Saturday, February 7, 2009

Zanzibar cake (the power of books) (and sugar)

In Ella Takes the Cake (sequel to Ella the Elegant Elephant), the protagonist and her mother end their day in Mama's bakery, making a Zanzibar cake together.

Anyone know what a Zanzibar cake is?


Me neither.

You wouldn't expect that to deter my daughter, though, I'm sure. E is very enamored of the Ella books, quoting them randomly throughout the day. I love it! I absolutely love it! she'll exclaim when you hand her a bowl of spaghetti. Or aww! But the library's so boorring! when you announce a trip to the grocery store. Or my favorite, when I'm stepping outside for a microsecond, like to grab the mail or retrieve a package from the porch, don't forget your lucky hat!

The good news is that memorizing books is allegedly an early sign of literacy. And that I can sit while she "reads" them to me night after night means I have more patience than many might believe.

None of that, however, helps me in her oft-repeated request for Zanzibar cake.

I saw something fun on Ohdeedoh recently about making a rainbow cake. It looked like a great idea, but I didn't bookmark it because the recipe itself was based on some WeightWatchers method of using a cake mix and Sprite Zero. I have some friends that are looking pretty spectacular on the WeWa Way right now, but I don't buy cake mix. And I certainly don't call Sprite Zero an ingredient.

There are some Truths I hold Self-Evident, and among them are Eggs, Sugar and Butter.

But! The rainbow idea itself was fantastic. So I pulled out one of my favorite vanilla cake recipes. It calls for a cup of white wine and since this is for the kiddies, I substitued apple juice. And then I forgot I was halving the recipe (because I didn't have the fortitude for a layer cake tonight), so I poured in twice as much juice as necessary. So to compensate I just threw in a bunch more sugar and flour and some extra baking powder without measuring anything so it's amazing that it came out like a cake at all.

If we make this again, I'm not going to use apple juice because I want a less-colored batter base for which to let loose my little sous chef with the food dyes. I'll also measure my ingredients. Eh, live and learn.

So, behold! Zanzibar is the new Rainbow!

And our little bibliophile with the elephant-sized sweet tooth was happy.

Edited to add: Follow the comment thread below-- a huge thanks to ace reader Larissa who found the *real* Ella the Elephant Zanzibar cake! Pin It