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Neapolitan Viennese Whirls

Viennese whirls are my all time favourite biscuits. Melt in the mouth buttery pieces of heaven.

They are however, a bit of a faff. Our basic biscuits are easily whipped up and stand up well against plenty of toddler man-handling but Viennese whirls are a bit more fiddly. Trust me when I say though that they are worth the effort 100 times over.

I’ve messed with a classic somewhat by making these biscuits a mixture of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Partly because I wanted to make it more fun for the kids and partly because I thought it sounded yummy!

You can sandwich these with some classic buttercream but we’ve kept it simple with some raspberry jam.

You will need 2 x baking trays lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 250g soft butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Teaspoon vanilla extract or bean paste
  • Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Teaspoon strawberry jam
  • Few drops pink food colour
  • Extra jam, for filling

Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Add the flours and baking powder and mix well until you have a soft dough.

Divide into 3 even sized portions.

Pop one portion into a bowl and add the vanilla and mix until well combined.

Repeat with the next portion, adding the cocoa powder and mixing well.

Finally add the jam and pink food colour to the last portion and mix well.

If you have a lovely contraption that brings together seperate piping bags through one nozzle then this is a perfect time to use it.

Alternatively fit a piping bag with an open star nozzle (or any of your choice) and carefully spoon in the biscuit doughs in rows running up the bag.

Pipe circles onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes (or until they are just turning golden)

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before sandwiching with a teaspoon of jam.

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Pumpkin, Bacon and Cheese Muffins

Somedays my kids will clear a plate of veggie chilli no questions asked. Other days I have to pretend the man reading the meter is the dinner inspector in order to get them to have a bite of fish finger.

On those days when hoping for a well timed visit from the meter reader is your only option, it’s always worth getting the kids involved in the kitchen.

If I put a plate of mashed pumpkin and cheese in front of the kids I’d have no chance of them eating it. But in these muffins, which they made themselves, they have cleared the plate. The addition of lovely bacon may have helped considerably too.

You will need a 12 hole muffin tray lightly greased.

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g cooked and mashed pumpkin
  • 5 rashers thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped (we used Bacon Specialist)
  • 75g grated Cheddar
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150°C Gas Mark 2

In a large bowl pinch the flour, baking powder and butter together until they resemble breadcrumbs. (If your cooking with under 5s this is great for developing fine motor skills)

Mix in the eggs and cheese to get a runny mixture.

Mash in the pumpkin and stir in the bacon to form a thick batter.

Divide into the muffin tray and top with the pumpkin seeds (optional).

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until springy when touched (by grown up).

Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tray.

Enjoy warm as a snack or with salad as a light lunch.

TIP- roast the pumpkin seeds with a light spray of oil and dusting of cajun spice before using.

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Chocolate Custard Tart

Sometimes it seems that the few things guaranteed to keep my kids happy are also the things that I find especially annoying.

YouTube videos of strangers playing with toys, watched on my phone of course.

Playdoh in all its guises.

Sticker books where the stickers inevitably end up on my furniture rather than the book.

There are however two things that keep us all happy.

Watching Muppet Treasure Island for the 7690th time (Tim Currys greatest performance) and baking of course.

Pastry is always a firm fave here and we had a lot of yolks to use up: thus the chocolate custard tart was born.

Buttery shortcrust pastry filled with a smooth rich chocolate custard. Perfect for Sunday afternoon tea.

You will need a 25cm pie or quiche dish, lightly greased or non stick.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 150g real butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • Tablespoon water

For the chocolate custard

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 350ml milk
  • 30g sugar
  • 20g cornflour
  • 150g chopped plain chocolate

Preheat oven to 180°c/ Gas mark 4.

Beat the butter into the sugar until smooth. Mix in the flour until combined then an egg and a tablespoon of of cold water and bring into a dough. If your dough is still too dry to come together, continue adding water a teaspoon at a time until you have a firm dough.

Roll out to 2cm thickness and pop in tart tin. Dont worry if you need to press into the cake tin to patch holes or gaps.

