Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado

Book Review 2009

Gesine Bullock-Prado, the sister of the famous actress Sandra Bullock, spent ten years in the belly of Hollywood, heading up her sister's production company before she chucked it all to move to Montpelier, VT. There she became a pastry chef and owner of a busy pastry shop. Somehow she found the time in her crazy schedule (she goes to work at 4 a.m.) to write a book about it. Read on for the review.

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There's a lot going on in this little book besides recipes. There are childhood memories of Austria, a junk food fueled crime spree, a dash of Hollywood glamour and disappointments, true love, death, culinary disasters, and the bittersweet memories of a diva mother. The book is constructed in chapters that correspond to the time of day and activity in the shop, tracing a day in the life of a small pastry shop owner in Vermont.

The author's strong, no nonsense personality comes through in the writing. She rises everyday at 4 a.m. to start baking and doesn't end her day until well past 6 p.m. when she unwinds by going for a run. It's a grueling life but one she willingly embraces. She is passionately in love with baking and it's contagious.

Each chapter ends with a detailed recipe, eighteen in all. They read wonderfully and tempt us with things like little vanilla cakes that taste like doughnuts, the best cherry pie filling and Apfelkuchen. You can learn how to make the doughnut-like cakes by watching the video, above.

If you love real-life narrative and the irrestible combination of sugar, butter, eggs and flour then this book is for you. There is one thing you must keep straight, though. Her name is pronounced Geh-see-neh.

Buy the Book: Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado at Amazon for $16.32

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.