Buddy Valastro is the master cake baker at Carlo’s Bake Shop, a 100 year-old bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. For the last two years he’s been the Cake Boss at TLC television. It’s a spirited show featuring Buddy’s mother, four sisters and four brothers-in-law as they all work together in the bakery. It’s fun and interesting to watch the interplay between the volatile family members.
Now Buddy can add author to his list of accomplishments. Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia is a touching family memoir with pictures from their personal photo album. If that’s not enough, half the book is devoted to recipes and instructions on making many of this Italian bakery’s special pastries.
The story section covers the creation of Carlo’s Bake Shop and all the hard work by the whole family to make it a success. My favorite part was when Buddy talked about his father. Buddy loved and respected his father, Buddy, Sr. His father mentored him while he was still in school.
The two Buddys also learned together as they traveled to Italy to reconnect with their Sicilian roots. As it turned out, it was a good thing Buddy Jr. learned the business at an early age. His father died when he was just 17. It was then Buddy’s turn to take over Carlo’s Bake Shop. I also liked reading about Buddy’s struggles to master the elusive Lobster Tails.
The food half of Cake Boss “features thirty-eight never-before-published recipes for Carlo’s Bake Shop’s most popular treats.” That includes cookies, pastries, pies, cakes and cupcakes. There are recipes for Classic and Modern Biscotti, Pignolis, Cannolli, Vanilla, Chocolate and Crumb Cakes, as well as recipes for creams, frostings and fillings.
The directions for each recipe are very complete. In addition, there is a paragraph or two at the beginning of each recipe which provides some background on that particular pastry. Each recipe does not have a picture but there are many pages of full color pictures of the various pastries.
One of the recipes I was especially interested in was Buddy’s Tiramisu. He said that his family refers to this cookie as the “Italian pick-me-up because it has such huge quantities of sugar and caffeine.” Here’s what’s in it: espresso, sugar, coffee liqueur, egg yolks, mascarpone cheese, sweet marsala, heavy cream, cocoa and ladyfingers. Oh, yes, I’m wired just reading the list!
The reason I was interested in the Tiramisu recipe was because of an interview I’d read about the book in USA Today. In it Buddy said this:
“Many families are like tiramisu, he says. “Tiramisu is many different layers making a complex dessert. A family has their layers and personalities, and if a family works together and gets the best out of each other, you have magic.”
Food is intricately woven into the fabric of this family and, yes, you do see the magic. Reading about them warmed my heart in addition to making me drool. This is a good read if you love memoirs or if you’re a Cake Boss TV fan or if you love stories of family dynamics. There’s something for everyone.
To watch Cake Boss, check your TV Guide on Monday night, the TLC channel. They are currently in their fourth season. Here’s their website: Cake Boss on TLC.
Look for this book at your local library or your local bookstore. It’s also available at Amazon. (I’m an Amazon Associate.) I received my copy from the publisher.
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.