Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bridge to Terabithia: Twinkies

Katherine Paterson has written several classic, award-winning novels, including Because of Winn-Dixie, The Great Gilly Hopkis, and Lyddie. Bridge to Terabithia, one of her most popular titles, was published in 1977, and won the Newbery Award in 1978.

Bridge to Terabithia is the story of Jesse Aarons, who lives with his family in rural Virginia.  Jess was the middle child and the only boy, with two older sisters (how awful!) and two younger sisters (how annoying!)  It was his goal to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, and had been practicing all summer long for the first big recess race of the school year ... only to be beaten at the last minute by the new kid! A girl!

Leslie had just moved to town and didn't understand why she wasn't welcomed with open arms (after all, she was friendly!).  After she beat Jesse (and all the other boys) in the recess races, nobody wanted to talk to her at all.  And after Jesse had worked hard training all summer, too.  There were only two options after that: they could be best friends, or worst enemies.  Luckily, the friendship worked out, and Jess and Leslie became inseparable.  Jess made sure that Leslie knew the ins and outs of country life (she had moved from the city with her parents, who had decided to "reassess their value structure," and didn't know all the social norms), and Leslie made sure that Jesse had fun and imagination in his life.  Together, they created Terabithia, a world of magic and imagination set deep in the woods, that you could only get to by swinging on a rope swing over a creek.  There they would sit, King and Queen, with Leslie telling stories and Jess drawing pictures, surrounded by the magic of the forest.

This book is about transformation.  In the beginning, Jess was lonely, bored, and depressed.  As his friendship with Leslie developed, he became happier, more patient toward his sisters, and generally more outgoing.  Rather than just wishing things were different, be began to be proactive in making them better - even getting revenge on the school bully (a horrible seventh grader named Janice Avery) because she stole his little sister's Twinkies.  (When money is tight, as it was with the Aarons family, the Twinkies were a very special treat, snatched away before they could be enjoyed.)

So, why was this book banned?  There are a few answers, though none of them is very satisfactory.  The obvious answer is that it was banned because of a disturbing event that happens at the end of the book, but that isn't cited too often.  It's also said that it's banned because of witchcraft, but there is no magic in this book.  Everything that the kids imagine is pure imagination - none of it is real.  They know none of it is real.  It's all a game.  The answer you hear most often is that it's been banned for profanity, and while there may be a "damn" here and there, what most people are upset about is the fact that Jess says, "oh, Lord," when he's frustrated, which is Taking The Lord's Name In Vain, which is unforgivable.  Honestly, I don't get it.

Anyway, as I said, Twinkies were the start of the whole Janice Avery debacle, so I decided to make some.  Now, I am one of the lucky few to actually own a Twinkie making kit (no, really!), so I'm using it to make these, but mini loaf pans or even muffin tins would work just fine, as long as you don't mind the shape being quite right.
It even comes with a Twinkie The Kid official Twinkie holder!
Terabithian Twinkies
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, plus one egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

1) The directions specifically say to use a rack in the middle of the oven (I don't know why, but do I did it anyway).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease the pan.
2) Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Scrape down the bowl, lower the speed to low, and mix in the milk until smooth.
4) Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just blended.  Don't over-mix, or your Twinkies will be overly chewy.
5) Spoon the batter evenly into the pan, filling each Twinkie (or muffin cup, or loaf pan) about 3/4 full.  Bake 15 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.
6) Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, and then remove to cool on a wire rack.
7) When completely cool, load frosting (you can use canned frosting, but the recipe below is really fantastic) into the flavor injector (or piping bag, or large ziploc bag with the corner snipped off), and squirt into the bottom of the cake.  Just like Hostess, I poked three holes into each cake.  If you're using a cupcake instead, you should be able to use just one.
Not that you needed to see this part, but how often do I get to use this, really?
8) Enjoy, preferably with a glass of milk.

Marshmallow Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Mix using a hand mixer or stand mixer until light and fluffy.

I got both of these recipes from the official Hostess Twinkies Brand Bake Set Recipe Book.  Personally, I think the cake is good, but the marshmallow filling really steals the show.  If you don't want to make both the cake and the filling, I'd recommend using a boxed mix for the cake and making this buttercream from scratch - it's that good!  Why did I never think of Marshmallow Buttercream?!

Question of the day:
Now that I've opened and used my Hostess Twinkies Brand Bake Set, what flavor combination should I make next?


  1. you own a twinkie set? they make twinkie sets! now you just need to find the preservative formula they use so you can make a twinkie bunker when the revolution happens.

  2. that was me btw...apparently i am unknown now though

    1. Does it surprise you that I have a Twinkie set? It surprises me that I don't use it more often.

  3. This has always been one of my favorite books. I think that I will have to read it again now. Excellent post!

    1. Thank you! It's a great story, isn't it? And it's amazing how many of her books have been banned - I have at least 4 of them on my Banned Books Week display.

  4. Yay, you're posting again! How about red velvet with cream cheese filling, or chocolate with peanut butter filling?

    1. Those both sound delicious! I will have to try a number of combinations, if only to see what works the best. Take one for the team, you know.