Full disclosure: Dorie Greenspan has charmed us. She charmed us when she came to cook with Bonnie out of her much-lauded cookbook, “Around My French Table.” She charmed me some more when I took her out for breakfast tacos in Austin at the IACP conference earlier this year. And the charm offensive continued when I shared panelist duties with her at that same conference, at a session organized by Antonia Allegra called “The Craft of Food Writing.”
What becomes pretty apparent whenever you talk to Dorie, especially about food, which is what you usually talk to Dorie about, is this: You’d love to cook with her. If you're an iPad owner, now you can. Dorie has worked on many television efforts — most famously, on “Baking With Julia” — but has never had a show of her own. The “Baking With Dorie” app, which goes on sale today, is potentially better than that, because it provides an interactive experience that lets you watch up to 100 videos of Dorie making the 25 included recipes (which are from her “Baking From My Home to Yours”).
I got a chance to play around with the app before its release.
Produced and directed by the renowned Geoffrey Drummond for CulinApp, “Baking With Dorie” offers four ways of viewing a recipe: in a traditional cookbook-type layout; a detailed step-by-step format that devotes a page to each section; “spin view,” a shorthanded version for those who need just a quick reminder of the procedure; and “CulinView,” a cool, graphic overview of the timing and the process.
The app comes with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect — a built-in timer; a note-taking function, and the ability to compile a shopping list from multiple recipes, and to email it. (One quibble: I wish the shopping list were divided by grocery category rather than alphabetically, so that, say, milk and cream would be grouped together under dairy.) And of course there are those recipes: for sables, banana cream pie, rum-soaked vanilla cakes, toasted almond scones and more.
The $12.99 price tag seems a little steep for a couple dozen recipes, until you realize that there are 100 videos totaling almost three hours, the equivalent of eight or so half-hour cooking show episodes once you account for commercials. The videos are where the app really shines, because of Dorie herself. She speaks in that, well, charming voice of hers, and it’s all so laid-back, approachable and, of course, useful. The shots alternate between wider views and closeups so you can see just the techniques you need. “OK, take a look,” Dorie says after she rolls out some biscuit dough and gives it a pat and the camera cuts in close. “I’m not there yet, but I want you to see.”
It’s just those kinds of off-the-cuff moments that help the app live up to its name. It’s not Baking by Dorie, after all. She’s with you, every step of the way.