Baking for Bookworms: Cinnamon Cake from Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens


So this post is late, obviously. I haven’t been keeping up with my baking for bookworms posts very well, even though they’re one of my favorite features. But I’m working on getting everything back on track. If you have a book you want me to cook or bake from, be sure to leave it in the comments.

The food in the book is used to contrast situations with love and warmth and a feeling of home as well as harsh realities all the characters confront. Forsyth builds worlds with her dishes, uses them to denote status and place. Her food descriptions tend to be really evocative; she doesn’t just drop food in, she makes it stick to the character’s ribs.

This cake is one of the last things that Margherita, soon to be known as the Italian form of Rapunzel, Petrosinella, eats in the warmth and safety of her family for one of her birthdays:

“Margherita was carrying a small, warm, precious, cake in her hands. It smelt fragrantly of cinnamon and sugar. She lifted it to her nose, then quickly licked the edge of the cake. The taste was an explosion of sweetness and richness in her mouth.”                       72

It’s mentioned a couple times, and anything that has cinnamon is enough to make my mouth water, so I knew I had to make it.


Cinnamon cake recipe slightly adapted from An Italian in the Kitchen.

  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice) added to 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F.

Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon (save the rest of the sugar) and set aside.

Sift (or whisk) flour with the other dry ingredients.

Beat the softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined.

Add the liquid and flour in stages, starting and ending with the milk, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for 30-60 seconds.

Add one third of the batter to a greased springform pan. You can use a regular cake pan, but it’s better if it’s deep.

After spreading out the batter, sprinkle a thin layer (a little less than half the mixture) of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Then add another third of the batter, another layer of the cinnamon sugar and finally the rest of the batter.

Bake for about one hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

Let cool and place on a cake plate. Brush with butter and dust with the rest of the cinnamon mixture mixed with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar.


Serve generous slices and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite cake that reminds you of a special birthday or occasion? Or is any occasion the right one for a good cake? Let me know your thoughts on cake in the comments.



Women Writers Reading Challenge #57: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth


Kate Forsyth’s book is an interesting look into the history of fairy tales themselves. The book focuses on Charlotte-Rose de la Force who is the author of the first written account of Rapunzel in Louis XIV’s France. She is told the story by a fellow nun, when she is forced into exile at an abbey. The book weaves between the “historical” account of Rapunzel’s life, Charlotte’s life, and the witch’s life, and a more interesting bunch of women you couldn’t meet anywhere.

Part fairy tale adaptation and part historical fiction, Forsyth takes the reader back when being a woman was (even more) dangerous. There’s a little magic, a little romance, and a little tragedy, so there’s something for everyone. I will say the romance gets a little…steamy, which I wasn’t expecting. It probably is not super safe for planes, which is where I read it, but luckily I had an entire aisle to myself.

This book was quite a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to those interested in women writers of old, who love fairy tales, or need something to read (carefully) on an airplane.

Top Ten Tuesday: Great Quotes from Books I Read this Year


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic was to pick some of our favorite quotes from books we’ve read this year. So I went back through some of the books I read this year, and here’s what I came up with. Some books were hard to find quotes for, and others jumped out. It only made sense that all the quotes turned out to be about books/words/writing/stories. The first was an accident, the second was inevitable, and the third quote sealed the deal.

  • From George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil “We learn words by rote, but not their meaning; that must be paid for with our life-blood, and printed in the subtle fibres of our nerves.” 
  • From Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the questionWhat is your favorite book?” 
  • From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah “Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
  • From Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”
  • From Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea “Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too.”
  • From Donna Tartt’s  The Secret History “I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”
  • From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
  • From Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn “After all, every story has a story.”
  • From Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens “No one can tell a story without transforming it in some way; it is part of the magic of storytelling. Like the troubadors of the past, who hid their messages in poems, songs and fairy tales, I too would hide my true purpose [ … ]
    It was by telling stories that I would save myself.”
  • From Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.” 


I haven’t written up reviews on a couple of these, but those will be forthcoming, I promise.

Do you have a favorite quote about the power of words? Put that quote in the comments.