Monday 28 May 2012

Let's Bake a Cake

Go on- let's- we deserve it. First it was the Eddie, then it was the Bill, then the husband and finally the me succumbing one by one to the lurgy last week, until we were all flippetty floppetting in one big flippetty, floppetty pile of lethargy and mild groaning. And it was the Week the Sun Came Out.
But now the Eddie and the Bill at least are recovered and back to being educated, and the rest of us are on the upward curve, and the sun is STILL out, so celebratory cake is definitely called for. There are one or two birthdays coming up too...

'Let's Bake a Cake' by Ruth Walton is one of a series of non-fiction books published by Franklin Watts that take a pleasingly sideways approach to tackling a range of subjects. Rather than a simple recipe book (although it does include a nice chocolate cake recipe I am pleased to say), it's an investigation into both the science and social geography of cake baking. Each ingredient is considered in terms of both how and where it comes from and why it helps the flavour and consistency of a cake. For flour therefore we get a short history of the process of growing and harvest of wheat, the techniques of milling and the different types of flour that emerge and a consideration of the importance of baking powder in the final product.

It may be sounding like something of a dry cake. In fact the consistency of this book is as moist and aerated as the finest sponge; lifted by bright collage-style illustrations mixed with photographs and lightened by the perfect bite sized 'facts'. I'm a sucker for any insight into factory processes: (one of my favourite CBeebies programmes remains the now venerable 'Come Outside' where Auntie Mabel and Pippin the dog visit a toothpaste factory! or a pencil factory! or a sewage works! and we get to see everything step by step.) I like the page demonstrating the transformation of sugar beet or cane into crystals. It's also a book with a social conscience touching on the importance of the fairtrade label and the differing conditions of working hens.

Eddie's current stated career ambitions are to be a poet and baker; Michael Rosen meets Mary Berry. He was very appreciative of this book; reading recipes out loud is poetry to his ears but it's nice to go one stage back. A primer before he moves on to the Encyclopaedia Gastronomique perhaps.
I'm certainly going to seek out other books in this series; 'Let's Ride a Bike' could be very useful to him; providing a delivery system for both buns and verse.
My only criticism of the book is the strangely miserable face of the Grandma who's doing the baking. Is she reflecting on the mutability of life and another year passing? Is she on a diet? Or is she just bucking the twinkly stereotype like Frank? Lighten up lady- there's chocolate to be eaten.

'Let's Bake a Cake' written and illustrated by Ruth Walton, pub. Franklin Watts, isbn 978-0-7496-8854-7

This is a post for non-fiction Monday, hosted today by the wonderful Perogies and Gyoza; who is all about the football (or 'soccer' if you must) this week. Go visit if you've got a ball-crazed family member.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. And if you get to bake a cake after reading it, then that's got to be good! Hope everyone is feeling better now.

    1. Absolutely. Books = good. Cakes = good. Books + cakes = excellent. All slowly mending thanks.

  2. Sorry to insult your sensibilities by using the crass "soccer". ;) Football is, of course, only Canadian football, a much higher-class version of American football. (Just don't ask me to explain why, I have no idea!)

    This book looks delicious! Most of the US-based kidlit types talk about common core standards and how books fit into that, I can see that a cookery book would fit in perfectly, what with all that math and science.

    Hope you keep in good health now that you've gotten it back.