Gerhard Jenne harks back to the delights of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book and reveals how he has become involved in its 50-year celebration. 

It has been 50 years since Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and thus fired up the imagination of millions of children around the world.

Quite a few of them might have aspired to become chocolate-makers or pastry chefs since, but I assume the majority of them were just delighted in the idea of ‘lickable wallpaper’ and ‘rivers of chocolate’.

As I child I was most impressed by an illustrated book called Im Schlaraffenland. It described the delights of living in a land of plenty, or Land of Cockayne, as the English translation would have it, a land where milk and honey flowed in the rivers, the pine trees didn’t bear cones but jam-filled doughnuts, and the pigs roamed the countryside ready-roasted and, for good measure, I’m sure there was a fountain in which you could bathe yourself to shed a few decades off your age too.

To get there, however, you first had to eat your way through a giant Guglhupf, a giant bundt tin-baked cake made from a rich yeast dough – similar to brioche, but slightly more sweetened! Only the privileged few managed and while the original book was written as a bourgeois satire, 70 years later (or so) I just wanted those doughnuts – a bit like acquiring those golden tickets for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

Charlie’s Golden Anniversary

I was therefore very pleased to be asked by Penguin publishers to come up with a creation to help celebrate the book’s Golden Anniversary. Having been described as a bit of an Oompa Loompa myself on numerous occasions, beavering away in my own kitchen creating fantastical cakes, I took my inspiration from the ‘Square Sweets that Look Round’ and translated them into a ‘Square Cake that Looks Round’, a rich chocolate cake extravaganza, complete with golden tickets, which, despite being square, looks round. It’s the sort of word play that really appeals to me and the sense of humour that is part of Konditor & Cook. After all, we bake a biscuit called the ‘Dodgy Jammer’ that can shout ‘Fart’ at you.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has helped to keep generations of children enthralled by delicious whipple-scrumptious fudgemellow delights and I’m sure cake baking wouldn’t be where it is today without a healthy dose of nostalgia and romanticism. Look out for a river of publicity around the book’s anniversary or be inspired to create your own child-appealing products: after all, they are our future customers.

Now, I wonder if Willy Wonka used to have discussions over the 80/20 rule or if the river of chocolate did give his factory the right sort of margins – but more of that next time.

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