When the world is crumbling all around you, is there a more British response than sitting down for a cup of tea and a slice of cake?
As 2020 continues to turn life on its head, the comfort of baking and scoffing the results has kept many of us sane for the last six months – and will provide us with a welcome escape through the winter thanks to return of The Great British Bake Off.
So let’s celebrate the joy of cakes, biscuits and breads with these brilliant books where a tasty bake takes centre stage…
1. Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Kevin Waldron. £6.99 (paperback), Puffin
A slice of gooey, rich chocolate cake is one of the ultimate indulgences and this poem about a young Michael Rosen‘s mission to get a slice of his mum’s for a midnight snack is just as rich in laughs and language.
Your child will just love all the delicious sound effects as the ravenous lad tiptoes down to the kitchen and gobbles the tasty treat – only to let his greed get the better of him. The artwork by Kevin Waldron brings the whole thing to energetic life, from the double page drawing of the empty plate to the incriminating chocolate smear on our hero’s face. Buy from Amazon
2. Cook in a Book: Cookies – an Interactive Recipe Book. Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen. £12.95 (hardback), Phaidon
This interactive children’s recipe book is feast for the eyes, simple to follow and give a whole new spin to playing kitchen. The text leads you through each step of making a batch of cookies, with clear pictures to illustrate, plus flaps, wheels and punch-out pieces to allow your mini chefs to role play the cooking process.
The whole thing is easy-to-follow and chunky, so should withstand even the roughest little readers, and it also makes a very sweet gift. There are further books themed on pancakes, pizza and tacos too. Buy from Amazon
3. Mini Rabbit: Not Lost by John Bond. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
The lure of cake is a powerful one – and when Mini Rabbit and his mum run out of berries, the sweet-toothed bunny is determined to save the day by locating the missing ingredients.
So begins an epic and possibly perilous adventure for our tiny hero who is most definitely not lost… is he? An impressive debut by author-illustrator John Bond with stunning artwork and a offbeat wit that channels Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers. Buy from Amazon
4. I Really Want The Cake by Simon Philip and Lucia Gaggiotti. £6.99 (paperback), Templar
Just like the beautiful bake that has stolen the heroine’s heart, this witty book is impossible to resist. It’s held in such warm affection in our house that I can tell you the story without looking at the pages.
But look you must, because the energetic and amusing Manga-esque artwork by Lucia Gaggiotti is just brilliant, while Simon Philip’s account of a toddler’s internal battle between her desire for a sweet treat and her knowledge that it is forbidden is spot on. Buy from Amazon
5. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway. £7.99 (paperback), Red Fox
When a plague of wasps descends on the quintessential English village of Itching Down, the residents embark on the ultimate Bake Off challenge in an ambitious effort to save summer. Together they create the world’s ultimate sweet treat – a giant jam sandwich – to trap the pests and drop them out to sea.
This off-the-wall tale from 1972 is a real classic, with snappy rhyming verses by Janet Burroway and angular illustrations by John Vernon Lord, which are wonderfully retro and energetic. One you’ll not tire of reading – if only to see those pesky picnic poopers get their comeuppance. Buy from Amazon
6. Cake by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet. £6.99 (paperback), Macmillan
A party’s not a party without cake. But when Cake receives a special invite to a soiree, the innocent sponge doesn’t realise he is guest of honour for a sinister reason rather than his sparkling personality…
As with all of Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s stories, this is wacky and witty, with plenty of LOLs for kids and parents. Not least when Cake goes ‘hat shopping’ with the help of a milliner penguin and is liberated from impending eating by a buffet food rescue party. Buy from Amazon
7. Angry Cookie by Laura Dockrill, illustrated by Maria Karipidou. £6.99 (paperback), Walker
Don’t even think about missing this witty and wise tale about turning your frown upside down, you nosy noodle! This first picture book by celebrated performance poet Laura Dockrill (already an established middle grade and young adult author who has also published a moving memoir of her post-partum psychosis) has a hilarious, quirky charm.
We especially love Angry Cookie’s recorder playing flatmate Barbra and totally empathise with that post-haircut fluster when you know its just a bit too short for your face. The cartoonish illustrations are very cool, too. Buy from Amazon
8. Matilda by Roald Dahl. £6.99 (paperback), Puffin
Technically this is not a book about baked goods but we couldn’t do a round-up without a mention of the show-stealing scene where Miss Trunchbull presents Bruce Bogtrotter with a ginormous, gooey chocolate cake – and challenges him to finish it as a punishment.
Dahl’s vivid description of the greedy but quietly determined schoolboy’s effort to scoff the lot is one of the greatest tales from children’s books. It’s got everything – drama, persistence, queasiness, the triumph of the little people over authority and copious quantities of cake. Buy from Amazon