Chef News

Linda Schneider of 21 Cakes, Part Two

This week we bring you Pastry Chef Linda Schneider of 21 Cakes, the gourmet cupcake and macron bakery in Scottsdale.

Yesterday she told us about her childhood baking with her grandmother and explained the difference between a macron and a macaroon. Today, we ask her advice for new bakers and find out why she's nuts for macrons.

Quick recap: a Parisian macron, not to be confused with a macaroon, is an almond based confection of French origin. Schneider's macrons are made in a three-day process that includes several hours of "maturing" and should always be enjoyed at room temperature.

How did you decide to start making macrons?

I've been to France many times; I love anything French. My husband was actually traveling--the Parisian macron, I was always aware of it--not too long ago and he brought back some Parisian macrons. I said, "Ah hah! I love them." So I did a lot of research. I wanted to use a traditional French method of making them. Again, I started researching and working and it took me quite a while. It's a little tricky...actually it's a lot tricky. So it is a three-day process and I worked and worked and worked at it until I felt that it was a perfect, as I want it to be.

As someone who has trained in cooking and in baking, what do you think is more difficult?

Baking. Absolutely. Baking truly is a science. There's no room for error in baking--at all. Cooking is a lot more forgiving and you can fudge your way through it a little bit.

What advice would you give someone who's just starting?

Be committed. Have patience like nobody's business...lots and lots of patience. Don't get frustrated if something doesn't work because for instance, it's taken me four years to develop my vanilla cupcake to the point where I felt like I could sell it. I spent many nights throwing away batch after batch after batch, looking at the clock after midnight but your adrenaline gets going because this is what [I] love. So patience, absolutely.

If you're going to start baking, you've got to somehow get your cupcakes to people who can be objective. Because trust me, your friends and family will say, "Oh it's wonderful, it's wonderful, it's great." Be prepared to take criticism. Get feedback whether it's good or bad. You're not going to be able to make something really great until you know. There's always room for improvement.

Tomorrow we'll share Linda's simple recipe for Potato Candy, a popular confection in the area where she grew up.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria