The Great British Bakeoff Readalikes

Wikipedia’s Description: The Great British Bake Off (often referred to as Bake Off or GBBO) is a British television baking competition produced by Love Productions, in which a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking skills.

Readalikes for Teens/Adults

Appeals: Cooking/baking, foodie culture

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Amazon’s Description:  Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy’s original inventions.”

Crossover Appeal:  Colorful illustrations (and illustrated recipes, which will remind viewers of Tom Hovey’s animated explanations of contestants’ dishes) combined with the (mostly) light tone of this graphic memoir and its foodie jargon make it an easy sell to fans.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Amazon’s Description: On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.”

Crossover Appeal: Much of the appeal of The Great British Bakeoff is (as it is with most reality competition shows) in the way it presents contestants’ personal histories and follows their emotional ups and downs throughout filming.  Bender’s magical-realist novel is chock-full of pathos (and a darker sense of ennui than fans of The Great British Bakeoff may be used to) which is deftly balanced out with detailed food prose.  Give to the fans who equally enjoy the baked goods and the interpersonal drama of the show.

American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes by Anne Byrn

Amazon’s Description:  Cakes have become an icon of American cultureand a window to understanding ourselves. Be they vanilla, lemon, ginger, chocolate, cinnamon, boozy, Bundt, layered, marbled, even checkerboard–they are etched in our psyche. Cakes relate to our lives, heritage, and hometowns. And as we look at the evolution of cakes in America, we see the evolution of our history: cakes changed with waves of immigrants landing on our shores, with the availability (and scarcity) of ingredients, with cultural trends and with political developments.”

Crossover Appeal:  Remind your Great British Bakeoff fans that not all good cakes come from across the pond, and hand them this well-researched cookbook that features both lush food photography (watch out for drool!) and an unexpected depth of fascinating early-American history (did you know that a pan called the ‘kugelhoff’ — popular in Scandinavia, Germany, and eastern Europe — was the precursor to the Bundt pan?).

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Amazon’s Description: When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine–and a dashing sommelier–he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter–starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.”

Readalike Appeal: With a peek inside the competitive world of restaurant culture and a hefty dose of foodie lingo throughout, this is another easy fiction sell for your Great British Bakeoff fans.  Reads like a combination of an English novel-of-manners and interlocking short story collection with its complexity and character vignettes.

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