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Jaffa Cakes

We’re still in the depths of winter and sometimes finding rainy day activities is a proper chore. Soft play is like an actual jungle with the sunlight deprived kids running amok (mine included), you’ve watched every episode of Peppa pig (5 times) and your starting to feel personally victimised by the judgey CBeebies playtime app (yes I know it’s after 6pm- must you remind me it’s night-time by changing backdrop).

Jaffa Cakes are a proper rainy day treat though as there’s plenty of stages to keep little hands active!

Cake?✔

Jelly? ✔

Chocolate?✔

It’s a winner!

You will need a 12 hole shallow bun tin, well greased, and a 10cm x 20 cm baking tray or equivalent.

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 2 large eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 25g cornflour

For the jelly

  • 1 packet orange jelly cubes (135g)
  • 175ml boiling water

For the topping

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate

Make the jelly

Maybe it’s just mine but kids adore making jelly! It’s so simple but stirring those big cubes until they dissolve seems to bring an unreal amount of joy. Make the jelly by cutting up the cubes and adding the boiling water (grown up job with supervised stirring).

(This is considerably less water than the packet dictates as the aim is to get a very firm and orangey jelly)

Once dissolved pour into the baking tray and chill until set.

To make the sponge

Preheat oven to 180°C gas Mark 4.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until 3 x the size and frothy.

Add the flours and gently stir in with a metal spoon until just combined.

Divide into the bun tray and bake for 10 minutes or until raised and golden.

Remove from the tray to cool.

Melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave using short bursts of 10 seconds, stirring well in between.

The assembly of the jaffa cakes is messy play in its finest form! Using a small round cutter, press circles out of the jelly.

Top each sponge with a jelly circle and drizzle with melted chocolate. Don’t worry about them looking a bit rough and ready; the charms in the imperfection (or so I keep telling myself) .

These will set out of the fridge just fine and are best eaten within 3 days.

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Peanut Butter, Jam and Banana Cake

Peanut butter and jam (jelly) is a classic flavour combination but we really stumbled on this by accident. My 3 year old is no different from many in that she changes her mind about what food she loves or hates in about a nanosecond. We were halfway through making a leek and potato loaf when she abruptly decides she doesn’t like leeks or potatoes (unless the leeks in a stew and the potatoes are chips/waffles/smiles) but didn’t want to stop baking…

I was having a day when I literally would have done anything for an easy life so I decided to give her a banana to mash with some peanut butter and not long after the PB and J cake (with banana) was born…

Most stages of this are great for little bakers so make yourself a cuppa to enjoy during the mess making 😀

You will need 2 x 7″ sandwich tins lined with baking paper or well greased. 

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar 
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 75g peanut butter 
  • 175g self raising flour 
  • 2 eggs
  • Splash of milk

For the buttercream and filling

  • 4-5 tablespoons raspberry jam 
  • 150g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 banana 

Preheat the oven to 180°C Gas Mark 4.

      In a large bowl mash the banana with the peanut butter and regular butter. (Brilliant little person job)

      Beat in the sugar follwed by the eggs.

      Pop the flour in and stir until just combined- add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture then divide into the sandwich tins.

      Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden.

      While cooling, make your buttercream.

      Beat the butter and icing sugar together until pale and creamy. 

      Swirl 2 tablespoons of jam through the buttercream. 

      While you assemble the cake your little person can slice the banana with a blunt knife- this is an ideal introduction to knife and cutting skills.

      Trim the top of one cake to get a flat surface and spread with a layer of jam. Top with a layer of buttercream.

      Place the other cake on top of the first- upside down so that the flat side is on top.

      Coat with the remaining buttercream and sliced banana. 

      Enjoy with another cuppa!

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      Custard Slices 

      Custard slices are a British institution, much like Stephen Fry, Big Ben and queuing. Our take may not be super refined but they are delicious and simple enough to make with a 3 year old.  This is a bit lengthier than my usual recipes so I’ll spare you the chatter and just get on with the detail. 


      You will need 2 lined baking trays plus extra baking paper.

      Ingredients 

      For the custard:

      • 700ml whole milk
      • 200ml double cream
      • 5 egg yolks
      • 100g cornflour 
      • Generous teaspoon vanilla extract or paste 
      • 100g caster sugar 

      For the icing:

      • 350g icing sugar
      • 1 egg white
      • Tablespoon water
      • Optional food colours 

      Preheat the oven to  180°C gas Mark 5

      Roll out your 2 sheets of puff pastry and place on your lined baking sheets. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and pop something heavy on top to weigh it down (you don’t want the pastry to rise). We used a cast iron cooking pot and the lid.

      Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a deep gold colour. Remove from the oven to cool while you make the custard…

      In a large bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour with a splash of the milk. This is a great kid job while you get on with the next bit;

      Gently heat the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan (grown up job) until nearly boiling then pour into the egg yolk mixture while mixing.

      Pour back into the saucepan and continue to cook over a low heat whilst stirring until it thickens. This may take a while and don’t worry if it seems to lump up a bit before it thickens, it’ll get there.

