COMPETITION | Win a copy of Sweet Enough by Alison Roman! To enter, email email@example.com with the subject line SWEET ENOUGH and tell us a particularly delicious dessert you’ve enjoyed recently. Entries close 12pm on Friday 12 May. The winner will be notified later that day, and can collect the prize from our store during opening hours.
It’s one of the most-anticipated cookbooks of 2023; a treat for all who like to treat themselves, no matter how comfortable they are in the kitchen. Stylish, accessible, and filled with baking ingenuity, Sweet Enough is the new dessert cookbook from New York’s most relatable chef Alison Roman, who shot to fame for her viral recipes (a la #TheCookie or #ThePasta) and has remained a friendly, casually glamorous icon in the home cooking world for her no-fuss, joy-filled and utterly delicious recipes.
Following on from Roman’s bestselling Dining In and Nothing Fancy, Sweet Enough is gorgeously designed with colour photographs and easy-to-follow recipes – from the Salted Lemon Pie, to the Toasted Rice Pudding, to the Caramelized Maple Tart, to the Ice Cream in Melon.
We were lucky to have Alison swing by Roaring Stories on her Australian tour – and just before her appearance at the Sydney Opera House – where she signed copies of Sweet Enough and spoke with us about the book. Read the Q&A below.
I love how you have framed your philosophy of dessert around the idea of joy. Like, dessert, isn’t something we need to sustain ourselves; it’s not even a snack to help get us through until the next meal. It’s superfluous – but that’s why it’s so delightful. Was dessert and other essential frivolities a part of your growing up?
No – it’s something I cultivated more of an appreciation for as an adult. I mean, being an adult is so serious. There’s so much you have to do. When you’re a kid you think, ‘ugh, being an adult is so boring.’ And part of that is true. But I think we have a tendency to take ourselves way too seriously, so it’s nice to remind ourselves it doesn’t have to be that way all the time.
It’s kind of daring, to ‘embrace imperfections’ as you do and roll with chaos when so much of baking, particularly in the Instagram era and during your time in the high-stakes restaurant industry, seems to aspire towards crisp perfection. How did you deal with the pressure of these so-called ideals, and how have you managed to resist them?
I think it’s just my personality. It wasn’t even really a choice. I’ve worked in professional kitchens, and know the pressures of perfection and what that means, and why it has to exist. But when we’re at home, we shouldn’t have to abide by those same kinds of rules. It’s not a job; we’re at home. It should be fun.
You’ve also done a bit of a bold thing in the book by listing both your baking loves and your baking hates – and some of them even overlap. Why did you choose to put this section in?
Just because I think there are people who can relate to that. People who have the desire to make a cake once or twice a year, but it’s not their whole personality. They’re not like, ‘I love baking. It’s so relaxing.’ It’s not! It can be stressful, it can be annoying. It takes time. So, acknowledging that upfront is a really nice way to ease people into the mindset that this can be an experience that they can enjoy, even if they might be thinking ‘this isn’t for me’.
Anyone familiar with your work will know of #TheCookies or #TheStew. If you could wish one recipe from your new book would go viral, which one would it be?
I sort of hope that none of them do! Because then the expectation is that it has to keep happening. And I feel nervous that it can’t in this climate of social media, and when so many recipes exist.
I think that, among the people that cook and bake from this book, the idea is that this becomes a classic in their collection. I’d almost prefer that the whole book as a concept goes viral – that it becomes ‘this is something that everybody should have’, and that everything inside of it is reliable and interesting and fun and delicious. Also, if you say #thecake, there’s like twenty cakes in there… so which one are you talking about?
What is the most recent recipe you have made from the book, who did you make it for (it can be yourself!), and what was the occasion?
Yesterday I was filming an episode of my show, and I made the Creamy Cauliflower Galette and the Cottage Cheese Cake with Rhubarb. It was actually the first time that I’d baked or cooked in a long time, because I’ve been on the road for so long. So I was like, ‘I really love this recipe! It’s really good!’ It’s tough being out the kitchen, which is where I make new work and generally feel happy and satisfied and creatively fulfilled. So I’m going to be happy to get back to that.
Sweet Enough by Alison Roman was published by Hardie Grant in April 2023. Find signed copies at Roaring Stories Bookshop (while stocks last).