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The Baking Bible

The Baking Bible

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Baking Bible Book Production Phases 8 & 9, Part 1 of 2

Dec 28, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose

The most intense and one of the most critical phases of book publishing is copy editing and this is the first time that it was done on line instead of on hardcopy. My feeling is that this is a better method because it eliminates the inevitability of mis-reading and thereby mis-inputting some of the myriad handwritten queries and responses. But it certainly wasn't easy following all the lines of notes that emanated from the side bar to the text not to mention revisiting what the original thinking had been. Both the editor, Stephanie Fletcher, and the copy editor, Deborah Weiss Geline, were meticulously detailed in their queries and suggestions and Woody and I spent many weeks discussing and going over all of them via telephone. We finished well before the most fun and most stressful Phase 9: Photography!

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The photography phase of my books is always one of the most enjoyable parts of production, as it makes the book come alive. But it is a time of anxiety as well as I am putting my tested creations into the hands of a stylist to recreate my vision and then have it portrayed through the photographer's camera lens. And there is always the incredible pressure of having to produce a large number of stunning photos in an environment outside of my own kitchen in an extremely short amount of time.

Preparing and styling over 150 recipes for this book within a three-week period would be virtually impossible without a team of talented professionals. I had the great fortune to put the difficult task of organizing and performing the styling into the hands of my dearest friend Caitlin Freeman Williams, author of "Modern Art Desserts." Although not a stylist by trade, her baking skills honed by her prior ownership days at Miette Bakery, her artistic imagination, skill, and integrity, extraordinary organizational ability, and her present occupation designing delicious bakery items for her husband's Blue Bottle Coffee shops, assured me that I could rely on her completely to reproduce my visions.

For her advance preparation which took place the week before, Caitlin was assisted by Jason Schreiber, formerly of Martha Stewart Living, and Ron Ben Israel Cakes.
The coordination of all of this was staggering, in fact, when Caitlin went to a copy center to print out the manuscript she was horrified by the size and then discovered that it represented only half the recipes--the rest was still in the machine to be printed! She called our editor, Stephanie Fletcher who assured her that she would have all the necessary support to accomplish the styling. This resulted in two baking teams for the photography site. The first team included Erin McDowell, formerly a baking instructor at the CIA, was brought in to be Caitlin's assistant for baking and styling. The second team consisted of my invaluable assistant Woody Wolston, who had made every recipe numerous times during the testing and development phase and who had just moved from Minnesota to nearby Pennsylvania and, of course, me. Woody and I broke in my new baker's kitchen by over a week of baking 27 cookie recipes, several cakes, and breads.

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No time even for combing hair--we worked from 8 in the morning til 7 at night.

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When our prep was completed and safely packed away, Woody went on to pack the enormous quantity of equipment needed to produce the remaining cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, pastry, and bread!

My ingenious photographer, Ben Fink, found a unique studio outside of New Paltz, New York, which was a carriage house beloging to Barry Wine, former owner of the renowned restaurant The Quilted Giraffe. It was converted into a large kitchen with enough room for food styling and photography which became the site for the amazing group of individuals, who became my "Dream Team," to perform their magic for my recipes, and it became our home for the two weeks of photography.

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Alison Lew, designer for the book (who was also the designer of the beautiful Rose's Heavenly Cakes,] came for the entire two weeks and was invaluable for coordinating the team.

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We also had a lovely and talented prop stylist, Anna Molvik, and Ben was assisted by Josh Goleman who filmed videos during the production. What made this truly a dream team was the extraordinary chemistry that developed between so many players. Editor Stephanie was also able to drive up from New York City for several days to see the progress, bring a few essential pieces of equipment, and offer valuable suggestions and advice.

We began by setting up three stations for baking, and bulletin boards for displaying Woody's and my portrait photos of the recipes for referencing. Alison also erected a bulletin board to display each recipe as it was photographed in the position in which it will appear in the book. Ben set up his styling wonder room with lighting, tons of backdrops and tabletops along with his camera and computer. Anna had an entire room to fill with hundreds of props, which kept growing every day as she visited the many local antique and specialty shops.

