Thursday, September 24, 2009
Confections of a Closet Master Baker
72. Confections of a Closet Master Baker, by Gesine Bullock-Prado
I begin with a caveat: do not read this book if you are trying to avoid sweets. Though not a cookbook, it has recipes. Luscious-sounding recipes. Recipes for things like "Starry Starry Night" cookies, which are nearly solid chocolate. Rock scones and cream scones. Tarts redolent of plums, pies redolent of apples. You'll want to put the book aside and head to the kitchen!
I'll be honest. I wasn't sure I'd like this book. "Oh, sure," I said to myself. "Another 'I got off the money treadmill and went to live the simple life on the money I made on the aforesaid treadmill' book." Blurbs like "A former Hollywood insider trades the Holywood Hills for Green Acres" don't incline me favorably towards a book. It was the baking part that tempted me.
But the book is better than the blurbs would have you think. Yes, there's a lot about Bullock-Prado's unhappiness in Hollywood, where she headed her sister's production company. But there is far more about the importance of baking in her life, the way it makes her feel to give people macaroons and receive their passionate thanks in return, the way a tart or a pie brings back to her memories of her childhood, of her mother and grandmother and the special times they had together.
As all such books must, it gives us stories of mishaps along the way to success. It didn't hurt that the national media was attracted to the story of "Sandra Bullock's sister opens bakery in Vermont". One would like to think that she'd have had a successful business anyway, though I doubt that the Food Network would have knocked on her door if she were Gesine Nobody's Sister. She is such a success that she has now closed the bakery about which she wrote here, and is concentrating on her online business and helping open a new shop in Texas (weird, that's a long way from Vermont, wonder how that will work?). It's kind of too bad, because it sounded like a great place, very neighborly and warm, the sort of bakery you'd like to have down the street from you.
You can read more about what Gesine is doing now at her blog: Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker: Idle Musings on Baking and a Few Good Recipes from a Nomad Baker.
(My thanks to Shelf Awareness and Broadway Books for the opportunity to review this book.)