Kathy Gunst began furiously baking during the apex of the Kavanaugh hearings.
Through social media, Gunst soon realized she was not alone in culinary self-soothing during difficult times. A phone call to her friend Katherine Alford followed, sparking a creative process that would bring in more than 40 different voices from the food world and beyond.
Together, Gunst and Alford co-authored Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices in direct response to this flash point moment, which spotlighted institutional misogyny. The book is born of political frustrations and camaraderie, intended to provide baking as a transformative outlet for the deep anger that has simmered to the surface of American life since 2016's elections and beyond, turning our frustrations into something tangible and delicious. The book features responses to the mass movement of rage baking through essays, poems and interviews alongside recipes for rum raisin brownies, root beer cake, and ricotta rice pudding pie.
For those who don’t understand how politics and cookie recipes mix, Alford reminds them, “When the right to a wedding cakes goes up to the Supreme Court, it’s more than just butter, flour, and sugar.”
That spark ignited through Gunst and Alford’s initial conversations burned throughout the process of gathering contributors.
“We would reach out to someone, people we know in the food world or people who we loved and admired their point of view and asked them if they wanted to participate in this book,” said Gunst. “I can’t tell you how many emails I have that just said, ‘Hell yeah! Tell me what to do,’ or ‘Tell me what you need from me.’”
Look for recipe contributions from former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, food historian powerhouse Jessica B. Harris, and baking genius Dorie Greenspan, in addition to recipes from food writers, restaurant owners, and journalists. These recipes provide a rich variety; some are plucked from grandmother’s archives and revamped, while others are beloved staples from authors’ kitchens.
“The thing about this project that is so amazing and gratifying is that although it has so many different moving parts—recipes, writing, over 40 different contributors, who did we want to be in it, what were the voices that we wanted to have in it—it really did come together seamlessly,” said Alford.
Although the book contains longer, creative pieces, it also provides strong culinary content with well-tested recipes and tips for novice bakers still learning their way around a kitchen. Gunst has authored over 15 cookbooks and Alford ran the Food Network’s test kitchen for over 20 years, so both have the technical chops to write a solid recipe that will not further frustrate a baker enraged.
The book’s food photography was provided by Jerrelle Guy, author of Black Girl Baking, who makes sugary dough shine and pies ooze in a visual craving.
The authors don’t see baking as the only outlet for rage, and remind readers that anger without political action is just a bunch of cream puff fluff. “Whatever issue that you feel passionate about, make a phone call or donate three dollars or just have a conversation and listen,” said Alford, “Take that extra step to participate in our political process.”
A percentage of the proceeds from the book sales will go to Emily’s List, a political action committee that backs pro-choice female political candidates with funds early in their campaigns. “We are part of a larger movement, which is exactly where we want to be,” said Gunst.
The real heart of Rage Baking is the importance of collaboration and community when the political climate gets rough. “When I started the book, my rage was high and I didn’t feel a lot of hope. I felt angry, distressed at what I was seeing in the news,” said Gunst. “[But] as we put together the book… I really started to feel a rising sense of hope and a sense that if we do put our voices together, if we do speak out, if we do vote, if we do march, if we do bake, we are stronger.”
The soothing structure of berry pie recipes cannot replace the warmth and hope provided by an active and caring community of friends and comrades. “If you’re mad, find someone to be mad with,” said Alford
The authors will swing into town on Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m. at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, and are eager to hear from fellow rage bakers of all genders and backgrounds.
“We hope to open up a conversation” said Gunst. “We really want to talk to people and hear where they are at and how they relate to rage baking.” Don’t hesitate to bring your baking questions, as the combined knowledge and experience of these two will be able to improve the texture of your pie crust while sharing counsel on how to collaborate for political change.
7 p.m. Tuesday, February 18
Magers & Quinn
3038 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis