The Messy Baker: A review and a giveaway! | eat. live. travel. write.

The Messy Baker: A review and a giveaway!

The Messy Baker on eatlivetravelwrite.comIf you’re a home baker, you’ll know that baking is often messy.  It’s not all clean counters and “here’s one we made earlier” atmosphere that you see on many cooking shows.  But many cookbooks don’t acknowledge this, preferring to present baking as a clean past-time where you create perfect iterations of complicated-looking (and sounding!) baked goods and desserts.   It can be a little frustrating (“Why doesn’t my kitchen look so well-organised?” “Why doesn’t my XYZ look perfect like it does in the book?”).  Enter Charmian Christie, author of the recently-published The Messy Baker (and blog of the same name), who totally “gets” that in the real-world, we don’t all have fancy kitchens or equipment.  For Charmian,  lopsided cookies and “interestingly-shaped” pies are the norm, and, in The Messy Baker, these less-than-perfect iterations are celebrated, not than shunned because they are “not perfect”.  Charmian’s is a “real kitchen”.

The Messy Baker is a lovely combination of useful information and real, do-able recipes.

If you’re a baking geek like me, you’ll appreciate the first section of the book which includes a chapter on  “The Basics.”  There’s information about kitchen equipment (gadgets you “can’t do without”, those ones that would be “nice to have” and  the ones where you get to say to yourself “I’m a Baker and I’ve Earned it”.  I appreciated the over 20 pages of information about Essential Ingredients as well.  A useful Glossary of commonly-used terms appears at the back of the book along with a section outlining Common Measurements and Equivalents (though if you are a metric baker, be aware that all the weight measurements are in ounces and if you are used to baking by weight, most of the recipes in the book still call for volume measurements). There are thoughtful touches like the information about about Adjusting Cake Pan Sizes (because , even though you might want them all, we can’t all have every type of cake pan!) and an Emergency Substitutions section (Help!  You have the wrong type of an ingredient or are missing one entirely with no way of getting hold of it – not that – ahem, that ever happens to me!).

Messy Baker choux puffs on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe book itself is divided into chapters with slightly confusing names (at least for me, I didn’t find them intuitive) : Pastry, Flaky, Crumbly, Dippable, Sloppy, Smudgy, Gritty and Drippy.  Cute, huh? But I didn’t find them easy to understand in terms of knowing what type of recipes would be in each chapter (would you consider a gingersnap “Smudgy?”).  Each chapter does list the recipes at the beginning, so you will most likely spend a little bit of time going through the book to see what’s where.  I am the type of person who likes to have recipes of the same type grouped together (for example: there are tarts in each of the Smudgy, Sloppy and Flaky chapters), but organisation (of recipes in particular) is a very personal thing and this type of sectioning seems to suit Charmian’s style.

Messy Baker Profiteroles on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe recipes themselves are easy to understand, and approachable.  I’ve bookmarked a lot of them!  Coming soon to my kitchen? Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Tart (can you say Thanksgiving?), Sweet Potato Samosas (I tried one many at Charmian’s book launch), Blueberry-Lime Cornmeal Muffins (ditto!), Double Stuffed Oreo Cookies (ahem, ditto!), Dill Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Tzatziki, Fig and Apricot Newtons, Chewy Fruit and Nut Bars and the list goes on…. The balance of sweet and savoury is nice – I think that all too often we think of “baking” as being “sweet” or “just desserts” but there is so much baking over on the savoury side!

I chose to make Charmian’s profiteroles for our annual street party last month and can attest to the fact that these are so-good-they-won’t-make-it-to-the-table!  The first batch disappeared before I made it to the dessert spread and the second batch had people literally lining up or seeking me out in the crowd to taste the “cream puffs”.  Yes, they are that good.  I’m a bit of a choux pastry connoisseur so was interested to try this recipe and it did not disappoint. Charmian walks you through the process of making the pastry in a friendly, easy-to-understand manner that totally takes the intimidation factor out of these fancy-but-so-easy (sssh!) desserts!

If you’re a “real baker”, you’ll love The Messy Baker.


