Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Saved by Cake

By Becky Gulc

Good things come to those who wait in terms of Marian Keyes' novels; I love her work and am delighted she’s felt well enough to share newsletters twice this year already. Your fans are still here, Marian! As well as a new novel due for release in the Autumn, "Mercy Close," she has just released a baking book, "Saved by Cake." No it’s not a novel but to be honest I doubt many of you mind, we could not resist covering this!

"Saved by Cake" is aimed at baking novices, the same as Marian was not long ago. Within the book Marian writes about how learning to bake has helped her in her efforts to live with depression. One day in the midst of a dark period in her life, Marian had a sudden urge to make her friend a birthday cake, even though she didn’t own a single piece of baking equipment. That was it then, she was hooked.

‘Since then I’ve gone on to acquire cookie cutters in the shape of cars, hearts, circles, flowers, fairy wings, stars, owls, moose, bats, beer mugs, football boots, rabid dogs, gangrenous legs, rotten teeth...and still I want more.’

The book opens with a very honest account of depression: ‘To be perfectly blunt about it, my choice sometimes is: I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes. Right so, I’ll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow.’

It’s sad to read at times, enlightening, but it never fails to shine with Marian’s witty humour. I own a lot of baking books and even though I cherish them I often don’t pay much attention to anything other than the recipes themselves, with this one you’ll want to read every word if you’re a fan of Marian’s.

The book is full of mouth watering recipes, with sections for classics, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and chocolate...to name just a few. I felt the only way to provide an informed review of the recipes themselves was to test drive one of them, so last night I made the ‘No Bake Ginger and Lime Cheesecake’. I found the recipe straightforward to follow and even though I regularly bake (but by no means am I a technical baker) the language was fine and I enjoyed the way Marian’s words guide you through in a friendly and informed way. So how did it turn out? See below!

How did it taste? Lovely, even if I do say so myself! So refreshing with all the lime in it. I was giddy with excitement at how sparkly the topping was too, it looked very special indeed, although my picture doesn’t get across just how sparkly it was. That’s a plus point too, all the recipes look so tasty and colourful, and I love the fact Marian uses edible glitter freely (or ‘non-toxic’ glitter as I was told to say in a shop once!) and various other sparkly gems.

I liked the fact that Marian guides you through the recipes and emphasises things that she’s tripped up on when fine tuning the recipes. She answers questions within the book I’ve often asked myself, e.g. if I only have salted butter in the house but a recipe requires unsalted do I have to go running to the shop or will it taste funny? You don’t often get that in recipe books, it’s almost expected you know these seemingly little things.

As for the look of the book...beautiful and girly. It’s pink, bright and inviting. There’s also, pretty much, an accompanying picture for each recipe, I don’t know about anyone else but I often never end up making recipes when you can’t see what you’re aiming for, so I do like that about this book.

This is a book that will sit proudly amongst my other baking books and I know that soon enough it will be splodged just like the rest as it will be put to good use. For anyone who enjoys baking (you really don’t have to be new to baking to enjoy this) and anyone who loves Marian’s humour this is a real treat of a book. Happy baking!

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