakes when baking especially if I’m cooking several items. I found a chocolate cake recipe that called for mashed potatoes. Weird, huh? I was so enthralled with the mashed potatoes, that I forgot to mix my wet and dry ingredients separately, and just poured everything in the bowl. I cooked it anyway – it was supposed to be a bundt cake but turned out to be a very dense gooey cake. It was for a book club, and I had to serve it because I wanted everyone to try to guess the ‘mystery’ ingredient.

  23. Gipaolita June 13, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I liked you on facebook and shared this giveaway on twitter. I follow you on twitter.

  24. Yuri June 13, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Added you to my google reader 😀

  25. Yuri June 13, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I follow u on Twitter!

  26. Yuri June 13, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Liked u on FB and shared the giveaway on my page!

  27. Yuri June 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I shared this giveaway on Twitter 🙂

  28. Yuri June 13, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    What an interesting event, you’re a lucky girl! The chocolate cake looks perfect and delicious 🙂 did u get the recipe? 😉
    I would love to win a copy of this book so let me think about my baking experiences…
    My sister asked me to bake and decorate a layer cake for an event. Classic dominican birthday/event cakes are two-layer cakes with filling and covered in italian meringue. Buttercream isn’t popular here because its always too hot so italian meringue is the way to go. Smoothing it out is a P.I.T.A. and I don’t know what I was thinking when I said yes. I had to make a second batch of italian meringue because I didn’t make enough to cover the cake, then I spent like an hour trying to make it look presentable. I even thought of making it look like a baked alaska [lots of spikes] but I was decided to make it look like a bakery cake. I tried my best and piped the borders, then used red fondant roses to make it prettier. My sister’s friends loved it and since that day I’ve been selling at least one cake a week 🙂 the most important thing is that they said it was delicious, better than any bakery cake!! So this is my story that almost resulted in failure but ended up being a baking/decorating success. Here’s the cake I made on Saturday:

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