Butterfly Cakes

January 20, 2011

Martha saw Mr Tumble had a butterfly cake on cbeebies this morning and I was asked if we could make them, here they are. Complete cheat, of course. I had a pack of sainsbury’s basics sponge mix, in the cupboard (22p!) we followed the instructions on the packet, adding the water and the egg, then we put them into my new silicone cake cases (thank- you Father Christmas) and baked them for 15mins.

When they were cool, we mixed some cream cheese icing – New Year healthy lifestyle means I didn’t have any butter for buttercream, but did have a tub of light Philadelphia. We mixed this with icing sugar, a couple of drops of vanilla and  some pink food colouring (my other colours are starting to get a bit dusty!). The we cut small discs out of the top of the cakes and filled the hole with the cream cheese icing, cut the cake disc in half and put the 2 pieces back in as butterfly wings and then sprinkled the icing with some pink glitter sugar. Much more girly than Mr Tumble’s, but properly tasty!

Princess Birthday Cake

January 12, 2011

It was Martha’s birthday at the end of last year, 4 years old, its unbelievable how quick its gone! So it was birthday cake time – just what we needed 3 days after christmas. The doll came from a charity shop for the purpose of becoming a cake decoration so I didn’t feel too bad about snapping her legs off and giving her a good wash. I made a good old ‘Betty Crocker’ Devils Food Cake in two different size cake tins, one was 15cm cake tin and the other 23cm, when cool I sandwiched them onto of one another, with vanilla buttercream and carved it into a dome/crinoline skirt shape (although to get the skirt shape you could always use the flower pot trick from my ‘sandcastle cake’ post and trim off the sharp edges). I covered this in more buttercream then cut a small hole to sit my doll torso into the cake. I rolled out some sainsbury’s ‘ready to roll’ icing, dyed pink (of course) with some pink food colouring, into a large circle and cut a hole in the middle and sliced the icing from the hole to the edge to allow me to wrap the icing round the skirt with the hole for the doll to stick out and neatened up the seam of the skirt at the back. I trimmed the icing from the hem of her skirt, and with the trimmings covered the dolls chest to make a little strapless bodice for her dress. Then using a piping bag an nozzle decorated the dress with the buttercream coloured slightly darker pink. I gave her a bracelet and necklace with the buttercream too, and 4 blobs of icing on the cake plate stuck the candles down.

Martha was very pleased with her pink princess cake and even though we ate loads of it we still had so much food left over from Christmas that the leftovers were given to the staff at her nursery for a teatime treat.

Advent Calendar

November 30, 2010

Its the 1st of December tomorrow! So its time to get the wooden, little drawer, advent calendar out from the loft. Its kinda cute, I got it from Great Little Trading Company a few years ago (http://www.gltc.co.uk/). I like that I can fill it with whatever takes my fancy, although its really the Christmas fairies that put the treats in! Previous years have set up the expectation that each drawer has at least a chocolate coin and a sticker each. In previous years I have made the stickers by printing free online, Christmas clip art onto address labels. However this year I was super organised, last Christmas I picked up some discounted stickers in Early Learning Centre (http://www.elc.co.uk/) and packed them away with the calendar for this year- I know I even impressed myself.

However the night before I know we are going to do something like making Christmas cards or decorations I might pop a tube of glitter into the drawer for the girls to find in the morning.

We also usually keep the chocolate coin foil and use them to decorate a painting of a Christmas tree, adding a few pieces of foil a day until its all covered and sparkly – I will make a post about this soon.

Gingerbread Family

November 29, 2010

This week we made gingerbread. We have quite a collection of cutters these days, some came in baking kits, some were hand-me-downs and I think I bought the classic ‘man’ shape, anyways we now have enough that Martha can choose what she wants to make and this week she decided to make ‘daddys’, ‘mummys’, ‘little girls’ and ‘babies’, just like her family. I use a tweaked Delia Smith reciepe for the dough, as it is very tasty, easy to make and work with and fluffs up enough in the oven to hide all the little finger dents.

Put 75g Dark Brown Sugar, 3 tbsp golden syrup, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 or 2tsp ground ginger into a saucepan. (I like them quite spicy so I use 2tsp ginger.) Bring all this to boiling point stirring all the time so that all the sugar has melted and its a smooth ‘sauce’. Add 95g butter cut up into cubes, this should melt easily into the hot sugar mix. Then add half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda and 225g plain flour. Mix it all up until in comes together as a dough, this is easy enough to do by hand as its all hot and sticky. Spread out a piece of clingfilm on a surface and tip the very soft dough mix onto it and wrap it up, then put this in the freezer for  15 mins. Chilling it down stiffens up the sugar and syrup again making a manageable dough. I have also made up large quantities of this dough and frozen it at this stage taking out lumps of it as required.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick, adding more flour if its still a bit soft making sure you have plenty of flour on the surface and the rolling pin. Then cut them out and place them on a lined baking sheet, I use ‘bake o glide’ re-useable non-stick sheets. We decorated our gingerbread family with some raisins and cut up glace cherries, but you can use whatever you want/have in the cupboard dried fruits, smarties etc, or decorate them with icing when they are cooked. Bake them for 10-15 mins or until they start to colour slightly at the edges, you don’t want them to brown too much as they are best when still slightly soft in the middle. Let them cool on the trays and stiffen up to proper biscuits before taking them off to cool completely. Make a cup of tea/cup of milk and enjoy!