      Once it has thickened take off the heat and submerge the pan in water and continue stirring until cool.

      Pop one sheet of cooked pastry in the base of a deep baking tray or a 20cm square cake tin.

      Once cool pipe or spoon the custard onto the bottom sheet  (we piped ours in large swirls) and place in the fridge to chill.

      To make the icing;

      Beat the icing sugar together with the egg white and gradually add the water until you have a thick but spreadable consistency.

      If you want psychedelic swirly slices like us separate a few spoonfuls of the icing into bowls and add a little gel or paste food colour to your required colours. 

      Pour and spread the icing over the second sheet of pastry and pop on top of the custard. Return to the fridge to set for an hour or so.

      Slice to serve. 

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      Vegetable Samosas 

      So Vegetable Samosas may not be the first thing you think of when your planning to bake with your kids but I promise they will love making these tasty little parcels. 

      I’ve been battling the flu this week and have avoided the kitchen a bit but parenting an 18 month old and a 3 year old whilst house-bound leaves you with limited options for their entertainment. We have more play dough than carpet on the stairs and our kitchen table is now mud-green from the paint fiasco. So it was only a matter of time before we headed back to baking.

      In all fairness to the girls they have been brilliant whilst I’ve been poorly and have definitely helped pull me out of the pitty-parade by being generally hilarious. My 3 year old is teaching the baby the YMCA currently and that could warm the heart of the coldest Scrooge.

      To make these vegetable samosas you will need a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

      Ingredients 

      • 2x carrots
      • 1 small sweet potato
      • 2x handfulls of garden peas – cooked
      • 1 red pepper  (capsicum)
      • 3x cloves garlic – crushed or finely chopped
      • Good teaspoon of Madras powder 
      • 1 Vegtable stock cube
      • Cooking oil/spray
      • 110g Filo Pastry (apx 6 sheets)

      Preheat oven to 190°C / Gas mark 6 

      Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrot to 2cm cubes. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender.

      Drain and once slightly cooled give to your kid to mash with a fork while you cook the rest of the filling (it doesn’t need to be perfect – just a bit mushy)

      Finely chop the red pepper and pop in a frying pan or wok. Add garlic and fry over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes until starting to soften. Add the Madras powder and cook whilst stirring for 1 minute.

      Add the peas and the sweet potato-carrot mash and crumble in the stock cube. Lower the heat to medium-low.

      Continue to cook over a low heat for a few more minutes until all ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat.

      Unroll the filo pastry (try to keep the sheets together) and cut each sheet lengthwise so you have two long rectangles of pastry. 

      Spray generously with cooking oil (we used frylight).

      Pop a heaped tablespoon of the Vegetable mixture in the bottom left hand corner (see photos) and gather 2 sheets of pastry underneath.

      Fold the pastry up towards the right, then down towards the right and continue folding in an up-down way until you reach the end of the pastry. 
      As an adult you may have a nice triangular parcel now. Once lifted off you should have 4 sheets of pastry remaining underneath. Spray the top layer with oil and continue as above.

       Lower your expectations of what shapes your kids will make. It’s all about the fun…

      Once all the pastry is used you will hopefully have 6 samosas of varying shapes on your baking tray. Spray well with cooking oil and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

      Enjoy with a nice healthy curry and rice. Why not try our Pumpkin Curry recipe for a low fat treat? 

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      Chocolate Orange Cheesecake 

      I’m trying to fully embrace my 3 year olds inquisitive phase  (which is proving to be longer than I anticipated) by continuing to answer her questions – this week it’s wanting to know everyones name… literally everyone from the lady at the Tesco checkout to the 8 year old boy trying to scooter within a 5 meter radius of us at the park. 

      So we’ve  established the neighbour’s dog is called Susan, the man who came to fix the internet, Tom, and not to forget the lovely Amazon delivery guy, who when delivering some last minute Christmas gifts probably wasn’t expecting to be quizzed by a small child on what his name is (Keiran), what was in the boxes and where he was going next… We have also established that Santa’s real name must be Terry as he brought the chocolate oranges…

      In case you haven’t guessed by now I’m a huge fan of cheesecake. After receiving not one but three chocolate oranges this Christmas I’ve decided to go against the ‘It’s not Terry’s, it’s mine’ mentality and share at least one of my oranges via this cheesecake;

      You will need a 9″ loose bottom cake tin, lined or lightly grease, and a rolling pin for biscuit bashing.

      Ingredients 

      • 220g digestive biscuits 
      • 100g melted butter
      • 600g full fat soft cheese 
      • 200g icing sugar 
      • 250g dark chocolate 
      • Teaspoon orange extract
      • 200ml whipping cream

      To decorate

      • 100ml whipped cream 
      • Chocolate Orange segments 
      • Optional gold sprinkles

      In a large bowl, bash the biscuits to fine crumbs using the end of a rolling pin. Half  our house got involved with this as we clearly have a lot of holiday tension to take out on the poor biscuits…

      Add the melted butter and stir until the crumbs are all coated in the butter. Press into the base of the cake tin and pop in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

      Melt the chocolate either in a bowl rested above a pan of simmering water or in the microwave using shortbursts of 10 seconds.

