Food and Fandom: Beauty’s Spiced Treacle Cake

I could go on and on about why I chose to do another Beauty-related goodie, but this one is actually inspired by something that McKinley wrote in the pages. I couldn’t really find the passage again, but I’m telling you, the book mentioned spiced treacle cake, and I totally hopped up on the idea!

Beauty by Robin McKinley is a straightforward retelling of an iconic fairy tale. One of the things that I remembered from the book was a scene where Beauty wakes up in the morning thinking of hot chocolate and toast. And later on, she ruminates on the types of foods she’d been having while in Beast’s castle, and Beauty eventually decides that one of her favorites is a spiced treacle cake. Often she would ask for it, and there was an adorable scene where she even feeds the Beast a piece because she wanted him to try it!

So I went on a search for a spiced treacle cake.

Ginger Spiced Treacle Traybake

I actually gleaned this recipe from Fold in the Flour, though the original recipe is very much thanks to Mary Berry. I mention this because I had become addicted to The Great British Bake Off and after seeing that this was a recipe she had, I wanted to try it!

I will say that Mary Berry knows her shit, and honestly, even with the changes I made, it was still delicious and spiced and utterly gingery!

I’ve converted the ingredients into American measurements the best way I can. Also, these are the ingredients of changes I made as well, so if you want to follow the recipe to its totality, there’s plenty of places where this recipe can be found (including the Fold in the Flour link).



  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup muscovado sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 2/3 cup molasses (I substituted with maple syrup, but you can use honey or some other syrup that has a thicker consistency)
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp milk
  • 3 bulbs stem ginger (I used 1 Tbsp ginger powder because I couldn’t find stem ginger in the groceries)


  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp ginger powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • water (as needed)
  • chopped candy ginger (as needed)

Making the Cake

Mix the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, add eggs one by one. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

Bake cake in 9 x 13 inch tray for 35 minutes at 350 F. Set aside to cool and make the glaze.

Prepare glaze. Mix the dry ingredients and add water as needed, up until the consistency is what you want to pour onto the cake.

Sprinkle chopped ginger candy on top for decoration.

Verdict: Not everyone is a big fan of ginger or spiced cake, so this was not exactly the household favorite. The changes I made also made the cake not so treacly, but eh, I’m not a big fan of molasses, so that definitely cut down on the stickiness and the density. of the cake itself.

However, as a ginger-lover, I didn’t mind this so much, and it was like eating a super delicious sponge with candied ginger!


Food and Fandom: Beauty’s Rose Apple Tarts

Oh baking. How I’ve missed thee! The idea actually came to mind because in under two weeks, my friend Meg and I will be releasing our first ever episode of Fableulous Retellings Podcast. Our first theme, surprise surprise, is the tale of Beauty and the Beast!

I had a few options regarding this story, and likely I will do a couple more between podcast episodes. To start it off, though, I was a bit inspired by the whole rose concept. In the original story–and most of the retellings afterward–Beauty often asks for a rose for her father to bring back from his trip. For the most part, he does, and for some reason, the Beast is none too happy with this poor old man pilfering from his rosebushes. I guess beasts don’t suffer thieves, either!

In any case, the rose is important, as is the garden, and even Disney got up on that in their version of BatB.

SO. Onto my baked good.

I thought about trying a rose-flavored macaron but I would have been at a loss, because I haven’t actually learned to make macarons! (All in good time…). So I browsed and I realized, oooh, an apple tart sounds yum!

Rose Apple Tarts

The original recipe I got from Preppy Kitchen, though I will admit that other than the apple seasoning, I didn’t really follow the rest of the ingredients. I couldn’t remember where I got the pastry shell recipe, however, but I do recall using powdered/confectionery sugar instead of regular sugar, just for a sweeter taste. And with tarts, you want something on the sweet side to balance out the sour that’ll be coming from the baked fruit.

The other thing I would say about making and shaping this tart shell is that it would be a good idea to have kidney beans or beads to keep the tart’s shell in place. I had neither, so it was much harder to stuff the apples in and shape them as roses afterward. The other suggestion is not to blind bake the shell and put the apples in immediately. Blind baking wasn’t really necessary for me, especially since I wasn’t making a huge tart shell, but little itty bitty ones.

