Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Bake-off Transforms Television's Food Network Challenge Into Fiction

Beth Kendrick's The Bake-Off is the novel equivalent of the show Food Network Challenge. However, instead of only seeing food contestants in the midst of a food challenge, Kendrick brings us up close and personal inside the lives of two contestants: estranged sisters Amy and Linnie.

When their Grammy Syl cooks up a plot to get the two of them in the same city for the first time in years, both sisters hesitate. After all, anything they do together ends up terribly. Linnie, once a child prodigy who entered college at 16, threw it all away after one semester. Amy, a dental hygienist at her husband's dental practice and mother of twin toddlers, lost herself long ago to diapers and laundry. Linnie has never even met Amy's children; they organize family get-togethers around one another's schedules to avoid being in the same place at the same time.

Szarlotka, via Flickr
But Linnie needs money, and Amy needs excitement. So the two end up as partners in the Delicious Duet baking contest, a dessert challenge in which the winners receive $100,000. Initially, neither sister can bake. In fact, they are somewhat of a disaster in the kitchen. But armed with Grammy's szarlotka recipe (and after several days of baking boot camp thanks to Grammy), they actually begin to stand a chance at winning.

The Bake-Off is a fast and fun read, especially if you are both a reader and a foodie. I could watch Food Network 24 hours a day, and you know how much I love to read. So the two combined together is a nice treat. The characters are likeable, the plot fun, and Kendrick even includes recipes! Read an excerpt of The Bake-Off on Kendrick's website.

Kendrick is also the author of several other novels, including My Favorite Mistake, Exes and Ohs, and Second Time Around. She also contributed to the nonfiction book Everything I Need to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, which makes her a girl after my own heart. I grew up reading Blume, and I love everything she's ever written.

If the above photo of szarlotka (that I borrowed from Flickr) has your mouth watering, you are in luck. Come back by on Monday for not only the recipe (that's right -- the recipe -- the Secret Sisterhood Szarlotka recipe from the novel!), but also a giveaway! NAL Trade, a division of Penguin, is teaming up with A Worn Path to bring you guys not one, but TWO copies of The Bake-Off. Get excited! And don't worry -- I won't let you forget!

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