Many years ago, while out driving on a Sunday afternoon we had an accident. No one was hurt thank God but our car was badly damaged and we were all pretty shaken. When we returned home I headed, without thinking into the kitchen and began to make a cake. My husband thought this was a small bit bizarre but instinctively I knew that baking would calm my frazzled nerves.
Baking works as a de-stresser for me to this day. Oven on, flour, butter, sugar eggs and off I go. I love the calm magic of baking. I love the alchemy of transforming a sloppy mixture into a light as a feather sponge. I love that baking fills my house with the most gorgeous nurturing aromas, like an olfactory hug. Baking grounds me spirit and anchors me completely in the present moment. I should confess right here though, I am no great shakes at this baking… My creations are very pedestrian to say the least. But I enjoy the process and the odd time something is truly wonderful.
Marian Keyes discovered the joy of baking recently and has just published a book entitled ‘Saved by Cake – over 80 ways to bake yourself happy’. But for Marian, baking wasn’t just a way of destressing or living in the moment, although she does say it was all of that too. For Marian baking helped her to continue to live through a very black period of depression. She says “I need to tell you that baking hasn’t cured me. But it gets me through.” She goes on to say “To be perfectly blunt about it, my choice sometimes is: I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes. Right so, I’ll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow.” That statement sums up Ms Keyes and her book right there… a breezy and light approach but with a serious underlying issue just below the surface. The result is a gorgeous book which is really useful and not at all ‘baking porn’ a la finger sucking Nigella, whose baking books are so full of huge lists of odd ingredients and such styled and therefore very intimidating photos that my copy has never actually been used.
Saved by Cake is beautifully put together. It is full of soft colours and mouth watering photos of confectionary which look achievable to us mere mortals. And, unsurprisingly it is beautifully written… witty, informative and full of really helpful instructions. Marian assumes her readers are not expert bakers… this makes Saved By Cake a really useful book.
Her first section is called Classics and Marian describes these recipes as having been around for a long time because they are all great. In here you will find all the basics – scones, sponge sandwich, bread and butter pudding and chocolate mousse. All magnificently explained and simple to make.
There is a section on cupcakes – and Marian is a big fan of fabulously decorated cupcakes liberally sprinkling glitter and sparkles to wonderfully glamorous results. The chapter I personally can’t wait to get stuck into though, is the one on Meringues and Macaroons – macaroons are so now dahlink! And Marian’s introduction to these little beauties is just so…. well Marian “You CAN make macaroons….. But if you can accept that your macaroons may be bockety and funny shaped and still worthy of your existence then proceed.” Bockety macaroons – wonderful. I could do that.
This is so my kind of cookery book. If you want to give yourself a present you could do worse than invest in Saved By Cake – and the really cool thing is that all Irish royalties will be donated to the Society of St Vincent de Paul.