Did you know? It’s #MessybakerMonday !  A group of us are posting Messy Baker recipes today – head on over to check out:

Jenny – Whiskey Kissed Cream pie
Robyn – Blueberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins
Jan – Chili Cheese Twists
Brittany – Chery and Lemon Macaroon Meringues
Rhonda – Ginger and Vanilla Scones
Heather – Piglet Muffins with Caramelized Bacon
Louisa – Double Stuffed Uber Oreos
Libby – Basil and Aged Cheddar Scones and Deep Dark Cherry and Chipotle Brownies
Christina – Savory Pecan Cheddar Bites
Meg – Rhubarb Raspberry Galette with Frangipane
Jennifer – Tomato Arugula Stuffed Foccacia
Stephanie – Smoked Paprika Corn Fritters
Valerie – Welsh Griddle Cakes
Liliana – Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt Sticky Buns

A Messy Baker giveaway!

Harper Collins Canada is offering one lucky eat. live. travel. write. reader (in Canada) the chance to win a copy of The Messy Baker!

How to enter:

There are 2 ways to enter (maximum of two entries per person for the duration of the contest).

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me your baking style – are you a messy baker or not?
2. Tweet the following message: Enter to win @charmian_c ‘s Messy Baker from @HarperCollinsCa + @eatlivtravwrite (Canada). Details: http://bit.ly/1uwBzv3

then come back to leave a second comment letting me know you did.

Eligibility and contest rules:

– Open to Canadian readers only.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using www.random.org) from all qualified entries on Wednesday October 8th 2014 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email Thursday October 9th 2014.

Bonus! For another chance to win a copy of The Messy Baker, check out my review over at RecipeGeek.Com!


Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of The Messy Baker for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.


Canadians – win a KitchenAid Produce Preserver and a $50 to stock up on fresh produce. Closes Wednesday October 1st 6pm EST. Details here.

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56 Responses to The Messy Baker: A review and a giveaway!

  1. Steven Wilson September 29, 2014 at 06:50 #

    They don’t get much messier. I can dirty every bowl in the house. Luckily the results make it all worth it!

  2. Steven Wilson September 29, 2014 at 06:50 #


  3. Carolyn September 29, 2014 at 08:05 #

    I always start off with the best of intentions to not be messy, but by the time dessert is finished my kitchen is generally a disaster!

  4. Victoria September 29, 2014 at 08:38 #

    Now that baking usually includes holding our 8 month old, I’ve definitely become a messy baker!! Thanks for this great opportunity 🙂

  5. Victoria September 29, 2014 at 08:39 #

    Tweeted! (@ItyBtyBalebusta)

  6. Aimee @ Simple Bites September 29, 2014 at 08:51 #

    I’m not a super messy baker….but when the kids join me, well that is another story!

  7. Aimee @ Simple Bites September 29, 2014 at 08:52 #

    I tweeted!

  8. Christine September 29, 2014 at 09:16 #

    I don’t think I’m a “Messy Baker” but my family might say something differently.LOL Kitchens in newer homes aren’t large and have less and less counter space to use for “Baking”. Which means clean-up is a must! But this doesn’t stop me from doing something I love to do. 🙂

  9. LJ Stubbs September 29, 2014 at 09:32 #

    Not so messy… it’s me that has to clean up after I’ve finished, so I try to be tidy as I go.

  10. Pat Elliott September 29, 2014 at 12:19 #

    I am a messy baker as I do the mixing but I do like to tidy throughout a multi-stage recipe. I need to be organized when working with a recipe with many ingredients so I don’t miss anything. My kids have heard me talking to myself as I bake. They do shake their heads and have questioned my sanity at times. But they do appreciate the results.

  11. Pat Elliott September 29, 2014 at 12:20 #

    I tweeted @pelliott75

  12. Pauline September 29, 2014 at 12:33 #

    I’m a tidy-as-you-go baker mostly because my kitchen is tiny, so there’s not much of a choice there but my baked goods definitely do not look like the picture; everything’s misshapen but still tasty!

  13. Charlie September 29, 2014 at 13:32 #

    I try to keep everything organized, and the prep done ahead of time.

    But if I’m baking several things that day, and people are in and out of the kitchen, then yes, it can get messy.

  14. Heather S September 29, 2014 at 13:32 #

    I am not a messy baker 🙂

  15. Heather S September 29, 2014 at 13:33 #


  16. Leanne Parker September 29, 2014 at 14:29 #

    I’m not a messy baker. I try to clean up as I go, and put things away once I’m done because I have limited counter space.

  17. @LaCuisineHelene September 29, 2014 at 15:50 #

    I am not a messy baker, I like to keep the kitchen clean as much as I can when I bake.

