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Disney and Bakes

Disney and Bakes: Pinocchio

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The Disney: a wooden child is sold into human trafficking twice before being swallowed by a whale.

When You Wish A Star, if you’ve been good lonely toymaker like Gepeto, your dreams come true. Except this hymn to the Disney Gospel (read Mark Pinsky for more on that) shows a dangerous theology of individual responsibility. Gepeto and Jiminy Cricket are hopeless at parenting Pinocchio, the wooden puppet boy brought to life by the Blue Fairy, who clearly needs to reassess her services.

There’s fun and innocence in the early scenes as Jiminy plays amongst the clocks, Gepeto dances with his cat and goldfish, and accidentally fires his shotgun thinking Pinocchio is a burglar, not his newly-alive son. Jiminy, only appointed Pinocchio’s conscience because the Blue Fairy flirted with him doesn’t do much better. He oversleeps on the first day of the job and naive Pinocchio gets kidnapped on the way to school by the false promise of fame.

After a rousing performance of I’ve Got No Strings (every song is a sheer joy in this film) Pinocchio is locked in a cage by Stromboli who threatens to chop him up with an axe (I screamed, Mum had to ask what was wrong). And yet, both Jiminy Cricket and the returning Blue Fairy are more hung up on Pinocchio’s nose growing, rather than the fact he is hung up in a literal cage of child abuse and human trafficking.

The Blue Fairy is a serene, other-worldly apparition that visually stands-out on screen and is the only female voice in the film. She releases Pinocchio only for him to get kidnapped by the fox Honest John again. This time he’s taken to Pleasure Island, where the boys smoking and eating too much are turned into into jackasses, in the film’s second human trafficking episode. ‘You’ve had your fun, now you’ll pay’ bellows the trafficker, again giving a dangerous message that the boys themselves, not the baddies are to blame.

Pinocchio manages to escape with Jiminy’s help, only to fling himself into the belly of Monstro the whale (he’s not as friendly as the whales Dory knows). There he finds Gepeto, goldfish and all. ‘I never thought it would end this way, starving in the belly of a whale’, he says in the most despondent, understated line of the film. But this is Pinocchio’s moment: the one thing he learnt about fire saves the day as they smoke Monstro out from the inside.

In a crashing finale that you can see The Little Mermaid replicating decades later, everyone washes ashore. Back home, the drowned and dead Pinocchio is resurrected into a real boy by the voice and the flash of the Blue Fairy. Going into the belly of whale was ‘brave, true and selfless’. I’d call it stupid, but it’s not his fault. No-one has been teaching Pinocchio in the traumatic few days he’s been alive, Let’s hope Gepeto and Jiminy Cricket find a parenting class and walk with him to school from now on.

The Bake: Breadsticks and Dip

Everybody nose no trip to Italy is complete without your daily bread. I couldn’t think of a better bake to share while watching Pinocchio than breadstreaks, although my rustic was a bit rusty: it’s been a year since I last baked bread, using Brilliant Bread by Bake Off Series 3 alumni James Moreton. His easy approach with photo guides puts understanding bread and having fun baking above perfection.

My kneading still needs some work and speeding up but I was happy with the chewy inside, crusty outside baton-like breadsticks, especially as due to a catastrophic copy error the book’s recipe actually misses out how long to bake them in the oven for. You can find James’ breadsticks recipe on the Daily Record website.

Whilst the dough was proving, I followed Jack Monroe’s recipes for hummus and pesto from my go-to dinner book A Girl Called Jack. Neither need a blender, creating fresh and chunky dips that aren’t actually that dippable, which I didn’t mind. Of course you could use a blender or hand mixer if you want. 

Bring the bake out when the Blue Fairy visits a trapped Pinocchio and his nose starts to grow, just over half way through the film

Post-bake chat: Pinocchio became a ‘real boy’ when he proved he was brave, true and selfless. What would you have to prove to become a ‘real girl’?

Let me know your thoughts on Pinocchio and your baking snaps using #DisneyAndBakes or commenting below. Next month we’ll get swept away with Mickey in Fantasia.

Disney and Bakes: Snow White

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The Disney: a vain Evil Queen tries to kill her stepdaughter, who finds refuge in the forest cottage of seven little men.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves makes a ridiculous impact as the world’s first feature animation film. Released in 1938, it’s impossible to comprehend how revolutionary it was for critics who thought it couldn’t be done, audiences who rarely saw colour film and Walt Disney himself, setting the fairytale musical template his studio still works to 80 years later. Ignore the fifty-something stories that have directly followed it: Whistle While You Work and Heigh-Ho remain iconic even to those who’ve never seen this first film.

