It’s the time of year again when people get together, make delightfully edible book art and then eat more than they thought they could — it’s the 13th Annual Edible Book Festival. This year saw the return of the event to the Common Ground Food Co-op, a great location as parking nearby is free and plentiful, not to mention the ample seating within Lincoln Square Mall. Walking into the event space, I was shocked to see over twenty entries. Not having attended the event before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The variety at the Edible Book Festival was astounding; from tall cakes to “dragon meat,” festival goers were sure to be surprised. The festival also serves as a fundraiser for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, with attendees encouraged to donate to the cause. Although I hit my sugar limit before getting a chance to sample all of the entries, I came pretty close to tasting them all.

Bad Kitty

Bad Kitty sure stands out by making a mess, although a tasty one. I managed to get a piece of the tail, which was mostly chocolate frosting surrounding a tiny morsel of chocolate cake. In short order, the cat was picked clean by hungry attendees thanks to a dutiful cake artist ensuring everyone who walked by tried a piece.

Brambly Hedge

A crowd favorite as indicated by the stickers showing votes, Brambly Hedge was four cakes, each representing a season. Created by Anukkah Vetter (the stickers make the card hard to read), I sampled a bit of each. Winter was a rich chocolate tree stump with caramel between the cake layers. Fall was a surprisingly dense Australian Mud Cake with a great texture. Summer depicted a picnic and was lightly filled with Strawberries and I think some honey, too. However, Spring took the cake for me with the blackberry filling keeping the cake nice and moist.

Catcher in the Rye

A nice break from all the sweets, Catcher in the Rye was delightfully soft bread with slices of a mild cheese on the side to add heft to the fairly light bread. The thin bread rolls were gone by the time I made it around to this piece, but I’m sure they also tasted wonderful.

Cheaper by the Dozen

Alas, my sweet tooth was over satisfied and my stomach was starting to groan by the time I made it around to these donuts, so I had to miss out. Very unfortunate since homemade donuts are not something I get to try very often.

Esperanza Rising

A Rice Krispies tower surrounded by chocolate roses and topped by a Rice Krispies person, this was the first entry I noticed at the Edible Book Festival. 

Farmer Giles of Ham-Tolkien-verse

Dragon meat and dragon claws were on the menu today. (Well, not quite.) The “dragon claws” were display-only snapping turtle claws and I believe the meat was pork. Regardless, the meat served to attendees (but not the display meat since it sat out too long) was wonderfully juicy and included a slightly spicy green salsa on top. This savory entry was rapidly cleaned out as attendees rushed to balance out the sweets with something salty.

Hansel and Gretel

One of the few cakes I didn’t make it around to tasting, although this cake certainly impressed with its multiple layers.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

With this entry, looks are deceiving. Not a pancake at all, but simply layers of cake made to appear as if they are pancakes. Regardless, still quite tasty, and the simplicity of the cake was nice compared to the amount of frosting I was consuming on other edible books.

Marshmallow

There were so many marshmallows surrounding this Rice Krispies base that this cake was decidedly bigger than some bunnies I’ve seen around town. Overall, this was a very cute cake and one of only two two use Rice Krispies as the center of the piece.

Pet Sematary

A bit grimmer than some of the other cakes, this twist on mud dessert was quite good. The gummi worms and Kit Kats were a nice compliment to the chocolate cake. 

Preschooler’s Book

So realistic looking that I needed to double-check this cake actually was a cake and not actual books for a preschooler.

Pyramids

What lies hidden within the pyramids? Why, Jolly Rancher mummies, of course. The graham cracker crumbs look very similar to sand at a passing glance, which impressed me. Although not a typical foundation compared to the other entries in this year’s festival, the creativity on display here was truly inspiring.

Rainbow Fish

An assortment of various rainbow goodies, I stuck with the tiny rainbow fish themselves, which turned out to be white chocolate. This edible book was a nice change of pace from other entries with a little something for everyone in the basket.

The Grapes of Wrath

These grapes are green, mean, and purple with rage, probably because they are cupcakes and not actual grapes. The green/black cupcakes had grape jelly filling.

The Librarian from the Black Lagoon

The spookiest of librarians come in the most surprising forms, in this case a gelatin mix. This was a refreshing change of pace from the cakes, which lean towards the dry side of the moisture spectrum.

The Little Mermaid

No, that isn’t a mermaid Barbie, although I thought so at first, too. Fondant is a very flexible cake decorating tool, allowing any figure to become a mermaid with enough work.

The Pokey Little Puppy

A little bit of everything, this cake definitely looked like the pokey little puppy paid it a visit. Tasted nice and sweet, as well.

The Tea Dragon Society

Sadly, I missed out on the tea, although the green dragon cookies were wonderful.

Twilight

With ample frosting, this cake was one of the first I sampled. In retrospect, I should have sampled a smaller piece since they were so many other entries to try after this one.

Wizard of Oz

The eyes stared straight into my soul and the cake went straight into my stomach. That’s a worthy trade, in my opinion.

Wrinkle in Thyme

The best puns are the ones you can eat, especially when the thyme is applied to the cake with a light touch. More savory than I expected, which I appreciated.

Yertle the Turtle(s)

Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to taste Yertle the turtle. I’m sure the turtles were tasty all the way down, though.

You are my Cupcake

As the name on the card suggests, this cake used honey and vanilla to great success, keeping the cake moist by the time attendees were able to sample the art.

Just like that, the 13th Annual Edible Book Festival was over. I was so very impressed by all of the entrants, although next year I plan to eat smaller samples so I can try all of the entrants’ art pieces. Hope to see you at the 14th Edible Book Festival around April 2019.

More information about the Edible Book Festival is available on Facebook

All photo by Matt Macomber