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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

What Baking Can Do

By Gemma Mathers, Holly Butterfield, and Brittany Holness

 

Books possess the unique ability to incorporate everyday activities and create new and exciting stories. Take baking, for instance, which has emerged as a recurring theme in numerous romantic fictions — a seemingly unexpected trend with multifaceted appeal. Baking has been utilised in anything, from cosy romance to dazzling memoirs to gripping murder mysteries, spanning across genres. There seems to be something for all readers here, given its versatility as a key theme in various genres, especially for those who might not typically consider baking-themed novels. This week, we delve into the world of these baking-centric books, exploring their diverse narratives and engaging stories.

 

Romance appears to be the perfect genre for a cosy, baking-themed story. Imagine a protagonist who runs her bakery and then is swept off her feet by a fellow baker. It sounds like a dream, right? In A Sugarloaf Mix-Up by Rosemary Whittaker, the plot is packed full with delicious treats as our love interests take on a local baking competition.

 

An area that this trend nicely lends itself to is Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. Now a top ten New York Times bestseller with a Disney+ adaptation of it, Black Cake is taking the world by storm. This multi-generational tale of identity and family beautifully incorporates this trend, bringing together tradition and culture with a shocking twist. It is a must-read for anyone looking for a compelling novel about the nature of home.

 

A cosy mystery with a baking twist, The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell offers a fresh take on the beloved TV sensation, The Great British Bake Off! (GBBO). It's remarkable how long it's taken for a book inspired by the hit series to emerge, but this one seamlessly blends the charm of the show with Agatha Christie's classic mysteries, resulting in a delightful murder mystery. Deception lurks around every corner, with a diverse cast of characters, none of whom can be trusted. When one of the amateur bakers is found dead during the filming of the fictional series ‘Bake Week’, everyone becomes a suspect. The story really puts the focus on varied bakes, with its themed-cake and bread episodes full of delightful creations! But be warned, this tale is sure to leave you hungry with its detailed descriptions.

 

But it’s not just fiction that centres around a selection of baked goods; Delicacy is a memoir by Katy Wix, drawing readers in with a funny yet painfully raw recollection of her life. This book follows a unique format, telling the tale of her life through 21 snapshots of her life, each beginning with the same memory — a memory of cake!

 

Jumping on the bread trend, Sourdough by Robin Sloan is likened to Fight Club meets GBBO, weaving the tale of Lois, left with only one possession after her family's takeaway closes: the sourdough starter. Follow her journey as she stumbles through learning the basics of baking, eventually selling her products at a local farmer’s market where a whole new world opens up. However, this story takes a dark turn, delving into fantastical possibilities within a sinister underground world.

 

Yet another recommendation that truly brings out the fun nature of this trend is A Wizards Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. Mona, a fourteen-teen-year-old, isn’t like the wizards defending the city; she can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her magic only works on bread. It is a fantasy novel about a young wizard forced into an adventure with magic powers over baked goods. This is exactly what this trend is all about; embracing something quirky and new and unleashing it in full force. T. Kingfisher truly embeds their writing with magic; A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking is not only a heartwarming, fun novel but also a great narrative that shows you don’t need to be the biggest or most powerful to be the strongest character. Our strengths come from the little things that make us special.

 

Finally, it’s impossible to write an entire baking feature without mentioning Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree. This cosy fantasy had people falling in love with this slice-of-life coffee shop story. This is a tale of a found family and, of course, delicious baked goods and hot drinks to go alongside them!

 

Many books have been mentioned that depict baking as a central theme across various genres. Baking has a wide range of appeal due to its versatility in being presented in numerous settings. As a result, this trend is likely to continue growing, as baking adds a romantic touch or makes an otherwise scary murder mystery a little more cosy and lighthearted.

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