• Scarlett O'Hara's green dress captures Gone With the Wind. (Instagram)Source: Instagram
Cookie homages to our favourite books? Yes, please and thank you.
By
Lauren Sams

10 Nov 2017 - 12:21 PM  UPDATED 10 Nov 2017 - 12:21 PM

When Lauren Chater loves a book, she tells her friends about it like most of us do. Except when Chater shares the book with her friends, it’s in cookie form.

Her blog, thewellreadcookie.com, and Instagram account, @well_read_cookie, are homages to two of Chater’s favourite things: books and baked goods. Each cookie is a unique nod to the book it represents - from Scarlett O’Hara’s iconic green dress from Gone with the Wind to sorting hats for Harry Potter to beer bottles and barbecues for Christos Tsolkias’s The Slap.

 

Chater, who is a librarian by day, began the account while she was on maternity leave in 2014. “I was off work at the time, having just given birth to my daughter, and teaching myself to ice biscuits was a hobby I really enjoyed. A little bit of research revealed no one else was doing cookies based on books so I thought I’d try to turn it into my niche thing.” It took Chater six months to perfect her royal icing technique - so crucial to representing the books - but she says she looks back at her early efforts and cringes. Three years later with her icing technique down pat (and a collection of 300 different cookie cutters on hand), Chater still loves what she does, though she admits that posting on social media is now her preferred way of connecting. “I’m writing my own book, so posting on the blog has taken a back seat.”

An avid reader (“I read everything!”), Chater says she usually comes up with her book-inspired cookies when she’s doing something mundane, like housework. “Sometimes, the designs are straightforward like the bloody hand-print balloons from Stephen King’s It or the prom dress cookies inspired by his book Carrie.

 

Sometimes, a particular colour in a book’s cover art will clue me into what cookie would be best suited, which is how I came up with the Alice Hoffman Survival Lessons cookies, which was also a play on the saying ‘when life gives you lemons’, as Hoffman’s book is a self-help guide for coaching people through suffering.

 

With Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures, I was inspired by the fossil motif in the book, so I made ammonite cookies using a brownie biscuit base instead of the usual vanilla dough to give the icing some contrast.”

 

Of course, not every book can be turned into a cookie, says Chater. “As much as I love making whimsical homages to my favourite novels, there are some books and themes which would not translate well.” One of Chater’s favourite novels is Beloved by Toni Morrison, the story of an enslaved woman who kills her infant daughter rather than see her be captured by the Confederates after the Civil War. “I would never do a cookie of that book - it’s not appropriate. The same goes for something like The Diary of Anne Frank. Not every book can be a cookie.”

"Not every book can be a cookie.”

While Chater has had her share of baking upsets (“Butter bleed is real!” she says, referring to adding too much butter to the dough, resulting in the butter rising to the top of the cookie and ruining the icing), it’s all worth it for the reader connection she sees. “I’m always surprised by the different reactions people have to my cookie creations,” she says. “Sometimes, the cookies I imagine will be really popular just don’t make a splash at all while others I make on a whim will really resonate with people and get a lot of likes or comments – a recent example would be a version of Scarlett O’Hara’s dress I did from Gone with the Wind, which was very popular. I really think this demonstrates just how diverse people are in their reading passions.”

 

As for what will always resonate? “Jane Austen will always be a favourite. Anything Jane is a winner.”

Chater, who is publishing her debut novel with Simon & Schuster next year (a work of historical fiction called The Lace Weaver) is also working on a book version of Well Read Cookie, which will feature some of the cookies on the blog, as well as a number of new ones. “It’s basically a series of love letters to my favourite novels along with the cookies inspired by them,” says Chater. And although Chater says she can’t guarantee a free cookie with every book purchase, “It’s very likely I’ll be bringing excess cookies to book talks in an effort to save myself from eating them. So do keep that in mind!”

 

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