Let Me Eat Cake: A Celebration of Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla, Baking Powder, and a Pinch of Salt

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Overview

Few creations are more associated with joy or more symbolic of the sweet life than cake. After all, it is so much more than dessert.

As a book about cake would demand, this one is a multilayered, amply frosted, delicious concoction with a slice (or more) for everyone. Let Me Eat Cake is not a book about baking cake, but about eating it.

Author Leslie F. Miller embarks on a journey (not a journey cake, although it's in there) into the moist ...

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Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 323 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Brand New-Gift ... Quality In a plastic cover Read more Show Less

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Let Me Eat Cake: A Celebration of Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla, Baking Powder, and a Pinch of Salt

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Overview

Few creations are more associated with joy or more symbolic of the sweet life than cake. After all, it is so much more than dessert.

As a book about cake would demand, this one is a multilayered, amply frosted, delicious concoction with a slice (or more) for everyone. Let Me Eat Cake is not a book about baking cake, but about eating it.

Author Leslie F. Miller embarks on a journey (not a journey cake, although it's in there) into the moist white underbelly of the cake world. She visits factories and local bakeries and wedding cake boutiques. She interviews famous chefs like Duff Goldman of Food Network's Ace of Cakes and less famous ones like Roland Winbeckler, who sculpts life-size human figures out of hundreds of pounds of pound cake and buttercream frosting. She takes decorating classes, shares recipes, and samples the best cakes and the worst.

The book is held together by the hero on a quest, one that traces cake history and tradition. If we were to bake a cake to celebrate the birth of cake (cake is an Old Norse word, first used around 1230), it is hard to say how many candles would go on top. Though the meaning of the word (originally "lump of something"), not to mention our expectations of its ingredients, has changed over time, we now celebrate cake as the coming together of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.

And what a celebration. Baking a cake is hard work, but tasting it is pure pleasure. So put on some elastic-waist pants and grab a fork.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Freelancer Miller is a self-described "cake chronicler," and in this memoir, she describes her indiscriminate and conflicted obsession with cakes, which yields varying and sometimes, embarrassing results. Her stories are structured like a tiered cake and begin with a series of historical tidbits based on Internet research. She mixes in her experiences as a "sloppy baker" and an owner of a low-carb bakeshop, sprinkles in detailed but uninsightful discussions with other bakers and tops it off with lists of cultural ephemera. Much of the earnest, conversational prose reads like a series of inflated blog entries and reveal a person whose love of sweet, sugary food makes her feel "addicted, neurotic, weak-willed." Like her frantic, inconsistent attempts at baking, the writing suffers from the "perils of impatience" and a lack of focus. Miller manages to redeem herself with a few short, poignant memories-eating frosting from a can, her grandmother's kitchen and a dream about sweets. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Now you can have your cake and read it, too. Let Me Eat Cake is like going into group analysis for a sugar addiction with a dessert-obsessed friend. If Leslie Miller's wit and wisdom are the cure, I can't wait for the next session." — Alan Richardson, author of Hello, Cupcake!

"Let Me Eat Cake is a fun-loving romp through the joyous world of cake." — Jennifer Appel, author of The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook and Buttercup Bakes at Home

"Leslie F. Miller's Let Me Eat Cake is both a gluttonous frolic and a super-sweet love story. Honestly, I've never had so much fun around the subject of cake without actually eating a slice." — Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

"Leslie Miller blends memoir, lore and journalism in her humorous and peripatetic exploration of the sweet (and frosted) stuff that so many find irresistible....A light, sweet, and entertaining tribute to all things cake." — ShelfAwareness.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416588733
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie F. Miller is a writer, graphic designer, photographer, mosaicist, mom, wife, daughter, and cake lover. She has written for such publications as Weight Watchers magazine, the Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore City Paper. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and daughter, where she tries to resist the constant urge to eat cake.

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Read an Excerpt


Introduction

One morning, I was driving to the University of Baltimore, planning a lecture for my two composition classes about punctuation, not thinking at all about, you know, it, when I stopped at a traffic light behind a truck bearing a blue and gold logo and phone number. I stared at it for a few minutes, contemplating commas, before I realized what it said: Capitol Cake Co., 1-800-EAT CAKE. A cake company -- in Baltimore -- that I don't know about? And because I am, in addition to a cake junkie, a chronic chronicler, I took the truck's picture.

