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Have you watched Sweet Talk yet? It’s our dessert-only video series hosted by assistant food editor Lindsay Strand. While Lindsay also develops a lot of savory recipes for the magazine, she really knows her sweets—she used to be a pastry cook. If you’ve made any of our most popular desserts, such as our luscious No-Bake Key-Lime Cheesecake or adorable Easter Chick Cookies, you’ve likely seen her pop up on your screen, walking you through the recipe. This week, we visited the set of Sweet Talk to see how the magic happens.
A Sweet Talk shoot typically happens once a month, during which the team films five segments in one day. “We shoot with natural light," Lindsay explains, "So we have to be done before the sun sets, which can be really challenging if there's a complicated recipe. We have to have everything ready to go, or we won’t finish before it gets dark!”
Getting ready for the shoot happens in many ways. Desserts are never made from start to finish on set (otherwise the episodes would be hours long!), so one critical component is swap-outs, which are versions of the same recipe at different stages of completion. For the Irish soda scones Lindsay was shooting, there were three batches waiting for their close-up: a mise-en-place of the dough, a set of formed but unbaked scones, and a set of finished glazed scones.
There’s plenty of prep that goes on outside of the kitchen, too. Lindsay studies the recipes she’s shooting a week in advance and writes the intros and outros for each episode, figuring out what kind of story she wants to tell and what tips to share. She memorizes the recipe ingredients and method and confers with the video producers about everything from talking points to on-camera outfits. On the day of, after a quick turn in the makeup chair and a final review of her notes, Lindsay’s ready to shoot.
Before the series premiered last year, Lindsay remembers being super nervous until she received some words of encouragement on set from none other than Martha herself. She quickly grew comfortable ad-libbing and taking on more daunting desserts, like our spectacular strawberry layer cake. Lindsay says, “There was a ton of ingredients on the table, and even with the swaps, there were so many steps: whipping meringue, slicing strawberries, making Swiss meringue buttercream. I'm usually more deliberate in the kitchen, like when I’m frosting a cake for example, but it’s different when you’re shooting. You have to achieve in minutes what would normally take hours, so I had to learn to let go a little bit.” A perfectionist and a teacher, just like Martha!
Watch Lindsay make light, fluffy Irish soda scones (just in time for St. Patrick's Day!):