Picture books

Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake by David Melling

Hugless Douglas is the star of a series of picture books and this latest book is our first introduction to him. Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake, written and illustrated by David Melling and published by Hodder Children’s Books, jumped out to us as it combines two of our favourite things – books and cake!

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Douglas, a friendly and hungry bear, wakes up one morning to find all his honey gone. This is a disaster for him as he simply can’t eat any other foods without honey on them. He sets off to get to the bottom of the mystery only to discover a gang of sheep who are so covered in Douglas’ honey they have become stuck to everything.

They’re planning on baking some honey cakes and Douglas is quick to offer his help and I really think they need it, they make such a mess! Eventually and by some stroke of luck, the cakes make it into the oven and all they need to do is wait for them to be ready. But that is when things really get messy with a tremendous food fight. In all the chaos will they hear when the cakes are ready and will Douglas finally get something to eat?

We love the illustrations in this book, full of humour and slapstick they had us laughing out loud. Everywhere you look there is another sheep getting up to mischief; our particular favourite is the one who is so sticky from all the honey that they’re also covered in a light dusting of grass cuttings and looking rather unimpressed about it!

Douglas is a really loveable character and I like the message in the story about trying new foods; I’m sure I’m not the only one whose children have very particular palates so anything that might gently persuade a change here and there is very welcome.

At the end of this book there is also a recipe to make your own honey cakes. We can never resist an excuse to bake so we got our aprons on and set to work. I didn’t manage many photos of this as both the 4-year-old and the 1-year-old helped with these, a real team effort. We were in danger of making almost as much mess as the sheep in the story, especially when I gave the baby two bowls of flour to “bake” with while we filled the bun cases.

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He had a lovely time exploring the textures (and tastes!) of the different ingredients, always a good idea to have extra ready for busy little hands.

The honey cakes recipe couldn’t have come at a better time for us as it is nearly Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. On Rosh Hashanah we eat foods with honey to symbolise our hopes for a sweet new year. Hugless Douglas would love it! It’s traditional to dip apples in honey and eat them together so to decorate our honey cakes we made some apple crisps to go on top of the icing.

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We made these by very thinly slicing an apple and laying the slices out on greaseproof paper before drizzling very generously with honey. Next we popped them on a baking tray and into the oven at 110 degrees until they had dried out, this took about an hour or so.

The recipe in the book is perfect for baking with children, everything in the bowl together to make a simple sponge mixture with added honey. They were really delicious too and a lovely food to add to our Rosh Hashanah celebrations.

Hugless Douglas has his own website where you can find out about his other adventures and download some fun activities too:
http://www.huglessdouglas.co.uk/

Find out more about his creator, David Melling on his website here:
http://www.davidmelling.co.uk/index.html

honey-cakes

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