And so Joe’s Week of Rose draws near an end. Some of you loved it, some of you hated it, all of you have much more important things going on in your lives. Yet there is a question that’s still hanging out there: Joe, where did you end up? Which is to say, for all my meandering from topic to topic, interview to recipe and back again, where have I ended up in regard to my original criticism of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes?
The answer is that I’ve come to appreciate the book quite a bit, and more than on a mere technical level. On the point of “excess” in some of the recipes (and in truth I only have a problem with some of them) I haven’t changed my mind, but then I wasn’t bound to change my mind on that, was I? I mean, when it comes to matters of personal preference, people tend not to budge much. I like my cakes and desserts on the simpler, more straightforward side. That’s part of what makes me “Joe.”
It funny, but looking back at what I wrote about Julie and Julia a week ago, I find some parallels to my critique Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Make no mistake: I like this book a whole lot more than I liked that movie. However what those two things have in common is that neither one was produced with someone like me in mind. Which is to say, a technically-minded straight male who drinks beer and owns a chainsaw. I’m not trying to portray myself as some sort of he-man here (I mean come on, I keep a pastry blog), but I think you can see what I’m getting at: Rose’s Heavenly Cakes is a book that’s aimed primarily at women.
What makes me say that? There’s the design for one: lots of reds, pinks and whites, floral graphic elements and handwritten typefaces. And then of course there’s the luscious photography that I commented on originally. I don’t think I’m being sexist here when I say that the only thing that appeals to most women more than a sensuous, glossy, full-bleed photo of a chocolatey dessert is a one-day-only half-off shoe sale at Macy’s.
I’m simply not in the so-called “sweet spot” of this book’s demographic. It’s also a marked change for her, at least to my eyes. Especially coming off the Bread Bible which might as well have been sheathed in rawhide it’s so masculine in its look and feel, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes really threw me. But I get it now, even if I don’t enjoy it to the extent that most of the rest of Rose’s core audience does. For my part I want the formulas, the tables and the science behind the new techniques. The frills aren’t important to me. However I’ve learned that they are to Rose. As an artist (and RLB really does have a design degree), they’re tremendously important. Given the limits of what she’s been able to achieve in her publishing career thus far, that part of her hasn’t really registered on me until now.
But I accept it. I appreciate it. And from now on, I’ll be a little more open to it.