      Whisk the icing sugar and soft cheese together until creamy (if you have an electric whisk is recommend using it) and then whisk in the orange extract and melted chocolate.

      In a separate bowl, whisk the whipping cream until thick and fold into the chocolate mixture. 

      Once combined, pour on top of the biscuit base and smooth the surface with a spoon. 

      Return to the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.

      To decorate add spoonfuls of whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake and top with a segment of chocolate orange. 

       

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      Profiteroles

      Everything just seems to be a race against the clock this time of year. Before kids I remember the run up to Christmas consisting of lots of meals out and pub time, maybe strolling into town for late night Christmas shopping… now it’s more rushing to the shops (did you know you buy Christmas presents for your kids teachers now?), school plays, school trips, grottos, remembering to put the creepy elf in a cheeky scenario, and tackling a mountain of wrapping with a glass of Red, while crying at Love Actually. But in amongst the chaos it’s nice to have a posh looking pudding to throw together using ingredients you could pick up in the corner shop if need be.

      Profiteroles fit the bill completely, not nearly as complicated as you might expect and lots of lovely piping and decorating opportunities for little hands. They can also be made into savory cheese puffs by adding 40g mature cheddar to the choux and omitting the filling and topping.

      You will need a saucepan and whisk ( I used a balloon whisk), piping bag and 2 baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.

      Ingredients

      For the profiteroles

      • 150ml Water
      • 55g diced Butter
      • 80g Plain Flour
      • 2 Eggs

      For the filling

      • 300ml Double Cream
      • 10g icing sugar
      • Teaspoon vanilla extract or bean paste

      For the Chocolate topping

      • 80g Icing Sugar
      • 70g plain chocolate
      • 15g melted butter
      • Few tablespoons water

      In a saucepan bring the water and diced butter to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in 80g plain flour until it forms a soft ball at the side of the pan.

      Leave to cool for 3-4 minutes then whisk in 2 eggs, 1 at a time until you have a shiny smooth paste.

      Pop into a piping bag and pipe small rounds onto 2 lined baking trays.

      Bake at 170°C for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden.

      As soon as they’re out of the oven, make a small incision with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape and pop on a wire rack to cool.

      To make your filling, whisk the double cream with 10g icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla until thick. Pop into the piping bag and pipe a small amount into each ball.

      To make the topping, melt the dark chocolate (either melt in the microwave in 10 second bursts or in a bowl rested on top of a pan of simmering water).

      Stir in a tablespoon of melted butter, 80g icing sugar and a few tablespoons of water to get a smooth consistency.

      Dip into chocolate or drizzle over and chill until your ready to serve.

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      Pretzels!


      Pretzels are one of those snacks you pick up at the supermarket but would never think to make at home, least of all with the kids. 

      I spend an insane amount of time in supermarkets, mostly because it’s an opportunity to speak to other adults during a long day with the little ones. I have been reminded by my lovely husband that after a day with no adult conversation I do crack out a good boring story. Highlights include a 20 minute tale of a big puddle, the saga of not enough bread rolls and the gripping thriller of ‘would there be chai tea bags in co-op?’ Spoiler alert – yes (considering getting the movie rights to that last one).

      So in an attempt to spend less time in Tesco we decided to give pretzels a go. They we’re delicious and I’m pretty confident they will be a new regular bake.

      You will need baking sheets lined with baking paper and a large pan for boiling water.

      Ingredients 

      350g strong white flour

      Teaspoon table salt

      180ml warm water

      1 x 7g sachet dried fast action yeast

      Half teaspoon sugar

      1.5 litres boiling water 

      3 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda 

      Coarse sea salt (about 5 tablespoons)

      Tablespoon of melted butter &Beaten egg to glaze 

      Mix the yeast and sugar together in the warm water and leave until it gets a frothy head.

      Mix the yeasty water with the flour and the teaspoon of salt in a large bowl until you have a firm dough.

      Knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Kids are brilliant kneaders and love getting their hands doughy and sticky- embrace it! I’m pretty sure it’s good for the dough 😀

      Pop back into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

      Preheat the oven to  170°C Gas Mark 3 and in a big pan, bring the 1.5 litres of water to a rolling simmer and add the bicarbonate of soda.

      Give the dough a quick second knead and start making your prezel shapes. We attempted the traditional round pretzels but sticks or loops will work just as well.

      Drop your prezels 1-2 at a time into the water and boil for 30 seconds before removing onto a clean tea towel. (This is a bit of a grown up job but there’s kid friendly salt sprinkling on the way).

      Gently pat dry and transfer to a lined baking sheet.  

      Once all the pretzels are boiled, brush with the beaten egg and butter mixture before sprinkling with the coarse sea salt.