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Caitlin and Jason did an amazing job of prepping most of the recipes with zipseal bags of ingredients. Caitlin also created an elaborate daily baking and photography outline including timing, components needed, and scheduling. She, Erin, and Woody went over the next day's recipes and strategies each night.

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Based on his brilliant work in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes," I knew that Ben would do an incredible job of capturing my creations baked by Woody and Erin and styled by Caitlin. It was so exciting to see the final results each day as I rotated between the work stations, giving approval and guidance. Temperature control was one of the critical issues. As the kitchen heated up it became necessary to go to extreme measures such as working outdoors in the freezing cold or in the downstairs bathroom which was the coldest room in the house. The deep, therefore mouse-proof, bathtub served as a cooling station.

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Caitlin and I had many discussions about the best way to place the components.

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Caitlin was tireless in her ability to create the perfect view of the recipe.

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Comments

Hi Francine,
This was my first experience of being involved with a style photography phase for a book. I had to realize after the first couple of days, that although we were given wonderful comments by everyone after tasting just about everything, I had to come to the realization that all of us could only eat a portion of the up to seven recipes photographed each day. Some of us did take slices home or to friends, but several met another fate from us saying, "we cannot eat another bite of that cheesecake (or brownie, or cookie, or slice of pie."
Many stylist will use "tricks-of-the-trade" to make a recipe leap off the page, but Caitlin did not have to except for freshening up one or two recipes that were baked the week before the shoot to look like they had just come out of the oven.
Rose & Woody

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Dear Rose, Words really fail me, but surely you are among the most generous spirited master baker teachers ever to have graced the trade! You hold nothing back and you are always first to credit your great team from the professionals to the home bakers,now pros in their own right! I have all of your books including Rose's Melting Pot and Celebrations and absolutely cannot wait for The Baking Bible. Thank you so much for making our wait easier with your timely and beautiful updates!!

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Francine from Sherbrooke (QC)
Francine from Sherbrooke (QC)
01/ 3/2014 09:13 PM

What do you do with all this baking? Do you have people waiting in line to taste all those treasures?

Are the stylist using some tricks to have the creations look better for the camera or is this all "au naturel"?

I will be happy to add this new book to my collection of your work. Thanks for taking the time to do such perfect guides for bakers.

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Early November. Thanks for asking!

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When is yor new book due out?

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What I would have given to be there - thank you for sharing the behind-the-scene process.

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Thank you for letting us watch the process of a classic in the making. Thank you Rose, Woody and company. I'm so looking forward to its release. The Baking Bible will be among my most treasured books.

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What a great story. Can't wait for the book. Love the idea of prepping each recipe's ingredients in a bag the night before. I'm just at the tale end of publishing my own first cookbook and, while mine isn't nearly so complex, I absolutely feel for you. What beautiful help you have!!!! All the best as it jells!

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Beatriz M. Martinez
Beatriz M. Martinez
12/30/2013 02:51 PM

Hola, fascinante el trabajo laborioso para el libro! Cuando esté listo seguro me lo compraré por amazon, vivo en Venezuela!

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Cynthia Renee
Cynthia Renee
12/30/2013 09:53 AM

Thank you so much for sharing. This is good timing as I am getting anxious to see the book. This insight helps keep me patient.

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Daphne Pang
Daphne Pang
12/29/2013 03:51 AM

I agree! Fascinating!

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Thank you for inviting us into this multi-faceted and wondrous experience. What a unique thrill and privilege to view the alchemical process through all of its stages - transforming the lead into the gold!

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Can't wait!!!!!

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Kristina Taylor
Kristina Taylor
12/28/2013 08:32 PM

Thanks for the fascinating look inside this stage of the process, Rose!

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