Baking legend Maida Heatter has died at 102

We have just learned the sad news that legendary chef and author Maida Heatter has passed away at age 102. Food writers including Helen Rosner, Charlotte Druckman, and George Geary shared stories on Twitter about how Maida significantly influenced their baking and culinary careers. 

Happiness is Baking

Maida’s influence on baking cannot be overstated. Her award-winning cookbooks inspire legions of devotees, she is a member of Chocolatier Magazine’s Hall of Fame, and she has received three James Beard Foundation Awards (two cookbook awards and induction into the JBF Cookbook Hall of Fame). Scores of pastry chefs and cookbook authors cite Maida as a major influence, including Dorie Greenspan, David Lebovitz, and Tracy Zabar. 

Greenspan wrote the foreword to Maida’s latest cookbook Happiness is Bakingand says that every time someone tells her that they want to start baking, she instructs them to turn to Maida Heatter. “I can’t even count how many of her books I’ve given to beginning bakers,” Greenspan writes. “It makes me indescribably happy to know that a new generation of bakers will have the pleasure of being guided by this knowing and generous teacher.”

The title of the new book, which reproduces Maida’s best-loved recipes along with charming illustrations, says it all. In Heatter’s own words from the introduction:

Baking is a great escape. It’s happiness. It’s creative. It’s good for your health. It reduces stress.

If you are reading this book, chances are you know what I mean. You have probably baked something delicious. You could probably tell me a thing or two about what fun it is. But if you have not baked even cookies, then let me tell you: Bake some cookies! Happiness is baking cookies.

That is solid advice to follow and who knows, it may even lead to a well-lived life of 102 years. Thank you, Maida Heatter, for the wonderful recipes and excellent advice. 

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  • mharriman  on  June 7, 2019

    As a young mom and baking novice, I discovered and came to revere Maida Heatter. One of her dessert books became my baking bible. I finally had to toss it after the pages stuck together and spine fell away. I especially liked that she gave detailed instructions and personal notes. The personal notes (such as individually wrapping single baked cookies in cellophane for gifts or to freeze for unexpected visitors) were inspirational. Twenty five years later my adult children still always ask for her Oreo cookie cake when they come to visit. This was their go-to treat as well as requested birthday cake while they were growing up.
    Cheers to a great lady baker.

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