In 1971 a little six year-old boy (same age as my small one) asked his dad what was a tickle? This is what inspired his dad Roger Hargreaves to create a little orange man with extraordinarily long arms. And so, Mr. Tickle was born, the first of the Mr. Men.
The small one was never a great sleeper. From the time he outgrew his cradle at 9 months old and I moved him into his own room, his night sleeps became disturbed and broken.
I call him my little seasonal sleeper… During the summer months no matter what time I bring him down to bed, it will be always be after ten before he allows the little clogs working his mind to take a rest. When the evenings take on a shadowey darkness things settle back to a 9pm shutdown.
One thing that has stayed consistent throughout this sleeping pattern is my encouragement for the bedtime story – this is and always has been our little thing. Some nights I make up fun adventures where he goes exploring places we’ve been with his two dogs, but most nights it’s the Mr Men books that we read… and not one book, but two.
He started his collection when he was just three years old… our next-door neighbours gave him a box set of books for Christmas. He continues to collect them (although none of the Mrs Men are allowed into the collection just yet – I’m sure that will all change in time).
So when my friend in work asked me would I make a Mr Grumpy cake for her boyfriend’s birthday, I thought ‘how cool’… the small one would love to see that in the making… might not be so happy when I tell him he can’t eat any of it though. Note to self… Protect Mr. Grumpy!
Baking time: 25-28 minutes
12 oz self-raising flour
12 oz soft margarine
12 oz sugar
6 medium eggs (slightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g/8oz Icing Sugar
Blue colouring gel
500g rollout icing
Blue, black and green colouring gel
To make the sponge
1. Preheat oven to (fan assisted 180c)
2. Grease and line two 9″ square sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until white and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs a little at a time (add a little flour if needed to stop curdling).
5. Mix in the vanilla extract.
6. Fold in the sieved flour.
7. Divide between the two tins and spread the mixture out leaving a slight dip in the centre. 8. Bake for 25-28 minutes until golden brown.
9. Leave to settle for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire tray to cool.
To make the butter icing
1. Beat the butter and sieved icing sugar until smooth.
2. Mix in the vanilla extract to taste and food colouring to get desired shade.
To make the rollout icing
1. Before adding the blue colouring gel to the icing, tear off two small pieces, colour one black and one green. Put aside for later. Add blue to the rest and knead until you get the correct colour. patience is needed here as this involves (a lot) of kneading to blend the colour into the icing. (This can be done in advance and set aside wrapped in cling film or you can buy ready prepared coloured icing in most cake supply shops.)
1. When the cake is cool, cut a slice off to make it into a rectangle shape. Keep a little for his hat).
2. Sandwich together with the butter icing and spread a little apricot preserve over the top and sides of the sponge to help the icing stick.
3. Roll out the icing and spread over sponge, pat into place and cut off excess.
4. For the eyes, cut the black icing into thin strips, For the nose cover a round sweet with dark blue icing (I just added more colouring gel to the already prepared icing) and shape another piece of thin black icing for the mouth.
5. Using the leftover sponge, cut out a square shape for the hat, cover in the green icing and thread a piece of thin liquorice through it for the rim of the hat.
6. For the legs cover liquorice with blue icing and finally shape the feet and hands out of leftover icing.
Note: Mr Grumpy is the 27th book in the Mr Men series.