by Joanna Shaw Flamm
When we saw a tweet from Liddabit Sweets saying that they’re looking for recipe testers for their upcoming cookbook, our eyes popped out of our heads twice–once because we’re so excited they’re writing a cookbook, and a second time because they need people to test those recipes…and those people could be us!
We talked to Liddabit co-founder Liz Gutman about the book, what it means to be a recipe tester, and how you can lend a hand to the candy cause.
We hear you’re looking for recipe testers for your upcoming cookbook. What does a recipe tester do?
A recipe tester does exactly that – tests recipes. We develop a recipe and send the tester a prototype; it’s up to the tester to follow the instructions exactly as written, take notes on the process (it took longer than 5 minutes to cook, it turned out a little squishy, stuff like that), and give us feedback on how it was to make and what the end result was like.
Do you have to be a professional chef to be a recipe tester?
Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, the book we’re writing is geared towards home cooks – especially home cooks who have never made candy before – so it’s actually preferable for us to be sending out recipes to people who don’t do this on a regular basis. We need to know that these recipes will work for everybody! All you really need to test recipes is a couple spare hours and a willingness to just dive on in.
What can you tell us about the book? When will we see it in stores?
It’s basically a guide to making all kinds of candy at home, with tons of recipes and a little bit of theory thrown in for good measure (i.e., the science behind why candy acts the way it does). It’ll be funny and informative, the recipes are going to kick ass, and we’re really excited about it! Right now it’s slated for release next fall; so hopefully you’ll be seeing it in about a year.
How is writing recipes for a cookbook different from creating new recipes to make yourselves?
Oh gosh; writing cookbook recipes is so much more insanely difficult than you’d think. All kinds of things have come up that I never had to think about before: figuring out what constitutes a “step” in the process; noting what kind of cues you need to be giving readers; considering whether there are alternative ingredients or if there’s an easier way to get from point A to point B. The fact that we’re professionals also makes it tough for us to write recipes for different skill levels. A recipe we might give to one another will consist of measurements, then a really terse set of instructions; like, “infuse cream with tea; strain, scald, pour over chocolate.” That would be a ganache recipe, and I’d totally know how to make it if you gave it to me like that. But there are a lot of finer points of technique that you need to go over, and ways of explaining what to look for and how to tell that it’s done if you haven’t made it 20 times before.
What’s the hardest part of working on a cookbook? What’s the most fun?
Jen [King, the other co-founder] is in charge of developing the recipes; I’m doing most of the writing. It’s all fun! I love trying all the new and delicious stuff that Jen comes up with; I’m an excellent and very appreciative taste tester. As far as the toughest part…well, that’s actually sitting down and getting the writing done. I tend to get distracted easily (I’m used to doing 30 things at once), so it can be a challenge for me to ignore everything but writing for a few solid hours and just get the words out.
If you’re interested in candy making, recipe testing, cookbook writing, or deliciousness, what an amazing opportunity! Potential testers can shoot Liz an email at Liz AT liddabitsweets DOT com, and she’ll get back to you with more information. Sweet deal!