Sprinkles. Cereal. Marshmallows. Chocolate chips. You name it, Christina Tosi is welcoming these sweet and comforting ingredients into your home during quarantine. The founder and creative mastermind behind Milk Bar (with locations in Washington, DC, New York City and beyond) and Springfield native has been hosting the #BakeClub from her kitchen every day—streamed on Instagram Live—featuring simple and fun recipes to make at home. For both budding bakers and home pros, we asked Tosi what inspires her to keep baking and bring her own recipes to viewers around the world, and where you can get your hands on some Milk Bar favorites too.
What inspired you to start #BakeClub?
I spend most of my days running Milk Bar, working to pivot and stay nimble. But at 2 p.m. every day, I need a break from the serious stuff. Now, thousands of people of all ages from all over, tune in to throw on a headscarf, sing themselves “Happy Birthday” as they wash their hands, crank up the tunes and blow me away with their own spins on the daily dish! I gotta say, in a time where there are so many unknowns, Bake Club has really been an uplifting and inspiring constant: thirty minutes of an excuse to get goofy, be unapologetically human and connect with long-distance Insta pals all looking to do the same.
When it comes to encouraging beginner home bakers, what advice would you give them?
Do you! Baking can feel so intimidating because of the precise measurements or testy ovens. But I operate more with a rule-breaking baking mentality. Use what you’ve got! Do a handstand and look at your pantry in new ways.
If you try to make something and make a mistake, how do you suggest home bakers recover and move on?
If you’re not failing, you’re not learning! Every mismeasure or overbake is an opportunity to learn something new about an ingredient or recipe. All you really need is some ingenuity and an imagination. Bet you didn’t know: Milk Bar’s Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookies were born out of a happy accident—after overbaking a batch of cornflake crunch we were making for Cereal Milk Soft Serve. There’s almost always a way to find a silver lining, even if it’s just to turn something into bird food, or to add a little to the dog bowl or compost bin!
What is your absolute favorite part of baking (even while stuck at home)?
As much as I love eating cookie dough (and bat my own hand away when I go for my fourth square of brownies), the reason I became a chef, the reason I adored my childhood baking at home, is because my favorite part was sharing what I make with others. The generosity is at the root of what I do. I’m obsessed with it. The look on someone’s face when they get something freshly baked is unbeatable. It is the ultimate joy.
If someone would rather get their hands on the actual Milk Bar treats, where can they find them?
We recently launched our very first line of treats for the grocery store, reimagining three of our original cookie recipes—Compost, Confetti and Cornflake—into snackable, soft-baked, two-packs available at all Whole Foods locations nationwide. This has been my biggest “pinch me” moment. The grocery store has always been, and remains, my favorite place to go in search of magic. Though we launched at a time when grocery stores looked very different than we’re used to, I’ve been grateful that we have the opportunity to bring people more lightness and little moments of joy, especially in times like these.
Tosi’s 5 Fun Ingredients to Have on Hand
“Once you’ve got the basics, you’re ready for the fun stuff. Cereal, mini marshmallows, potato chips, pretzels, butterscotch chips—some people might consider these ‘extras,’ but in my world, anything a little salty/sweet, or that gives a pop of color, texture or flavor, takes your baked goods to the next level.”
This post originally appeared in our June/July 2020 print issue. For more things to do at home, subscribe to our weekly newsletters.