Alice Toich, who many of you know for her art work, has released a recipe book of sorts, but so much more. BAEK is sexy, fun and will get you into icing in no time. We caught up with her and discussed her new project which has come off the back of being on The Great South African Bake Off.
Tell us a little bit about ‘BAEK’?
Each zine comprises of a handful of recipes, a lick of pseudo-science and a sprinkle of poetry, which fold out onto a poster-image. All images for BAEK have been taken by the talented Anke Loots ( www.ahouseofleaves.tumblr.com). I wanted to present food in a way that wasn’t strictly “food photography” because there is so much good food photography out there. Instead I was interested in shooting the bakes more like fashion photography is shot. Anke and I are also uniquely obsessed with portraiture in our own ways so it only made sense to shoot some portraits together. Et voila!
The website for purchase was designed by Stephen Manion ( manion.co) and will allow people all over SA to buy the zine themselves or send it to a friend.
How did you start baking?
Like most people who have a connection to food it started with my family. I come from a REALLY big family – I have 54 first cousins which means we had A LOT of family gatherings. And I have two moms and two dads. Well, my mom and dad both have identical twins who married each other and we grew up in one big house with my cousins. When we had family celebrations or parties – which was really often – I would help my moms out in the kitchen; propped up on the counter cross-legged separating bowls of eggs or zesting lemons for chiffon cakes. The smell of freshly zested lemons still takes me straight back to being surrounded by the flurry of activity in that kitchen preparing for Sunday lunch. My mom encouraged us to cook for ourselves at a young because it meant we’d always be fed. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started baking for myself- it was a lekker mental break from tedious hours of study. And I could always see how happy it made people to taste something that was prepared by my hands.
What about baking interests you?
Baking is an extremely tactile endeavor, like art-making it relies heavily on stimulating all your senses at once and I guess I am drawn to baking for the same reasons that I am drawn to painting or playing with clay. You start with very randomized components like heaps of flour and sugar, and then with the love of your hands and energy, you transform it into something that can stand on it’s own, have it’s own texture or a completely new taste; it’s kind of magic. Or science. Or a delicious mix of both. On the contrary though, baking is a conceptual sabbatical for my mind – unlike art-making, its function is self-evident. Which is great! I mean, I don’t find myself staring into my oven crying ” Is this even meaningful- what is the point here?!” The point is cake. Or cake with a swiss meringue buttercream on top. And there’s something neat and easy about that. Lastly, I’m also very interesting in pleasing the people I like, and baking them something seems to do this- almost without fail.
Well it’s not a recipe book and it’s not a link to a recipe online. Its function is supposed to be like that one hand-written recipe page you get from your friend at a dinner party and slip into your other recipe books for a certain fail-proof chocolate cake or macaron recipe. It’s got a little psuedo-science and some poetry so I want it to be friendly and accessible. I also REALLY love getting post, like real mailed letters. So I would love people to buy the zine for a friend, girl/boyfriend or sibling that they know is getting into baking and send it to them in the post. Future issues will be sold with an envelope and stamp ready to go!
At the core of it, BAEK is an experiment. It’s my first delve into the world of zine-ing AND recipe development. I was inspired by going to watch my friend Laura speak at a David Krut’s event on self-publishing at the AVA a few weeks ago. The whole air of everyone speaking was non-serious. They had this one little, simple thing to say and that they were able to do it cheaply and in print. I liked that. So I thought I’d try it out.
Now that the show is over for you will BAEK continue with more than just the first issue?
Yes! The point of BAEK is also to keep me experimenting and sharing that with others, while encouraging them to do the same. One thing I learnt for the show was that you can really play around with recipes, before I would always be to afraid of messing with baking recipes because they are essentially a lot more specific than most cooking recipes. But now I know it can be done! I will release a new zine every 3 months, which gives me enough time to play around on weekends with recipes for the next issue. Future zines will concentrate on things like the most dunk-able biscuits, “plebeian petits fours”, yummy frostings and my ultimate teatime treat: SCONES!