If you like your pastry crisp its worth blind baking. This is when you bake the tart crust for a short time before filling to make sure its cooked through by the time your tart is finished. If a soggy bottom suits you then feel free to skip the next stage.

Put a sheet of baking paper over the top and if you have baking beans use them to blind bake. If not, put a smaller tin on top to weigh down the pastry (under the baking paper) and blind bake for 10 minutes.

While it is in the oven, make the custard.

In a large jug or bowl, whisk the egg yolks into the cornflour, sugar and a splash of the milk until smooth.

In a saucepan heat the remaining milk over a gentle heat until very hot but not boiling.

Pour into the egg mixture while stirring. Pour back into the saucepan and while stirring add the chopped dark chocolate.

When all the chocolate is melted in, remove the pastry from the oven and remove the baking beans/top tin and baking paper. Pour in the custard mixture. Turn the oven down to 140°C (gas mark 1) and bake for 30 minutes or untill the custard is completely set.

If you want to add some decorative pastry shapes you can use the off cuts from the main pie and place on top after 15 minutes of baking the custard.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

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Spiced Toffee Apple Cake

Since having kids I’ve developed a new found love of Autumn.

After wrestling toddlers to wear sun cream all summer, throwing a cargidan on them feels like a piece of cake!

I don’t need to justify my 10 cups of tea a day because it’s genuinely a little bit chilly out. (No more force feeding me frappes Karen!)

And rather than finding sand in every shoe/bag/orifice- there’s the odd non offensive fallen leaf (on the shoes I mean, no where else).

So in true Autumn fashion my toffee apple cake has made a seasonal comeback. There’s a few tweaks such as homemade toffee sauce, but if you’d rather crack open a tin of carnation caramel I shall not judge!

You will need an 8″cake tin or 9″Bundt tin well greased.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 225g soft butter or margarine
  • 225g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 2 medium or 3 small apples, grated
  • Half teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
  • 70g sultanas (optional)

For the toffee sauce

  • 100g butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 200ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 160°C or Gas Mark 3

In a large bowl beat the butter/margarine and sugar together until smooth.

Add in the eggs and grated apple and mix well until combined.

Fold in the flour, spices and sultanas and transfer the mixture to the cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling make the toffee sauce.

This is a grown up job or one for older children who are confident working with a lot of heat.

In a saucepan over a low heat melt the butter and sugar together. Increase the heat until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble steadily. Turn off the heat.

Pour in the cream whilst stirring until the mixture is completely combined into a runny caramel sauce.

When the cake has been turned out of the cake tin, make a few small holes on top using a fork or a skewer.

Pour the warm toffee sauce over the cake whilst still warm.

Enjoy.

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Meaty Pork Pie

If you’re not a fan of handling raw meat then I wouldn’t advise taking this project on with little hands. Part of the fun is getting your hands into the very warm pastry and mixing up the meats with the herbs and spices. Luckily my two aren’t at all squeamish but be warned you may have to actively stop a toddler eating raw bacon…

You will need a deep 8″ cake tin, well greased.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 600g plain flour
  • 210g lard
  • 225ml water

For the filling

  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 5 pork chops/ medallions chopped
  • 250g smoked bacon, chopped
  • 6-8 best quality pork sausages (again nicely chopped)
  • Handful fresh sage
  • Teaspoon nutmeg

To finish

  • Beaten egg
  • 3/4 pint chicken stock
  • 1 pack powdered gelatin

So hot crust pastry is a proper treat and as it involves heating the lard and water, it’s well worth prepping the pastry before bringing the kids into the mix.

Preheat the oven to 170°C Gas Mark 3.