Snow White herself is also ridiculous. She sings and rhymes her way through any problem in a sickly-sweet voice. Her dress and hair remains flawless despite a near-death nightmare chase in the forest. And she’s waiting for her prince to come, who’s ‘so romantic I could not resist.’ Girl, you did resist. You ran away from him in the film’s opening minutes.


Suffice to say, no one was drawn to have a deep characterisation. The lyrical score propels the film forward rather than a screenplay. It heightens the classic slapstick scenes that win your affection: forest animals doing housework, dwarves learning how to wash and Dopey dancing at their own cottage cabaret.

You notice the flat faces, static backgrounds and occasional blurry line watching the film now, though it’s digital restoration has made it a good quality watch. The total lack of subtlety is a surprising strength too for the Evil Queen, who remains timelessly terrifying to watch in her calculated scenes. I also developed a soft stop for Grumpy, over-looking his initial misogynic view that ‘all females are poison, full of wicked wiles.’ He’s the pessimist and only voice to question what’s happening but quickly comes round care for their new princess house-mother as much as the others.

The charm of Snow White lies in its innocence (everything we’ve now seen mocked by Enchanted and Frozen) though its sudden-end is a let down that makes you wonder how Disney ran out of script, money or both. I didn’t like the princess who challenges nothing but my heart did feel a little warmer from watching.

The Bake: Winter Pimms Loaf

Did you know they make a Winter Pimms, designed to be served warm? Even in December it can be hard to find anywhere but Waitrose or John Lewis, but you can order it online all year round. This loaf is inspired by a (summer) Pimms cake recipe my boss gave me, and an Apple and Cinnamon Loaf by Jack Monroe. If you need a non-alcohol cake, either leave out the Pimms or pick Jack’s recipe.

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 3 chopped red apples
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 150ml Winter Pimms

Recipe

  • Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg a little at a time.
  • Fold in the flour and cinnamon.
  • Fold in the chopped apples and orange zest. Pour in 50ml of the Winter Pimms.
  • Pour the mixture into your tin (I went for a loaf this time, but I’ve done it as a round cake before) and bake for about 50 minutes at 180°C or gas mark 4.
  • Stir the orange juice into the 100ml Winter Pimms still left. Prick the cooked cake and pour the mixture over the surface a little at a time.

I finished my cake with lightly whipped cream (150ml will do) and apple slices. The Winter Pimms and hint of cinnamon gives it a moreish kick.

Bring out the bake when Snow White calls the dwarves to dinner, just over halfway through the film at 45 minutes. And if you’re watching with kids, play up the moment when Snow White eats the poisoned apple!

Post-cake chat: Did the wishing apple actually work for Snow White?

Let me know your thoughts on Snow White and your baking snaps using #DisneyAndBakes or commenting below. Next month we’re off to Italy with Pinocchio!

Introducing Disney and Bakes

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The idea came to me in Iceland. I could tell you it was the countless waterfalls, geysers and conquering sense of nature that inspired me. But it wasn’t.

In my hotel room one night during our coach trip, I watched Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child, starting her professional cooking career in 1950s Paris. Intertwined is the story of Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams), the noughties New Yorker cooking and blogging her way through Child’s first cookbook in just one year. You’ll have to watch it yourself to find out what happens (and let me know, as I fell asleep before the end).

Since half-watching the true story film, I’ve been sleeping on my own cooking blog challenge. Almost two years later, I’m finally ready to just get on with it. I’m going to review every Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film (the ‘Disney Classics’ in order from Snow White to Moana) and bake something to go along with it. Sometimes it’ll be my own recipe, other times something I’ve never baked before.

Photo by Liz Ewbank, 2011. https://incandescentart.wordpress.com/

This Disney and Bakes series will be posted on the first Wednesday of each month. Please do share your thoughts on the films and food. As the project goes on, they’ll be guest reviewers and bakers too. Let me know if you’d like to be one of them, or a taste tester.

And it will go on. There’s 54 films to work through, so my one-a-month rate makes this is a four year project. You’ll have to wait two years to see what we bake for Beauty and the Beast and until 2021 for Frozen. I’m definitely a Disney fan: my nephew knows my best friends (apart from him) are Mickey Mouse and Tigger. But I’ve never watched every film and I’m excited to track and taste my way through film history.

My first post will be Snow White this Wednesday, 1st March. Get your apples at the ready, preferably not the poisoned ones.

#DisneyAndBakes