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A baking book like no other!
Saved by Cake - Marian Keyes
Member Name: milliesmum123
Saved by Cake - Marian Keyes
Advantages: Informal, written brilliantly, lovely cakes
Disadvantages: I want to know how she is now!
Marian Keyes is an Irish writer who tends to write chick lit style books. I always feel as though that kind of title is a bit degrading as her books aren't full of tacky obvious stories but have much deeper elements to them with interesting twists and turns. I have found her style of writing to be just what I like and I have read all of her books. Some of her publications include Last Chance Saloon, Under The Duvet and This Charming Man. I have read them all so it's come to the point now where I am always waiting for her next one to be published so when this one came up on Amazon I was excited to see a new book but then disappointed to see that it was just a cook book and not actually a novel. I didn't buy it at first but for Christmas this year I asked for it seeing as now I am enjoying baking too. This book gives an insight into one of my favourite author's lives as well as gives some great recipes in a more informal manner than any other baking book I have so it is just perfect for me!
Saved By cake
This is a hardback book which was published in 2012. There are about 230 pages and include the chapters: Introduction, equipment list, some rules, techniques and helpful hints, classics, cupcakes, cheesecakes, liquid cakes, pastry, meringues and macaroons, biscuits and cookies, fruit and veg, chocolate, index.
The introduction is not like any other cook book I have read or flicked through. The introduction doesn't talk about where food has come from or how you need to eat healthily or whatever, this introduction is all about how the author of the book first came to get involved in baking. I hadn't known anything about Marian Keyes before except she was Irish and I enjoyed her writing so reading about her was very interesting. It doesn't go into huge detail but it tells about how she became to get depressed and on edge, how she struggled to do anything and every day seemed endless. She talks about how she felt suicidal and at times I wasn't sure if she was joking or being serious when she mentioned her suicide bag that she would have with her and how she planned to kill herself in a hotel... it was actually really quite sad to read and also very down to earth, she says she knows she has lots of brilliant things in her life and that makes it all the more frustrating. She then explains how she one day began to bake and found that it gave her purpose, she didn't have to worry about how she would fill her days, she didn't think ahead just followed the instructions and found that she really enjoyed it. This part of the story I really related to as I find baking and cooking a brilliant way to forget my worries and although you are following instructions it is amazingly relaxing too. The introduction really made a change from other books, it made me want to keep reading and to know more about what happened next!
The equipment list is written in a way which you can understand, she talks in such an informal way it's like a friend advising you- for example talking about how you should buy a purple spatula as essential equipment and an amusing apron. When she writes about the equipment she also gives tips too such as waiting for your cake to cool down before putting it in an air tight tin- this is something I did not know! Then when she goes onto the tips section again this is really useful, you can tell that she has learnt as she has gone along, she isn't an establish cook and the tips she has learnt are the kinds of things that I need to know, these novice type tips. They include things like how do you know if your cake is cooked? how to get a cheesecake out of the tin and so forth.
The recipe section is obviously the largest part and it's broken into useful categories. It is probably not the most logical of recipe books but I really like the style. The reason why it isn't logical is that this is not written in a very basic step by step guide, yes there are steps but there is also some waffle that occurs too! I find this a nice, informal way a bit like a friend telling you how to cook but it could cause some people to be distracted! For example instead of 'rub the butter by hand' it's "I'm afraid you'll have to rub the butter by hand and pile it into a prepared tin'. "Don't make the mistake that I did in the first few minutes of thinking that if the butter was melted that we were bombs away, don't be tempted to turn the heat up any further!" so these extra bits of information and conversation may not be your standard way of writing a recipe but actually they are really useful, they are the kinds of tips you NEED whilst cooking. Sometimes I do think "Is this hot enough? Should I turn it up?" And obviously so does she and she's warning against it!
Nearly all recipes have a picture and they are beautiful pictures too, not just a shot of a cake but they are always really pretty and arranged on pretty flowery plates or with a bright pink napkin next to it. These are really bright and colourful pictures that make the recipes really appealing! The recipes are laid out with the heading and then a little paragraph underneath which explains why Marian Keyes has chosen this particular recipe for example her mother used to always make it or she wanted something that was more of a challenge and again this makes the book sound really informal that it makes you smile whilst cooking. The ingredients are clearly laid out, it uses grams. It also tells you how much it serves and breaks the ingredients down if it needs to for example the base, the filling, the topping and so forth. This is a great way to do it, I struggle when they put it all in one section and then I have to work out how much is for the top, how much for the filling and so forth. As I said the recipes themselves are in a step by step fashion but with quite a bit of padding too but it works fine for me!
This book is fantastic! It is my favourite baking book! Sometimes I flick through my baking books and look at the pretty pictures and glance at a recipe, with this book I actually read the recipe, read the introduction to the recipe and enjoy just doing that. It's almost like a story in itself and when you do read it you can get an idea of how hard it is to do or how easy whereas some other books are so blunt you don't really know. The way that Marian Keyes has written this is so informal it really does feel like a friend is giving you advice and tips.
I have followed a few of the recipes and they have all turned out really well so far. One which I have recently made is the rosewater and coconut cheesecake. I was just so interested in it when I read it, a strange combination of flavours but it works really well and it was just amazing and of course Millie loves it because it's pink! The recipe was really easy to follow too and more enjoyable than normal because of the informal style. Another recipe I have made is John's sticky toffee pudding. This was really nice! It was also really interesting to read the story behind this particular pudding too.
Millie and I look at our books all of the time and pick out what we want to cook next and although she can't read the informal recipes or the banter she seems to really like this book to and I'm sure it's because the pictures are so attractive, everything is laid out so nicely it is hard not to be attracted to it! I just look at a page and suddenly want to start baking!
My only criticism with this book is I want to know how Marian Keyes is now and she doesn't say! in the introduction she says how she isn't cured but that baking just gives her a release, a way to focus on something else and it would be nice to know if now that she is baking a lot, she feels a happier person again. I can really relate to her though and recently I have heard of other people who use baking as a way to kind of give them therapy. It is so nice to be able to tune out from the world but to still have focus for a while; baking a cake is a scientific process, you have to concentrate, you can't be fretting about what you're doing later, you have to just get on with it and it's brilliant when you achieve a brilliant bake. I find it really helps me to feel better and this book is even better for that because it's written in such a friendly manner.
As well as making me smile whilst cooking his has also taught me some really useful tips that I didn't know previously, I really didn't know some of the things she said and I think this book says a lot about the 'real' professional cooks out there. I have learnt more from this book than any other as it's written by someone like me (a novice, not someone who has been trained) so the tips are all relevant and have really helped me to improve various aspects of baking that alternatively I wouldn't have been able to do. Some people may look at this book and see it as not being professional or up to the standard of other baking books but I completely disagree I think it's full of inspiring recipes, brilliant backgrounds to the cakes and really well written instructions. It's great to learn whilst baking.
I think this is a brilliant baking book. I love how it seems just like a friend is talking it through with you rather than a formal guide like the others I have. If you like baking then give this book a go even if you are well established but especially so if not. There is good variety with some recipes that are really easy to carry out whilst others are much more complex so there really is something for everyone and something for all occasions. Also even if you're not interested in cake but you like Marian Keyes you may find this book really interesting as you get to know her really well whilst reading the recipes. Highly recommended well worth every penny.
The RRP is £16.99 and I would quite happily pay that twice over! Brilliant!
Summary: Fantastic book