Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Cacao Girl

Posted on | March 8, 2010 | 11 Comments

Move over Biscuit Bear… here comes Cake Girl!

After a long and patient wait, I’ve finally been able to get my hands on the latest book by David LucasCake Girl – and (hooray, hooray :-)) it has been worth the wait!

Alone again on her birthday, a witch decides to bake a cake girl for for company. Cake Girl could be Cinderella and the Witch, the wicked stepmother, for soon Cake Girl is being bossed about and given plenty of housework to do. Witch threatens to eat Cake Girl, but Cake Girl thinks quickly and distracts Witch by asking about her birthday party.

“Party?”
said the Witch,
“I’m not having a party.”

Her hat spun round
and she turned away.

“No one likes me,” she said

It transpires that Witch’s magic is useless when it comes to making friends as she does not know how to be nice. Cake Girl then helps her discover her kind and friendly side through helping each other out, dancing and singing (with a little but of magical fun thrown in along the way), and before long they are become true friends and it turns out to be “the best birthday either of them had ever had.

The idea behind this story is lovely – a little bit of kindness can go a long way to transforming someone’s day, and even someone’s heart. This truism is explored in a gentle and clear (but never earnest) way as Cake Girl shows rather than tells Witch about nice things to do together.

Whilst I like the meat of the story, the actual storytelling isn’t the reason why I’d love to own a copy of this book. Rather, it is the illustrations that make this book really worth seeking out. If you liked the look of Halibut Jackson (my review is here), you won’t be disappointed here – again there are great details in the clothing (especially the hats and shoes), and the flowers, and the use primarily of oranges, greens, browns and black give this book a halloweeny feel (although it would be fine to read at any time of year – indeed, for any birthday – no mention of Halloween is actually made).

The magical element and detailed illustrations, combined with the opportunity to bake a cake made sure this book was a hit with both girls. I don’t think it is quite as wonderful as Halibut Jackson, The Robot and the Bluebird, or Whale (which I reviewed here), but it’s still a lovely, fun book worth finding (and worth all the calories – see below!).

So you’ve guessed it. We simply had to make our own Cake Girl, which we renamed Cacao Girl seeing as she HAD to be made out of chocolate cake. We used this recipe:

Cake
225g (8 oz) soft butter
225g (8 oz) caster sugar
250g (9 oz) self raising flour
25g (1 oz) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs

1 plastic doll

Icing
225g (8oz) soft butter
25g (1oz) cocoa
25g (1oz) icing sugar

A selection of sweets/chocolates/biscuits to decorate Cacao Girl’s skirt.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4.
2. Liberally grease and then flour an ovenproof bowl, having made sure that the bowl is deep enough to fit (most of) the legs of the plastic doll you will later insert into the cake.
3. Mix all the cake ingredients together (we did this in a blender). When well mixed, pour into your bowl and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes – this will depend partly on the depth of your bowl. It’s better to over cook this cake than undercook it – and don’t worry about it being too dry – it gets slathered in icing and so can take a bit of drying out!

4. When the cake is cooked (a skewer comes out clean) leave it until it is entirely cool – this may take a couple of hours. The top of the cake will probably be a bit lumpy – simply slice this bit off so that there is a level surface. Invert the bowl and let the cake fall out.

5. Wash your doll and push into the cake! Don’t worry if your doll’s legs aren’t completely covered by cake – you can use the icing to build up height (and to cover the doll’s torso). To make the icing, simply beat all the icing ingredients together. Our icing wasn’t too sweet – given the amount of chocolate used in decorating Cacao Girl we didn’t add much sugar to the icing.

6. Decorate Cacao Girl’s skirt, trying not to eat too many chocolates along the way…

7. Eat (Cacao girl), drink (a hot coffee), and be merry!






Cake Girl: ** (2 stars)

Music we’ve enjoyed whilst baking includes:

  • I like pie, I like cake by The Four Chefs (we played this at our wedding!)
  • Sunshine Cake by Bing Crosby and Carole Richards
  • Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra
  • I put a spell on you – sung here by Nina Simone, but we’ve also listened to versions – by Creedence Clearwater Revival and of course, Screaming Jay Hawkins.


  • Other activities that would go well with this book include:

  • Making a Cake Girl costume from Family Fun
  • Creating Witches like these from Cider and Faun
  • Holding a Cake Girl party – everything you need from invitations to party games can be found at Cake Girl’s page at Andersen Press.

  • We had lots of fun making this crazy cake. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever baked?

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    Comments

    11 Responses to “Cacao Girl”

    1. Kristine
      March 8th, 2010 @ 7:27 am

      I can so see us doing something like this. I’ll have to show Rainbow the pictures. YUM! As for something weird I’ve cooked – I’ll give that a little thought.

    2. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      March 8th, 2010 @ 8:28 am

      Hi Kristine,
      I have to say making a cake like this wasn’t something I thought I’d end up doing – I so dislike barbies, and M was a bit distressed about “Tinkerbell” getting covered in icing to begin with. But it all worked out very well in the end – no doubt helped by the copious amounts of chocolate consumed!

    3. Janelle
      March 8th, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

      My mom made my daughter a doll cake for her birthday last year. She loves to make unusual cakes. She wrapped the doll in saran wrap so it wouldn’t get spoiled. You can see the cake here: http://www.brimfulcuriosities.com/2009/03/wordless-wednesday-another-birthday.html

      I’ve never heard of the cake girl book, but it sounds like a fun read.

    4. The1stdaughter
      March 8th, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

      Oh my! This is wonderful! I’m sure the girls had a fabulous time with this (not just making, but eating as well). I love all of the activities and music you incorporate in with the book! It makes the learning experience so much more meaningful!

    5. Concetta at Glittering Shards
      March 8th, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

      Ahhhh…we did a cake like this for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. She adored it – it was all covered in edible glitter (amazing stuff). I have only just discovered your blog after seeing you link to mine – thank you so much. Wonderful stuff and will come back often.

    6. Heather
      March 9th, 2010 @ 6:34 am

      oh wow! How wonderful! I think your cake girl looks amazing

    7. Zoe
      March 9th, 2010 @ 7:16 am

      Hi Janelle,

      Wow, your Mum’s cake is amazing! Your daughter must have been thrilled to have that cake for her birthday.

      Hello The1stdaughter,
      Yes the eating was enjoyed a lot by all. Cacao girl made for a very good breakfast :-)

      Welcome Concetta – lovely to have you visit for the first time :-) Edible glitter is definitely a winner – we enjoyed using it on some stars we recently baked: http://www.playingbythebook.net/2010/01/29/winter-starlight/

      Thanks Heather. She may not be the smartest dressed doll in town but I stil think she could give those who attended the Oscars a run for their money ;-)

    8. Ian Newbold
      March 9th, 2010 @ 11:59 am

      That just looks like a prototype to a bigger project. Surely most girls’ dream to be made into a chocolate cake?

    9. Zoe
      March 15th, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

      I’ve just found this amazing list of baking and cooking themed picture books:

      http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Books-about-Food-and-Cooking/lm/R2QWR4NCIJEODT/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_title_full

      Lots of food for thought (sorry about the bad joke!)…

    10. Zoe
      March 29th, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

      And another brilliant round up – of picture book bakers:

      http://jamarattigan.livejournal.com/395296.html

      So many lovely looking books!

    11. Red Ted Art's Blog » Blog Archive » Royal Get Crafty *special edition*
      April 15th, 2011 @ 10:04 am

      [...] have your bride cake all ready for the wedding.. it could take centre place at your street party. Zoe and her girls at Playing by the book Get [...]

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