Baking at home is an express train to Chubtown (hey — you gotta beef up for winter). So we hit up local pastry wunderkind (and author of the new Sweetness) Sarah Levy for tips. She didn’t sugarcoat a thing.
One ingredient you can’t live without?
Everything’s better dipped in chocolate.
The best place to shop for baking supplies?
Sur La Table (52-54 East Walton Street, between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue; 312-337-0600), The Home Depot for digital thermometers (1232 West North Avenue, at Magnolia Avenue; 773-486-9200), and Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores for food coloring and the awesome baking aisle (2639 North Elston Avenue, at West Logan Boulevard; 773-227-7874).
Do you have a mouthful of cavities?
I have zero! I’m crazy about my teeth. I think the secret is staying with my childhood dentist.
Can bad bakers follow your recipes?
Yes. We made the book super accessible. Easier recipes include Grandma Eadie’s Double Chocolate Chip Cake and Mom’s Granola. Only attempt French macaroons if you’re up for a challenge.
What’s the secret to the perfectly moist cake?
Lisa Santos (owner of Southport Grocery) taught me to underbake it just a little bit. Forget the toothpick rule. And a lot of butter.
Where can and can’t we skimp on quality ingredients?
You don’t have to buy organic; sugar is sugar. But the quality of butter, chocolate, and vanilla beans makes a difference. We use Nielsen-Massey (vanilla beans).
Aside from sprinkles, any decorating secrets?
It’s amazing what you can do with a piping bag and coupler tip. You can also put satin ribbon around the base of cake tiers. It’s easy to create professional-looking decorations.
We hear cupcakes are dead. What’s next?
I hear rumors of gourmet doughnuts.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon