A few weeks ago I received an advance copy of Sara Varon's latest book Bake Sale , and while I'm generally not one to do product pitches or critiques here at Oui Chef, Muppet and I had so much fun reading this tale that I had to tell you about it.
In this book, Varon, the author of the award winning "Robot Dreams", has crafted a story full of friendship, sacrifice, dreams, and determination. It's a quick read that details the struggles of a comic-book cupcake as he strives to regain the mojo he's lost at work.
You see, "cupcake", who is a part-time drummer in a band, owns a bakery, has lost the joy in his craft, and is in need of a little inspiration. Luckily for him, his best friend "eggplant", has an aunt willing to introduce him to the renowned Turkish pastry chef "Turkish Delight", if only he can raise enough money for a trip to Turkey to meet the man (or the marshmallow looking cubed confection as it were). The book follows the travails of cupcake as he struggles to earn enough money for the journey to meet the chef, get inspired, and reclaim his mojo. He is faced with some hard choices, and sacrifices must be made if he is to achieve his dream of meeting the famed Turkish Delight.
This thoughtful tale of cupcake's personal journey offers up a lot of lessons for young and old readers alike, and is one I highly recommend you buy to share with the budding young cooks in your house. The kids will get a kick out of learning some important life lessons through the eyes of a cupcake (like the value of dreams, perseverance and sacrifice), while you adults will enjoy the cleverness with which Varon weaves these lessons into a cute-as-a-button cartoon feature. You'll find yourself flipping the pages quickly to see if our friend cupcake ever makes it to Turkey to meet his idol and have his mojo restored, or whether he finds help from another source altogether.
I'm not telling, you'll have to go buy Bake Sale yourselves to find out.
While not a cookbook per se, Varon does share seven recipes that you'll enjoy cooking with your kids after reading the book. The first we tackled (and devoured) was for cupcakes' famous raspberry squares. It's no wonder this talented little cupcake has his own book, these things are awesome!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup raspberry preserves
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups unpacked light brown sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into smallish pieces
- Preheat oven to 350℉
- For the crust, combine butter and flour in a large bowl until it becomes doughy.
- Spread dough evenly into a 9"x13" glass baking dish. You can use a large piece of waxed paper to press down the crust so it is flat and even.
- Bake the crust for 17 minutes. Let it cool completely before covering it with the filling. As the crust cools, you can prepare the topping.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and the brown sugar.
- Cut the butter into the flour and sugar with a pastry blender (or a fork) until the mixture has the texture of corse crumbs. Don't overmix it!
- Once the crust is cool, spread the raspberry preserves evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/4" edge all around. (Any of the preserves that are touching the side of the pan will dry out when baking.)
- Pour the topping evenly overe the preserves.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
- Allow to cool before cutting into squares.