Cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Johnson Dodge has quite a culinary résumé. She studied at La Varenne, the famous cooking school in Paris, and later worked under superstar French chefs Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. She's a contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine and founded the magazine's test kitchen. And she's written about baking and cooking for more than three dozen special-interest publications.
But those credentials tell just one side of the Abby Dodge story. As the video tutorial on her website, abbydodge.com, demonstrates, she's utterly down to earth and approachable, with a playful sense of humor that comes across in her motto: "Baking the world a better place, one recipe at a time."
Abby began baking as a young girl, spending Sunday afternoons with her mother baking brownies, chiffon cake, and other treats from recipes torn out of women's magazines. "Luckily," she says, "I had three older brothers who were all eager tasters!" Those early experiences influenced Abby's decision to study baking in Paris and build a culinary career. Eventually, though, she returned home and began writing her successful cookbooks for kids and adults. She now lives with her husband and two children in the same Connecticut town in which she grew up.
There's nothing fancy about Abby's baking philosophy: that baking can and should be simple and enjoyable. "With all my projects, my goal is always to encourage bakers of every skill level to dive into baking and dessert making–to show that it can be easy, fun, and very rewarding," says Abby. To that end, all of her recipes share some basic elements. They're as beautiful as they are delicious. They have easy-to-follow instructions "with lots of helpful visual clues to guide the baker." And each recipe includes "loads of flavor variations" to encourage even novice bakers to try new combinations "and even experiment on their own!"