During the month of September, the Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library is hosting Denver Public Library’s first ever Baker in Residence, Samm Sherman. Samm is a baker, pastry chef, food stylist, and fabulous teacher.
We were lucky enough to chat with Samm about some of her culinary adventures. Read on!
Why baking? What do you love about it, and how did you get your start?
I am not positive why baking. I have always loved food and have tried my hand at savory cooking but am always drawn back to the sweet stuff. Maybe it's because baking and confections come with rules, maybe it's the art of the finished work or maybe it’s because I have a crazy sweet tooth myself. Probably a little of it all.
Do you have a baking philosophy?
Bake and release. There are a couple meanings to that. First, bake to share with others so always keep that in mind, bake it with love and be proud to give it away. Also, baking can be so therapeutic, a great chance to focus on what is in front of you and release the rest.
What is the weirdest ingredient you've ever baked with?
There have been a few. Black garlic was requested as an ice cream flavor from a former employer, and canned split pea soup during a competition. I put the soup in a chocolate dessert; I won the competition but don't think I will duplicate the dessert.
We heard you had doughnuts at your wedding (before it was cool!). What are some baking trends you're into lately?
Hand pies and cookies! I really do love all desserts but I am loving that people are shifting to desserts that are making them happy for wedding celebrations. Cake is delicious too but if you aren't a cake person you don't have to be married to that tradition (see what I did there). I also love French macarons.
What are some of your favorite baking books? Do you use sources from the library for inspiration?
Lately I have been using Bouchon Bakery's book a lot, also Flour Bakery's book from Boston. Sometimes I go the library with a specific book in mind, however, most often I head to the baking section and proceed to get inspired. I also love the home style selection at the library for another source of inspiration - specifically for cake designs and coloring.
Tell us about a baking catastrophe, and how did you get out of it alive?
French macarons are one of my favorites nowadays but it wasn't always that way. Those cookies have caused many tears in my life. They flattened, they cracked, they spread. I stayed alive with some cleansing tears and deep breaths. My tiny french life lessons.
Has travel played any role in your baking experiences?
Of course, travel is another source of inspiration. I was lucky enough to do some European travel when I was younger, which did many great things for my budding pastry career. At this point in my life travel is limited but I feel equally inspired. To see and taste what is happening in this city is constantly opening my mind.
What are some secrets of a food stylist?
Details matter. Food styling is about making the food look its best, often on an up-close level.
Come to any or all of Samm’s Saturday afternoon events, where you can ask questions, get tips and tricks and watch her live demos. Samples will be included.
@ Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library, 305 Milwaukee Street
Saturday, September 9, 2 p.m. : Ombre Ruffle Cake
Saturday, September 16, 2 p.m. : Cookie Decorating
Saturday, September 23, 2 p.m. : Unicorn Cake
Saturday, September 30, 2 p.m. : Pita Bread
DPL hosts food-related programs all the time! Here are some upcoming events, and be sure to check out the Engage! brochure for other programs and classes.
Easy 10 minute Lunch or Dinner
Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 p.m. @ Eugene Field Branch Library
Learn to make delicious, filling meals packed with nutrients in just minutes. Sample and take home plant-based recipes.
Small Batch Preserving
Saturday, September 23, 2-3 p.m. @ Central Library, Floor 1, Burnham Hoyt Book Club Room
Learn the steps of preserving in small batches by using simplified preserving techniques—things that last a few weeks in the refrigerator and don’t require special equipment. Beginning cooks and seasoned chefs are welcome at this fun and informative class with local caterer Monica Kadillak.