      Bake for half hour or until golden and firm to touch.

      Allow to cool a bit before serving.

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      Chestnut & Chocolate Brownies 

      Another festive edged sweet treat which I might live to regret…

      Kids have zero filter, and can be brutally honest which is refreshing and horribly depressing all at once…

      So far this week my 3 year old informed me a statue of Mrs Claus is like me as we’re both quite old.

      Then reading the well famed book ‘Dinosaur Roar’ she declared that the daddy one was ‘dinosaur long’ and the mammy one was ‘dinosaur fat’…

      Luckily I’m pretty thick skinned so I could let the above go, but when trying on my Christmas party dress I was told in no uncertain terms, “why are you wearing that? Your belly looks very silly.” 🤔

      Umm shut the front door? I’m winter-body ready after a long summer of baking. Plus I’ve got great intentions of firming up possibly in the new year, probably…

      But the new year is not yet upon us so super chocolatey, rich chocolate brownies are still very much ok!

      If chestnuts aren’t your thing walnuts work great here too!

      You’ll need a 9″ by 12″ rectangular cake tin or similar, lined with baking paper.

      Ingredients 

      • 200g melted dark chocolate 
      • 175g butter, melted
      • 200g caster sugar
      • 50g cocoa powder 
      • 4 eggs
      • 75g self raising flour 
      • 150g chestnuts (cooked, peeled and chopped)

      Preheat the oven to 180°C gas Mark 5.

      Mix your melted butter and chocolate together and stir in your sugar. This is a toddler dream as displayed by my eldest below…

      Beat in the 4 eggs and stir in the remaining ingredients. 

      Pour into the lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until firm to touch and not wobbly when you give the tin a little shake. 

      Allow to cool slightly in the tin before slicing and serving. 

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      Beautifully Butterey Shortbread

      This is an article that we recently wrote for Kidscene Magazine

      Baby its cold outside… and it’s about to get messy inside. Baking with the kids is a fantastic rainy day activity and now the winter has fully set in its time to embrace the mess and get the mixing bowl out for some screen-free fun with the little ones.  
      There’s nothing better than a lovely piece of buttery shortbread with a hot drink at Christmas. This simple recipe is so easy a child could do it (with a bit of guidance of course) and the results are beautiful buttery biscuits that I guarantee are far better than any you can buy in shops. 

      These make ideal presents that my kids always gift to close friends and family. They keep for up to 7 days in an airtight container or 5 days tied with some festive ribbon in cellophane. 

      You will need:

      2 baking trays lined with baking paper

      Cookie cutter(s)

      10 cellophane bags or a 3m roll of cellophane

      Some festive ribbon

      Ingredients;

      200g Salted Butter 

      200g Plain flour

      100g Cornflour 

      100g Caster Sugar 

      Preheat the Oven to 180 

      In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar until combined. Then add the plain flour and cornflour. 

      Let the kids get their hands right in there to bring the mix together. This is the fun bit as it’s a little bit messy and a lot yummy- perfect fun for little ones. 

      Once you have your ball of slightly sticky dough- scatter flour over the worktop and a rolling pin and roll out to ¼ inch thickness. 

      Cut as many shapes as you can with your cutters, then re-roll the dough and cut again until all the dough has been used up and your kids have eaten their body weight in butter and sugar.

      Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the edges of the biscuits are golden. 

      Allow to cool completely before wrapping or serving. If you are using cellophane bags you can pop a few in and tie with your festive ribbon to secure- these are fantastic and readily available at this time of year.  Alternatively cut sections of cellophane from a roll into 12cm square. Place your shortbread in the middle and gather up the edges to form a parcel. Secure with your festive ribbon. 

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      Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies 

      We are on the cusp of winter and the festive season is very nearly underway. We’ve got a grotto-full of festive bakes coming to the blog and Instagram over the next few weeks so have decided to ease ourselves in with these Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies.

      These are slightly chewy and a bit cakey rather than gooey which makes then perfect in between meals as they’re not too sickly. The sweetness of the white chocoloate and dryness of the cranberries is just perfect!

      You will need 2 x baking sheets lined with greeseproof paper.

      Ingredients 

      • 125g butter
      • 100g soft brown sugar 
      • 1 egg
      • 225g plain flour
      • Half teaspoon baking powder 
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
      • 120g white chocolate chunks or chips (if making without kids 100g is fine- if making with kids don’t worry about the white chocolate that inevitably gets eaten before it’s makes it into the dough)
      • 70g dried cranberries 
      • Generous Pinch of salt 

      Preheat oven to Gas mark 4 or 180°C

      In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar together until smooth.

      Mix in the egg until it resembles a curdled mess.

      Add the vanilla then chuck in the rest of your ingredients and give a good mix. 

      When you have a sticky dough, plop heaped tablespoons well apart on the baking trays. You should get 10-12 spoonfuls.

      Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden and slightly puffy. (They will settle once cool)

      Allow to cool on the trays before scoffing. 

      N.b it’s hard to stop a 1 cookie! 

