In this politically charged climate, oftentimes we feel helpless. The polar ice caps are melting, the Earth is getting warmer, and the government is putting its nose in places we’d prefer it’d stay out of. So, what to do?
In the interest of maintaining some sort of peace and harmony, Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford wrote a cookbook titled “Rage Baking.” The book seeks to wield the transformative power of baking for good—whether as a cathartic therapy session or a simple pick me up. “Rage Baking” encourages women to turn to baking when overcome by rage or anger or sadness, a cohesive guide filled with recipes designed by a slew of women in the food world (think Ruth Reichl and Carla Hall, among many more) and coupled with a number of essays challenging the current state of the world.
Rage Baking, $22.49 on Amazon
When things seem dire, bake an almond and chocolate leche cake dusted with confectioners’ sugar. When a local election doesn’t go your way, smash shards of chocolate pistachio buttercrunch. When the news is too much to handle, whip up a lemon cream cheese pound cake (and eat it all). It may not actively change the world, but it certainly will help change your current mindset.
So next time you’re feeling down, make Keia Mastrianni’s buttermilk pie with orange marmalade and pretzel crust. The recipe, by a food writer from North Carolina, boasts a salty crust filled with a sweet custard shot through with tangy orange marmalade. It can be found below, along with an excerpted essay by Katherine Alford titled “We Can Be Sweet & Savory,” which explores how women in the kitchen can do it all.
From Rage Baking by Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford, published by Tiller Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford. All rights reserved.
We Can Be Sweet & Savory by Katherine Alford
In the food world, people are often divided into bakers and savory cooks; and all too often, these roles get gendered. Men get the knives and flame and women get the sugar and butter. Women make cookies and men become professional pastry chefs. I heard this repeatedly in the years I worked in professional kitchens. There was no shame in men saying they didn’t feel comfortable with desserts. But if I did the inverse, like “I don’t feel comfortable butchering, or grilling a steak, or working the hot line,” I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I had to be up for anything. I totally relate to the quote “Ginger Rogers did everything [Fred Astaire] did, backwards and in high heels.”
Farberware Baker's Advantage Ceramic Pie Dish, $11.88 on Amazon
In restaurants in the 1980s, it wasn’t unusual to be the only woman on staff and to endure blatant and outrageous sexism. I was harassed and shamed, and had to tolerate mansplaining that would make your head explode. (My favorite: “You know you can’t whip egg whites when you have your period. It does something to the eggs.” Who knew my uterus was so magical?) When a new chef was hired in the four-star restaurant that I worked in, I was offered the job of running the pastry and dessert department, not because I was any better than the highly skilled crew in place, but because I was “the girl.” But in the long run, I was better off. I developed a wider range of skills that served me in my long career. I became a careful baker; I liked the science, the math, the discipline of baking, the satisfaction. I loved the nuance that goes into baking, the way the temperature of butter can make all the difference in a flaky pie crust, the way measuring improperly can throw off a cookie. And the big baking secret: Confidence is your most important ingredient. It’s ironic that women get pushed into the part of cooking that requires the most math, chemistry, and precision. So, if you want your daughters to excel at STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), bring them into the kitchen. Bake with them. The results will be sweet and empowering.
Buttermilk Pie with Orange Marmalade and Pretzel Crust Recipe from Keia Mastrianni
This pie is how I channel my sour-salty feelings into something more palatable. It’s my metaphor for lemons into lemonade,” writes Keia Mastrianni, a writer and baker at Milk Glass Pie in North Carolina. “A salty pretzel crust is layered with orange marmalade and a tangy buttermilk custard. The sweet-salty tang is a perfect complement to your next rage-fueled community supper. This is a pie that pairs well with activism.
Buttermilk Pie with Orange Marmalade and Pretzel Crust
- For the pretzel crust: 6 ounces salted mini pretzels
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering
- For the custard: ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tablespoons sour cream
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup orange marmalade
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie plate.
- Make the pretzel crust: Put the pretzels in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to incorporate. With the food processor running, stream in the melted butter and process until just combined.
- Pour the pretzel mixture into the pie plate and, using your fingers or a metal measuring cup, press it over the bottom and up the sides. Freeze until solid, about 15 minutes.
- Place the crust on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until the crust is fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool on the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
- Meanwhile, make the custard: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the lemon zest and, using your fingers, rub it into the sugar mixture. Whisk in the melted butter. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, whisking until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in the vanilla.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, and heavy cream, then stir in the lemon juice. Add the buttermilk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk together.
- Use a rubber spatula to spread the orange marmalade over the bottom crust, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered. Pour the buttermilk custard into the crust. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie 180 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the pie is golden brown along the edges and gently puffed up and set. Give it the jiggle test to make sure the center is fully cooked—it should jiggle like Jell-O, not wave like the ocean. Let cool completely before serving.
Header image courtesy of Rage Baking.