Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman’s Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker
by Gesine Bullock-Prado
(Broadway Books, 2009, 240 pages)
I love a good food memoir, so when I saw this on the shelf at the library I happily picked it up. It sounded like it was right up my alley. It wasn’t until I started reading that I realized the author is actually the younger sister of actress Sandra Bullock! That added a different perspective to things, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that there’s any gossip in here. The memoir takes us through Gesine’s (pronounced Guh-see-na not Jazeen) journey as she decided to give up her life in Hollywood, working at her sister’s production company, and open up a bakery in Montpelier, Vermont. Gesine wasn’t happy working in Hollywood, she found she was constantly thinking about food and what she’d bake next while simultaneously dreading each work day. After Sandra mentioned her sister’s macaroons in InStyle magazine, her venture into baking essentially sky-rocketed.
This was a really enjoyable read. The writing style is very accessible and approachable. You get a sense that you can really hear Gesine’s voice through her writing. She has an interesting background, not only does she have a movie star for a sister, but her mother was a noted opera singer from Germany so Gesine and Sandra regularly spent time traveling to and from Germany and the culture is very much still a part of their lives. You get a real feel for all the work that goes into opening a bakery and keeping things afloat. Not only do you have to wake up earlier than anyone should ever have to (3 a.m. – eep!) but you’re still putting in a full day, trying to come up with clever ideas for pastries and cakes, trying to find time for your friends and family, all while basically heading to bed by 8 p.m. Gesine makes it clear that there is more to her life than sugar and butter, but you also know that she’s doing what she loves. That message comes across very clearly.
Each chapter ends with a recipe that means something to the author, all of which I’m eager to try. She has two cookbooks that I’ll definitely be checking out: Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar and Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented. I really enjoyed this title and I finished it in two days, so if you love baking (or just reading about it) this could be something nice and light to pick up.