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      Pineapple Upside-down Cake

      This is a firm favourite of my husband, the reluctant hero in today’s tale…

      My eldest is going through a wonderful (and not at all annoying) inquisitive phase, whereby everything you say or do is immediately questioned.

      3 yr old: “What are you talking about?”

      Me: “We’re talking about Strictly.”

      3 yr old: “What is Strictly?”

      Me: “It’s a dancing competition.”

      3 yr old: “What’s a dancing competition?”

      There is no end to the questions and she doesn’t really seem to care what the answer is, so long as it can provide further opportunity for questions.

      Daddy decided Netflix would be a great way to go. “What’s Netflix?” Together they found a program called Dinosaur Train. This of course provided many puzzles that needed immediate answers.

      “What’s a Pteranodon?” “What’s Mezoic?” “Who’s driving the train?”

      Within about 3 minutes, Daddy is desperate for the program to end. Luckily it’s not a long one. The closing credits go something like this:

      “Dinosaur Train, Dinosaur Train, Dinosaur Train. Ride the Dinosaur Train. Dinosaur Train, Dinosaur Train.”

      “What are we watching?”

      Are you actually kidding me?!

      After that ordeal we felt Daddy deserved his favourite, so pineapple upside-down cake it was!

      You will need a 9″ round cake tin (we used a funny bundt style one).

      Ingredients

      250g self raising flour

      200g caster sugar

      4 large eggs

      200g butter

      1 tin pineapple rings in juice (keep the juice)

      6-8 glace cherries

      40g soft brown sugar

      40g butter softened

      Preheat oven to 180°C Gas Mark 4

      In a large bowl mix the caster sugar and 200g butter until creamy.

      Crack in your eggs with help of your small person then spend seemingly hours fishing out small bits of shell. Pour in half the pineapple juice and fold in the flour.

      In a separate bowl mix the brown sugar and 40g butter and spread on the base of the cake tin.

      Place the pineapple rings on top of the sugar mixture in one layer and place a cherry in the centre of each.

      If you have any remaining pineapple, finely chop and fold into the cake batter.

      Pour batter into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

      Allow to cool slightly in the tin (approximately 10 minutes) before turning onto a plate or stand to serve.

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      Cherry Bakewells

      We’re just getting into that festive season and the temptation is there to go full steam ahead with the Christmas bakes. The only thing holding me back is Luna. For a 3 year old, 5 weeks is a lifetime. So I’ve set myself the task of restraining myself until December.*

      Much like R Kelly though, my mind was telling me no but my body, (my belly) was telling me yeeeesss. So I don’t see nothing wrong with a little cherry bakewell…

      To starve off the mince pie cravings we whipped up these cherry bakewells. And as Andrew Lincon wrote to Keria nightly in a film that may or may not be festive…

      You will need a 12 pan muffin tin, lightly greased.

      Ingredients 

      For the pastry 

      350g plain flour 

      220g butter

      100g caster sugar 

      1 egg

      Splash of water if needed

      For the filling 

      12 small teaspoons raspberry jam

      150g ground almonds 

      100g melted butter

      100g caster sugar 

      1 egg

      Generous teaspoon almond extract 

      For the topping 

      150g ready to roll white icing 

      12 glace cherry halves

      Preheat oven to 180°C or gas mark 4

      In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. If your butter is fridge-solid it’s worth grating this into the flour. However this will ensure that your toddler thinks it’s cheese…

      Stir in your caster sugar and add the egg. Mix together with your hand to form a firm dough. If it’s a bit dry add a splash of water bring it together.

      Roll out the dough and using a large round cutter. If you haven’t got one use a pint glass or large mug. Cut circles into the dough.

      Press these gently into each hold of the muffin tray. 

      Add half a teaspoon of raspberry jam into each pastry case

      To make the almond filling:

      In a large jug combine the melted butter, egg, almond extract, sugar and ground almonds and mix well. Pour into each case to half cm under the pastry rim.

      Bake for 30 minutes or until raised and golden. Allow to cool before removing from the tray.

      To complete, roll out the icing and using a small round cutter, press 12 circles of icing. Place on each cooled Bakewell with half a glace cherry.

      Voilà!

      (*This is with the exception of our Christmas cake which needs to be made 6 weeks in advance and fed with brandy weekly in order for it to be intoxicating when eaten on Christmas day)

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      White Chocolate Cheesecake 

      My youngest is coming up to 18 months old now and is at that wonderful age where she produces a new word every day or so and we all gasp with amazement and cheer and clap…”apple!” Fantastic 😃 “Upstairs” the kids a genius!

      My 3 year old however is at the age where a disproportionately large number of her sentences are grassing me up!

      “Mummy threw the Hoover”. The Hoover was not responding to my gentle unblocking…

      “Mummy beeps the horn at slow people”. Who doesn’t?

      “Mummy ate my chicken dipper”. Umm you snooze you loose kid…

      So in order to buy her silence occasionally an extra special treat is needed. This white chocolate cheesecake is perfect.

