Honey and Date Bee Cake {Recipe} plus Aishah Learns to Bake {Review}

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.

Best of A Crafty Arab 2017 {Resource}

A Crafty Arab has had an active 2017, teaching children and adults about the Arab world.

 

In 2017, there were 99 Arab  posts written (100 if you count this one) and of those, 67 were DIY craft tutorials, 7 were free printables and 7 were food related.

 

The rest of the list is made up of 10 posts the included educational resources and the number I’m most proud of: 8 posts that were related to Arab or Muslim children’s books, either as reviews or book lists.

 

Here are the top 5 posts, with the most amount of traffic. for 2017.

 

Not surprising, the top post (almost double in traffic compared to the next post) was tied to the United States election.  Late last year, Americas elected a white supremacist sympathizer president and one of his despicable first acts was to ask for an immediate ban on all Muslims that enter America from seven countries.  I decided to use this opportunity to educate about Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen by compiling them in one post.

The second highest post was also a compilation post full of Arab and/or Islamic activities, this time listing all 30 DIY projects created for each day of Ramadan.  It’s excited to see that the 30 day Ramadan Crafts Challenge is now 7 years old and one of the most popular events on the blog.  Ramadan activities included an advent calendar, rewards, games, artwork and giving. Check out all 30 Ramadan crafts, downloads and recipes on this post.

The third highest post was a book review and a STEM tutorial about building mosque domes.  I was recently sent Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan to review.  As a co-Host of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I’m always looking for books to add to our diverse shelf.  Be on the lookout in 2018 for another book plus tutorial because I was lucky enough to be sent more than one book. In the meantime, check out our Mosque Golden Domes post.

The fourth highest post was a free printable Eid banner.  We love to make banners here on the blog because they are so easy, take very little time to create and instantly makes any room festive.  Five years ago, I made an entire Eid party set and last year I asked my online community for color options (having already creating the banner in teal).  Salmon was a hit with everyone and now that download is free Happy Eid Salmon printable.

Rounding off the list is a tutorial that teaches about the five pillars of Islam.  To be honest, this was a surprise for me.  As a paper artist, I do tend to make more paper art with my kids and was sure a paper tutorial would make the list.  But instead craft sticks sneaked in as one of the top material of choose for my readers.  This super easy and quick craft is a wonderful way to teach the 5 pillars without a lot of supplies or mess and can be found here.

 

Other highlights of the year include becoming a Plaid Ambassador and being asked to teach, for the sixth year in a row, at a women’s retreat. Holidays celebrated included Persian Nowruz and Arab American Heritage Month. I introduced my readers to Mariam al-Astrulabi, plus 99 Arab American Women who they should know (and most already did).

 

InshaAllah (An Arabic term used by both Christians and Muslims that means ‘God willing’), my daughters and I look forward to 2018 being another great year. We hope to bring you more educational posts that you can use with your children or students.  As an teacher, nothing brings me greater joy then sharing my culture in a positive way.  Shurkan (Arabic for thank you) for following along on the journey.

 

Please make sure you sign up for the A Crafty Arab newsletter to find out when future posts are out. Stop by my Arabic, Perisan and Urdu handmade store to purchase a unique, one of a kind card, or add a fun Arabic educational poster to any child’s life.

 

Stop by these other Muslimah Bloggers to see which posts made their top 5 list:

Afreen’s Kitchen
alizehmysoul
By Shahira
Ilm Student Central
Ilma Education
JeddahMom
Multicultural Motherhood
MyBlessedNest
The Imperfect Muslimah
The Lady of the House
Umm Afraz Muhammed Blog

 

Visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more.

Saudi Arabia Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup {Recipe}

I was sent the cookbook The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing.

 

It focuses primary on recipes in the Arab Gulf region and has to be one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve seen in a long time.

 

I was pressed for time this week to look for dinner options for our Mawlid al Nabi celebration tonight and took the cookbook with me on the bus to work. Mawlid al Nabi commemorates the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), in Saudi Arabia. This annual Islamic holiday is celebrated by many Muslims around the world.}

 

On the bus, I caught my seat mate leaning in, reading over my shoulder. When we reached our destination, she had already asked where she can buy it.   The photos were so eye catching that she couldn’t resist.

 

The book is broken up into the traditional chapters (salad, soup, chicken, seafood, drinks, desserts, etc) and includes an opening chapter on popular condiments and pickles.  The intro is a well written explanation of the diversity of modern Arab Gulf cooking, followed up with useful tools and essential ingredients. Reading the chapter on the spices, nuts and vegetables unique to the region made me long for the smells I experienced in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

The recipes include tips and notes on everything from how to stuff a lamb to which meals are best served family style. The stunning chapter introductions explain the dishes and their influences from surrounding regions. The resource guide includes Arab stores country wide, where tools and ingredients can be found.

 

I’d like to share the recipe for the Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup. But you don’t have to wait for the annual Mawlid al Nabi to enjoy this yummy delicious meal, you can make this anytime.

 

(Readers of the blog will note the similarities of this dish to the Egyptian Tomato and Chickpea Soup we made a few years ago.  This version includes a few differences. Most notably, the addition of fresh cilantro, an herb introduced historically by Western Asia to the area.)

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 minced onions
4 cloves garlic, crushed to paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
6 cups water
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of ground red pepper

Pour the oil into a large saucepan with a lid and place over medium heat. Add the coriander leaves and onion and saute for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly.

Next, purée, then return to the saucepan, adding more water if desired. Reheat and serve.

We served our soup with a side of naan bread.

To enjoy more Arab food we have tried, please check out

Egyptian Ful Medames {Recipe}

Hot Algerian Lasagna {Recipe}

Lebanese Lentil Soup {Recipe}

Or stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see out more recipes from the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region.

Be sure to check out the book The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing or ask for it a your local bookstore, library or Amazon.