Confections of a Closet Master Baker

Confections of a Closet Master Baker

4.5 14
by Gesine Bullock-Prado

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A former Hollywood insider trades the Hollywood Hills for Green Acresand lives to tell about it in this hilarious, poignant treat of a memoir.

As head of her celebrity sister’s production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential studio heads, but she was…  See more details below


A former Hollywood insider trades the Hollywood Hills for Green Acresand lives to tell about it in this hilarious, poignant treat of a memoir.

As head of her celebrity sister’s production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential studio heads, but she was miserable. The only solace she found was in her secret hobby: baking. With every sugary, buttery confection to emerge from her oven, Gesine took one step away from her glittery, empty existence—and one step closer to her true destiny. Before long, she and her husband left the trappings of their Hollywood lifestyle behind, ending up in Vermont, where they started the gem known as Gesine Confectionary. And they never looked back. Confections of a Closet Master Baker follows Gesine's journey from sugar-obsessed child to miserable, awkward Hollywood insider to reluctant master baker. Chock-full of eccentric characters, beautifully detailed descriptions of her baking process, ceaselessly funny renditions of Hollywood nonsense, and recipes, the ingredients of her story will appeal to anyone who has ever considered leaving the life they know and completely starting over.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Library Journal
Bullock-Prado chronicles her career change from schmoozing Hollywood production company executive to running a bakery in Montpelier, VT. Living in the shadow of her famous older sister, Sandy, and working with "fame-hungry bores," Bullock-Prado eventually discovered that sugar, butter, and flour could help make her happier. And so she secretly began to bake, eventually opening her own bakery in the Green Mountain State. Between hilarious descriptions of a childhood virtually free of sugar and junk food and biting contempt for the shine of Hollywood, Bullock-Prado writes touchingly of the death of her mother and her relationship with her father. Recipes are a blend of her heritage—German and American—and include German classics such as Mandelhoernchen (almond cookies), American standards, and her own creations—Golden Eggs, a kind of baked doughnut, and Starry Starry Nights, a deep bittersweet chocolate cookie. VERDICT Memoir lovers will find this a lighthearted, entertaining read filled with humor and acerbic wit; foodies will enjoy the insider's view of running a bakery. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09; a pick at BEA's Librarian's Book Shout and Share program.—Ed.]—Pauline Baughman, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR

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Confections of a Closet Master Baker 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
mandersj More than 1 year ago
Once a high-powered Hollywood movie executive, Gesine Bullock-Prado was never very happy with her career. She used to sit in meetings and create recipes and grocery lists. Eventually, Bullock-Prado took control of her future by taking the plunge out of Hollywood and into Montpelier, Vermont, where she opened her own small bakery. However, being sister to the famous Sandra Bullock, Gesine's bakery, Gesine Confectionary, didn't stay a small little sweet shop for long. In "Confections of a Closet Master Baker" Bullock-Prado explains her decision to leave glamorous Hollywood for hippie-land, as well as give out recipes that go along with her tales. Gesine grew up the daughter of an American father and German mother, whose parents did not always live on the same continent. Sometimes Gesine would live in the southern U.S. with her father, sometimes in Germany and Austria with her mother and that side of the family. When living with her mother, her diet was very restricted, including a ban on sugar of any sort unless her mother was in a generous mood. Her mother loved to bake, however being a famous singer, she couldn't afford to gain any weight by eating the things she created. She therefore didn't want any kind of sugar temptation in the house, inadvertently creating a sugar hound out of her deprived daughter, Gesine. Gesine tells a story about going to a friend's house and sneaking an entire bag of Oreos out of the house only to eat them all, then go on a sugar-infused rampage to rival nothing else seen. Now the Gesine is all grown up, she and her husband took on the job of refurbishing the only shop available on main street Montpelier, making it the place where people go to get breakfast, lunch and snacktime in town. She talks about getting up before dawn, working like crazy all day, going for a run after work, then dinner with her husband and early to bed so she can start all over again tomorrow. At times she sounds like an over-exhausted, over-worked, under-paid be-careful-what-you-wish-for, but she claims even though the bakery is just beginning to break even financially, she wouldn't have it any other way. She punctuates each chapter of storytelling with a recipes, often one she relates to her authentic German childhood. I personally cannot wait to try out the Espresso Cheesecake recipe, perhaps over the holidays this year. Not really a cookbook, more than just a novel, really an entertaining story, however Gesine found time in her busy schedule to get this book written, I'm glad she did.
megan ann stidham More than 1 year ago
this is one of my favorite books. Not only is it a look at a business woman turned baker, which is inspiring. There are some amazing recipes including her wonderful homemade apple pie. So good!
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
This is Gesine Bullock-Prado's memoir of leaving the rat race in Hollywood to open a bakery in Vermont. It comes complete with the usual funny mishaps and quirky characters. I think what I liked best about this book is Gesine herself. Far from the fat, jolly baker, she is impatient, caustic and sometimes not too sure she actually likes people all that much. What she does like is baking. She lives and breathes it, obsessing over the perfect cherry pie or macaroon. Opening a bakery she learns she can love people from afar with her beautiful pastries. I really love that Gesine is not the typical baker. Somehow her tart personality perfectly balances out all the sweetness of the book. The recipes recipes, like Espresso Cheesecake and Raspberry Meringues are creative yet accessible to the home cook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More than hollywood gossip; this book illuminates the connection between food and family, food and community.
sukie More than 1 year ago
I found this book as an ebook on my library website and tried out the carrot cake and the scone recipe and was knocked off my feet at how fantastic the food came out! I usually try to find cookbooks that work to my style of baking and cooking and this one fit the bill. I can't tell you how terrible I am when it comes to making desserts from scratch. I'm not totally useless, just give me good directions and tips and I can do it, so I ended up loving this book and buying it from b&n. It has inspired me to try more complicated recipes. Thank you Gesine!
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DGreenThumb More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! Gesine's book is witty, funny, and inspirational. I admire her for taking charge of her life and leaving a high paying, high profiled career, and doing something that she is truly passionate about. I recommend this book to anyone that loves to bake, cook and has fond family memories that are tied to food or traditions!
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