I just finished a draft of the first chapter of my cookbook! This had me feeling pretty pleased with myself until I remembered that I have to do that nine more times. Things are going to get ugly come June, I can tell you that much.
So, what's it like writing a dessert cookbook? I won't lie. It's pretty awesome. Especially at this early stage where my editor isn't breathing down my neck, yet, and I can pretend that what I'm cooking and writing is exactly what she wants, and she's going to make sweet, sweet love to my manuscript! But I know that's all wrong. A good editor will poke holes in every aspect of what you've written, questioning the very foundation of your ideas, until the world as you knew it doesn't make sense anymore and slow death feels like a better alternative than all the nit-picking work you have ahead of you. Of course, after the revision process is complete, even you have to admit that your manuscript is a million times better than it was before, but by then all the hard work is over so it's a lot easier to be honest.
The biggest problem with a book that revolves around sugar, as you might imagine, is all the sugar flying around. Before I started this project, a five-pound bag of sugar could last me two months easy. Now I'm lucky if it lasts the week. My brown sugar spends so little time in the pantry that it stays soft and fluffy instead of turning into the usual stale bag of marbles. I'm single-handedly keeping Cabot in the butter business. And I don't even want to tell you how many empty containers of heavy cream are in my recycling bin right now, but it looks like all the neighborhood babies crawled over here last night and had a huge bender.
In order to stay on schedule, I draft 2-3 different recipes every week. Each one has to be made 2-3 times to get it to the level it needs to be. Maybe more if it insists on sucking. Often, that translates to seven or eight desserts coming out of my oven per week. In other words, 7-8 bowls that get licked, 7-8 cakes/pies/puddings to be tasted and compared to the ones before, each one tempting me with the sweet promise of a sugar-high and an equally dramatic sugar-low. My workout regimen can barely keep up!
The obvious answer to this problem of surplus sweets is to give them away, right? And I have many willing takers, including neighbors, teachers at my kids' school, and farmers at my farm. I'm more than happy to give away the good stuff. Proud, even. But who wants to claim credit for the crappy stuff? Not me. Even I have some pride. My creative process is messy and unpleasant. It's not good PR to be all, here, have another shitty cake and, by the way, buy my cookbook! Yet, I can't bear to throw food away. So what ends up happening is that the reject versions sit around for days cluttering up my kitchen counters until I realize that I need one of the baking dishes that's already in use. Before I know it, I've blacked out face-down over a tray of subpar bread pudding until Husband comes home and, after peeling my face out of the custard and clearing my airways, scrapes everything into the trash while I protest incomprehensibly.
See? It's not all fun and games, people. This is serious, serious business.
But I will say that I'm very proud of the work I've done so far. I can only hope that a diabetic coma doesn't claim me before I have a chance to finish!