Meet the Bakers: Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito of Baked

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Meet the Bakers: Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito of Baked

Sweet berries, juicy stone fruits — there’s a reason we wait all year for summer desserts! For seasonal baking inspiration, we turned to Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, owners of the Brooklyn bakery Baked and creators of our new glass baking dishes. Here, they share their favorite summer treats, go-to desserts for company and the one tool they can’t live without. Read on, then try the cherry crisp they developed for our new catalog — recipe below!

 

What are your favorite summer ingredients to bake with? 

Renato: If it’s summer, I crave anything lemon or berry. Actually, I LOVE lemons and berries together.

 

What about some unexpected flavors or flavor combinations? 

Matt: I love the idea of lime and tarragon together. The citrus-y zeal of a lime pairs beautifully with tarragon’s black licorice moments. Oh, and I keep putting balsamic vinegar in my almond cakes. I am kind of enjoying it.

 

Are there some summer staples at Baked that you can tell us about? What do you look forward to making all year? 

Renato: For summer, we try to always have a selection of gorgeous fruit tarts based in a fresh vanilla bean custard.

 

Cobbler, crisp, or crumble? Why? 

Renato: Crisp! It was one of the first things I learned how to make. Easy and versatile, and I think of the three, a crisp goes best with ice cream.

 

What are your go-to summer fruit desserts to make at home or for company? 

Matt: I make a mean, un-ironic Jello Salad.

Renato: I still like making key lime pies when I am not making crisps.

 

Any tips for making summer pies? What’s your best secret for the ultimate pie crust?

Matt: So many tips and tricks for pie crust, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I made pie crust without my food processor. It makes life super easy.

 

What tools or cookware pieces are an absolute MUST for summer baking? 

Matt: Again, I highly recommend a food processor. It pulverizes nuts with aplomb (I love to bake with almond flour), makes superb pie doughs, and I always use mine for quick and easy frosting recipes (yes, frostings). Besides, they are a great investment if you like to cook and bake even semi-regularly.

 

Tell us about the cherry crisp you developed for the new glass baker. What do you love about it? 

Matt: This is a quintessential summer crisp. It is super easy to put together and the taste is bright — super summery and not too heavy. Also, it is the kind of dessert you can throw together in the morning for an afternoon picnic.

 

Baked NYC Cherry Crisp

Baked NYC Cherry Crisp

 

For the topping:

2/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) plus 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) (3 oz./90 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 tsp. almond extract

2/3 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) blanched almonds, toasted

3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz./65 g) rolled oats, your favorite oat-based childhood cereal, chocolate granola, or Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles

 

For the filling:

6 1/2 cups pitted cherries (about 2 1/4 lb./1 kg before pitting)

3 Tbs. instant tapioca or 1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

1 Tbs. sugar

1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 Tbs. almond extract

 

Premium vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

 

Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

 

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish with sides at least 2 inches (5 cm) high.

 

To make the topping, combine the flour, both sugars and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and almond extract and continue pulsing until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand. Add the almonds and pulse until the nuts are chopped and fully incorporated but the mixture is still chunky; do not overmix. Add the cereal and pulse 2 to 3 times to incorporate. Place the topping in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

 

While the topping is chilling, prepare the cherry filling. In a large bowl, gently toss together the cherries, tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and almond extract.

 

To assemble, place the cherry filling in the prepared pan. Evenly scatter the chilled crisp topping on top of the filling and bake until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 30 minutes. If the top starts to brown too quickly, lightly tent the crisp with foil and continue baking until the filling is bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve the crisp warm with vanilla ice cream on top. Serves 8.

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