It's not too far from northwest Baltimore to Washington, but it's a long way from sponge cake with blue icing to Viennese Chocolate Fantasy Cake and Triple Chocolate Terrine. Ann Amernick knows, because that's the path she's traveled since growing up in Baltimore largely unaware of the culinary world (though "I loved Haussner's for the strawberry pie," she recalls) to being one of the more noted pastry chefs in the country.
She has baked her famous cakes and tortes at the Big Cheese in Georgetown, Le Pavilion and Jean-Louis at the Watergate in D.C. and she was assistant pastry chef at the White House in 1980 and 1981. Last year she was among five nominees for the "Pastry Chef of the Year" award from the James Beard Foundation. She didn't win, but "just to be nominated was astonishing to me," she says, "I was thrilled."
These days she keeps busy -- very busy -- as a custom pastry chef; clients have included such D.C. notables as NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw and former FBI Director William Webster.
She has also just published her second book, "Special Desserts," (Clarkson Potter, 1992, $16), which includes more than three dozen of her most popular recipes. People are sometimes "fearful" of baking, she says, but she chose these recipes with that in mind: "They work."
Ms. Amernick said this cool summer dessert is a cinch to make; she notes in the book that it's even easier if you use a graham cracker crust:
Blueberry sour cream pie
Serves 8 to 10.
1 9-inch pie shell, prebaked
1 12-ounce jar red currant jelly
1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Have the pie shell ready.
Place the jelly in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, until the jelly is completely melted and slightly thickened.
Rinse and drain the berries in a colander. Pick over them to remove any stems or small leaves, then place them in the pie shell. Pour the jelly over the berries. Combine the sour cream, brown sugar and cinnamon and spoon over the berries.
Bake for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.