Weber’s hosts The Muffin Lady
SUMMIT COUNTY – Randi Levin, aka The Muffin Lady and author of “Baking at High Altitude,” believes in a common sense approach to baking.”If something’s getting flatter -use more flour,” the baker said. “If a cake sinks – add another egg.” Evergreen resident Levin, who will be in Summit County Saturday to sign copies of her cookbook, began whipping up tasty treats at the tender age of 7.
“As a kid I never played with dolls; I played with an easy-bake oven,” she said. “According to my mother, I was adjusting recipes at 4 or 5 years old. I would add raisins, nuts, whatever I could find.” She said when she was in school, her mother’s friends would ask her to make them cookies before she had even put her schoolbooks down.Levin’s teacher in the kitchen was her grandmother, who continued to help her with tweaking recipes throughout her life.
“When I made my very first batch of chocolate chip cookies, they were flat and spread out,” Levin said of baking when she moved to Denver from Philadelphia at the age of 17. “At this time I had been baking for my whole life and I couldn’t understand.” She called on her grandmother who advised her to add a little more flour.Another trick of Levin’s, who relies on practical application – as opposed to scientific data – is that she never raises the temperature with her high altitude recipes, as is often advised. She recalled a friend telling her about an episode of the food show, “Emeril.” In Denver, Emeril Lagasse made a mess of his kitchen while trying to make a pineapple upside down cake. Levin researched the recipe he used and discovered he adjusted the oven temperature about 25 to 50 degrees higher than sea-level recipes. He also used cake flour instead of regular – and the result was cake overflowing around the edges of the pan.
“You don’t want to use cake flour at high altitude. Things will raise really well and then collapse from the extra air,” she said. “I’d never made an upside down cake before. It took one trial and I got it perfected.”A good portion of the recipes, some of which are more than 100 years old, in the book are from Levin’s grandmother and great grandmother. Levin’s book also offers diet-special recipes that are dairy-free, wheat-free and low-fat.Levin’s philosophy on recipes is simple: Don’t hoard them. She is currently working on a second book which she is toying with naming, “Recipes Are for Sharing.”
Levin will be at Borders Books in Dillon at noon Saturday and at Weber’s Books & Drawings in Breckenridge at 4 p.m. to sign copies of her cookbook. Treats will be served.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13622, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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