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Raw Literature: Baking, Writing and Children

Essay by Robbie Cheadle, Friend of Carrot Ranch

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My love of baking and writing both stemmed from attempts to do the best I could for my two boys. When Gregory was born, I decided that I wanted him to have as healthy and preservative free a diet as I could possibly manage. That was when I started baking as this was the best way I could think of to ensure that he didn’t eat a whole lot of unhealthy additives in biscuits, cakes, pies and other baked goods. It might seem to some people that I would have done better to steer clear of these [delightful] foods altogether. I, however, believe that if you try to take these sorts of treats away from your children they will find a way to partake of far worse sweet items [like fizzers] behind your back. If you can’t beat them, join them and do it your way.

My first major attempt at baking something more impressive took the form of Gregory’s first birthday cake. I made a Winnie the Pooh cake using a cake mould that I hired from our local baking store. This venture took me the entire day before the party and I did make a few small mistakes. I made a double cake mixture for starters and soon discovered that this was far too much for my single cake mixture cake tin. I didn’t want to waste so spend a good hour making cupcakes with the rest of the cake mixture. My attempt at red butter icing was a bit of a bright pink failure but, fortunately, the one year old Greg was not unduly fussy about colours. Last but not least, I iced the cake on the plastic lid of a large Tupperware box. Once iced with rows and rows of butter icing stars, there was no way I could move the cake off the lid without damaging the icing. I surrounded the cake with the cupcakes, iced with the left over butter icing, and served it like that. Luckily, most parents of one year old children are far too busy surviving to notice little details like that.

From this illustrious start, my baking developed. Greg turned out to be a very avid assistant. He was happy to stand for at least 30 minutes sloshing the dirty dishes around in a sink full of washing up water. He would join in the baking by licking out the bowl and, frequently, upending it on his head thereby necessitating an immediate bath and hair wash.

When Michael was born two years later, he also swiftly took to the world of baking [and eating]. Michael’s interest in baking and cooking has continued and he will often make pancakes or French toast for breakfast and will participate in making stews, dumplings and curries with his father or my Mother. I like to share the pleasure of cooking so I am happy for my Mother and husband to dominate the everyday meal space if they want to [they apparently do want to!]

Some of the birthday cakes and food the boys and I have made over the years are as follows:

Star Wars


When Michael was six years old and started school, he was diagnosed with a processing learning barrier. This meant that Michael struggled with reading speed and, particularly, with writing. I knew that Michael had an amazing imagination and loved to make up sweet stories. His favourite made up characters were Mr Chocolate and Mr Sweet. This fun pair lived in Chocolate Land where everything was edible, including the trees and the flowers.

This original idea of Michael slowly developed into the Sir Chocolate series of books that exists today. We have written ten books, three of which are currently published.

Set out below are some pictures of Michael’s original writing and drawings that ultimately became Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream berries story and cookbook.

We have kept the books as close to Michael’s original concept as possible. I re-wrote his ideas into rhyming verse and we, over time, we started making the illustrations out of fondant. My brother-in-law gave us the idea of adding the family recipes and that is how the books, in their current form, were born.


Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, will be available in early July 2017.


Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at



  1. Great article. I love Robbie’s stuff

  2. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:
    Thank you Charli Mills from Carrot Ranch Communications for inviting Michael and I over for a visit to your lovely blog and for sharing our essay.

  3. Thank you so much, Charli, for having Michael and I over for a visit and sharing our essay. We are so excited!

  4. Norah says:

    Lovely to hear how your got started on your baking and writing course, Robbie. I was amused to hear about Michael sampling the “raw” mixtures. We used to love doing that as kids, as did my kids. Now everything tells us not to eat the raw mixture if it includes eggs due to the risk of salmonella poisoning. What spoil sports. All those years we licked the pavlova beaters and nothing happened! It sounds like your writing and publishing is a true family affair. How wonderful. Nice to see you over here at the Carrot Ranch, one of my favourite places. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, I disobey the warnings! The raw mix is my favorite thing to snitch. Ah, pavlova! I learned to make that for my daughter’s birthday because she was studying ballet and knew the story of Anna Pavlova. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Norah says:

        I think salmonella poisoning from eating raw egg must be fairly rare , but I guess it does occur. It’s not a pleasant poisoning to suffer though. It is difficult to know which call to make. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone being poisoned. Ah, but it’s hard to resist.

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Norah. I must say I have got quite hooked on Charli’s raw literature posts. I have licked cake batter all my life and lived to tell the tale. I think that this current young generation is much less healthy than we were as kids despite all the attention to allergens.

      • Norah says:

        I agree. It’s a tough one isn’t it. We’re told not to each too much processed food, and not to eat it raw either. We’re the lucky ones. We survived.

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Thanks for sharing your story at Carrot Ranch, Robbie! What creative solutions baking and writing have been for your family. Your fondant photos are amazing and your cakes are masterpieces! I have always baked from scratch for similar reasons, whole food is more wholesome, even treats. Yet I never tackled the creative side of baking such cakes. Mine are rectangular! You must have fun sharing your creativity with your sons.

  6. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.

  7. Great article.

  8. TanGental says:

    I aspire to combine literature and food – an inspiration Robbie

  9. paulandruss says:

    It was nice to learn the background to your and Michael’s work Robbie

  10. Hi Robbie, I appreciate Michael’s imagination. you’re great to give him the affirmation by having the ideas written into books. It’s so good to know more about the background of the book. Best wishes for the publishing of future books. Miriam

  11. dgkaye says:

    Nice to learn more about how you began your baking Robbie and about your wonderful children. Really nice seeing Robbie here Charli. 🙂 x

  12. I love the reason behind why you started baking Robbie. I make everything from scratch if I can. Well done on attempting any sort of cake with a one year old. I’m not that adventurous and I don’t even have kids.

  13. Great article Robbie. I love hearing about your life, inspirations and family.

  14. So cute! It’s nice to learn more about the behind-the-scenes baking and books, Robbie. 🙂 Love the photos of the the book Michael wrote and those cakes.

  15. “He would join in the baking by licking out the bowl and, frequently, upending it on his head thereby necessitating an immediate bath and hair wash.”
    Lol! I remember those days with my two. We’d have a ‘Lady and the Tramp” night, with the Disney video, followed by a spaghetti dinner in diapers, immediately followed by a two-in-the-tub bath (don’t touch the walls, kids!), and time in front of the fireplace with only a towel. I’ve got some great pictures & I hope I left them with some great memories, to carry on the tradition when they have their own little ones.
    Loved this!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Liz. Our kids definitely do remember the fun times they had as small children. I also hope my boys will pass the fun on to their own children in the future.

  16. […] Raw from South Africa: Baking, Writing and Children by Robbie Cheadle. An interest in baking leads to one of writing and it’s a family journey with mother and son, Robbie and Michael. Both have expansive imaginations and now they are published. Robbie writes, “This original idea of Michael slowly developed into the Sir Chocolate series of books that exists today. We have written ten books, three of which are currently published.” […]

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