Bookish Bites : Beastie eyeball cupcakes
A bit of a gruesome Bookish Bites this week. It’s the turn of The Fearsome Beastie by Giles Paley-Phillips, illustrated by Gabriele Antonini (Maverick Books). I chose this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, The Fearsome Beastie is at a little bit of a peak in our house at the moment. Much enjoyed by Milo who is both enthralled and scared by it. And also because we are all set and ready to meet Giles this weekend at a book signing in London’s Oxford St. Waterstone’s.
For those of you who haven’t come across The Fearsome Beastie before, it’s a good, scary, fun book to read with a little one. Children do get eaten and it does have a gruesome ending, but Milo doesn’t seem to find this too terrifying (he loves Polly Dunbar’s Penguin, and enjoys the part where Ben is gobbled up and then spat out by the lion so maybe he just enjoys children being eaten in books!). There is a moment in The Fearsome Beastie though where we experience that thrill of loving to be scared… at the very start the Beastie lets out a grrrrr… that wakes up sleeping girls and boys. I like to do the growl in as menacing a voice as I can. Milo normally says, “Stop it mummy. You are not allowed to growl again.” And then, “Growl mummy. Do it again!” Toddlers can be very confusing. We’ve overcome any angst by having competitions as to who can do it the loudest so it’s all good in the hood.
I could get into a lengthy discussion about the importance of a little fear in children’s books and whether or not we protect our children too much, but then we’d never get round to the cake. And that would be a shame so, on with the baking I say and I’ll leave those words to Maurice Sendak.
Well, Milo’s not been very well this last week (stinky cold and asthma playing up) and so wasn’t really in the mood for cooking with me this weekend. He mostly wanted to spend time in the garden planting our winter veg (cooler outside for his hot head and there are more snails to collect) or sit squidged between us on the sofa watching the racing in Singapore. “Those cars are in a dark place mummy.” (It was a night race, the cars emotionally, were fine!). So I made these by myself to cheer him up.
I like the little, yellow eye floating around in the beastie stew at the end of the book so thought that should be a focus. And cake because Milo is always cheered up by cake.
Instead of muffin or fairy cake size, I opted for mini-muffin paper cases. Milo’s appetite drops dramatically every time his chest plays up and he gets overwhelmed by normal amounts of food. And then sad if it’s something he wants to eat, but can’t bring himself to. So little cakes it was.
I made a basic vanilla cake mix to make about 14 cakes. Here’s the recipe I used:
50g self-raising flour
50g golden caster sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Beat together the sugar with the butter, then add your beaten egg, vanilla essence and a the milk if needed. Beat until fluffy. Fold in your flour.
A large teaspoon full of the mix is enough to fill a paper case. Dollop one in each and top up accordingly.
Pop them into the oven (preheated at 180 degrees) for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown or the sponge springs back upon prodding.
While they are baking you can get on with everything else. First I made the eyeballs. You need a little (I used far too much) sugar paste and a healthy squirt of yellow food colouring to colour it (or just buy your sugarpaste in yellow).
I made 14 cakes, so needed 28 little eyeballs, I made 29 for good measure. Then a little black dot with writing icing (there’s no point making up your own for such a tiny amount), wherever you fancy piped onto your yellow eyeball.
Next I made the buttercream. You don’t need a lot to ice these little cakes. Here’s the quantities I used:
50g softened butter
30 ml milk (you may want to use less but I always find a bit more milk reduces the likelihood of a kitchen covered in sugar dust)
115 g sifted icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
Cream together your milk and butter then slowly add in the icing sugar and vanilla essence. Beat until light and fluffy.
I added lilac food colouring to match the beastie’s fur. It came out a little on the pastel side, but did the trick. Once your cakes are cooled, ice away.
Pop your eyeballs on top and your Fearsome Beastie cupcakes are ready!
Milo’s verdict: He was too busy eating to give me one properly, but while we were reading again said, “These eyeballs on my cakes are like these Fearsome Beastie eyeballs here in this stew.”
Granddad popped over and had one too. His verdict: “Mmmm, yes, I’ll take a few of those home with me if that’s ok?”
Milo’s dad: “I’ll just have one more. It’s like they’re looking at me.”
Regular readers will know that I work for Maverick Books and so my copy of The Fearsome Beastie was gratis. Comments, thoughts and all things baking however are my own and Milo’s opinions (this includes roaring). If you think our recipe’s a little sweet for your taste and doesn’t have enough Beastie in it (we’re veggies), you can head on over to the Maverick Books website for a few more Beastie cooking ideas… oh, and a little craft to make your own (rather cute) Beastie.
Giles Paley-Phillips is answering some ridiculous questions that I’ve asked him all of this week on the Maverick Books Facebook page. Feel free to ask him some yourself, you can find Giles here on Facebook and here on Twitter. He’s a very nice chap and I’m sure would be happy to natter with you!
Also, if you’re in London this Saturday, pop by and see Giles in Waterstone’s Oxford Street. He’ll be reading, signing copies of his books and having fun with activities between 2-4.30. Be sure to practice your growling.