Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Baking is Life

The Art of Baking BlindThe Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden’s “The Art of Baking” became Britain’s “Joy of Cooking.” Eaden was the “face” of her husband’s grocery store chain and has recently died, and the company is looking for a new expert baker. Five amateurs are selected to compete for the title. (A contest, not reality show, BTW—but you’ll be familiar.)

“There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.”~from The Art of Baking

Baking blind is a challenge for every pastry chef. It means baking the crust previous to filling the pie, and despite precise measurements and practiced skill, it doesn’t always fulfill expectations. In this case, the crust baked well and the filling makes for a pretty good piece of pie. The filling, of course, is the back story behind Mrs. Eaden’s “perfect” life, and the contestant’s own hopes, dreams, and realities.

The more things change, the more they stay the same—Mrs. Eaden’s struggle for fulfillment is not that different from these other women’s—fifty years later. Most women can relate to that.  Fine descriptions of food and baking along with good storytelling make for a hearty, savory pie. It’s a bit heavier than I expected, more soap opera than dramedy. Would make a good book club book.
(I received an EARC from St. Martins and Netgalley for review.) 

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