Ali Ramirez knows that baking is in her blood. For as long as she can remember, she’s spent every afternoon helping her father in their family bakery, Say It With Flour. But when Perk Up, a hugely successful coffeehouse, opens up across the street from their bakery, it means trouble. Perk Up’s baked goods are trendy and delish, and Say It With Flour just can’t compete. But then Ali convinces her dad to try cake pops in the bakery and they’re a huge hit. There’s only one problem: Dane McGuire. He’s cute, smart, and as the son of Perk Up’s CEO, he’s her biggest rival. Ali can’t stand him, especially when she discovers that he’s making cake pops for Perk Up that are outselling hers by the dozens. Ali knows the only way to save Say It With Flour is to outbake Dane at any cost. Dane swears he’s not her enemy, though, and sometimes he can be disarmingly sweet. But if Ali loses her heart to Dane, will she lose her beloved bakery as well?
“So, I know you all got the e-vite to my party,” Sarah continued, glancing at Gwen and Tansy. We nodded in unison. “Well, I’ll need a birthday dessert of some kind, of course. And I’ve tasted your cake pops, which are completely fabulous.”
She paused, and my heart clattered wildly. Catering the dessert for Sarah’s party would give Say It With Flour a huge boost.
“So,” Sarah went on, “I was wondering if you’d like to try out for the job.”
“Try out?” I asked, trying to keep my voice on an even keel.
Sarah nodded. “There are two bakeries in town: yours and Perk Up. So I figured it was only fair to let you and Dane both have a shot at catering the party.…We can have the bake-off the weekend before my party. February ninth. And to make it even more exciting, maybe you and Dane can bake something without a recipe. And all with surprise ingredients! Super fun!”
Suddenly my excitement shriveled into fear. Had she just said something about baking without a recipe?…I swallowed down my rising panic, then forced another smile. “Yeah, it does sound like fun,” I replied weakly.
“Okay. I’ll be in touch!” Then she glided down the hallway, tossing smiles and shining hair in all directions.
Tansy beamed at me. “Ali, this is incredible!”
“No, this is a nightmare.” I grimaced and collapsed against Gwen. “I’ve never baked anything without a recipe in my entire life. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
Gwen gave me her no-nonsense look. “Well, seems to me like you have two options. Back out of the bake-off now, or give yourself a crash course in free-form baking.”
“Backing out isn’t an option,” I said firmly. “The catering job would be great for business, and Dad needs all the help he can get.”
“Okay!” Tansy said. “Then let the experiments in baking begin.”
I tried to muster up a smile, but I didn’t have it in me. Experiments in baking? Yeah right. For someone who hated winging it, it would be experiments in torture.