The following recipe and introduction are re-printed from THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp (Penguin, 2012).
The narrator of Emma Donoghue’s novel is a five-year-old boy who leads a busy life. Jack and his mother’s days are filled with imagination, love for each other, and “thousands of things to do,” according to Jack. But their world is small, eleven feet by eleven feet, to be exact, and with only a skylight that hints at a world beyond their room. This tiny world as seen through Jack’s eyes is all that there is. Inanimate objects become as real as playmates to Jack, and in his universe, have proper names: Rug, Plant, Room. Only one visitor ever enters Jack’s world a man named Old Nick, and when he comes Jack hides in a wardrobe. But Jack’s magical cocoon is anything but, and as more is revealed about the circumstances of his birth and confinement it is, by any adult measure, a nightmare beyond comprehension.
Jack’s Sixth-Birthday Cake
When asked for a recipe to pair with Room, Emma Donoghue turned her thoughts to her little hero, Jack, who celebrates five birthdays in the tiny enclosure that forms his entire world, the space he calls, simply, Room. She writes:
In the first chapter of Room, Ma and Jack make a very simple sponge cake for his fifth birthday, but to his crushing disappointment, there are no birthday candles on top, only five M&Ms. For his sixth birthday, she promises, he will have candles. Well, this is the cake I imagine Ma making Jack, one year after that scene. A luscious devil’s food cake, which she will stud all over with candies, as well as adding six birthday candles — perhaps the kind that magically relight themselves after being blown out. (I’ve been in the world for forty-one years and I still have no idea how that trick’s done.) Jack will only manage a small slice, but I think by his sixth birthday he’ll have made a host of friends to share his cake with.