  1. In a large bowl, add all your meats, chopped sage and nutmeg and mix well (with hands if the feeling takes you) and set to one side.
  2. Pop the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the water and lard gently until the fat has completely melted, then bring to the boil.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour into the flour whilst mixing to form a firm dough.
  5. Knead the dough with your adult hands (it will still be quite hot), until it becomes smooth and less scorching hot (Perfect time to get the kids involved).
  6. Pop about a quarter of the dough to one side for the lid of the pie.
  7. Roll out the remainder and press into the cake tin. This dough is quite forgiving so feel free to get little fingers in there and patch any thin areas. If your planning on adding a jelly layer when cool, then take extra care to ensure there are no holes in the pastry.
  8. Fill with the meat mixture, pressing down gently to fill the tin (the meat will shrink away from the sides during cooking).
  9. Roll out the remainder of the pastry and place on top of the meat to make a lid. Pinch the edges to seal and if you have any off cuts these are ideal for making little decorations for the top.
  10. Make a hole in the centre using a wooden spoon handle or similar, to allow the steam to escape when cooking.
  11. Bake for 90 minutes in the centre of the oven, remove and brush with the beaten egg before returning to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before making the jelly.
  13. To make the jelly, make up 3/4 pint chicken stock with boiling water and mix in the packet of gelatine until dissolved. Pour carefully into the pie via the steam hole (if you happen to have a funnel now would be a brilliant time to use it).
  14. Pop into the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight for the jelly to set.

Enjoy sliced with a whack of salad to counteract the lard!

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Homity Pie

So I’ve been trying to embrace my inner earth mother and ventured into vegetable growing this year. We’ve failed at strawberries, destroyed a batch of carrots and didn’t even get a single shoot from the cabbages or cauliflour. One thing that actually took root though were the potatoes.

So you can imagine the kids excitement at having something from the garden we could cook with. We covered chips and mash fairly quickly so decided to try something marginally more adventurous, with this pie.

You will need an 8″ pie dish or cake tin, well greased, medium saucepan and optional cookie cutter.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • 50-150ml cold water

For the filling

  • 200ml double cream
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and chopped to bite sized pieces
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 onion diced
  • 6 slices smoked bacon, chopped (Not traditional but delicious)
  • 100g grated mature chedder

Before you start the fun bits, set the potatoes on to boil in a medium saucepan for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

The kids love making pastry but find it impossible to do so without covering all the kitchen surfaces and floor with flour. My top tip for this is lowering your standards, caring less or failing those, daytime drinking.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour until is resembles breadcrumbs.

Gradullay add the water a spoonful at a time whilst stirring until the mixture comes together in a firm dough.

Pop three quarters into the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

The filling is a bit more of a grown up job. So while you’re getting on with the boring bits, set the kids on rolling out the remainder of the pastry and cutting shapes for the top of the pie.

In a medium saucepan, gently cook the leeks and onions until they start to soften. Add the bacon and cream and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes before removing from the heat.

Add the cheese, stir well and set aside.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to 1/4″ thickness.

Cover the pie dish/tin with the pastry, ensuring it comes up to the edges of the pan.

Pop in the potatoes and cover with the creamy cheese mixture.

Now comes the fun part of arranging your cut shapes over the top of the pie. We used stars on my 4 year olds request but use whatever your small person dictates.

Once arranged brush with a little beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm with plenty of green veg or a crispy salad!

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Pinwheel Biscuits

I’ve already shared the photos of these bright blue pinwheels over on our Instagram and another mum, who has also had her telly hijacked by Disney films, pointed out that they looked like Moana biscuits. If you didn’t see it before the then “You’re Welcome!”

Ingredients

  • Batch of our Basic Biscuit Dough
  • Few drops of blue food colour gel or paste
  • 50g sprinkles *optional

You will need 2 x baking sheets, well greased or lined with baking paper and some cling film.

Prepare the biscuit dough as per the recipe in the link above then divide in half.

Add the blue Food colour to one half and mix well to colour.

Sprinkle your worktop with flour and using a rolling pin, roll out the plain dough to a rectangle about 2-3mm thickness.

Roll out the blue dough and place on top of the plain dough.

Using the rolling pin gently roll over the blue dough to cover the plain layer underneath.

