The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver
The official blurb:

“Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!

Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.

As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…”

The perfect combination of ingredients for good foodie fiction: plenty of focus on the food, great atmosphere (Paris in Winter), romance and dreams coming true! I also found the characters and situations easy to identify with which makes is perfect when you’re after a bit of escapism.

I read this book on holiday in a couple of days. It’s a very light read but really enjoyable. I loved all the baking descriptions, e.g. “Slices of figs dusted with white snow sugar sat on squares of honey-infused filo with brandy syrup and a mascarpone cream.” It made me want to get the oven on and get baking.

My only criticism is that there were a couple of foodie errors like confusing Eton Mess with Mont Blanc. I wonder if they’re looking for a foodie proofreader? I’d love that job :-)

Recipes included: Rainbow Macaroons, Chocoate Profiteroles, Spinach and Feta Filo Pie, Henri’s Bread, Madeleines, Candy Cane Squares, Coffee Éclairs and Berry Kir Royale.