Now before the comments start rolling in, I’m not knocking the day itself - it’s a great charity initiative to get kids into books. No argument there. BUT there's a but. Depending on how schools manage it, it can easily go from being a celebration of books in all their forms, to a novelty fancy dress one-upmanship. And that’s kind of the problem - there’s way more to escaping with your favourite book than reducing them to a gimmick for a day, or having some ultra-competitive mums go OTT, spending a small fortune on THE most elaborate costumes.
So what does this have to do with cake? Well, books actually make great cake themes as there’s usually a sweet memory tied up in there, along with a sizeable dose of whimsy and the chance to make new memories sharing them with our favourite people too. Seeing as books live in our imaginations, it’s great fun using artistic license and digging into what makes it special. But just like a World Book Day outfit there’s a point where if you throw too much at it a themed cake becomes too gimmicky and that’s just not what we do.
Our Alice in Wonderland cake is the perfect example. Between the iconic book and the classic Disney film, it’s got a legion of fans and with so much detail to draw on it’s tricky to find a balance. In the end we picked some easily recognisable elements - the blue and white of Alice’s frock, the Mad Hatter’s chocolate teapot (with salted caramel swilling teacups) and of course the Queen of Hearts’ playing cards. We had fun keeping to the spirit of the book without overloading it. Which is, obviously, the best way to approach fancy dress too, whatever your age - you don’t need ALL the accessories, just a few will hit the right note and not consume all of your brain capacity (or money!).
We’ve already discussed (and ranted) about how great cake is at bringing people together, and book themed cakes are perfect for this too. Crossing generations, there are some children’s classics grown ups have happy memories of which kids today too would immediately recognise, making that special moment shared across our nearest, dearest and smallest. Be honest, who hasn’t seen Paddington and thought what a great sized suitcase that is for carrying snacks?
And Peter Rabbit’s another one - we might overlook his blazer-but-pants-less sartorial faux pas (Pete, that's not what we mean by "fur coat no knickers"..) but his dedication to mischief, adventure and fresh veg is quite something.
As far as pulling World Book Day outfits together both of them rock a blue coat, and whether it’s cardboard marmalade sandwiches or toy fruit and veg (a well known Swedish furniture shop does very versatile play food), a few choice accessories, and suddenly the characters come to life! Easily recognisable and smiles all round. Which is exactly the point, isn’t it? (Just remember the pants!)
World Book Day apparently isn't just for kids. Adults are getting in on the dressing up fun.
And book themed cakes aren't just for kids either. Twenties decadence Great-Gatsby-Style can be celebrated with flapper dresses, cocktails and a Croquembouche. Or maybe it’s more Bridgerton-inspired Regency sophistication you’re going for with empire-line dresses, lace overlays and some intricate ivory piping.
But let’s face it, even if you’re not in the mood for dressing up, just the cake on its own can set a delicious tone. So yes, the fuss of World Book Day may not be for everyone (I hear you!) but they do make for fantastic cake themes and for more than just one day a year!
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