      You will need an 8″ deep round cake tin or 9″ by 12″ pan, lined with baking paper.

      Ingredients 

      300g digestive biscuits

      150g melted butter

      150ml double cream

      200g mascarpone cheese 

      300g full fat soft cheese

      2 eggs and 1 yolk 

      150g icing sugar

      150g white chocolate, melted

      50g white chocolate, melted  (for decoration)

      Preheat oven to 180°C or Gas mark 4

      In a large bowl bash biscuits with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. This is a kids’ dream, though you may be brushing biscuit out of their hair the next day.

      Pour in the melted butter and mix well to coat. Press into the base of the cake pan and pop to one side.

      In a clean bowl whisk the remaining ingredients until you have a smooth consistency. Pour on top of the biscuit base.

      Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continute to bake for a further 20 minutes or until firm.

      Allow to cool completely in the tin. 

      Drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate before serving.

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      Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake 

      Isn’t it funny that no matter how much you do for your kids, from arranging their breakfast into a smileyface, styling their hair how they like it, making sure their juice comes in the right colour cup, as soon as dad comes home it’s ‘Mum who?’

      When I say funny I mean incredibly annoying but it does, as most things in life, has an up-side. After a rare night out, early morning start and a small touch of ‘wine-flu’ your kids only wanting daddy is pretty bloody brilliant!

      And of course if I need to sway them back to the mum-side I can always play the baking card 😃

      I loved the look of marble cakes when I was a kid. Chocolate and vanilla sponge swirled together? What’s not to love?

      There’s not many kids who wouldn’t fancy a bash at this and it’s a lot easier than you might think.

      You’ll need 2×8″ sandwich tins, or a 9″ round or bundt cake tin, well greased or lined with baking paper.

      Ingredients

      For the cake

      • 225g Butter
      • 225g caster sugar
      • 225g self raising flour
      • 4 large eggs
      • 50g cocoa powder
      • 50ml boiling water
      • Generous teaspoon vanilla essence or paste

      For the vanilla buttercream (sandwich cake)

      • 200g Butter
      • 400g icing sugar
      • Generous teaspoon vanilla essence/ bean paste

      For the chocolate fudge icing (bundt)

      • 100g chopped dark chocolate
      • Heaped tablespoon butter
      • 100g icing sugar
      • Few tablespoons boiling water
      • 50g chopped white chocolate

      Preheat oven to 170°C gas mark 4.

      Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy then mix in the eggs.

      Stir in the flour until just combined then spoon half the batter into a separate bowl.

      In a mug mix the cocoa powder and boiling water to form a paste. Mix this into one half of the batter.

      With the remaining half, stir in the vanilla. You’ll have 2 lots of cake batter as per below.

      Pour a few tablespoons of each batter into the prepared tins and swirl with a spoon to slightly mix the colours.

      Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

      Whilst cooling knock up your buttercream or icing.

      Disclaimer – kids will eat alot of buttercream during the mixing process.

      Vanilla Buttercream

      If you have an electric whisk this is a doodle if not be prepared for slight arm ache: mix the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and pale.

      When your cakes are cool, sandwich with 3rd of the buttercream, then spread or pipe the remaining buttercream over the top.

      We had some Milky ways so we chopped to decorate but any additional decoration is completely optional 😃

      Chocolate fudge icing

      In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together.

      Stir in the icing sugar and water, mixing until smooth.

      Spoon over the bundt cake.

      Melt the white chocolate again in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

      Drizzle over the chocolate icing to create a monochrome effect.

      Enjoy

      Categories
      Uncategorized

      White Chocolate Blondies

      Apparently blondes have more fun? I’m not convinced having spent an afternoon trying to touch up my roots with a box of hair dye with 1 child having a danger nap and the other wrapping cling film round her head in an attempt to copy mammy! Luckily these Blondies are mum-fail safe, unlike me…

      This is an amazingly simple recipe for Blondies, which if you haven’t had of them before, are the white chocolate version of brownies.
      Fudgey and creamy with more gooey-ness than cakey-ness, these Blondies are definitely more of a weekend treat bake.

      You will need a 9″ by 12″ baking tin, lined with baking paper, and additional foil to cover

      Ingredients

      250g melted Butter

      220g soft brown sugar

      100g caster sugar

      2 eggs

      200g plain flour

      Good pinch of salt

      Teaspoon of vanilla

      150g white chocolate chips/chunks or buttons

      Preheat the oven to 170°C or gas mark 4

      Get your largest kid proof bowl out and brace yourself for messiness.

      Mix the melted butter with the caster sugar and brown sugar, then beat in the 2 eggs.

      Add the salt and vanilla.

      Stir in your flour and white chocolate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ll be doing very little stirring as the kids go into overdrive when it’s time to add the chocolate. Treat yourself to a cup of tea and 2 minutes without being nagged.

      When combined, transfer to the baking tin and loosely cover with foil. (These Blondies take on a lot of colour before they’re cooked through and the foil cover keeps them from getting too crunchy in the outside).

