I interviewed the lovely Judy Gelman a long time ago about her wonderful idea: The Book Club Cookbook. Such a smart idea: pairing foods with the novels you love to read and sharing it with your book club! I mean what is there not to love!

And now, Judy and her co-author, Vicki Levy Krupp will help your book club get creative as they release their newest cookbook that has essays and recipes for new as well as timeless classic books. In particular, this new book features:

A few years ago, I had interview the duo about their personal favorites… so here is a blast from the past that I share because I loved their choices (all these recipes are in their new book):

  • THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd, paired with Honey Cake.  Sue Monk Kidd contributed a honey cake recipe that her husband prepared for the launch party of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.
  • LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel, paired with Tandoori Shrimp. This recipe came from the Dallas Gourmet Book Club, it tiesd together the main character’s Indian heritage, his craving for Indian Food, and the marine theme of the book.
  • SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS by David Guterson, paired with Mrs. Shibayama’s Fresh Strawberry Pie.The fictional island setting for this book, about Japanese strawberry farmers during WWII, was modeled on Puget Sound’s Bainbridge Island.  The authors discovered a member of a Seattle-based book club, the Epicureaders, who had not only descended from Japanese strawberry farmers on Bainbridge Island, but was also a former chef and she created the recipe here.
  • THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown, paired with Death by Chocolate cake. A chef prepared this dessert for participants in the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Great Books Dinner and Discussion.
  • CANE RIVER by Lalita Tademy, paired with Joan and Lalita’s Peach Cobbler. CANE RIVER is a fictional account of Lalita Tademy’s slave history, and she told us the recipe for the peach cobbler described in the first chapter had been passed down from the plantation cookhouse through generations of women in her family.

More recent recipes visit: http://www.bookclubcookbook.com/MainRecipePage.htm

For featuring here, I selected a recipe associated with one of the new books on the market: The Help.
Caramel Cake

Copyright 2012 The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition, by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp


The recipe for Caramel Icing is adapted from The Memphis Cookbook (The Junior League of Memphis, Inc., 1952); recipe submitted by Mrs. Phil Thornton, Jr. The cake recipe was originally served at a tailgate at Ole Miss, Skeeter’s alma mater, and is adapted from Saveur (August 2007).

NOTE : To make self-rising flour at home: Add 1 1/2teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of all-purpose flour. For this recipe, you would need to add 5 1/4teaspoons of baking powder and 1 3/4teaspoons of salt to the 3 1/2cups of all-purpose flour.

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups sugar

5 large eggs

3 ½ cups self-rising flour (see note)

1 ½ cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Never Fail Creamy Caramel Icing (see below)

  • To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together for several minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in flour. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and baking soda and beat into flour mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat well. Divide batter evenly among three cake pans. Bake until centers of cakes spring back when lightly pressed, 30–35 minutes. Let cakes cool in their pans.
  • When cool, remove cakes from pans. Put one layer on a cake plate. Brush one-third of the icing over top and sides. Set another layer on top and repeat icing and layering process, then repeat process again with remaining layer.

Yield: One 3-layer cake, 10–12 servings

Never Fail Creamy Caramel Icing

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

11/2cups milk

1 cup (2 sticks) butter 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 cups sugar, divided

Light cream (optional) for thinning

  • Mix eggs, butter, 4 cups of sugar, and the milk in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until butter melts. At the same time, melt 1 cup of sugar in a medium skillet slowly, over medium-low heat, until brown and runny. You don’t want the browned sugar to harden, so it’s important to cook these simultaneously. Remove sugar from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Raise the heat to medium on the egg mixture and add the browned sugar. Cook until it reaches the soft-ball stage (235°F); or when you drop a bit of it into cold water to cool it down, it forms a soft ball; or until mixture leaves side of pan. This takes about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until icing reaches spreading consistency, about 5–10 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a little cream.

Yield: This will ice a 2- or 3-layer cake.

photo credit Nina Gallant. Recipe and photo used here with permission of publisher.

You may also like...


  1. beautiful cake!!! a piece of art 🙂

  2. Sounds like a great book – one I would like to include in my collection. My friends and I are avid readers. I will have to suggest we start a bookclub and start cooking as well!

    The Caramel Cake looks decandent! I love caramel!

  3. A terrific book idea for literary minded cooks! Wish my cooking group was still active as I would have suggested reading/cooking from this one. As for the cake, divine!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.