Before I discovered the truck, I hadn't noticed the brand name of the unglamorously packaged one-dollar pound cakes stacked in a freestanding display at the end of the bread aisle at Shoppers food market: Capitol Cake Company. The three Cs have been around since 1922, when Harry A. Kunkel (a cake name if ever there was one) and Edward J. Leonard realized their snack cake dream, just as Tastykake's Philip J. Baur and Herbert C. Morris did before them in 1914, and Little Debbie's O. D. McKee would do in 1960. (Whether initials are a requirement or a coincidence, I'm in!) But Capitol's Shirley Jean fruitcake, named for Harry Kunkel's daughter-in-law, would boldly go where no other cake -- not even those of the imaginary Betty Crocker -- had gone before: to the moon. Literally and not once, mind you, but several times.

"It's Out of This World," says the CCC Web site, quotation marks and all. The Web page displays photographs from a 1999 Hubble mission of the space shuttle Discovery (STS-103). Right there, on the dashboard, with a view of home out the window, sits the pink-and-green-wrappedtraditional Christmas treat. Another photo shows the package by the joystick, "drivin' the bus." The last picture shows a smiling Commander Curt Brown with the fruitcake by his face. Each caption calls the snack "Old Fruity," a name I'd not be too keen on were I Shirley Jean.

An astronaut picked up the fruitcake at a Florida convenience store just before his 1994 Christmas mission. It's not clear whether he bought it to eat the traditional holiday treat while not home for Christmas, or whether it would simply provide the comic relief of a fruitcake in space. But, like most fruitcakes, it remained uneaten. At some point in the trip, the astronauts on the mission signed it. And then it went up again the following Christmas. Eventually, the package became so full of signatures that it was retired. It's now on display at the Cake -- Cape Canaveral museum.

By the time Ted Kunkel, the founder's grandson, heard about his product's space exploration, it already had orbited the moon a few times, and NASA was on the phone wondering where they could get another one to continue the tradition.

I'm a bit of a fruitcake myself. There aren't too many things I'd rather have on my plate than something sweet and bready, preferably with frosting. Even the much-maligned fruitcake could make my heart flutter, though I confess that I haven't actually bought or baked one. My passion has taken me far beyond my own taste buds and deep into the moist white underbelly of the cake world, visiting pastry chefs, collecting trivia, and frequently tasting. Like a good cake, the folklore and history, the traditions and secret ingredients, beg to be celebrated and shared. (As long as I get the piece with the most frosting.)

Cake has an ancient and rich tradition, but it has never been more popular -- as a hobby, a spectator sport, and a curiosity -- than it is right now in the United States. Martha Stewart Living has a Cake of the Month; the Food Network hosts regular cake competitions, and two East Coast chefs -- Duff Goldman and Warren Brown -- have had their own weekly cake series, Sugar Rush and Ace of Cakes; decorating classes, in both the blue states and the red ones, are full; and books like Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible and Anne Byrn's The Cake Mix Doctor sell like hotcakes.

Where did cake come from, and where, besides the moon, is it going? Who's using it, and who's abusing it? Who's credited with its rise, and who's going to make it fall? It's time we heard cake's story and learned who bakes it best.

Put on some elastic-waist pants and grab a fork.Copyright © 2009 by Em Squared, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    If you can't have a bite of cake right now, read a few pages in Ms. Miller's "let Me Eat Cake. . . "

    I got this book for my birthday from my husband, who knows a guy who knows a small independent bookseller. My husband got me a signed copy of this book from this independent bookseller. Two good deads in one, I say. . . Anyway, I opened it, hoping to find recipes, reviews of various cakes, and ways to make my own cakes balanced when I have to use more than on pan to bake them in.

    Not happening! So, swallowing my disappointment, I went ahead and started reading. The lights went out due to an electric storm, so I moved to the balcony to get better light while I read. It got dark outside, so I came in and read by candlelight. I was transfixed. This humorous, but really, interesting look at cakes was really quite a good read! I got to find out how some commercial cakes got put together, the history of other cakes, and, I got to find out that the author actually did a comparison of cakes that I'd been thinking of doing, but couldn't afford, so I got the benefit of the comparison, together with really fun stories about the building of one of the cakes and the eating of both of them.

    I highly recommend you read this book. You'll come away enlightened, and more inspired than ever to sign up for the Wilton Cake Decorating course! Or at least check out some different types of cakes that you'd never heard of, but now want to eat. . .

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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