Claire Saffitz's Turmeric Kabocha Cake Is Pure Joy

Plus two more inspired, do-it-tonightable treats from Saffitz's stunning new book.

October 21, 2020
Photo by Alex Lau

“I don’t like sweets.”

“I’m a cook but not a baker.”

“I’m not a dessert person.”

All (outlandish) claims that food editor, writer, YouTube personality, and baker extraordinaire Claire Saffitz has heard, and adamantly argues in her just-released cookbook, Dessert Person.

Baking may be more exacting and less forgiving than cooking, but it should not be seen as less creative, according to Saffitz. Dessert Person is organized by “master recipe” chapters (one-bowl and loaf cakes, layer cakes, laminated and yeasted breads), brimming with inspired yet do-it-tonight-able riffs. Think: Kabocha Turmeric Tea Cake, Brioche Twists With Coriander Sugar, Preserved Lemon Meringue Cake, and Miso Buttermilk Biscuits.

I almost didn’t trust the simpler, homier recipes to be as worth writing home about, like the Chocolate Chip Cookies, Flourless Chocolate Wave Cake, and Apple Tart. But even in those recipes—especially in those recipes—Saffitz’s obsessing over every last detail is apparent. Each crinkled edge is heartbreakingly perfect, the crumb freakishly uniform and lofty, not a non-right angle in sight.

And then, of course, there are the very challenging time-suck projects (Kouign-Amann, Spelt Croissants, Everything Bagels) that I would, in no other instance, be compelled to make—even if trying to court or persuade or bribe someone—but with Saffitz there to hold my hand, the idea of assembling a Croquembouche tower feels less like “heck no!” and more like, “well, I guess I do have a six-hour block open this weekend.”

Dessert Person—full of innovative flavor combinations, clear and concise instruction, and the promise of really, truly stunning end products—is a must-have for anyone that dares to think sweets are too sweet, or that baking is too difficult or decidedly un-fun. Saffitz will change your wrong opinion mind.

Lucky for me, I do like sweets, I am a cook and a baker, and best of all: I am a dessert person.

3 Recipes even for Non-Dessert People

Which of these are you most excited to make? Tell us about it in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga. When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.

1 Comment

Bevi November 1, 2020
I adore Claire Saffitz! Although she is no longer with BA, I highly recommend watching her Gourmet Makes videos on YouTube. I can't wait until her book arrives, which I pre-ordered.