Curiouser and curiouser...

“Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words ‘EAT ME’ were beautifully marked in currants” (17).

Beginning with one of the eccentric examples of children’s literature, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland shows the consumption of food to have rather an odd effect on its protagonist. Whenever Alice eats or drinks something in the bizarre world she encounters, it alters her size considerably. She either shrinks so small that she is barely seen or grows so tall she can’t fit through doorways. For the character of Alice, her physical growth changes the ways in which he perceives the world around her, and subsequently alters her behaviour. When she is small, she takes to fits of frustration and crying, something fitting of a small child. However, when she grows taller she becomes courageous, and performs small acts of defiance against those she perceives as a threat.

“Hold your tongue” said the Queen, turning purple.
“I won’t” said Alice. (83)

For Alice, physically growing and growing up are one and the same, as she becomes an autonomous figure at the conclusion of the novel.

Another interpretation of the effects of consuming food in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is that the growing and shrinking represents drug experience, probably stemming from the belief that Carroll himself was on narcotics when writing the novel. The concept of eating a substance that alters an individual in some way does relate to the effects of drug taking. However, I’m not sure how accurate this interpretation can be seen to be, just perhaps worth noting!

Inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and particularly the quote above, I decided to recreate the ‘EAT ME’ cakes from the novel (though they will not make you taller or have narcotic effects…sorry!)

To make the cakes, I used Mary Berry's Chocolate Cupcake recipe, which is as follows:

4tbsp Boiling water
40g Cocoa Powder
3 Eggs
175g Butter (unsalted)
165g Caster Sugar
115g Self-Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder (rounded)

  1. Line two 12-hole muffin tins with paper cases. Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl, pour in the boiling water and mix into a thick paste. Add the remaining cake ingredients and mix with an electric hand whisk (or beat with a wooden spoon).
  2. Divide the mixture equally between the 24 paper cases. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c (400°c, gas mark 6) for about 10 minutes until well risen and springy to the touch. Cool in the cases in a wire rack.

(N.B. there is an additional part to the recipe to make the icing, but I omitted it to do my own thing)

For the icing: 
  1.  I rolled out some chocolate flavoured Renshaw Regalice Sugarpaste icing and placed my ‘EAT ME’ stencil on top.
  2. Then, using ‘Edible shimmer dust’ from Blossom sugar art and a small paintbrush, I brushed the dust across the stencil.
  3. Having removed the stencil, I used a cutter to cut the icing to a perfect shape for my cakes.
  4.  Using a bit of water, I stuck the icing to the top of my cakes.

This was the end result:

The recipe was simple and easy, and the cakes were delicious if I do say so myself!

Works Cited
Carroll, L. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. London: Egmont, 2001. Print

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An Introduction...

When we look back at our childhood, it is perhaps the cakes we had on our birthdays or the ice creams we ate in the heat of the summer that we remember the most. It is fitting that this is reflected within the many texts written specifically for children. The works of Children’s Literature are saturated with food imagery, and it is the desire and/or consumption of these sweet foods that play a significant role within the texts.

Chocolate, sweets, and cake can be allowed or forbidden, consumed in excess or only dreamt of. They can illustrate sin and vice, further the fantastical, and act as a motivator for good or bad behaviour in such a way that savoury food does not. Typically, sweet foods are marketed specifically for children and so are valued and coveted by them. Therefore, this blog shall explore the various different portrayals and representations of sweet foods in Children’s Literature.

Starting with stories written in the nineteenth century and working all the way to present day, I will be looking at the presence and various functions of food in fictional texts and cookbooks, as well as consulting older family members to gain an insight in to the foods they enjoyed as a child. I will combine this with some culinary creations of my own, taken from recipe books old and new in order to understand the great appeal that sweet foods have for children. 

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