Baking with Sarabeth Levine

It all started with orange marmalade
Francesca Borgognone Sarabeth's Currant Scones

Doing the same thing, anything, for a long time can become tedious, tiresome — boring, even. That’s why coming across someone who has been in their field for more than 30 years and is still over the moon about the same thing they’ve done countless times before is a rare find.

Meet Sarabeth Levine. Yes, that Sarabeth, of the Manhattan gourmet food empire. Many thought she was a figment of their imagination, kind of like Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Fields. Au contraire — she exists.

In the kitchen of her Chelsea Market flagship bakery, there she was — petite in her whites and all-smiles, eager to start the class. Over her scones and her trademark marmalade she told the story of how Sarabeth’s came to be.

Sarabeth struggled to find her place in the career world. Her siblings are "simply brilliant," as she put it, and she wanted to feel just the same (which she really is). After meeting up with a relative who made a mean orange marmalade, she discovered that was the answer — jam!

And so Levine and her family got busy making orange marmalade and jarring it. The hitch was, though, according to her aunt, the recipe was only to be used when you needed it to get by. But Sarabeth needed it and she bottled jar after jar with her husband in their apartment — after some time and a few small successes, Sarabeth’s was born.

With nine restaurant locations under her belt, it’s safe to say that Levine has more than found her place in the world. Agreed? It was such a delight to witness Levine, a household name at this point, delving into the art of apple strudel, making with such eloquence and detail. She wanted to make sure we saw it the way she does — "where every little step is something fantastic."

Anyone who has ever eaten or baked a strudel knows it’s nearly impossible not to note the intricate details. "You have to respect the strudel," said Levine, and that she does.

What was supposed to be a brief lesson turned into story time. As Levine rolled her beloved yard sale-find "magic rolling pin," she spoke in anecdotes, comparing air pockets in the dough to chicken pox. She made us want to throw an apron on right then and there and get to business.

Now that’s a baker.

Perfect for initimate gatherings and small parties, Sarabeth's baked goods and treats are hosting essentials. Here's a recipe that she shared from her best-selling cookbook, Sarabeth's Bakery From My Hands to Yours.

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