Bookish Bites : A Stick Man special
Happy Children’s Book Week everybody in the UK! Hope you’re all having a lot of fun whatever you’re up to! We thought for this week it would be fun to celebrate a title that has been much loved and read in our household – Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (who Milo would remind you, that he’s met!) – Scholastic Books. We love this book, the journey that Stick Man goes on, Santa coming down the chimney (very exciting) and at the moment, very especially, the family tree. Milo’s muddling the family tree that Stick Man lives in with the one that hangs above his bed which has pictures of his family in. Not quite the same thing but both seem to enthrall him.
A quick snuggle, a read and then on with the activities. This post is made up of three parts – stick with it, the cake is at the end and it was easy peasy and very tasty!
Instead of starting with our bake this time, we started with a craft. One spotted on the fabulous RedTedArt blog a while back that required some gathering of sticks to make into actual stick men. Here are ours:
We made the whole family, though it would be hard to tell them apart as all material used was a tad floral and possibly a little girly! Aren’t goggly eyes great? Stick them to anything and it’s immediately got personality.
I absolutely love the idea posted in the comments on RedTedArt’s blog of leaving a Stick Man or two in the park to go on their very own journey but I couldn’t persuade Milo to part with any of his Stick Man family so instead they live in the kitchen gazing longingly out the window.
We thought we’d do a quick Stick Man inspired breakfast before moving onto the inevitable chocolate cake. Toast. You don’t really need a recipe for this though I’d go with brown or wholemeal bread for authenticity and all of that. The boiled egg was just because it’s nice to have a boiled egg to dunk your soldiers or in this case, stick man into. And Milo thinks boiled eggs “taste like sunshine” and well, that’s kind of cute!
Now for the cake. Chocolate of course, it couldn’t really be anything else. We made a traybake to cut a stick man shape out of and used the recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I think any chocolate cake recipe for a 7inch round cake would do though, just perhaps double up the ingredients.
Mixing the cocoa and hot water.
Milo did all the sifting and adding of ingredients. We beat the eggs before adding them even though the recipe didn’t say so, just so he could have a go at breaking them (easier to pick egg shells out of a mug than the mixer with ingredients in already!). It’s a quick mix and then into the baking tray and the oven for about 35 minutes. Turn it out with the underside on top so you have a good, flat surface to work with.
Next, cut out your stick man shape. We chose the illustration from the cover of the book, without the sticky fingers as we’d have probably lost some of those in the icing process.
Not a job for a toddler really, but Milo enjoyed watching the cake take shape!
The cut off bits of chocolate cake are in the freezer ready for the many trifles I will be making from Bookish Bite extra bits of cake!
Now for the icing. I was going to make a simple chocolate ganache but then decided to use the recipe from the book. Not sure I would again as it was pretty sweet (a mix of plain chocolate, water, icing sugar and sunflower oil). A buttercream might give it a more realistic woody texture. Either way, always good to spread a little heated apricot jam on the cake before you ice… or in our house, strawberry jam. Always with the strawberry jam!
For the eyeball I used sugar paste and a touch of black writing icing which I also used for the eyebrow and mouth. The leaves are just sugar paste with a little green colouring in and then rolled and cut to shape.
Once finished, it’s dilemma time. Which bit of Stick Man to eat first (hard!). Milo went for the very top of his head and was a little distressed coming downstairs the next day to find that mummy and daddy had eaten his legs. It feels a bit cruel (like gingerbread men do), but tasty all the same!
Milo’s verdict: “Mummy, where’s the family tree?” Seriously.
However, since making this I’ve had several good suggestions from Giles Paley-Phillips of Fearsome Beastie fame, including yule log which I think would work really well also, and especially if you wanted to make a family tree as well as a stick man. If you were deft with your cutting you could probably get a few stick men out of the traybake to pop alongside a yule log family tree – great birthday cake idea for a Stick Man fan!