If you ask baker Jamie Cantor, of Platine bakery in Culver City, where she learned to cook, she probably won't mention the prestigious CIA in New York where she attended grad school, or The French Laundry where she worked for a year as a commis and then a chef di partie. Cantor, who grew up in Miami, attributes the beginning of her career as a pastry chef to her mother's kitchen: "I used to cook with my mom, grandma and aunts every holiday and we made everything from scratch."
After graduating from the CIA, Cantor received a scholarship from Women Chefs and Restauranteurs, to study pastry at CIA Greystone in Napa. A friend working at the French Laundry suggested Cantor come in for a visit. She started trailing pastry chef Stephen Durfee and had a job as a commis waiting for her as soon as she finished school. She soon advanced to chef di partie. "It was hard, I cried a lot," Cantor recalls. "Thomas [Keller] is very intense but super funny. I learned a lot from him. He's really smart about business. He comes in every day and shakes everyone's hand, whether you're peeling potatoes or serving." If a spice bottle was out of place on the shelf, Cantor says, Keller would stop everyone in the restaurant to point out the mistake. Cantor's kitchen reflects a similar attention to detail: gleaming stainless steel appliances, Tupperware neatly packed with creamy filling for her signature Platinos (homemade Oreos) which are assembled to order by her assistant, Stevie Morely.
Cantor's cookie business, Platine, started as a catering business back in 2002. She rented space in a kitchen in Venice up until a year and a half ago when she moved the business to Culver City. For a year, she and Morely baked out of the kitchen, catering events and selling cookies wholesale. In February, the kitchen opened for the public and has become not only a cookie boutique, but also a place to buy local candies, jams, coffee and foods, including sea-salt caramels from the Little Flower Candy Company, and Mac and Cheese from Paddy Mac.
Cantor is often behind the counter, torching the caramel topping on a banana bread pudding or scooping ice cream from MILK onto freshly baked cookies for ice cream sandwiches. Cantor, who "doesn't usually order dessert at restaurants" because she's almost always disappointed, names Vanilla and MILK, as her favorite places for dessert in L.A., but can't help but mention Tartine in San Francisco as her top California bakery.
Besides the Tartine cookbook, Claudia Fleming, and recipes she learned at the French Laundry, Cantor admits that one of her bibles is an old book of cookie recipes by Rose Levy Beranbaum that her dad bought for her when she was twelve years old.
Platine: 10850 Washington Blvd, Culver City, (310) 559-9933.
Platine's Summer Fruit Crisp
Note: The recipe can either be made as one large crisp, or in individual ramekins. Almond flour is available at Trader Joe's and can be omitted.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 pints (or about 1 1/2 pounds, if using stone fruit) fresh fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines or a combination
1/4 cup dried fruit, such as cherries, cranberries, apricots or raisins or a combination
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted cold butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (do not use imitation)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped nuts (such as walnuts) and/or rolled oats
1. Brush a 9-inch ceramic dish or 6 medium individual ramekins with softened butter. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
2. Slice the whole fruit into a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar,
flour, and dried fruit.
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3. Make crisp topping: place all the topping ingredients except the nuts and oats into a small bowl. Combine with your fingers until the mixture is a sand-like consistency. Add nuts and/or oats and mix until combined.
4. Spoon the fruit mixture into the dish or the ramekins, then top with the crisp topping, dividing equally if using individual ramekins. Bake at 350 until topping begins to
brown and fruit juices begin to bubble.
5. Cool on a wire rack; serve warm or at room temperature.