Tag Archives: The Public Theatre

Apples LeRoy


The Backstage Baker made this apple sheet cake for the company of Plenty.    Cast member LeRoy McClain (who plays Mick) really, really liked it, so it was unanimously decided to name the dessert Apples LeRoy. (And that’s pronounced Apples LE-Roy, not Apples Leeroy!) The recipe originally came from the Better Homes & Gardens website, but our Backstage Baker did some fiddling with it to make it even tastier.

Here’s a very happy LeRoy with the (almost) empty pan.


I had the opportunity to chat with LeRoy who, it turns out, is quite an accomplished baker himself.  A native of Cambridgeshire, England, he shares a lot of the same holiday baking memories that I have — mincemeat pies, Christmas cake, lemon curd tart . . .   But he’s also mastered new delights, such as French Vanilla Pineapple Upside Down cake (“Oh, I bring this one to all the Thanksgiving dinners I get invited to — it’s obviously not a holiday I celebrated as a child.”  Hmm, what are you doing for Thanksgiving this year, LeRoy?)  He’s promised to share a recipe for the blog – -perhaps his Caramel Apple Candied Pecan cake or his Raspberry Streusel Crunch Cake.  So stay tuned!

Apples LeRoy

2 medium baking apples
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried apples, finely chopped

Maple Icing:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. Peel, core, and coarsely shred one of the apples. Thinly slice remaining apple, removing seeds; cover and set apples aside.

3. In a large bowl whisk together the butter, brown sugar, apple butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk until combined. Fold in dried and fresh shredded apple. Spread batter into prepared pan. Arrange apple slices over batter.

4. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack. Spoon Maple Icing over hot cake; spread evenly, using a pastry brush if necessary. Cool completely. Dust with ground cinnamon.

for Maple Icing:

In a small bowl stir together 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth.

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

The Backstage Baker’s new show is a revival of the award-winning David Hare play Plenty.  Check it out here.   It stars Rachel Weisz and I think is already completely sold out.

For their first Wine and Unwind, our BB outdid himself with these gorgeous looking mini cheesecakes.  I mean, can you stand them?  And can you eat just one???  (There’s a joke about plenty in here that I can’t quite find . . .)


Before you start, you need to get a mini-cheesecake pan with removable bottom sections.  (OMG, more kitchenware??  Yet . . . these little darlings sure look worth it!) Here’s a link to the one the Backstage Baker uses.   

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes


1 cup crushed Chocolate wafers or ginger snaps or whatever crisp cookie you are in the mood for
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 fresh raspberries
Chocolate chips (white or dark, depending your taste)
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling


Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease mini-cheesecake pan.  Stuff 12 raspberries with dark or white chocolate chips.  (James tells me he was able to get two chips into each raspberry.)

Place a heaping teaspoon (more or less, depending on how much you like crust) in each cheesecake well. Tamp down with fingers or a teaspoon. Place in the oven for 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Fill cheesecake wells half-full, them place one raspberry stuffed with chocolate on top. Cover with the rest of the batter. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Gently push each cheesecake out of its well from the bottom. With a thin spatula, remove each cheesecake from the bottom plate and place on parchment paper or lightly greased tinfoil. Drizzle with melted chocolate and place a raspberry in the center.  Heaven!

Corey Stoll who plays Brock, Jesca Prudencio – Assistant Director and Maria Goyanes – Associate Producer wining and unwinding

Emily Bergl who plays Alice and her contribution a delicious Golden Syrup cake. (Notice the colorful pile of spike tape on the table in the back!!!) I’ll ask her is she will share the recipe.


Better than Crack Oatmeal Cookies


It’s tech time for Hamilton, and James miraculously has found time to bake!

What exactly does tech time entail?  I’ve often mentioned it before, but I realize I’ve never really explained it thoroughly.  So, here goes:

During the two-week period consisting of the workweek preceding and the workweek including the first paid public performance, rehearsal may include no more than a total of 5 days of not more than 10 out of 11 1⁄2 hours; any other rehearsal days in this period shall be no longer than 7 out of 8 1⁄2 hours except that rehearsal on any performance day may not exceed 4 hours. [Actors’ Equity Association Rulebook, Off-Broadway, 54 (c) (5)]

In plain English, it means that James and the entire cast and crew of the show are spending at least 12 (and for many, probably more like 15) hours per day at the theater.  As the production stage manager, James is the one keeping everyone — actors, directors, designers, crew, musicians – on track and focused at the task at hand.  (The task being, of course, to marry all the different aspects of the production into a finished product.)

Here’s a photo of James’ calling script — twelve more songs to tech and he’s already on light cue 1002!  For those of you who aren’t stage managers, that is A LOT!

Lts 1002

So, it puts his ability to bake 5 dozen cookies during this time into sharp perspective, don’t you think?

There’s always time to bake . . .

Better than Crack Oatmeal Cookies


2 sticks margarine
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 T vanilla
4 cups Rice Krispies
4 cups oatmeal
1- 12 oz pkgs chocolate chips
12 oz of flaked coconut
2 cups dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350*F.

1.  Cream the margarine, butter and sugars well.  Then add eggs and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  (I use a standing mixer for this.)
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to wet ingredients.  Mix just until combined.
3.  Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, mix in Rice Krispies, oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut and cranberries .
4.  Drop by tablespoonful on parchment-lined pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes (I usually only bake them 11 minutes.)

NOTE FROM JAMES:  This makes a huge batch. I usually cut it in half and still get 5 dozen!!! I originally got the recipe from my mom and did some modifications.


Almond Happiness Brownies

The BB has taken a bit of a hiatus lately, what with the holidays and rehearsals for his new show, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton at the Public Theatre.  (I’d say get your tickets now, but I understand it’s already sold out!  And it doesn’t open until January 20!)  Of course, this doesn’t mean James hasn’t been baking (and cooking), it just means he hasn’t been taking pictures of everything.

But that stops now with a very decadent recipe that does NOT fit into my New Years’ diet.  Maybe it fits into yours.   (Aw heck, who am I kidding?  I’ll be making these ASAP!)

Lin-Manuel MirandaLin-Manuel Miranda, the composer-lyricist and lead pouring Coquito for the Hamilton cast at Sunday’s Wine and Unwind.



*For the brownie layer:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

*If you’re rushed for time, you can also just use 1 box of family size Chocolate Fudge brownie mix.  No one’s judging you!

For filling:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz.) bag coconut
1/4 C milk

For topping:
1 C chocolate chips, melted
1/4 C almonds (or other nuts), crushed


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line (regular size, not mini) cupcake pan with paper liners. (Don’t skip the paper liners as these will stick).

2.  Make brownies: In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and boiling water. Mix until well blended and thickened. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup oil. Finally, add the flour, vanilla and salt; mix just until all of the flour is absorbed. Pour batter only half way up the liners.

3.  Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. While they are baking, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and milk together.

4.  Remove brownies from oven and spoon on some sweetened coconut.  Place back in oven and continue to bake an additional 14-16 minutes.

5.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing them from the pan. Drizzle on the chocolate then sprinkle on the almonds.


Carleigh Bettiol and Sasha HutchingsCarleigh Bettiol and Sasha Hutchings enjoying some wine and goodies. Notice the prop table!

Jasmine Cephas JonesJasmine Cephas Jones and a nice shot of the Almond Happiness Brownies