On the heels of last year's Julie & Julia craze and the ensuing literary rebirth of all things cooking, I dove headfirst into epicurean fiction, foodie memoirs and even the occasional cookbook. If it was about food or had an ooey-gooey cover, I read it. I delighted in funny tales of kitchen angst, personal triumphs and narratives so wonderfully descriptive the pages fairly dripped with bacon grease.
Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado was a standout in my self-imposed culinary reading theme. Written by a former Hollywood executive, this book is the true journey of a woman who escapes the L.A. scene where carbohydrates are "practically illegal" and moves across the country to open a bakery in northern Vermont. Culture and climate shocks ensue.
Perhaps as a rebellion to her own tofu-and-sprouts mother, Bullock-Prado found personal satisfaction baking and sharing her carb-laden creations with friends and colleagues, even as a busy high-power executive in the film industry. Realizing that she felt more fulfilled making macaroons than movie deals, Bullock-Prado traded her couture suits for ratty sneakers and aprons to make her dreams a reality...and has never looked back.
Bullock-Prado also shares childhood memories and recipes from her German grandmother, to whom she credits her appreciation of baking and lifelong sweet tooth. Each chapter is its own story, and has easy-to-follow instructions for several of her favorite desserts. Although I am not much of a baker, I found myself anxious to tackle such grand-sounding recipes as zwetschgendatschi, pistachio meringue and blackberry buttercream.
This memoir is as much homage to butter and flour as it is about the daily, though sometimes humorous, struggles of owning your own business as an outsider in a quirky town. Bullock-Prado shares funny and heart-warming anecdotes about her favorite "Montpeculiar' customers, as well as the ups and downs of being her own boss. Take a few local legends, dishwashers requiring costume changes, some overly flirtatious seniors and toss in one famous sister (Sandra) and...you get the idea.
Whether you have ever thought of making a major career change, have a hidden talent you‘ve yet to share with the world, or are simply looking for a yummy read, Confections of a Closet Master Baker is a funny and interesting delight.
Recommended by Priscilla Garvin