28 June 2013

Saved by Cake

By Marian Keyes
Published by the Penguin Group
First published 2012
As anyone who has read her novels already knows, Marian Keyes is a very funny woman.  What is not so funny is her battle with depression.  It's no secret - she has talked openly about her depression, her good days and her bad days, and how Twitter in particular has helped bring her back into contact with the world.  What really saved her, however, is baking. 

In the book's introduction, Marian recounts some of her darkest hours:

"I had a 'suicide bag' that included, among other things, sheets of A4 paper, Sellotape and big markers.  These were to write big warning signs to be stuck to the door of the hotel bathroom...I'd decided, after lots of deliberating, that it would be better to kill myself at a hotel."

Then, one day, she baked a cake.

"...I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes.  Right so, I'll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow."

The concentration required to read the recipes and measure the ingredients was what Marian needed to keep the suicidal thoughts at bay.  Lucky for us, her depression started to lift and Marian started to become her old self again.  Her old self with new skills, that is.  She is now an official cook book author and a pretty dab hand at decorating.

The recipes in her book are a mixture of ingredients and Marian's personal experience in baking the cake (or pie, or meringue, or biscuit).  These tidbits of information are often quite funny but seem to be particularly helpful if you have not baked before and are in need of advice from someone who has already made the same mistake you are about to make.

If you are vegan or vegetarian you will probably not be baking most of these goodies.  There are some recipes there that can be veganised, but not all of them can be changed and still provide the flavour of the original.  Vegan or not, baker or not, this book is still interesting to read.  I enjoyed reading all the recipes, planning what I could do to tweak them to my needs, and laughed out loud at Marian's many asides. 

Mostly, I enjoyed her passion for baking.  It's a reminder that, when you least expect it, something can happen to turn your life around.

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