Reviewed by Christy H
I picked up Beth Kendrick’s The Bake-Off for two reasons. 1.) I needed something light after reading a couple of heavy books in a row. 2.) I am obsessed with baking competition shows. Specifically the "Great British Baking Show" (or "Great British Bake Off" in the UK) and its American counterpart, as well as the Food Network’s Baking Championship series which includes a Holiday, Kids, and Spring edition. I don’t know what it is but I find them so engaging and relaxing. And it helps that the contestants are almost always nice and helpful to one another.
In The Bake-Off two sisters enter a brand sponsored competition in the hopes of taking home the prize money for their grandmother’s recipe for szarlotka – essentially a Polish apple pie. Amy, the married older sister, is there to appease their beloved grandmother and take advantage of a kid-free zone. Linnie, the child prodigy turned ne’er-do-well, has entered solely for the shot at the prize money which she desperately needs. Right away there are obstacles.
Amy and Linnie haven’t spoken to each other in years because of something Linnie did as a teen. Neither sister particularly knows how to bake. And to make matters worse their Grammy warns them of the ruthless repeat champions Ty and Tai – a married couple who will stoop to sabotage to win. So much for friendly competition!
Kendrick’s book was predictable but fun. Some of the situations become over the top wacky but it never really loses its charm. I loved the sister storyline, and while I was partial to the “fun sister” Amy, Linnie is interesting as well. She’s very analytical about everything, and I enjoyed her scientific breakdown of baking. Kendrick even includes recipes for the two main dishes featured in the novel. I’m glad I read it, and when my baking shows aren’t airing I think I’ll hunt down more baking themed books in the future to get my fix.