Put on your aprons, raise your wooden spoons:
It’s baking day!
It’s baking day!
It’s baking day at Grandma’s!
After a round of hugs and kisses, they get down to the delicious business of baking a cake together:
Pass out aprons, “One-two-three.”
Grandma reads the recipe:
flour, sugar, butter, eggs.
Stand on chairs with tippy legs.
The eager cubs add big spoonfuls of joy and anticipation to the batter as they help measure, mix, and stir in Grandma’s warm and welcoming cabin kitchen. And why not lick the spoon? 🙂
While the cake’s in the oven, they sip hot cocoa and dance to the sounds coming from Grandma’s Victrola:
Old-time music, soft and sweet.
Skippy notes and tapping feet.
Learning songs that Grandma sings —
when the kitchen timer rings!
Then it’s time to cut and frost the cake and add a few sprinkles before gift wrapping each piece and heading home by moonlight.
Anika’s pitch perfect, rollicking rhyming couplets and Christopher’s lusciously warm, woodsy illustrations capture all the love, busyness, and comfy pleasures of this special day. This delightful intergenerational story sings of the sweet rewards not only of spending time with loved ones, but of the satisfaction of making something together, and ultimately the joy of sharing with others.
Fond memories of childhood summers and holidays spent at her grandparents’ home in the Adirondacks inspired Anika to write Baking Day at Grandma’s. Her Grandma Rose was an excellent cook and restaurant co-owner who always welcomed her kids and grandkids into her kitchen to bake and eat. Wrapping up treats for sharing was usually part of the fun, and Rose’s recipe for Chocolate Cake is included in the book. These days, Anika continues this wonderful tradition by baking with her three lovely daughters.
Needless to say, the Alphabet Soup resident bears gave this book a rousing five paws up. They’re big fans of the Denises’ Pigs Love Potatoes, and of Christopher’s bears in Kristy Dempsey’s Me With You. I purchased The Redwall Cookbook a few years ago because I reeeeeallly loved Christopher’s art (and need to try some of the recipes soon). 🙂
But for now, let there be chocolate cake.
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🐻 LET THEM BEARS EAT CAKE! 🐻
There is no way one could live in a house with over 300 hungry bears and not try this recipe, which is included in a collection of recipes Rose compiled for her family.
Anika has said that this is Rose’s signature recipe and I can see why. So, so good! I love that the cake is easy to make, doesn’t require a lot of beating, isn’t overly sweet, and has a nice moist crumb, but is firm enough to eat out of hand. Kids will love watching the baking soda foam when it’s added to the boiling water and will enjoy frosting and decorating the baked cake.
The Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder I used gave the cake an eyes-roll-back-in-your-head rich dark chocolate flavor. I made a simple vanilla buttercream frosting (1 stick butter, 2+ cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 3-4 T milk) that complemented the cake perfectly.
Perhaps the greatest testament to this cake’s deliciousness is Mr. Jama’s reaction after taking those first two bites. A big smile, eyes closed, and the words, “my mother wants a piece.” Let me just say that in 35 years of marriage and hundreds of cookies, cakes, pies, and puddings I’ve made for him, never has he been moved to mention his late mother — who apparently loved and made good chocolate cake.
Thank you, Grandma Rosie!
GRANDMA ROSIE’S CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the sugar, cocoa, flour and salt in a large bowl.
Using a small spoon, make a hollow in the center of the mixture.
Add the butter in slices to the hollow center.
Stir the baking soda into the cup of boiling water. While it foams, pour it over the butter. Let the mixture sit until the butter melts and the batter cools.
Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl and mix all the ingredients well.
Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9×9 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Test with a cake tester. The tester should come out dry.
Allow the cake to cool after baking, then frost and enjoy!
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BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S
written by Anika Denise
illustrated by Christopher Denise
published by Philomel Books, 2014
Picture Book for all ages, 32 pp.
Cool themes: baking, grandparents, families, cake, food, winter, bears
Enjoy this lovely video of Anika baking with her girls and Chris talking a little about his illustrations:
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♥ ANOTHER BITE OR TWO ♥
- Visit Anika’s Website where you can download free gift tags and recipe cards.
- Check out this recent interview with Chris at Writing and Illustrating, where he shares sketches and more spreads from Baking Day at Grandma’s.
- Nice interview with Anika at Stephanie Bernaba’s blog.
- Great article about Anika and Chris at the Providence Journal.
- Beary fun interview with Grandma Bear at The Little Crooked Cottage.
- More about Anika’s and Chris’s collaboration at The Bay.
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Tricia is hosting this week’s Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Scamper over and check out the full menu of poetic goodies on today’s menu. Brush your fur and have another piece of cake!
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Anika has generously offered a signed copy of Baking Day at Grandma’s, a wooden spoon and some gift tags for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader! Simply comment on this post no later than midnight (EDT) Thursday, October 16, 2014 to be entered in the giveaway. Winner will be announced next Friday. 🙂
*Interior spreads from Baking Day at Grandma’s posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Anika Denise, illustrations © 2014 Christopher Denise, published by Philomel Books. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.