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Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker Hardcover – September 8, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767932684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #894,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this terrifically lively account chockfull of elegant, Old World recipes, Bullock-Prado, a former Hollywood film developer and sister to actress Sandra Bullock, recounts the joys and heartbreaks of running her own patisserie in Montpelier, Vt. Having fled the soul-sucking routine in Los Angeles with her husband, Ray, for the simpler pleasures of a small town near the Green Mountains, the author opened her own bake shop, Gesine Confectionary, in 2004, mostly on the fame of the macaroons she refashioned from her German mother's favorite almond treat, mandelhoernchen (and the casual mention in an interview her sister did for In Style). Although a law school graduate, Bullock-Prado always relished playing with sugar, butter, and flour and concocts an affectionate homage to her mother, who recently died from colon cancer, and grandmother. Her memoir follows one day in a busy baker's life, from waking at three a.m. to prepare the batter (croissants, scones, sticky buns) and bake before opening shop at seven; through the hectic lunch (focaccia); and the three p.m. tea time. In subtly compelling prose, the master baker conveys her touching sense of responsibility for the emotional needs of [her] patrons, and offers mouthwatering recipes. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

GESINE BULLOCK-PRADO’s delicious confections have been featured on the Food Network's hottest new show, Road Tasted with the Neelys and in such publications as In Style, People, Vermont Life, and Boston Common. Gesine still lives in Vermont and is preparing to open another bakery in Austin, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

I can't wait to try some of the recipes.
Judy Mines
Gesine's writing style is witty, funny and entertaining.
J. Worth
All in all it's a good memoir worth reading.
Marie Antoinette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By No Pie For You on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I work in a bookstore and read soooooooooo many books that and often I lose interest and toss the book aside to move on to the next one.

Well. I LOVED this book. I read it in two days and found myself making home made bread and vanilla cake (which was THE BEST EVER).

This is the story of Sandra Bullocks's sister, Gesine, who worked in Hollywood for her sisters production company and gave up a career most American's would drool over. Famous Stars - check! Fabulous clothes - check! Lunch/dinner dates - check!
First class travel - check!

Gesine chucked all the "phoniness" of LA to follow her passion for baking and ended up opening her own bakery - due mainly to an offhand comment her sister made about Gesine's fabulous macaroons.

If you love to bake (or eat) hurry and place your order for this book. If you're not a foodie but your doing a job that drains you and long to do something else, buy this book!

It's a heartfelt, easy, inspiring, read.

Truly the best book I've read all year. I will not be loaning my copy to ANYONE. And I rarely keep books I read (I usually pass them on). I have ONE SHELF that holds favorite books (6 in all) - and this takes first place.

Did I mention I LOVED this book! Funny. Heartwarming. Inspiring. Funny.

And there's recipes!!!!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Susanne Koenig on August 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fresh out of law school and hanging out in L.A., Gesine's sister hits the big time, and she becomes an executive at her newly formed production company. Several years later, her very health-conscious mother dies from colon cancer. Hit hard by the loss, she finds herself channeling her grief into baking. Day after day she produces popular treats in a fashion that renders even the most congealed L.A-weary hearts putty in her hands, working out her angst into heavenly macaroons. After realizing that she was profoundly unhappy in the biz and always would be, she takes off for Montpelier, Vermont, and sets up shop. There she finds the kitchen a haven from the unplesantness she experienced in Hollywood, and falls passionately in love with what she does.

Including wondrous nostalgia for the ways of her mother and grandmother, Gesine takes the reader through the world of her childhood in Austria and Germany and along the way, ending each chapter with a recipe that makes you want to run to the store and start baking like mad. The Golden Eggs recipe--for a simple yellow cake that tastes just like donuts--is not to be missed, nor all the recipes for truly divine German treats. She really cares about what she does, and it shows.

Now this is not a touchy-feely heroine who throws rose-petals at your face because she's found her own happiness--she's not the touchy-feely type--she's a self-confessed misanthrope who is usually way too blunt and socially inept for most people's taste.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lisa C. Wolf on January 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gesine Bullock-Prado lives the life that I am living in quiet desperation. Her bakery is the bakery of my dreams, her life the one of my aspirations. I, too, am a closet baker, giving love and affection to whoever will appreciate the time and care that go into a perfect chocolate chip cookie, a decadent double chocolate brownie pie, or anything else baked in my tiny kitchen in upstate New York. Gesine's road from Hollywood to Vermont makes perfect sense to anyone who dreams in sugar, flour and butter...and often chocolate, too. Her autobiographical story of lawyer to baker truly is well written and understandable, funny and intellectual...and then there are the RECIPES: almost as many as in any cookbook, but woven in as part of a story from a European-flavored childhood (Apfelkuchen and Zwetschgendatschi) to the very adult Devil's Cream Pie and Espresso Cheesecake. Can't wait to try them all. I loved reading this book and am thrilled to add it to my collection of special cookbooks that tell their own story. Please get this book; Gesine's story will make you laugh and will touch your heart.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Student56 on August 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This autobiography is organized as "a day in the life" with each chapter being the next hour of the day. This gives a nice structure to the book as the author's memories jump around, triggered by some event that hour. It's also a nice touch to have recipes included at the end of every chapter! I am curious why the title changed from the hardcover's "Confections of a Closet Master Baker" to the softcover's "My Life from Scratch"?? Either way, it's a heart-warming story of the author's transition from working at a profitable-but-unpleasant job to a calling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra Roberts on February 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I received an autographed, gift copy of Gesine Bullock-Prado's book for Christmas this past year. The givers were my brother and sister-in-law who live in Vermont, about 20 minutes drive away from Gesine's bakery. I plan to visit the bakery and them - probably in that order ;-) - when I next find myself in Vermont.

I loved this book! Quite apart from the fact I am an unabashed "foodie" -- known to drive ridiculous distances in quest of just one perfectly prepared food item -- I not only shamelessly slobbered all over the pages when ingesting the recipes, I laughed myself silly while reading the trenchantly witty, often self-deprecating narrative. And nevermind her serving as throwdown judge with FoodNetwork's, Bobby Flay. Gersine is a worthy battle of wits match for that bad-boy chef turned Travel Channel globetrotter, Anthony Bourdain. I'm betting our girl Gesine could leave claw marks on Bourdain's psyche before he knew he was bleeding.

That aside, the timing of receipt of this book proved poignantly bittersweet for me when I read the portion of the book devoted to loving recollections of Gesine's late mother, Helga Bullock. I am currently serving as caretaker for my own mother, who is in the final stages of Alzheimers. I split duties with my sister, as Gesine did with her actress sister, in providing my Mom with pretty much whatever she wants to eat -- mostly ice cream, in my Mom's case. When I read about the lengths to which Gesine and her sister went to supply their dying mother with her favorite foods, I literally had tears in my eyes. I'm guessing, at some irrational level they felt, as I have, that feeding their mother exactly what she wanted might in some miraculous way, heal her, even though it didn't.
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More About the Author

I am a baker, a writer, a cookbook author and an inveterate sugar addict.

If I can't teach you something new and exciting about sugar at least once a week, my job here isn't done.