I was never going to buy another cookery book. Never ever. For a start the bookshelves in my kitchen, of which incidentally I am inordinately proud of having assembled from an IKEA flat pack, are stuffed to capacity. I was especially not going to buy another cookery book with instructions for making cakes because I must already have a zillion recipes for sweet confections. And as for buying a cookery book with a saturated pink cover which has a photograph featuring a cheesecake with a lurid lime-green topping made from jelly – now that would be totally out of the question.
So why then did I end up buying best-selling author Marian Keyes’s Saved by Cake? Here’s how. Usually when I am flicking through a cookery book and indecisively mulling over in my mind whether I should buy it or not, what swings the indecision meter to purchase is discovering a recipe in the book that I haven’t come across before. With Saved by Cake it wasn’t a recipe but the unique introduction that sent me scurrying to the till.
You see, the introduction Marian Keyes wrote to Saved by Cake is an account of her formidable battle with a crippling, long-lasting and a still ongoing bout of depression. It’s an endearingly honest account of her struggle and the suicidal thoughts that plagued her. She spent time in a psychiatric hospital and tried to cure herself using a plethora of different things including: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, reiki, meditation, B12 injection … Nothing worked until she discovered baking, she points out that baking hasn’t ‘cured’ her but that it gets her through. She says in the intorduction “My challenge – everyone’s challenge – is about living through today and I find that baking passes the time. To be perfectly blunt about it, my choice sometimes is: I can kill myself or I can make a dozen cupcakes. Right so, I’ll do the cupcakes and I can kill myself tomorrow”.
I am prone, like the rest of humanity, to occasional low moods. However I am lucky not to suffer from nihilistic despair, but I can well imagine that those who do might be very grateful to Marian Keyes for outing herself and putting depression more out there as a subject for discussion. Naturally she points out that baking will not work for everyone but perhaps that it did for her might just give some solace to those seeking a distraction to get them through a fragmented day that there may well be that yet undiscovered thing that will work for them.
Saved by Cake is in no way a gloomy cookery book; au contraire it is life affirming and enhancing. And guess what despite my stash of recipes I came across a few in the book that I hadn’t seen before. I have yet to bake it but I suspect I will like a lot the Three Milks Cake (aka A hug in a Cake), described as the perfect cake for when you have had a bad shock.