Monday, August 31, 2009


To a foodie book addict, what can be better than a new book about baking? Gesine Bullock-Prado's Confections of a Closet Master Baker (think about that title) will have you lusting for one of her painstakingly-created, carefully researched, ubertasty, and, sadly, secret, treats--her famous macarons.

Thanks to my participation in the foodie book club, Cook the Books, I was invited to participate in this event co-sponsored by A Blithe Palate, the aforementioned Cook the Books, and Dispensing Happiness. The round-up for this Edible Word event will be on September 7th and 8th.

Written with a tongue-in-cheek voice, Confections will once again raise the recognition among closet chefs and bakers that this is not a vocation for the faint-of-heart. Bullock-Prado gives up a successful, albeit not always fulfilling, career in Hollywood to open a bakery in the hinterland of Vermont (with apologies to the denizens of Montpelier and its environs). While she gets to play out with gusto her dream of filling cases with masterful sweets, she does so at the expense of anything reminiscent of a balanced life.

I must confess that it wasn't until I'd read about her sister Sandy a few times that I realized she was talking about Sandra Bullock. Well, duh. That recognition only made my read that much more enjoyable, though I'll also confess that I was waiting for the chapter about that enigma, Jesse James.

A diehard lover of marzipan and French macarons, my only disappointment was not finding the recipe to Gesine's boilermaker sweet in the novel. I was also dismayed to find that her shop in Vermont is on hiatus while she helps sister Sandy open a new showcase for her talents in Texas. I look forward to being able to order some of these delicacies very soon.

One motif in the novel that I could readily identify with was Bullock-Prado's anger over the mispronunciation of her name. I've grown up with people inserting an extra syllable (a vowel, of course) into my very Italian last name. No amount of correction ever seems to work. Add to that the fact that I can't just introduce myself by saying, "I'm Arlene" without having people reply, "Nice to meet you, Marlene." Go ahead, I dare you to say it in a way that won't produce that elision of consonant followed by vowel.

While I was drooling over the Opera cake and the Zwetschgendatschi, my upcoming rendezvous with Weight Watchers forced me to choose the friendlier cream scones, though I did substitute dried and fresh Bing cherries for the currants. They were easy, had a lovely crumb, and were as good a day later, toasted, as they were out of the oven. This girl knows her way around the kitchen.
This is one of those books that you will return to more than once if only for the incredible recipes that Gisene has provided. Be sure to stop by the Edible Word on September to see what everyone else has cooked up.


  1. I loved this book too, and was also hoping to learn about Jesse!
    Made me want to see Vermont too, sounds quaint.
    Great idea to make scones, yum!

  2. those scones look fantastic! i've never heard of that book, but i'll have to look for it.

  3. It was a fun book! Your scones look perfect.
    I am making my entry this week--hope it turns out to be as good as yours!

  4. Sounds like a great book with lots of tasty baked goods! I love a homemade scone...reminds me of a sweet biscuit.

  5. My mouth is watering. I love scones. AND, I have to buy that book. No, not only because I love Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, but because I tend to also hide that fact that baking 24/7 is my absolute fantasy. Thanks Marl...sorry, I mean Arlene (Chula) for the delightful post.

  6. I enjoyed this book too and am sad that I can't visit Gesine's Confectionery on my next Vermont trip. I really liked her descriptions of the downtown and some of her customers.


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