The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

I admit that I am more than a little obsessed by foodie stories. I drool while reading, I want to try every recipe, and each introduction of something new (or familiar) has me itching to dash to the pantry and start to create.  I’m also a huge fan of the British Baking show, The Next Great Baker.  This story instantly put me in mind of that show, and had me intrigued almost instantly. Sarah Vaughan does carry the feel of the UK as the competition, baking and slang is totally British, but readers shouldn’t find that a difficulty.

The Art of Baking Blind

Kathleen Eaden was the “baking face’ of her husband’s chain of grocers, Eaden and Sons. Writing a column about baking for Home Magazine, she was well known and her recipes became staples, particularly her 1966 edition of The Art of Baking.  Now deceased, the company is on a search for the “new” Mrs. Eaden, and five talented amateur bakers have been invited to compete.

Each of the contestants (four women and one widowed man) are competent bakers, and each has their own personal reason and purpose for competing.  With insets from the real Kathleen Eaden’s life, the flashbacks inform and correlate to the contestant’s own stories, adding a level of depth and interest to the story.  Each character has a moment in the spotlight, with the minor exception of Mike, who really seems to fall to the wayside with the development and reveals of the female contestants.

Beautifully descriptive and surprisingly emotional, my only complaints are that Mike’s character seemed to be put aside in favor of the women, and the lack (Oh I was disappointed) of actual recipes in the book.  The descriptions are mouth-watering and evoked, for me, the smells wafting from my Gran’s kitchen near daily.  Far from focused only on the competition, the story and contest become recipes for the contestants to find their own way, make adjustments and create their own new lives.

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

Title: The Art of Baking Blind
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Published by: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1444792253
Published on: 5 May 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 406
Audio Length: 13 Hours: 18 minutes
Rated: four-stars
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There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookery writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes.

Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her façade shouldn't slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn - as Mrs Eaden did before them - that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training with the Press Association, she worked for The Guardian for 11 years as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent. She started writing fiction after deciding to freelance. The Art of Baking Blind - published by Hodder (UK and Canada), St Martin's Press (US) and translated into eight languages - is the result. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children and is currently writing her second novel.