La Jolla native sweetens up life with new cookbook

Jewelry designer-turned-cake maker Sarah Magid was born and raised in La Jolla.

She attended La Jolla High School and, while there, began sewing her own clothes, painting, making jewelry and taking art classes. Her love of art and fashion drew her to New York City, where she studied at Sarah Law-rence and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Magid worked in the fashion industry designing shoes and jewelry for 10 years.

Though fashion was her career, she always had a thing for baking. She would bake for co-workers, “grumpy bosses” and friends. When she had two children, Magid decided to take a risk and turn her passion for baking into a business.

Her upbringing of eating healthy, natural food plays a role in the quality of the all-organic cakes and desserts she makes.

This month, her new book, “Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets That Taste as Good as They Look,” hit bookstore shelves.

Here’s what she had to say about the book, baking and other food-related topics:

What inspired you to write a cookbook?

I love cookbooks and felt like there was no source for organic baking and desserts that looked beautiful.

Does your background in jewelry design aid you in baking?

As a visual person, my approach to baking and designing jewelry are very similar, since the concepts are the same - creating something with dimension and making something have a beautiful appearance. When I hand-sculpt decorations, I will use techniques that are lifted from jewelry design. My heavy hand with gold edible powder on my cakes is a direct influence from my love for shiny jewels!

How long did it take to put this book together?

About two years.

You talk about farmers market-inspired sweets in the book. Is there one fruit that you think is best to buy at a farmers market?

In the summer, it’s the most exciting time at the farmers market as fruit is at its peak. I like the small and rare fruits that only make brief appearances, such as gooseberries or red currants. Unlike strawberries or other fruits that have been forced into yearlong production, it’s nice to enjoy something that can’t be made all the time.

What’s more difficult - designing jewelry or baking?

Pleasing buyers or trying to negotiate pricing for jewelry can be as frustrating as delivering a cake on a pothole-ridden street of New York City.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

My dad used to buy chocolate turtles for us (the kind with caramel and pecans). I would say a few times a year I buy a box and split it with my son. Depriving oneself is cruel; reliving your childhood through food feels nice once and a while.

What recipe in the book is your favorite and why?

The Crisp, Crumbly Shortbread. Its a simple recipe with less than five ingredients, and showcases fresh herbs, unique teas or can be made on its own. It gives me a reason to try new teas or to be experimental and succeed with the results.

Do your kids like to cook with you?

My kids love to cook with me, and I enjoy incorporating them in our daily meals or weekend baking activities. My son loves to sift and get flour all over the floor, and my daughter is a master at getting cookie dough in places one would never think it could get to. Just as my mom did with me, I want them to associate time spent in the kitchen as quality time for their tummies as well as their hearts.

Any plans to come out with an “Organic and Chic” cookbook that is focused on savory foods?

I do love cooking savory foods, but at the moment, it’s hard to decorate savory food in the same creative way one can with a cake. I don’t think gold-dusted fish would go over so well with my husband!

What advice or tips can you off in regards to buying organic foods?

Farmers markets are the best places to get fresh produce and fruits. Even if it’s not certified organic, it is better to eat than what is trucked in to the grocery store since it is local and you are supporting your immediate agricultural environment. Organic doesn’t have to mean expensive, either. I shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for private label organic, which is priced just a touch higher than conventional. The growing trend of eating organic is making it less expensive and more accessible to us all.

Lastly, chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate all the way!

For more information about Sarah Magid, visit

Sarah Magid
‘Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets That Taste as Good as They Look’ by Sarah Magid (William Morrow, June 2009; Hardcover, $27.99)

Photos by Noah Sheldon