“Take some more tea,’ the March hare said to Alice, very earnestly.” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
This week’s baking is inspired by one of my all time favorite books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I love the whimsy twists and turns; how nothing seems real, but at the same time wraps you in and becomes your own world. Every time I reread it I notice a new detail or quote I hadn’t remembered from before. I also found out that Alice’s birthday was yesterday. What a perfect way to celebrate the literary heroine!
For my baking, I took elements from a few iconic scenes in the novel: the door/table scene, the tea party, and the croquet match. The original cakes that Alice eats in order to grow bigger have currants, which are a kind of dried grape, like raisins. A lot of people, many of my siblings included, don’t like raisins. I don’t mind them myself, but I kept those raisin-haters in mind because I wasn’t going to be the only one eating the cakes. In honor of the White Rabbit I baked carrot cupcakes instead, with cream cheese frosting and the words EAT ME written on top. I made a pot of tea, and took everything outside to enjoy a game of croquet. The only thing missing was the Queen of Hearts and Cheshire cat!
I’m usually not a teen-romance reader, but some are just so sweet that you can’t help but enjoy them and cheer everyone on (as long as its not too sappy). One of those is Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a series that has recently become extra popular because of Netflix’s film based on the first book. The main character, Lara Jean, is a daydreamer who writes her feelings in fake love letters. Her world erupts into chaos after the love letters somehow get sent to the real people that inspired them. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!
To me the best part of the series isn’t the romance, but the sisterhood and the baking. Lara Jean is the middle of three girls, so anyone with sisters can relate to the crazy adventures they get into, as well as the classic sibling bickering that goes on. Lara Jean bakes a lot in this trilogy and knows each of her friend’s and family’s favorite sweet. For instance, her younger sister Kitty loves snickerdoodles. When I’m reading about Lara Jean experimenting and developing her own recipes, I want to get up and bake along with her.
In the last book, Lara Jean is obsessed with making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. When I think of the perfect cookie I think of a crinkly top, with a soft, melt-in-your-mouth inside. I found the key is to use melted butter and take the cookies out of the oven just a little early, when they are still soft, and a bit brown around the edge. My go-to recipe does exactly that; I keep it on a recipe card so I can always find it when I NEED chocolate chip cookies (which is all the time if I’m honest). What is your perfect cookie?
“We lived for honey. We swallowed a spoonful in the morning to wake us up and one at night to put us to sleep. We took it with every meal to calm the mind, give us stamina, and prevent fatal disease… It went in our baths, our skin cream, our raspberry tea and biscuits.” – Secret Life of Bees, p. 84
A lot of the time I feel like I need to be reading the newest books or whatever is trending. However, lately I’ve been focused on reading classic books and books that are recommended to me. You know those books that you always think, “I’ll get to those someday?” Today is the day! After being recommended to me by a sister, a coworker, and my mom, I’m finally reading The Secret Life of Beesby Sue Monk Kidd.
Honey is my favorite comfort food. On toast, in coffee and tea, or just by the spoonful, the sweet, golden taste never fails to soothe me. With this rainy weather, I was in the mood for a comforting honey treat, which coincides with my current read, The Secret Life of Bees. Although honey isn’t the main factor in this novel, it is something that connects the characters to each other. All of them have a unique story, but are united by a few things, one of them honey. It’s the honey jar label that leads runaways Lily and Rosaleen to the bee-keeping sisters, who let them stay and help with the honey business.
One of my favorite websites to gather recipes from is A Cozy Kitchen. The recipes on the site usually combine different flavors, and as the name suggests, always fit in with cozy days. Among them are these earl grey honey scones, which sounded perfect for the type of dessert I wanted to make. They are super easy to make, with only 8 ingredients total, a no-fuss process, and quick baking time. These scones are great with a cup of tea and a good book.
Harry Potter is one of the most beloved book series, and over the years has expanded into much more: movie adaptions, clothing, games, and even a theme park. Over 500 million copies in the series have been sold and it has been translated into over 80 languages, showing that Harry Potter is cherished by many across the world.
Interestingly, Harry Potter is among the most common books to be banned or challenged in schools and libraries. In fact, Harry Potter is number 1 on the American Library Association’s (ALA) top 100 banned books from 2000-2009. The reasons behind the challenges vary, but are usually because parents believe the books are unchristian, support satanism or the occult, and are violent. According to the ALA, in 2001, it was even challenged for being “anti-family.” C’mon people, this is ridiculous! Have you ever heard of kids practicing satanism after reading Harry Potter?
Regardless of how you feel about Harry Potter, there is no doubt that the series features many delicious-sounding foods. Take Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, or Cauldron Cakes. Even the gross-sounding foods are fun: Maggoty Haggis, Cockroach Clusters. Because there are so many foods featured in the Harry Potter series, it seems obvious that I should kick off my literary baking with Harry Potter-inspired desserts. While researching recipes I stumbled across this video for adorable bread nifflers inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, (not part of the Harry Potter series, but still in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World). While making them I struggled to form the dough into a niffler shape, but I was surprised to find that after being in the oven, they mostly held their shape. The rolls tasted great with butter!
I also made some Knickerbocker Glories, which are mentioned in the first Harry Potter book. A quick google search revealed that knickerbocker glories are basically the U.K. equivalent of ice cream sundaes: alternating layers of ice cream and fruit, with a big heap of whipped cream on top. They were simple enough that I didn’t need a recipe, so they were a great contrast to the nifflers, which took more time and effort. With these two recipes I was able to try something new before relaxing with a fun, can’t-get-it-wrong ice cream dessert.