Rainbow Marble Cake

November 1, 2010

It was my birthday last week so it was time for another cake. You may presume that this cake had no planning whatsoever – and you would be right! I had ordered my usual ‘Betty Crocker’s devil’s food cake mix’ that is my lazy/thrifty birthday cake staple (£1.72 for a 12 slice choccy cake!), BUT the nice man from Sainsbury’s substituted the devils food for a ‘Chocolate Swirl Cake’. Martha and Mr Peacock baked this for me in 2 loose bottom sandwich tins and Martha proved herself to be very useful eating most of the mixture before it made it to the tins. I did not hold much hope for the chocolate swirls inside the cake itself but it smelled good.

Neither Martha nor Mr Peacock were particulary confident in icing the cakes that came out of the oven so I volunteered, (even though it was my own birthday cake – I am too much of a control freak!) but Martha chose the theme, she wanted a rainbow cake with lots of colours, a quick scrootle through my baking cupboard revealed only 3 food colourings, pink, green and blue. (I do recall a recent cull of shockingly out of date food colours.) I still could not allow it to be filled with the sickly buttercream so I filled it with dark chocolate ganache. Sounds fancy but really just melted sainsbury’s basics dark chocolate mixed with whipped double cream. The buttercream is a ‘hummingbird bakery’ recipe, 500g icing sugar, 160g unsalted butter, 50ml whole milk and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, then split into 3 and coloured. I dolloped the candy colours all over the cake and then smushed them all together as I spread the icing smoothish, adding a fancy ribbon and a sprinkling of edible glitter as an attempt to make it look a bit more glamorous but made it look a bit camp instead.

I have to say I am not sure about the result, it tasted very good and looked amazing sliced, Martha was of course delighted with it. To me it looks too much like the playdoh when all the colours get smushed up together (which my inner control freak finds particularly offensive). However I am sure there is someone who can get a much better result with a similar technique and I would love to see it.

Apple Meringue Pie

October 11, 2010

Firstly I would like to applogise for the break in transmission for the last few weeks, hopefully normal service will resume shortly.

Our apple tree in the garden has gone mental this year, it is a cooking apple tree, possibly a Bramley but not completely sure we inherited it when we bought our house. There is only so much apple crumble you can make before your hands cramp up – although my whole family including myself are great fans of crumble. With our apple being quite sharp I thought they might make a decent replacement for the lemons in a classic lemon meringue pie.

It is completely simple and delicious and I always think a homemade meringue always looks really fancy. I made mine with bought frozen pastry (I can’t be bothered with the faff of making pastry from scratch, when the bought stuff is just as good!), blind baked a pastry case (filled with baking beans and cooked first to make it nice and crisp), filled it with slightly sweetened stewed apples (peeled, cored and chopped and popped in a plastic covered bowl in the microwave for 10 mins – keep checking until all the fruit has broken down into a mush) then add a little sugar to taste, it wants to be sharp but still edible bearing in mind it will be smothered in sugary fluffy meringue. Whip up 4 egg whites until stiff then whisk in 200g white sugar, most people use caster but I only had granulated in the cupboard and it worked fine. Pile all the meringue onto of the apples adding a few swirls and flourishes to make it look really fancy. Pop it back into the oven 220 degrees C, for 20 mins or until the meringue looks golden brown.


Treacle Krispie Cakes

July 7, 2010

I know everybody makes ‘Rice Krispie’ cakes, but this is my emergency child baking recipe that gets Martha away from the telly so fast you’d think the football had come on! It uses stuff I have in my baking cupboard unlike the chocolate/marshmallow ones (anyone who has these to hand is a weirdo, I might buy these in especially but if they are knocking around for more than a few hours they will disappear into someone’s tummy – usually mine)
I have called them Treacle Krispie cakes as they are made with golden syrup that my husband insists is treacle even though it plainly says golden syrup on the tin – his point is that black treacle is the black version and this is used in treacle sponge and treacle tart etc.
I have never written this down and cannot remember ever having measured any of it – its all guess work, but here is my estimated recipe, melt a large knob of butter (25g) with 2 tablespoons of golden syrup and 2 tbsp of sugar – I use golden caster but white would do. I usually bring this to a boil to make sure all the sugar is melted. Meanwhile in a huge bowl pour about 2 adult breakfasts worth of ‘rice krispies’ (everyone knows the proper snap, crackle and pop ones just taste better!), and find a small child to mix well with a big wooden spoon. Remove the bowl from the child and add the stupidly hot golden syrup mixture and mix again. (it cools fairly quickly but be careful) and spoon it into papercases. On days with more time we decorate them with mini smarties, sprinkles, raisins whatever you can find. Small child will now need to taste them while still warm and very sticky!

Here is a pdf of the recipe if you want to download it;

Treacle Krispie Cakes