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Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker

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This review was prepared by Charli of The Berry Bushel.

Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker is the memoir of Gesine Bullock-Prado, former Hollywood executive turned owner of a small town bakery. The memoir chronicles Bullock-Prado’s reasons for getting into the movie business, getting out of it, and moving on to her true passion, baking. Each chapter begins by taking you through her life as a baker and seamlessly transitions to her history. Overall, the book is a quick and easy read, filled with humor. From the first sentence, Bullock-Prado captures the reader, doing an especially wonderful job of connecting her story emotionally with the recipes she provides. (Be warned though, this can lead you to want to make every single recipe.)

When I first found out I would get to do a review of Confections, I looked around online and found this website where the author herself gives an online tutorial on how to make the very first recipe in the book—Golden Eggs (or in this case, golden bundts). The claim about this recipe is pretty big: it is her only magic recipe. Without any frying, a simple white cake/muffin recipe is transformed into a pseudo cake doughnut. I had to give it a try. While the resulting desert is quite similar to a doughnut, I would not go so far as to say I would mistake it for one. Honestly, I ended up liking this even better.

At this point, I should stop and point out one very important thing I learned from the online tutorial. Recipes in this book give temperatures for convection ovens, so those of us using a conventional oven should set the temperature 25 degrees higher, a fact I wish I had known this when I made the scones. I really wanted to like these, but to be perfectly honest, I found them a bit bland and dry. The dryness I attribute to setting the oven too low, and then leaving them in too long to get the golden tops. Also, in the final version of the book, ‘vanilla extract’ was replaced with ‘lemon extract’—a typo which may have cost these poor scones their excellence. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that these scones were bad, they just weren’t phenomenal and my expectations were high.

Bullock-Prado is most known for her almond macaroons, yet if you buy this book specifically for this recipe you will be disappointed. She is upfront and honest about the reasoning (how would she make money without keeping some secrets?) which I can respect. Plus, in it’s place we are given an amazing cookie recipe. The texture on these is very light, and the flavor is full. I accidentally made these with a bit too much cocoa powder (again, a typo in the unedited manuscript) but they still came out wonderfully. Even better--these are cookies that you can easily freeze ahead of time and pull out just when you need them.

One of my favorite things about these recipes is that Bullock-Prado gives a long introduction to each recipe in which she provides plenty of suggestions on how to modify it (for example, turning a cake into muffins or a meringue into buttercream). When read carefully, this book can really help you understand how recipes work.

I can only assume that if you are reading this review on the Daring Kitchen website, that you are a person who loves food, maybe even the type of person who has at some point dreamt about giving everything up and devoting your life to your passion. Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker is an inspiring read that will tug at these feelings. It is at the very least a wonderful story, but even more importantly, the memoir will motivate you with its unique and delicious recipes.

rose_bitemekitchen
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User offline. Last seen 4 years 5 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/10/2009

Pseudo cake-donuts!? Hello! That sounds perfect! Anytime someone can offer me the notion of baking doughnuts instead of deep frying them, I'm curious. Very nice article Smile

Sammie
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Joined: 09/09/2009

I really like what this woman did. She found out what a passion she had for baking. How many times do we see this happen to people of all trades and all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes it takes many many years before we get a handle on what we should be doing with our lives. Some of us are afraid to find out. Well, she figured it out and she will enjoy life more because of it. I am not into baking, but that is not the point. The real point is finding what you love to do and then letting your passion guide you to do your best work. casino en ligne

Lisa Michele
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Joined: 03/07/2009

I like this woman, as a similar thing happened to me. My whole life, I loved baking and cooking, but never thought of it as any kind of possible career, always searching for bigger and better corporate opportunities. One day, I thought.."Wow, wouldn't it be great if i could do something I love and have a passion for, for a living?". It was like being struck by lightning, as in "UHHH, wait a sec - why not cook or bake and try to carve some kind of career out of it?". Well, I have yet to do so due to some err, injuries, personal gobbeldy gook etc, but it's good to know it's 'there' to try and fly with eventually.

I also love the fact that she's grappled with giving away her 'secrets' to make money, as I have some 'secret' recipes myself that I would have a hard time letting out..some handed down recipes from my grandmothers, which I tweaked.

This is a book I would consider buyng sometime in the future, as I'd love to read about how she finally got to where she is, not to mention those pseudo donuts - YUM!! Nice review, Charli!

PurpleHope
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Joined: 08/15/2010

A master baker requires more that a regular cook.
That looks great! The problem is that regular people don't have the possibility to cook this kinda stuff. So I would advice them to save some money with the easy saver encore marketing progam in order to make their life more beautiful and to have a good time!