  18. @LaCuisineHelene September 29, 2014 at 15:50 #

    I tweeted about the giveaway.

  19. Karine September 29, 2014 at 16:11 #

    I’m a pretty messy baker!

  20. Charmian @TheMessyBaker September 29, 2014 at 16:57 #

    You did a fabulous job of the profiteroles! Next time, make them more wonky, okay? You’re making me look bad.

    Thanks for hosting a giveaway and sharing your enthusiasm!

  21. Marisa E September 29, 2014 at 17:29 #

    I’m definitely a flour-on-the-floor, batter-in-my-hair, every-bowl-spoon-and-spatula-used messy baker!

  22. jan September 29, 2014 at 17:35 #

    I’m SUPER clean. I clean as I go.

  23. Meg @ Sweet Twist September 29, 2014 at 18:20 #

    Your list of things to bake from the book is as long as mine. So much goodness to try.

  24. Jessica September 29, 2014 at 19:26 #

    I used to hate admitting that I’m a messy baker (think flour everywhere kind of messy), but now I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one! 🙂

  25. Geoff September 29, 2014 at 19:44 #

    I’m not a baker at all…. but I like to eat baked goods.
    However, I do know personally some very messy bakers.

  26. Tracey September 29, 2014 at 21:11 #

    I try to clean up as I bake but it still gets pretty messy.

  27. Leslie W-H September 29, 2014 at 22:05 #

    With a total of 3 feet of working counter space, I have no option other than messy baking!

  28. Leslie W-H September 29, 2014 at 22:07 #

    Tweeted! @Marmaloo3

  29. Laureen Fox September 30, 2014 at 01:16 #

    I don’t consider myself a messy baker but my husband who usually ends up cleaning up after me likely has a different opinion…I bake, he cleans, we eat!

  30. A Canadian Foodie September 30, 2014 at 08:44 #

    Those are some mighty fine looking “cream puffs” 🙂 🙂
    I am not a profiteroles connoisseur, but I think I will make that my new goal. That is my kind of inspiration!
    Yup, love the book!

  31. Britt @ My Daily Randomness September 30, 2014 at 08:50 #

    These look amazing Mardi! I can see how they would have disappeared quickly! 😉

  32. Marlene September 30, 2014 at 11:00 #

    I’m a fairly organized baker, but usually manage to make a mess!

  33. Marlene September 30, 2014 at 11:02 #

    I tweeted! @MusingMar

  34. Amy C October 1, 2014 at 01:43 #

    I’m not a messy baker.

  35. Amy C October 1, 2014 at 01:44 #

    I tweeted

  36. RoniP October 1, 2014 at 18:34 #

    Haha didn’t know it was possible to be a clean baker…..

    • RoniP October 1, 2014 at 18:35 #

      I also tweeted 🙂

  37. Linda Matarasso October 1, 2014 at 22:41 #

    I posted the twitter link to my @integrityfilms Twitter account… 🙂

  38. Joanne M October 2, 2014 at 12:50 #

    I am actually not too messy when it comes to baking. I tend to clean as a I go if I get a spill but because I dislike washing dishes, the sink at the end of the day usually looks like a disaster zone.

  39. Joanne M October 2, 2014 at 12:53 #

    Just tweeted: https://twitter.com/JoMakesStuff

  40. Sharana @ Living The Sweet Life Blog October 2, 2014 at 14:12 #

    I am DEFINITELY a messy baker – counter tops are always covered in ingredients, dishes piled high in the sink, drips of chocolate and caramel every where!!

  41. jan October 2, 2014 at 22:18 #

    I am a little messy ….

  42. Jess W. October 2, 2014 at 23:47 #

    Super messy!

  43. Mary October 3, 2014 at 17:35 #

    Baking is messy business! I try, I really try…to clean up as i go…but its not easy…label me messy if u must

  44. Mark October 4, 2014 at 02:45 #

    Messy….always always messy despite the best intentions.

  45. nicolthepickle October 6, 2014 at 15:29 #

    I am a messy baker when my kids are helping. I’m trying to be more patient about them spilling all over the counter or getting dough all the way up to their elbows. When they’re not there I’m not too bad though.

  46. nicolthepickle October 6, 2014 at 15:32 #

    Here’s my tweet, and this book looks wonderful. It look so very real, and yet so yummy.

  47. Kathleen October 8, 2014 at 09:55 #

    I am such a messy baker, no doubt


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