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Bookish Bites : Monkey and Robot in the Garden (part 1)

This week’s Bookish Bites is our entry to the Playing by the Book Edible Book Festival. In case you’ve been away from Twitter and Facebook and well, the internet for the past week, here’s where you can find the gallery of all 73 (yes, 73!) entries. And what fabulous entries they are too, and so many different books, almost like a reading list through cake (my kind of book list!).

Mine and Milo’s entry was a Monkey and Robot in the Garden cake.

This is the blurb we sent along to Zoe with our cake pictures which pretty much sums up our thinking behind the cake.

My inspiration:

With spring in the air, I was inspired by the fun my son and I have reading the story of Monkey and Robot growing carrots and sunflowers to make this interactive, gingerbread, chocolate and carrot cake. Everything is edible, other than the paper cases on the pot plants, cakeboard and the ribbon around it.

Gingerbread Robot and Monkey are stood outside their toolshed (also gingerbread), proudly surveying their work. You can move them around the garden, between three different beds. There’s the flowerbed (chocolate cake with buttercream, vermicelli for soil, matchmakers and sugarpaste flowers). There’s the carrot patch (carrot cake with chocolate Flake border), where you can harvest removable sugarpaste carrots. And there’s the sunflowers (chocolate cake, buttercream and Flake, with sunflowers made from sugarpaste and chocolate buttons). You can also move the gingerbread tools and flowerpot fairy cakes to the spot where you think they look most pretty. This was a joint family effort by myself, my other half and my three year old (King of sifting flour and eating the carrots while I’m not looking!).

Monkey and Robot in the Garden by Felix Hayes and illustrated by Hannah Broadway (Bloomsbury Publishing) is one of Milo’s favourite books. Bought last year on our Spring/Summer holiday, it’s a fantastic book for a child who’s interested in gardening, watching things grow and interested in all the different things a garden can produce. Oh yes, and there’s a monkey and a robot and you can do the voice for robot and this is fun!

There was a lot to do to get this cake to its final point and ultimately it took a whole weekend to produce (though we did pop to the park and play a fair bit inbetween and Milo was poorly too so there were lots of long, snuggly cuddles) and because of that, this Bookish Bites is in two posts. This post, baking and later today, decorating and constructing so please be sure to pop back.

I failed to take too many pictures during the baking as it was a bit busy so you’ll need to use your imagination to picture the chaos! Off we go…

Our Monkey and Robot cake was simple to make, just a little organisation needed to get everything done, here’s a rough plan:

1. Cover cake board with green “grass” sugarpaste
2. Make sugarpaste flowers, carrots, sunflowers, Monkey and Robot inscription and other bits throughout the whole process
3. Bake chocolate cake
4. Make gingerbread dough and pop in fridge for an hour or overnight
5. Bake carrot cake
6. Cut and bake gingerbread (I’ll provide templates for the tool shed)
7. Cut sugarpaste to cover Monkey and Robot, sack of manure etc…
8. Make royal icing and stick together your gingerbread tool shed
9. Shape the cakes into “flower beds”
10. Whip up chocolate buttercream and cover cakes and pipe onto the “flower pot” mini cupcakes
11. Cut Flake chocolate bars and matchmakers for fencing
12. Assemble flower beds
13. Decorate everything with the sugarpaste flowers
14. Poke holes in your carrot cake to plant and re-plant your little carrots
15. Play!
16. EAT!

Cover your cake board:

This should be done a day ahead of when you want to start placing cakes on top of the board, just to give it a chance to settle and harden.I used approximately 750g of green sugarpaste and simply rolled it out, laid it over my cake board and trimmed the edges. I then finished with a green ribbon around the edge.


We started with the chocolate cake. I used a very simple recipe as there was going to be plenty of other chocolatey goodness elsewhere in the cake and baked in a 7 inch square tin and several small cakes to create the pot plants later on. Milo won’t let anyone else sift flour anymore. This is his job!

We got on with the gingerbread next. I wanted to use the same recipe that I used for Milo’s gingerbread house at Christmas. The recipe’s from Peggy Porschen and I absolutely love the gingerbread this produces. Spicy, warm and delicious. It’s an incredibly easy recipe to make but you’ll need to leave it in the fridge for at least an hour or as we did, overnight, before rolling it out and cutting.

Then the carrot cake which was to make the base of the carrot patch, (obviously!). We used a recipe from the Bake-A Boo Bakery book which I’ve mentioned so many times before on this blog, but it really is a fabulous book. This is a dairy free recipe so if you were to make a Monkey and Robot in the Garden cake for a birthday it would be ideal for any littles with allergies. Milo’s mad keen on grating stuff at the moment so he grated the carrot and threw all the ingredients into the mixer for me. Literally! Once baked, set the cake and mini cupcakes to one side. For the mini cupcake I used silver foil cases as they don’t show the buttery grease through them as much as the paper ones do.

I shall return later today with the second Monkey and Robot post – the best bit really, decorating and making the tool shed. Hope to see you then!

*** part 2 is here!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Zoe #

    How wonderful that you are sharing the whole process – it inspires me to get the book and make a replica cake too! Thank you natasha!

    March 21, 2012
    • natashaworswick #

      No problem – it was great fun to take part. Milo had a good time too despite being so poorly that weekend. it really cheered him up. Keep posted for later – there’s a little video of him popping carrots out of the final cake. Interactive cakes are definitely the way forward in this house!

      March 21, 2012

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