I feel like I’m saying the word ‘Roll’ a lot here but there’s really no other way to say it so…

Roll the rectangle from the long side into a sausage as per the below.

On a large section of cling film, spread out the sprinkles.

Gently place your dough sausage* onto the film and, ahem, roll to cover in sprinkles.

Wrap gently in the film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C Gas Mark 4.

When chilled and fairly firm to touch, unwrap and slice 3mm sections length ways.

Place on the baking sheets and bake for 12- 15 minutes or until turning golden at the edges.

Serve when cool.

*innuendo worthy of Bake Off

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Coconut Ice

I have a habit of making things about 10 times more complicated than they need to be. I’ve been attempting some pretty complicated baking challenges recently and getting flustered when they don’t turn out 100% perfect.

My kids however still have a beautifully simple and uncomplex way of looking at the world.

Yesterday my nearly 4 year old asked me to play ‘guards’ with her.

“Oooh! Am I a bodyguard on a secret mission or security in a cops and robbers scenario? Maybe a pirate guarding stolen treasure” but no…

“Mammy, your the wee-wee guard”. She literally just wanted me to make sure our youngest toddler didn’t pee on the floor while she made play dough snails…

So I’m throwing it out there, our version of a simple classic: Coconut Ice. So simple your preschooler can crack on while you clean toddler pee out of the carpet…

I’m not a great wee-wee guard…

You will need a large bowl and a small baking tray or 8″ square cake tin, lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 300g dessicated coconut
  • 300g sweetened condensed milk
  • Few drops pink food colour gel or paste

This is simple enough for a toddler to undertake with minimum input but there is some heavy duty stirring involved so you may want to ditch the spoons and get your hands in there. It’s messy but yummy.

In a large bowl combine the icing sugar and coconut and give a brief mix to combine.

Pour on the condensed milk and stir well until the mixture comes together in a very thick, almost dry dough.

Remove half the mixture and press into the lined tray/cake tin.

Add a few drops of pink food colour to the remaining mixture and mix well until it’s completely pink.

Press gently on top of the white layer and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or until firm to touch.

Slice into cubes to serve.

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Tiramisu Tart

And Breathe! If you’re making this, there is every possibility you have the rare chance to enjoy some child free baking! As much as I love baking with the kids I’m not denying that when I get the kitchen to myself it’s actual bliss! No peeling little hands away from the gas hob taps. No stepping in butter. No brushing flour out of my hair for the rest of the day.

This Tart is born out of my love of tiramisu and sweet buttery pastry. Its not as complex as many tarts but has a bit more going on than a chilled tirimisu. The coffee and booze make it a perfect after dinner dessert rather than a daytime coffee/tea cake but, really, when isn’t there a good time for pastry?

Also just a brief disclaimer this is in no way a traditional Italian pudding- its my own spin on the classic and probably a million miles from what you might enjoy with a glass of Prosecco in an authentic restaurant.
Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 350g Plain Flour
  • 175g Butter
  • 125g Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3-5 Tablsepoons cold water

For the Chocolate Ganache layer

  • 150g dark Chocolate- broken into pieces
  • 150ml Double Cream

For the sponge layer

  • 200g Sponge fingers or savoiardi biscuits
  • 50ml Amaretto or Marsala Wine
  • 150ml strong black coffee or espresso- sweetened to taste

For the topping

  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 250g Mascapone Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • a little cocoa powder to dust

You will need a 20cm loose bottom tart tin or quiche dish (non stick or well greased), baking beans and a sheet of baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180C Gas Mark 4

To make the pastry

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar and egg and mix together to form a firm dough. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is still on the dry and crumbly side.

Pop into a bowl and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to 2-3mm (about the thickness of a pound coin) and press into the tart dish.

Cover with a sheet of baking paper and fill with the baking beans.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the visible edges are a deep gold colour.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

For the Chocolate ganache layer

Pour the cream into a jug and microwave for 40 seconds-1 minute or until boiling.

Add the chocolate and mix well until the chocolate is fully melted and you have a thick shiny ganache.