      Bake for 20 minutes then remove the foil cover. Pop back into the oven and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

      Once cool you can decorate it as you like, as we did below with a salted caramel drizzle*. However they are perfectly scrummy on their own.

      Just slice into squares and enjoy 😃

      *our drizzle was half tin of dulce de leche piped on and topped with a sprinkle or coarse sea salt.

      Categories
      Uncategorized

      Halloween Witches Fingers 

      It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled as the branches from the trees battered the side of the house. Suddenly a haunting wail pierces through the din…

      “Maaaammmy I need a weee weee”
      Argh I was hoping it was a ghost, now I have to get up!  

      We’re all very excited for Halloween and have been cooking up a storm of treats which you can see over on our Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/baking_with_kids

      But our favourite and most gruesome are our severed witches fingers. They look positively disgusting but taste amazing. Buttery shortbread, chocolate centre and a whole almond make these a perfect addition to a warm cup of milk or tea, if you can look past the fact it’s a creepy finger…

      We used salted caramel matchmakers for our centres (currently in Poundland).

      Ingredients 

      250g plain flour

      50g cornflour 

      100g caster sugar 

      200g real butter

      Few drops gel/paste food colouring  (we used purple but green or orange would be equally gross)

      15 whole blanched almonds

      15 salted caramel matchmakers 

      Preheat the oven to 180°C or gas Mark 4

      Line 2 baking sheets with greeseproof/baking paper

      In a large toddler friendly bowl mix the flours, butter, sugar and food colour until you have a fairly firm dough.

      Scatter a good handful of flour over the worktop and pop a heaped tablespoon of dough on top.

      Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and wrap around an individual matchmaker.

      Shape into a finger by pressing around the chocolate and press an almond in top to create a fingernail. Using the edge of your spoon, make 3 indents halfway down to create a knuckle. Place complete finger on a prepared baking sheet.

      Continue until you have used all your dough. You should hopefully have between 10- 15 fingers unless your kids enjoy eating raw dough and randomly pressing almonds in as much as mine do…

      Bake for 10-15 minutes or until starting to brown.

      Leave to cool before enjoying😀

      Categories
      Uncategorized

      Cherry and Almond Cake

      Now that my eldest girl has started school I’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of phonetics. Each Monday they are given the ‘sound of the week’ and much of the activities for the week are centred around it. Last week it was B so all I heard was bears, bats, balls and, unusually, bagels.

      “We ate yummy bagels today mammy.”

      “I love bagels.”

      “Bagels are a tasty treat for children.”

      My kids can be pretty fussy eaters, especially at breakfast time, so I over-enthusiastically headed to Tesco to buy a pack of bagels.

      The next morning…

      “I don’t like bagels.”

      “Bagels are yucky food.”

      “I don’t like to eat yucky bagels.”

      Of course not, silly silly mammy. Predictably this week’s sound is ‘C’ so amongst other things, they’ve been trying crumpets.

      “Crumpets are so yummy mammy.”

      Nice try babe, I’ll stick to what I know you’ll eat. C is for Cake and there’s not many Cakes more Classic than a Cherry and almond Cake! Lots of chances to practice that ‘C’ sound and perfect with a Cuppa or Coffee.

      Ingredients

      • 225g self raising flour
      • 225g butter
      • 4 eggs (ours were medium)
      • 250g pitted cherries or glace cherries
      • 100g ground almonds
      • 200g caster sugar
      • 1 teaspoon almond extract
      • Sprinkle of flaked almonds (optional)
      • You will need a 2lb loaf tin or 8″ round cake tin, lined with baking paper.

      Preheat the oven to 170°C.

      In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.

      Crack in the eggs, add almond extract and mix well.

      Fold in almonds and flour and give a quick mix until just combined.

      Transfer half into the cake tin and place cherries on top before adding the rest of the batter. Sprinkle your flaked almonds on top before the kids eat the batter out of the cake pan…

      Amazingly the kids who aren’t fussed on nuts or cherries seemed to particular enjoy this nutty, cherry filled cake batter.

      Bake for approximately 1 hour or until golden in colour and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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      Pumpkin Curry 

      We have an awful lot of pumpkin to get through. So in addition to our sweet cakes and bakes over on Instagram we’ve enjoyed some warming pumpkin curry!

      The girls would happily live off smash, mini waffles and slices of ham but I do try to sneak vegetables into their systems sometimes (other than carrot cake). Luna enjoyed this so much she loudly announced that “daddy is the best cook in the world”; which is a bit of a kick in the teeth seeing as I cooked it 🤔

      One quick note about pumpkin cooking and kids is that if you take a knife to a pumpkin they expect  (demand) some level of carving. We ended up with a terrifying half pumpkin that looked on disapprovingly as we ate the majority of its head…

      This pumpkin curry is very low in fat and calories and can easily be made vegan by omitting the yoghurt. 

