World Book Day: baked goods from literature

It’s World Book Day – a celebration of all things literary in which children across the country head out in droves dressed as their favourite characters.

Alongside great characters and magical stories, fiction has notable, spectacular and (in the case of Titus Andronicus) some downright gruesome baked goods – from Paddington’s beloved marmalade sandwiches to the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel.

Here are some of our favourites:

Chocolate cake – Matilda, Roald Dahl

Not all heroes wear capes. Literal blood, sweat and tears go into the monstrous chocolate cake that poor Bruce Bogtrotter is made to devour at Miss Trunchbull’s behest in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. The task of wolfing down an entire sharing-size cake was supposed to be a punishment for Bruce’s delinquency in which he stole a slice of his head teacher’s prized treat. Nevertheless, he triumphs.

Lembas bread – Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

How do you sustain a hungry Hobbit in search of adventure? Lembas bread of course! Also known as Elven bread or Waybread, it will keep fresh for months and is designed to be eaten a little at a time, satisfying even the biggest of appetites (well, perhaps not Pippin and Merry’s). Described in The Fellowship of the Ring as a cake not a bread, recreations often see the addition of honey, butter and flour to create an almost shortbread-like treat.

Pumpkin pasties – Harry Potter, JK Rowling

Regardless of whether you are a Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin or Ravenclaw, everyone loves a pumpkin pasty on board the Hogwarts Express. There’s also a myriad of sweet and savoury baked goods cooked up by the house elves at Hogwarts, including treacle tarts. Even Hagrid slips on a pinny occasionally, whipping up his infamous rock cakes and, of course, the ‘Happee birthdae Harry’ cake.

Marmalade sandwiches – Paddington, Michael Bond

Paddington is famed for his love of marmalade sandwiches. And who can blame him? The simplicity of two slices of white bread, a smidge of butter and a hearty helping of marmalade is enough to make any bear feel right at home, whether in London or deepest darkest Peru.

Son pie – Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

Definitely the most gory and least appetising one on the list, is son pie. Thought to be Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus is set in the Roman Empire and tells the story of a general named Titus who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. The story culminates in Titus killing Tamora’s sons and baking them in a pie, which he serves to her. Needless to say, this is one literary baked good you won’t want to serve up.

Cherry pie – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

Fruit clearly doesn’t cut it and after an apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries and five oranges, The Very Hungry Caterpillar turned to something more substantial – a chocolate cake, a cupcake and a slice of cherry pie. With all that, alongside salami, watermelon, lollipop, a pickle and cheese, it’s no wonder he ended up with a stomach ache!

Gingerbread house – Hansel & Gretel, Brothers Grimm

Who wouldn’t want to go nibbling at a life-size gingerbread house they find in the woods? Sure, it’s a little creepy and, realistically, if it hasn’t already been devoured by the local wildlife, it would have probably crumbled in the rain. Regardless, candy windows, soft gingerbread and other edible decorations are clearly enough to tempt in children like Hansel and Gretel.

Sansa’s Lemon cakes – A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin

Everyone needs a little sweetness in their life, particularly if most of your family has been brutally murdered, sent to the Wall or are missing. Lemon cakes are said to be Sansa Stark’s favourite sweet treat. Unlike the lemon drizzle loaves designed to be shared, these expensive treats (at least in the Seven Kingdoms) are often enjoyed by upper-class noblewomen and are individually portioned. They’re definitely more tempting than the Dothraki blood pie.

Miss Havisham’s wedding cake - Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Wedding cake lasts a long time but it’s still probably best to give this one a miss. The heartbroken Miss Havisham was left at the altar and proceeded to become a shut-in – she didn’t even remove her wedding dress. Instead, she allowed her cake, and mansion, to decay around her.

Dwarven bread – Discworld, Terry Pratchett

No one ever goes hungry when they have some dwarf bread to avoid. Look at it for a moment and instantly there are a dozen things you’d rather eat – your boots, for example. As undesirable as it is, partly because it contains rocks, dwarf bread makes for a great weapon and is primarily used as such. It can be crafted into boomerang biscuits, drop scones and even close-combat crumpets.

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