Pastry Chef Marisa Lown on Eating Well: "It's Not a One Size Fits All for Everyone"

Categories: Chef and Tell

Evie Carpenter
Lown uses a Kitchen Aid stand mixer
My best advice for home bakers is: Know the rules so you know how and when to break them! I often hear people say they don't like to bake because it is too scientific, too difficult, or not creative enough. When you know the basic rules of baking, for instance the difference between baking powder and baking soda, you can start to use different ingredients interchangeably and better predict the outcome while intentionally changing flavor profiles or texture.

The one baking tool every serious baker needs: Aside from the essential stand mixer, it's a tie between an offset spatula and microplane. A small offset spatula can be used for anything from spreading out batter so it bakes evenly to expertly frosting a birthday cake. A microplane (or zester) is the best tool for infusing flavors from citrus zest, fresh whole nutmeg, and finely grated ginger root or garlic.

The most overrated baked good is: Anything on a stick. The only dessert I can think of that needs to be on a stick is a paleta.

I think the next big baking trend will be: Healthy and allergy-friendly, of course. Coyness aside, I have seen more allergy-friendly (particularly gluten-free) baked goods on the market in the last few years and even dedicated establishments like Jewel's Bakery. I believe there is also a trend of consumers moving toward less sugar intake (both added sugars and natural fructose from fruit), so perhaps that will translate into a push for more savory baked goods. I'd love to see someone tackle a savory donut!

How did you get started in allergy-friendly baking? I became lactose intolerant in my twenties and started experimenting with dairy free baking ingredients about 10 years ago. When a friend asked if I would make a gluten and dairy free wedding cake, I gladly accepted the challenge. The cake received so many positive accolades and referrals, I started a custom allergy-friendly baking service called "The Radical Cupcake" in 2007 in Seattle. There weren't very many readily available allergy-friendly baked goods at the time; several of the larger bakeries were experimenting and had limited options on the shelves. I was able to enter a niche market and provide a service to people with allergies or specific diets by creating baked goods that satisfied their sweet tooths while using high quality, local, and organic ingredients.

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