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The Thinker Series

Inside the Baker's Studio: Gorgeous Italian Desserts

Pastry Chef Caitlin Freeman's Food Art

Photo © Erin Kunkel

Caitlin Freeman, pastry chef at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, creates stunning desserts for F&W's April issue inspired by Italian paintings and sculpture.

"I love its simplicity,” says Caitlin Freeman, describing how a 1919 Modigliani portrait inspired her to create a nectarine Pavlova—a dessert she came up with specifically for F&W’s Italian issue. As head pastry chef at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Freeman is surrounded by 20th- and 21st-century masterpieces, all of which spark ideas for recipes. (The best appear in her book Modern Art Desserts, due out this month.) But creating desserts inspired by Italian art from any era posed a different challenge: How to narrow the choices? Freeman says she began the process by asking herself a basic question: What do I like to look at the most? Antonio Canova’s 1793 marble sculpture of Cupid and Psyche turned into a white eclair. An 1892 portrait by Juana Romani took new form as a macaron with lemon curd on a ruffled gold plate (“As you can see, I became obsessed with ruff collars!”). VIEW ART DESSERTS SLIDESHOW »

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