Culinary World Mourns Loss of Cookbook Author Maida Heatter
Dubbed the "Queen of Cake," the pastry chef died on Thursday at age 102.
Just days after the death of New Orleans' beloved Leah Chase, the culinary world has lost another icon. Cookbook author Maida Heatter, known to many as the "Queen of Cake," died Thursday evening at age 102, confirmed by her publisher Little, Brown and Company.
"A beloved baker, bestselling author, and member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, she was known as 'The Queen of Cake,'" the statement read. "Her numerous cookbooks became American classics and inspired a generation of bakers. Maida’s most recent book, Happiness Is Baking, featured a selection of her best-loved recipes and was published in April of this year."
Indeed, Heatter's influence in the dessert world spanned generations, giving home bakers approachable recipes they would return to again and again and pass down to family. Some of her most famous books include Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, and Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies. (Her chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe, which you can see here, is one of our favorites of all time.)
"I admire her so very much because I always used her books even before I started my pastry career," award-winning pastry chef Belinda Leong told Food & Wine in 2017. "They were the go-to books for cake, cookies and everything in between. Her books are very precise, simple and thorough and always lead to an unfailing end result. Her recipes are timeless classics, which is a style I really appreciate in my own work."
Chef Nancy Olson once told us that every aspiring baker should have "all of Maida Heatter's books," and we're inclined to agree.
"Her books are so incredible because it feels like she’s holding your hand in the kitchen," said Olson. "Any question you might have, she answers it. That makes the recipes kind of lengthy—particularly now that I know what I’m doing. But at the time, she didn’t skip over anything. She was right there. And I loved that.”
Heatter's most recent, and last, cookbook—Happiness Is Baking—was published this April.