The 3-minute interview: Elizabeth Falkner

The celebrity chef has her hands full as owner of San Francisco restaurants Citizen Cake, Citizen Cupcake and Orson, and as author of the newly published “Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake.” But Falkner isn’t too busy for a holiday project — today from noon to 4 p.m., she’ll wow crowds at the Exploratorium by creating an antarctic dreamscape made entirely of dessert ingredients.

What’s an antarctic dreamscape anyway? It’s pretty cool. This is not a gingerbready, Christmasy scene. It’s not a set for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We’re going to have glaciers and ice, all made out of sugary stuff. There’s going to be a body of water made out of agar. There’s a South Pole and we’re going to have marzipan seals and penguins and we’re even going to recreate the research center out there.

Do you think of cooking as art? Definitely. I like to take something familiar, like carrot cake, but remodel it for today. In the book I have a carrot cake dessert but with a fromage blanc ball in the center with walnuts. I put in shaved Asian pear, a sesame vinaigrette and cake-tons.

Cake-tons? I make carrot cake, but cut it into crouton cubes and call it cake-tons.

Judging by your creations, you seem to have a good handle on architecture. A lot of our cake making becomes very architectural. I’m not happy serving a sheet cake. I don’t care what you put on top of it. I cut it up and angle it so it looks very architectural, Very Frank Gehry-ish. That’s just understanding weight and proportion.

Do you have any advice for bakers who may need a dose of confidence? Baking is fun. Sure, there’s some science in it, but basically you just have to get your hands in it and have a good time.

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