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Bake Offs: Tasty Books and Prize Winning Recipes for You to Try at Home

28 Nov

My son and I love to bake together; the weekend I wrote this post we made cookies for a class party.  But one thing we love almost as much as baking itself is to watch baking competitions together on TV.  Here are a few suggestions that you might enjoy if you too love the sweet taste of victory.

Great British Baking Show
GreatBritishBakingShow

I was curious to first checkout the Great British Baking Show because I was a fan of one of the hosts, Sue Perkins from the funny historical foodie show Supersizers Go…  I found this show just as delightful with contestants who are sweetly kind to one another rather than being cut throat like many reality competitions. They compete in three rounds: the first, a signature bake puts their unique spin on a classic, the second round where they must recreate one of the judge’s tricky bakes with minimal instructions, and a final show stopper round where the baked good frequently almost look too beautiful to eat. Even when disaster occurs and a contestant has a dreaded “soggy bottom” on one of their tarts the judges always have at least a kind word or two for the bakers. You’ll be rooting for your favorite baker and wishing you could taste the delicious looking treats they prepare.  Besides two of the seasons, Hoopla also has available Master Classes with Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who show you how to make their special treats.

Plus you can get the behind the scenes scoop with The Story Of The Great British Bake Off by Anita Singh.  You can borrow seasons 1-5 on DVD and try out the recipes yourselves with The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking and The Great British Bake Off: Perfect Cakes and Bakes to Make at Home by Linda Collister from BCCLS libraries.  Learn more about judge, Paul Hollywood, in his memoir/cookbook A Baker’s Life: From Childhood Bakes to Five-Star Excellence.

The Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Series

bestofpillsburydesserts

Image from Hoopla

The Great British Baking Show is titled The Great British Bake Off in the UK, but changed its name because of Pillsbury’s copyright on the phrase in the US .  The Bake Off sponsored by Pillsbury is one of the most legendary in this country.  You can borrow a variety of cook books from Hoopla divided into different dishes including one on desserts which covers yummy goodies from over 50 years of competition from 1957’s now classic French Silk Chocolate Pie to more modern winners.  The book also looks back at the history of the competition and how desserts have evolved.  Each recipe includes the contestant’s name, home town, and year they competed.  You can also borrow bake off books on casseroles and specifically on making my family’s favorites: cookies and bars.

The Bake-Off
by Beth Kendrick
bake off
The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick use a national bake-off as the setting that brings together two very different estranged sisters. Their grandmother thinks a top-secret family pie recipe will not just have them winning the competition but also find common ground. Of course, neither one is a baker, and if you’ve ever tried to bake one you might be questioning the phrase “easy as pie.”

If you are a fan of foodie fiction you can also check out All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant where aspiring baker Kat’s best friend Lucas Brannen signs her up for TV baking competition called Cupcake Combat; it seems like Kat may achieve her dreams, but Lucas is afraid he might lose Kat to the big city.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

A Nose for Mystery and Murder: The Essence of Malice, The Sniffer, The Emperor of Scent, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and Perfume: The Story of a Murder

16 May

Break out the blood hounds this week, the library picks blog is tracking works with the scent of mystery.

The Essence of Malice
by Ashley Weaver

essence_of_malice

The Essence of Malice is Ashley Weaver’s fourth book in her Amory Ames Mystery series starring a wealthy British Amateur detective who solves crimes in Europe in the 1930’s.  In The Essence of Malice, Amory tries to unravel a mystery when something smells suspicious in the death of a famous Parisian perfumer and learns that all is not what it seems amongst his family, who are struggling over the control of his perfume empire.  I especially enjoyed the twist ending.  Amory’s husband is a bit of a cad and this, like the other novels, deals with the suspicions and strife that occasionally pop up in their relationship; although this made me mildly dislike Miles, I found it refreshing to see a less than perfect spouse since so often in cozy mysteries the detective’s partner is a paragon of virtue. You can also check out the earlier books in the series Murder at the Brightwell, Death Wears a Mask, and A Most Novel Revenge.  The fifth book in the series, An Act of Villainy will be available September 4 and revolves around a mystery at a theater.

The Sniffer – Season 1
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The Sniffer is a Russian mystery series that Hoboken Library Resident Card Holders can stream from Hoopla.  “The Sniffer” is both blessed and cursed with an extraordinary sense of smell which helps him solve mystery and thwart crimes, but also plagues him in his private life.  If like me, you enjoyed Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the brilliant, but irritable protagonist in the series House, than The Sniffer’s prickly detective should appeal.  There are eight episodes in season one so it is perfect for a long rainy weekend binge.

The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses
by Chandler Burr
emperor_of_scent
The Emperor of Scent is about a scientist, Dr. Luca Turin, who sought to unravel the mystery of what allows us to smell.  Dr. Turin believes that it isn’t the shape of molecules that allows us to smell, but the way the molecules vibrate that allow us to distinguish odors, but he is thwarted in pursuit to publish and promote his theory.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
by Patrick Süskind
Perfume_Murderer
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a historical fantasy novel which was originally published in German as Das Parfum.  The book follows a boy that though born without a scent himself, can perfectly smell the world around him.  This leads him on a quest for the perfect scent, which results in an obsession that leads to murder in order to distill the most pristine of odors.  You can also checkout the film adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume
by Tilar J. Mazzeo
ChanelNo5
Everyone has their favorite scents; I love Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Aunt Caroline’s Joy Mojo, which never fails to brighten my day.  Tilar J. Mazzeo unbottles the mystery of one of the most beloved fragrances of so many in The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  The work moves from Coco Chanel’s success as a fashion icon, through the years to the scents increasing acclaim, and continued popularity even today when shelves are packed with celebrity endorsed perfumes.  It is available in print, but Hoboken Library Patron can check it out right now as an ebook or digital audiobook from Hoopla!

Written by: Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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