Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Fabulous Baking Memoir

Anyone who has had a dream off turning their hobby into a business and giving up their day job might be interested in this story of the ups and down of starting a bakery.
There is a lot any owner of a small business would recognise – oh, the glamour of learning so many new skills – health codes, nutritional breakdown legislation, adequate packaging choices, correct storage of ingredients – all a far cry of the feel of the dough and the satisfaction of a delicately iced sponge.
Then there’s the struggle for perfection and huge worry and guilt if ever you let someone down. The beginning to wonder if you can ever take a day off and how long you can keep going at doing something you love and still pay the mortgage.
The story will have a wider appeal to as Gesine was a refugee from Hollywood, disillusioned and exhausted from listening to too many bad pitches for films and being used up as a contact with little or no recognition for the hard work if you are simply a tiny cog in a big machine. There are plenty of stories of Hollywood nonsense.
But what I found particularly heartwarming, was how Gesine discovered ‘emotional pastry needs’. Making all those delicious treats and special occasion cakes for people often put her in touch with people at their most needy and vulnerable.
Through baking she became reacquainted with her better self that had got well trampled on in Hollywood. And her journey to become a master baker was also a personal journey of reconnecting with her German roots – memories of her own mother and childhood all come flooding back as she bakes.
You would think that with all those beautiful cakes she describes they could have found a few for a picture for the cover. The current cover is a little garish and the book languished in my reading pile for a long time because I thought I wouldn’t like it. But once you get inside it’s a bit of a guilty treat.
You can’t fail to be swept up by details of the ‘Hollywood effect’. Gesine’s sister is the actress Sandra Bullock, so when big sis came to lend a hand on opening day, word got out.
Queues around the block, national news coverage – the picture of Sandy mid-pastry transaction voted Newsweek’s picture of the week – and 8,000 orders via email. The weight of orders threatened to shut them down before they’d even started. And she’d planned a quiet opening so she could learn as she went along.
Her love of baking and skill shines through every page. And there are recipes. And a conversion chart at the back. Not a bad choice if you’re stuck for ideas for Mother’s Day.
Starting over, one cake at a time           Gesine Bullock-Prado   Allison & busby            12.99

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