I used my mini cupcake pan for such an occasion.

I also don’t have a tart pan, so this was definitely me improvising by using one of my cookie cutters to cut out pieces of dough and placing it in my cupcake pan. They shaped up rather well!

Probably the hardest part, however, was slicing the apples in very, very thin layers. In retrospect, I should have used the potato peeler, because slicing things very thinly with a knife took way too long. And most of the slices were still not thin enough! Maybe I just need a bit more practice.

Not that anyone’s complaining. Most of these tarts disappeared the moment they came out of the oven.

The Fairy Tale Retold

What? A writing-related fairy-tale post? It took only a few months to get back to my roots! Okay, maybe a few months and a motivated “head-clearing-through-jogging” experience, but who’s counting?

Lately I’ve been doing some pondering about fairy tale retellings. It’s because of the Eggplant Literary Productions prompt for Spellbound and Spindles, which asks for the retelling of fairy tales in order to cater to children and adults, respectively. I did have to read the guidelines a few times, however, and even so, it took reading the various questions and answers on the thread to really get a grasp for what the editors are looking for.

In short, this was my understanding of what they wanted: yes to fairy tale retellings, no to fantasy based on fairy tales.

It almost seems confusing enough to warrant thorough delving into the matter, right?


The way I see it, my understanding of a fairy tale retelling is done with the skeleton of the fairy tale in mind (for some reason I’m thinking of the spine here). Form the story-spine around a different variable, and tell the story with those variables in place. Maybe the hero has become a heroine, or the damsel in distress has become the distressed dude (on a tangent, is there really no other equivalent for “damsel”? “Dude” has annoying connotations). Or maybe the damsel is a damsel, and the hero is a heroine, and the heroine still kisses the sleeping damsel, and the two still fall in love (or vice versa).

Then there’s the option of putting the setting in the middle of a turf war in southern America, or an isolated island east of the ancient Mataram Kingdom. And what if your characters are different cultures from the original tale? Would ideologies shift, and would the view on magic remain the same? Whatever the case, clearly a retelling of “The Robber Bridegroom” would be tremendously different from the Brothers Grimm variant if you threw zombies and oracular old women into the story. Not that I’ve tried this at all, mind you…nope…not…at–argh, fine, I plead the Fifth.

But that’s the beauty of the fairy tale retelling, and the beauty of storytellers who retell them. They can take the tale and “color” it with their imaginations or perspectives or ideologies. The cinder-girl’s fairy godmother could be a djinni, the captured selkie-turned-human-wife a tennyo. Yet the skeletal framing remains in place, and more than likely, you can recognize the story even amidst a more diversely colorful backdrop.

Book Recommendations Time!


All that said, you didn’t think I’d end it without a little delving into my stash of favorite fairy tale retellings, right? Here’s a few awesome ones I’ve read in the past!

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson – A retelling of a fairy tale of the same name (or, you know, sometimes it’s called “Diamonds and Toads”), Tomlinson puts the characters in an old Indian empire, with two sisters who are actually pretty awesome heroines.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – Retelling of–you guessed it–“The Goose Girl.” Only, this version doesn’t do the whole talking dead horse thing.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley – Not good for the faint of heart or the children, but this adult fairy tale retelling of “Donkeyskin” is deeply riveting, albeit disturbing and dark on many levels. Very different from my other favorite retelling of the same author.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card – Admittedly, “Sleeping Beauty” is probably one of my least favorite fairy tales, but Scott Card does an awesome job putting a bit of a twist in this tale by throwing it into Russia. Granted, this is more of a “loosely based” retelling, ’cause it includes various other Slavic fairy lore, like the inclusion of Baba Yaga.

Beauty by Robin McKinley – Yes, I am admittedly a fan of her stuff, so sue me (or don’t…considering I don’t really have much to give). This one’s a beautiful retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – By far my favorite “Cinderella” retelling. And trust me, there are a helluva lot of cinder-girl retellings out there. Ella and Char just take the cake.

And if there’s anyone out there interested in anthologies (’cause, you know, I like them, too!): A Wolf at the Door has awesome retold fairy tales by awesome authors (like Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, etc.). Also, for shits and giggles, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner gives fairy tales a bit of “political” and humorous correctness.

Okay, now I’m done.