Let's Get This (Red) Bread
Red Bread owner Rose Wilde (@redbread) shares her Semolina Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and why she loves baking with flavored salts.
Los Angeles is sunny and bright, and so are the local baked goods. The proof? All the handmade delights from chef and Master Food Preserver Rose Wilde. She owns Red Bread, a whole-grain micro-bakery turning seasonal produce and wild yeast into savory and "not too sweet" offerings like labneh cheesecake and garlic confit sourdough bread. Red Bread is rooted in a social justice mission—15% of sales go towards funding free culinary education for underserved communities, and they’ve donated over 74,000 meals to local food banks since launching in 2011.
Apart from running her bakery, Rose is gearing up for her first cookbook, Bread and Roses, to be published in Fall 2023. Read on for her Just a Bite interview, including her Semolina Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.—Dominique Evans
You’re making dessert. What is it?
A cookie. Preferably a plate of them. I am obsessed with cookies; they are a perfect food shareable treat. So much room for flavor and opportunities to play with structure. Every restaurant I have worked at I have found a way to have a cookie plate on the menu for a holiday or for an event. I love a plate with a variety or piled high with your favorite variation of chocolate chip. For me, a cookie has never found a better friend than milk. I don't care how old I get, it's always about channeling the scene from Hook where a big sip of 'boba' leaves Robin Williams with a foamy mustache and bangarang escaping his lips.
Someone is making you a dessert. What do you ask for?
A cheesecake with tropical fruits like passionfruit, pineapple, and mango. I care deeply for cheesecakes. As a kid they seemed so magically lush and soft. I am always seeking them out whenever I travel, every culture having a variation on this old style cake. As a professional, I know their magic involves a lot of time and attention. Whether silky or crumbling off your fork they are very expressive of one of my all time favorite ingredients—dairy.
I grew up in Ecuador, on the equator, so tropical fruits will always be my favorite indulgence. My mother would pile them high on any cake, their floral notes wafting on the air to let us know it was time to celebrate. But honestly I'm most likely to suggest we just raid the freezer aisle and make an epic ice cream sundae together because ice cream is BAE.
You’ve transformed into a pastry. What are you and how are you consumed?
Every version of a strawberry shortcake. Some days I feel sturdy as a biscuit, others as full of hope as a cream puff, or tender to the touch like a genoise. But I have always been piled high with strawberries and cream. I prefer you eat with your hands, and as much joy seeping out of sticky faced smiles as possible.
What fictional dessert scene will you never forget?
So many works of art that display food live rent free in my mind. I have made whole dinner parties recreating scenes from books. It's hard to top the formative scenes of food magic from Disney—Sleeping Beauty's three fairies trying to fold eggs into a cake they decorate before baking, Alice in Wonderland's magical shortbread, and the dancing banquet of Beauty and the Beast. And of course my ultimate childhood dream, rendered on screen in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's edible garden with chocolate river and buttercups you smelt, sipped, and crunched. These scenes still influence how I incorporate whimsy and build dessert tables.
What is a baking hack you can’t live without?
Flavored salts. I have a whole cabinet in my kitchen devoted to different jars of infused salt. I use these for finishing all my bakes and crunches of minerality. Just like sugar, it's easy to infuse your own at home. Salt is an overlooked necessity for bakes, and another place to sneak in an unforgettable flavor note. My favorite are tea-infused salts for a bit of bitter or citrus salts for pops of acid.
Can you tell us about what it means to be both a chef and a writer?
I feel like I'm still growing into my role as a writer, and I am so grateful to explore this new creative journey. I think it's important to have multiple creative outlets, so you don't get stuck or take yourself too seriously in any one endeavor. Food and words have always seemed similar to me. When they are good we consume both insatiably. Both have the power to move us emotionally and physically. Each can make memories come alive or allow us to travel to places we may have never been. For me both are motivated by sharing experience and knowledge, without gatekeeping.
I want more people to be empowered by making food and I love trying to find the right words to describe a moment, a texture, a taste. Both are also inherently powerful in shaping societies. Being a chef and a writer, also means using my platforms to tackle some entrenched narratives in both food and writing. It means recentering ingredients where they are from and those with the most knowledge of how to use them. It means being collaborative, in working to build more equitable systems. It means always learning and staying open to inspiration.
Follow Rose on Instagram: @redbread
Make these cookies? Show us on Instagram: @cake_zine
I got a sneak preview of the book and it is SO GOOD