Book review: The Art of Baking Blind

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan 9-6-14If you like making cakes, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s full of recipes, ingredients, mixing, kneading, weighing and baking. The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan is a two tier story. In the 1960s, Kathleen Eaden’s husband owns a supermarket and she becomes an overnight marketing sensation. Now, a baking competition is announced in Eaden’s Monthly, the supermarket’s own magazine. Four women and one man reach the final.

The book reminded me of the Julia Child film, Julie & Julia, starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. In an attempt to emulate Julia Child, played by Streep, Adams cooks her way through Child’s cookbook. In a similar way, this story is told with Kathleen Eaden as its spine. Her diary entries and excerpts from her books feature heavily. Baking is at the centre of the story. It is a lightweight, enjoyable, holiday read.

Two confessions from me. One, I kept getting the women muddled – the only one I was clear about was Jenny. Two, I was slightly niggled that we didn’t get the point of view of the male competitor, Mike, until quite a way in. I missed his voice. Disappointingly, Mike remains a mystery, lightly-drawn, unsatisfying. Sarah Vaughan [below] writes with confidence about baking, I just know she baked the cakes and pies she writes about.

[photo: hodder]

[photo: hodder]

There are lots of innuendos about kneading dough and rising temperatures. All five competitors seem to lack love and sex, leading me to the rather simplistic assumption that baking replaces sex, which seems a little unfair. So which question made me turn the page – who will win the competition, what is Karen’s secret, or who will shag who? Rather contrarily, the sections I enjoyed reading belonged to Kathleen Eaden because it was obvious that all was not as the supermarket marketing image suggested.

By the end I could have done with less cake description. I was left with a feeling of irony that there were competitors seeking to be the new Mrs Eaden, when the real Mrs Eaden was a marketing invention. All four women – and Mike – must re-examine who they are and what they want.

If you want to watch a video about how to make perfect pie crust, something which features heavily in the book, watch Nana’s video at You Tube here.
Follow Sarah Vaughan on Facebook here.
To read how Sarah Vaughan got published, click here.

‘The Art of Baking Blind’ by Sarah Vaughan [pub. in the UK on July 3, 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton]

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