Guest Blogger: Judith Fertig

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I am delighted to welcome debut novelist Judith Fertig. See what this cookbook author turned novelist has to say about flavors. Plus read on to find out how you can win your own copy of The Cake Therapist!

A Baker’s Dozen: 13 Flavors to Reveal Your Inner Self by Judith Fertig

There are wine tastings, coffee tastings, cheese samplings.

Why not a “what’s going on with me?” tasting?

When I was writing my debut novel The Cake Therapist, I had an “aha” moment early on. What if my pastry chef heroine could “read” people as flavors? Flavors that would lead to a feeling, the feeling that was the heart of their story?

Neely could suffuse her cakes, cupcakes, brownies, pastries, and cookies with special flavors that would gently help her bakery customers and wedding cake clients take charge with chocolate and coffee. Get in the mood with blood orange and raspberry.  Lessen their grief with a little spice. Or recognize their desire to come home, even if just in spirit, with pumpkin.

As Neely says in The Cake Therapist, “there was a flavor that explained you—even to yourself. A flavor whose truth you recognized when you tasted it. A flavor that answered the question you didn’t know you had.”

Like Neely, we can all use flavor as a prompt—or a hyperlink—to reveal our own emotional cores. The flavors that speak to us, or flavors that don’t, can be revealing.

Flavors can reinforce what we already know about ourselves. Bring to light longings that we’ve suppressed—why? Or reveal a flavor combination that fits us like a couture gown.

I know that when I’m stressed, I want things soft and simple. Uncomplicated oatmeal in the morning. Plain rice. Vanilla pudding. Mashed potato. When I crave sweet but almost flavorless white chocolate, I know I just want to fit in, not stand out.

When I want to feel stronger, I turn to chocolate (dark) or coffee (French roast) for support. After all, raw cacao and coffee beans have to go through fire in order to be great.

When I need to kick start my creativity, I crave an aromatic combination of orange, cardamom, and fresh mint.  I make Creativity Kickstarter sugar cookies to take to brainstorming meetings, and it seems these flavors help others, too. Refreshing herbs, brand-new-day orange, deep cardamom.

Maybe one of these dessert flavors will resonate with you, too.

13 Flavors to Reveal Your Inner Self

Does flavor have its own language? Yes: think of the sultriness of warm chocolate, the snarkiness of lemons, voluptuous vanilla, luxurious caramel.

All of us have certain emotional associations we make with the taste of a dessert, some stemming from the flavor compounds in the food itself and others from the context in which we eat it.

The flavor you crave can tell you something about what you’re yearning for.

Flavor             What You’re Yearning For 

Banana             An everyday adventure, a break in routine.

Blueberry        Blue-skied mornings. Wholesomeness. Simplicity.

Caramel          Luxury. Ease.

Chocolate        Risk-taking, mystery, a strong shoulder to lean on, wicked indulgence.

Coconut          Being whisked away to an exotic locale without the hassle.

Lemon             Greater clarity. Witty conversation.

Orange             A brand new day, a fresh start.

Pumpkin         A homecoming.

Raspberry       Sophistication. A sexy, little black dress and the life to go with one.

Spice               A return to the past. The comfort of nostalgia, or lingering emotion.

Strawberry      Youth. Summer.

Vanilla              Pillow-y comfort.

White Chocolate    A desire to get along with everyone, be unobtrusive.


A fiction debut that will leave you wanting seconds, from an award-winning cookbook author.

Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.


Judith Fertig is an award-winning cookbook author whose food and lifestyle writing has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Bon Appétit, Saveur, and the New York Times. Judith attended Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and the Graduate Summer Workshop at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches cooking classes across the country and lives in Kansas City. The Cake Therapist is her first novel.

To win your own copy of THE CAKE THERAPIST by Judith Fertig, please send an email to with “CAKE THERAPIST” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by June 20, 2015. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your prize will be sent by the publicist.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

THE CAKE THERAPIST by Judith Fertig. Berkley (June 2, 2015).  ISBN: 978-0425277324. 304p.

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