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Breads will roll

Molly Martin on macarons and other obsessions

Antoinette Baking Co.’s butterscotch pie with caramel and whiskey-brown sugar meringue

Molly Martin co-owns Antoinette Baking Co., the source of those warm pockets of air that drift along Brookside, smelling of cake, cookies, and macarons. Here she sits down with Mark Brown, a Tulsa writer of food and drink, to talk butter, eggs, and other simplicities.

Isn’t it a myth that Marie Antoinette said of the masses, “let them eat cake,” and any- way wasn’t it a brioche?
Much like George Washington’s cherry tree comment, this whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. When we put the words EAT CAKE in big, bright vinyl letters on the bakery window, we wondered how long before someone came in telling us the correct version of history. But the way we see it, the comment is more about treating yourself to a tiny bit of indulgence every day. Maybe even a bit more. Because even though we know Marie Antoinette probably never said those words, we do know what William Blake said about excess and wisdom. I tend to agree, culinarily speaking.

What’s the science, since we’re on it, behind the perfect brioche?
It’s not a huge secret. Butter and eggs. A formidable duo for centuries.

It’s fair to say, I hope, with a menu of 40 different flavors of macarons, that you’re fairly obsessed with the genre. Why them, why 40, and, well, are you obsessed?
I always heard that macarons are challenging and for lack of a better word, stubborn. Depending on the weather, the oven, the (fill in the blank), many factors can ruin a batch. So I spent a year working on these little devils. I haven’t perfected them. I’m not sure they can be perfected. But I learn more about them all the time. And when it comes to flavor combinations, the possibilities are endless.

Your husband, Jeff Martin, of Booksmart Tulsa legend, doesn’t eat sweets. Do tell.
It’s a true mystery. He loves to watch cooking shows, reads food magazines, and really enjoys making a wide variety of dishes. But for some odd reason, which I may never fully grasp, the least interesting part to him is the actual eating.

Your hubby, speaking of, published a book, The Customer is Always Wrong. Now that you’re in retail, well ... are they?
From my vantage point, and this may be because we are spoiled at the bakery, our customers are lovely. It’s a boring answer, but true. Check back in five years.

Baker is one of those trades so ancient it’s become a surname—Miller, Butcher, Brewer, Farmer, Baker. Are you channeling on ancient art, or just creaming butter and sugar?
There is a beautiful simplicity to being a baker. If I told someone I was in mergers and acquisitions, I might have to explain that every now and then. Everybody knows what a baker is. After all these years, butchers remain, bakers thrive, but the candlestick makers, that’s the real mystery.

I keep meccas for my passions: the Orkney Islands for single malt; Yountville, home of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry; Termignon, a blue cheese from this tiny village in the French Alps where one woman farms eight cows. Have you a mecca?
At the moment I am really into southern food done in a unique way. Whenever I have the chance, I head down to Faulkner’s old stomping grounds in Oxford, Mississippi and take advantage of the mini-empire overseen by Chef John Currence (City Grocery, Boure, Snackbar, Big Bad Breakfast). A literary town with great eats, the perfect spot for Jeff and me.

Editor’s note: Breads Will Roll originally appeared in Argentfork, a Tulsa-based food and drink journal, published annually. More at Argentfork.com.

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