RT brings you an exclusive first look at Beth Kendrick's upcoming novel, The Bake-Off. We go beyond the back cover blurb for this special look at The Bake-Off, which will hit bookstores in early May.

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Certain flavors just naturally go together: Peanut butter and chocolate. Vanilla ice cream and apple pie. Whipped cream and the washboard abs of a hot hero.

Oops. Did I say that out loud?

The Bake-Off is a story about Amy, a suburban soccer mom who just wants to stand out from the crowd, and her younger sister Linnie, a former child prodigy who just wants to fit in. Amy and Linnie had a huge falling-out ten years ago, and nothing can bring them together again…nothing, that is, except the manipulations of their wily grandmother and their need for money and publicity. So, “borrowing” a family recipe that’s been passed down for generation, the sisters enter a national baking competition and prepare to whisk their way to riches and glory.

As you can imagine, problems start to crop up almost immediately. Along with a very tall, dark, and sexy stranger.

When I came up with the premise for this book, I thought the writing would be a snap. My characters can’t bake, and neither can I, so we have lots in common. Woo hoo! Rule-breakers and rebels unite!

Except, by the end of the story, Amy and Linnie have learned how to bake. Specifically, they’re making apple pie from scratch, including the crust, which is the pastry equivalent of an ice skater executing a triple axel and sticking the landing at the Olympics.

The time had come to stop coasting on good intentions and brownies from a mix. Time to turn off Top Chef and The Food Network and get my hands dirty (or at least lightly dusted with flour). As part of my research, I interviewed a woman who’s spent decades on the competitive cooking circuit. She gave me the inside scoop on things like how to prepare for competition day and little things that can sway the judges in your favor (like choosing a sassy, catchy name for your recipe), but of course I wanted juicy gossip and tales of intrigue. She kept insisting that 99% of the people she’d met at competitions were charming and delightful.

So naturally I wrote my book all about the other 1% — the backstabbing, ruthless, sabotaging drama queens. 

I also enrolled in a two-day “intensive baking workshop” at a local cooking school. This turned out to be a 48-hour crash course in humility. I was, to put it tactfully, the problem child in class. All the other students were showing off their superior knife skills and chatting knowledgably about things like “flavor profiles”, while I practically amputated my thumb with an apple peeler. I gave it my all, though. I sliced and sautéed and worked the food processor like a pro. I rolled my crust out into a perfect circle, wove strips of dough into a perfect lattice, and baked at 350 until bubbly and golden brown.

Then I stood back while the instructor sampled the finished product. She took a tiny bite, put down her fork, and cleared her throat.

“There are two types of pie,” she said. “And you were trying to make the other kind.”

As soon as she said it, I grabbed a pen—that line is totally going in the book.

I had so much fun writing The Bake-Off, and I hope you have fun reading it. There’s a little something for everybody: butter, sugar, sisterly love, a few misdemeanors, a lot of scandal, and oh yeah, a thoroughly delicious mystery man with abs you could roll piecrust on. Bon appétit!

- Beth Kendrick

Beth Kendrick's The Bake-Off is scheduled to be released on May 3rd, 2011. For more information about Beth and her books, you can visit her website: www.BethKendrick.com and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BethKendrickBooks. And if you are interested in learning about other upcoming releases, click here!

Tags: RT Daily Blog, Mainstream
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