      Ingredients 

      1 large onion

      Few sprays cooking oil (we use frylight)

      Half the flesh of 1 medium pumpkin (ours came to 700g), cut into bite sized chunks

      1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

      1 tablespoon garam Masala 

      1 teaspoon ground turmeric

      1 teaspoon chilli powder

      1 teaspoon cumin seeds

      1/4 inch root ginger- chopped or grated

      3 cloves garlic-chopped

      2x chopped peppers (capsicum) 

      500ml vegetable stock

      1 400g tin of chickpeas  (drained)

      Few tablespoons natural yoghurt 

      Salt and pepper to taste 

      Any additional veg you fancy

      Chop the onion as fine as you like and fry in a stockpot over a medium heat until starting to colour. 

      Add your cumin seeds and cook for about 30 seconds .

      Add ginger and  garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your garam Masala and turmeric and stir into the onion mixture to coat before adding the tomatoes. 

      Bring to a simmer then add your pumpkin and pour over the vegetable stock.

      Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer. Add the peppers, chickpeas and any other vegetables you want to use up (we popped a courgette in).

      Simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and pumpkin cooked through.

      Take off the heat and stir in salt, pepper and yoghurt to taste. 

      Serve with lots of lovely basmati rice.

      Categories
      classic cakes

      Coffee Shop Carrot Cake

      Trips to coffee shops with the toddlers are a logistical nightmare for me. Some parents have children who are capable of sitting. I’m not one of those. We braved it this week and I spent 2 hours trying to stop the 1 year old running into the men’s toilets or the street whilst simultaneously fielding off questions from my 3 year old about where babies come from (she does seem to think she hatched from an egg which I’m considering running with for now).

      A mate asked how I manage to bake (she politely didn’t add, “with your feral kids”) and I can honestly say it’s the only time they keep still and chill out. The added bonus of this particular recipe is that with the addition of butter and sugar they also ate some actual veg so wins all round.

      You will need 2×8″ sandwich tins well greased or lined with baking paper.

      Ingredients

      • 200g Butter
      • 200g soft brown sugar
      • 200g grated carrot
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 250g Self raising flour
      • 100g sultanas (optional)
      • 3 eggs
      • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

      For the cream cheese icing

      • 200g full fat soft cheese
      • 450g icing sugar

      Preheat the oven to 170°C

      In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar together then add the grated carrot.

      Stir in the eggs and sultanas and once well mixed add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Finally add a splash of milk to loosen the batter.

      Divide into the two sandwich tins and bake at 170°C for 25-30 minutes or until golden and springy to touch.

      Whilst cooling prepare the icing. Mix the cream cheese with the icing sugar until smooth and creamy.

      Sandwich your cakes together with a good layer of cream cheese and spread a generous layer over the top. If your feeling confident you could try piping a few swirls on but it makes no difference to the taste which is amazing!

      Enjoy in the comfort of your own home!

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      Easy Puff Pastry! 

      As much as I adore Masterchef and Bake Off I do sometimes wonder if they can put home cooks off trying new things.

      Watching Bake Off it seems puff pastry making is as difficult as dismantling an atomic bomb and twice as stressful. Make this with kids? No chance! Again much like Joey from Friends in the milk carton advert I thought, “There’s got to be a better way?”

      And there is Kevin!

      With 4 ingredients and a fridge you can have lovely flakey pastry in no time! Perfect for all the naughty treats your kids will actually eat such as pasties and sausage rolls. Puff pastry is easily available in shops but, as with most baking, it’s 10 times tastier made at home without any added nasties.

      You will need a rolling pin, cheese grater and cling film.

      Ingredients.

      225g plain flour

      200g butter (fridge cold and solid)

      100ml cold water

      Decent pinch of salt

      Pop the flour, salt and 50 grams of the butter in a large mixing bowl and get your kids hands right in there. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s all crumbled in.

      Gradually add the water until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough (image 1 below)

      Roll out to an oblong as thin as you can (1-2cm thickness) see image 2.

      Using the cheese slice panel (image 3 above) thinly slice your fridge-solid butter, and place along the bottom two thirds of the rolled out dough (top left image below)

      Fold the top third down over the butter (top left below) and then fold the bottom, butter covered third up to make a pastry parcel (bottom left).

      Seal the edges of the pastry parcel down with your fingers and roll back out to an oblong again.

      Repeat the process of placing the sliced butter on the bottom two thirds and folding over another two times and once you’ve done the final fold (and have a pastry parcel resembling the below) wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge.

      Give it at least 30 minutes chill time. We decided to have some sink play time which resulted in a mildly flooded kitchen but very happy baby…

      Once chilled you can use your pastry for whatever you fancy. We rolled ours out and wrapped around some lovely lean MOR sausages to make sausage rolls and they were amazing! Any offcuts can be stacked back on top and re-rolled out. (Don’t knead or mix).

      This pastry can also be made sweet by adding 40g icing sugar in with the flour at the first stage.

      Whatever you decide to make with your lovely buttery pastry, try to make sure you enjoy some before your kids scoff the lot 😉