I was recently sent the book Aishah Learns to Bake by author Latifah Peerbux, and illustrator Nurul Ruqaiyah Ahmad Maliki, from Almaurid Books.
This adorable book is about a little girl name Aishah who helps her mum make a cake. They start to play a guessing game, where her mum gives her hints of ingredients they’ll need. She explains how Allah (God in Arabic) made each one, from the bees that give us honey to the dates we eat during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Along the way, there are silly illustrations of a cow standing on top of a cake and clocks that move way, way toooooo slow across the page.
Once all the ingredients are mixed, Aishah learns how things are baked. When her father comes home, she is able to share with him all steps and reminded him to say Bismillah an Arabic phrase that means ‘in the name of God, before he tried a bite. The book includes a recipe and instruction on making honey and date cupcakes.
We got all the ingredients together this weekend and tried our hand at turning the cupcakes into the cake that the cow is standing on. We had to go to two different stores to find caster sugar, as it’s not a common item in our local community, but everything else we had a home. My middle daughter also wanted to try her hand at fondant, so she tried a bee outer shell. A full list of ingredients and measurements are in the book.
Since this book was written in the United Kingdom, some of the measurements were written in metric, so we had to figure out how many dates we needed to pit (3 ounces). We spent some time looking at metric conversion charts and the history of the metric system, which is very different than the customary units we use in the United States.
After we had gathered everything, we placed the pit less dates in the food processor for a few minutes.
We added the dates and 3 tablespoons of water in a pot and placed it on the stove, till boil. This allowed it to become a paste before we set it aside to cool.
While the dates were cooling, we made the cake batter and the fondant mixture. Tip: We made them in separate bowls but at the same time because they shared a few dry ingredients. Just make sure to keep them apart!
We baked the cake batter into two pans. Tip: Inserting a toothpick when you pull it out tells you if the middle is baked. If the toothpick is dry, the cake is done, if the toothpick is wet, place the cake back in the oven for a few more minutes.
While the cake was baking and cooling, we divided the fondant batter into two batches. We added the yellow food coloring to one and the black to the second. We used the same toothpick to help control how much to add. And have a few sillies of our own while baking.
To be honest, the black ended up more of a grey, but that’s okay. We set them aside to work on layering our cakes.
We added a layer of the date paste to the bottom cake but didn’t spread it to the edges, leaving an outer circle.
In a side bowl, we mixed the honey buttercream icing and added it to the outer circle before adding the second cake layer. We spread the extra around the edges before adding the fondant.
We flatten the two balls of fondant and laid the yellow over the whole cake. Tip: It is easier to place on the cake to cut, rather than try to cut it flat. We then cut the black into strips.
We added a little extra black to fit around the edges. This is a great time to sneak in a lesson in math and angles.
My daughter rolled up a little extra ball, turned it into a cone shape and added it for a stinger.
The true test came in the taste and it got a thumbs up from all of us, even the little five year old boy my oldest happen to be babysitting. He not only finished it all, he wanted to know if it was okay to have a second piece since “it healthy.” (I said no, but sent an extra piece with his mom when she came to pick him up)
I am so excited to try this book out at my next story time with the kids at the library since my own youngest enjoyed the story and the cake.
Be sure to check out the book Aishah Learns to Bake from Almaurid Books or ask for it a your local bookstore, library or Amazon. Stop by to visit the activity kit too!
Visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest for more of our adventures in the kitchen or the Education Resource page for hundreds of books for Muslim children.