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


Gretchen said...

Hi. I found your message while looking up Zanzibar Cake on the internet after reading Ella Takes The Cake for the upteenth time to my two and a half year old daughter. She too, can almost recite the whole book off by heart. She loves it!! Still haven't managed to find the recipe for Zanzibar Cake though!!

Anonymous said...

Take 1 zanzi bar. Mix in truths (i.e., eggs, sugar, flour) in amounts proportionate to the size of the zanzi. Stir together using a clockwise motion (lefthanders looking from underneath the bowl) for as much time as is required for a speed reading of the book. Place in oven at (300 + 2 * age of reader) degrees and bake for (400 - temperature of oven) minutes. Remove cake from oven. Let cool. Frost with stripes for tigers, or spots for leopards.

Love, Gramps

Larissa and Ella said...

I LOVE IT! My daughter and I are also Ella fans and were trying to figure out what Zanzibar cake is and if we could make it. The rainbow cake is even better! Thanks for the idea.

Larissa and Ella said...

AHA! I found the receipe! It's on the website and under the area that allows you to print off coloring sheets. Just thought you may want to know!

Mrs. Gregorton said...

Thank you, Everyone! My daughter has also been asking for this cake (for her birthday, which is three months away) and I'm happy to have a recipe (or two). I also found a cashewnut cake on Zanzinet that sounds interesting. . .

papasmurf1970 said...

You can find the recipe for Zanzibar Cake on the website: Click on "Fun Stuff" and then click the right, orange-colored arrow underneath "Coloring Sheet." It's a bit buried in the site and not very intuitive, but my wife found it!

Cheers, Gerry

Anonymous said...

I just tried the and the ella facebook pae keeps coming up, nooooo webpage with "funstuff". Has anyone eles found this website OR the recipe for theis cake?

Robin (noteverstill/noteversewing) said...

The website used to be entirely different. Looks like the books were picked up for a Disney show? The recipe was there, once upon a time, and it's gone now - I'm so sorry!