More than anything, I am my father's son, and so I need to begin telling my story by telling his story, and the story of my mother, and of their romance, and of the family bakery they ran together, because it's the world my sisters and I, and our families, continue to inhabit today...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"I Remember all the things that bought my family and me to this moment."
Have you watched Cake Boss on TV?! It is the reality show starring Buddy Valastro, owner and master baker of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. This reality show, though, takes place right in the bakery, which is filled with his mother, four sisters, brother-in-laws, and all the other people who help create amazing over the top cakes, and it's simply a great show. But what Buddy's book, Cake Boss, does is show us what really makes his family tick, because not only is Cake Boss a more intimate look at the family you know from the show, it is a memoir of Buddy's family coming to America and eventually opening up Carlo's Bakery. (And if you thought things got fiery on the show, there's plenty of fire in the family history too!)
From the book jacket... In Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia, Buddy reveals how he came to be America's Favorite Baker and the inspirational tale of how his ancestors strove to succeed in America. Distinctively earnest, always honest, Buddy shares this story of perfecting his skills, honing his business instincts, and, ultimately, taking Carlo's to new heights, improving even time-honored recipes while breaking new ground with the astonishing theme cakes for which he is internationally renowned. An inspiring tale of life, love, and loss, Cake Boss is also the story behind the bakery's most sought after pastries, pies cupcakes and cakes. Layered with stories of family, tradition, hard work, and innovation, the book also features thirty-seven never-before-published recipes for Carlo's Bake Shop's most popular treats...
Cake Boss is the story of Buddy Valastro and his family, but it is also the story of immigration and success. It is a story of coming to America for a better life, working hard and succeeding. The family's story begins with Antonio Valastro, at the beginning of WWII, when poverty was widespread in Sicily. Antonio left the family to follow his dreams in America (He eventually brought the family over). Antonio was Buddy's grandfather, and this is the humble beginnings of a family of bakers in America. I almost forgot that I was reading about "the Cake Boss", because this family story doesn't need a famous name to be interesting, it's a great story all on its own. The family stories are wonderful, and I loved reading about the family traditions too.
Filled with family photos, family stories, and stories about the bakery,(as well as lots of info about how the show on TLC is put together) this would be a great read without anything else added, BUT then we get a treat at the end of the book! Chapter 10 begins "Recipes from Mia Famiglia: Cookies, Pastries, Pies, Cakes, and Cupcakes! First we get a mini lesson on basic tools, equipement, techniques and advice. And then we get RECIPES! These recipes are well written and easy to understand, they are scaled down for a home kitchen, and they are 1 or 2 pages long (except for the Lobster Tails recipe that only the brave would try!) Some of the highlights to me are the Tiramisu, which has a wonderful full color photo in the beginning of the recipes, Ricotta Pie, Banana Cream Pie, and RED VELVET CAKE! But there are plenty of recipes to satisfy any baker, including Italian Buttercream, Chocolate Mousse, and Chocolate Ganache!
Since I was writing the review during Thanksgiving, I decided to give Buddy's Pumpkin Pie a try. Not really a traditional Italian specialty, Carlo's Bakery always sold Pumpkin Pies at Thanksgiving. Since I never make one before, this would be a true test for a pie everyone is familiar with. Well, in one word, Buddy's Pumpkin Pie was a hit at Thanksgiving! Firm but creamy, with lots of flavor! Easy to put together, and Buddy even allowed me to use an unbaked store bought pie crust, although there is a homemade pie crust recipe in the book. Now, this will be a tradition in our house on Thanksgiving!
If you love to bake, if you love to read, if someone on your Christmas list bakes, this would make a great gift! The writing is as entertaining as Buddy is on his show Cake Boss, but if you've never seen the show you will still enjoy reading the story of this family coming over from Sicily. And if baking is your thing, or if you'd like a few tips and some great Italian bakery recipes, this is a well written, good variety baking book. I make this my pick for a great Christmas gift for the baker on your list. (Or anyone who loves Cake Boss!) * Sound like something you'd like to read? Well, stop back later in the week to enter to win a copy!
Go to Carlo's Bakery to learn more about those great cakes that the Cake Boss makes! BTW, want to make that Pumpkin Pie? You can find the recipe on ReadersDigest.com. And to make reading this book even sweeter, Cake Boss is available for Your Kindle!
I want to thank Free Press and Simon & Schuster for sending along a copy of Cake Boss for review! Loved it!