Spread the ganache over the base of the tart and pop in the fridge to set while you prepare the next layer.

For the boozy layer

Break up the biscuits/sponger fingers and place in a bowl. pour over your chosen booze and coffee and mix well. Allow to soak for 10 minutes before poring onto the ganache layer.

For the creamy topping

Using an electric whisk or mixer whip the double cream, icing sugar and mascarpone together until thick and creamy. Ideally you want the mixture to hold a peak when you pick the beater up.

Transfer into a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle and pipe rounds of cream on top of the coffee layer until it’s all been used. If you’re not confident with piping this will still look beautiful spooned over the top and dusted with cocoa powder.

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Malteser Cheesecake

Ok so I’m not the first food blogger to make a Maltesers Cheesecake but this one is special I promise! There are no Maltesers in the cheesecake itself, instead there’s rich dark chocolate and a delicious malty hit courtesy of some Malted Milk drink powder (think Horlicks, Ovaltine or as we used Asda own brand instant malt milk drinks powder, just rolls of the tounge doesn’t it?).

You will need an 8″ loose bottom cake tin, well greased with butter.

Ingredients

  • 250ml double cream
  • 600g full fat soft cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g instant malt drink powder
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter melted

To decorate

  • 300ml double cream
  • 97g bag Maltesers*

In a large bowl, bash the biscuits to fine crumbs using the end of a rolling pin. My toddlers going through a charming (and not at all annoying) destructive phase so she fully embraced this…

Add the melted butter and stir until the crumbs are all coated. 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, instant malt drink powder and soft cheese together until creamy (if you have an electric whisk I’d recommend using it)

In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until thick and fold into the cheese mixture.

Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well untill full combined.

Transfer the cheesecake mixture to the top of the biscuit base and smooth the surface with a spoon.

Pop into the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

Once set decorate by whisking the double cream until thick and fluffy and piping or spooning along the edge of the cheesecake before topping with the Maltesers.

*Mars corp- where’s the other 3 grams of Maltesers? I miss them! Sort it out!

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Baked Churros

Not to brag but I’m pretty sure I could make it into the Guinness book of records for amount of baking done on little/no sleep.

My kids are notoriously poor sleepers; they torture me all night and think they can act cute in daylight hours to make up for it.

Whereas I try not to complain (not really I complain constantly) nothing takes the edge off fatigue like lovely sugary carbs!

These Churros are perfect as not only are they a sugary chocolate treat, the stages involved provide a good few hours of screen-free fun.

You will need a piping bag with an open star nozzle and 2 baking sheets well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

For the churros

  • 250ml water
  • 100g butter
  • 2 spoonfuls sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 3 eggs (ours were medium)

For the chocolate coating

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 75ml water
  • 100g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ Gas Mark 4.

There’s a bit of heat involved at the beginning here but if your bakers are too young for heat work, there’s plenty more to keep them busy in this recipe.

On a pan, set over a medium heat, bring the water, sugar and butter to a gentle boil.

Remove from the heat and quickly mix in the flour to form a ball of dough.

One at a time, whisk in the eggs until you have a thick batter.

Pour the batter into the piping bag and pipe shapes onto the lined baking trays.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until raised and golden, then turn off the oven and allow to cool inside for 15 minutes or so. This keeps the churros nice and crisp on the outside.

Take them out of the oven and for optional additional yumminess- brush with some melted butter and sprinkle a bit of caster sugar over.

Whilst cooling make the chocolate coating while they cool completely.

To make the chocolate coating, break the chocolate up into squares and pop into a microwave safe bowl.

Blast in short bursts of 10-15 seconds, stirring well in between until it’s completely melted.

Beat in the butter, icing sugar and water until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Dip the churros into the chocolate mixture and enjoy 😀

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Rhubarb and Custard Cake

Do you have one of those relatives who grows lots of fruit and piles so much of it on you that you struggle to eat it? Me neither! So I bought some rhubarb in Tesco as it was yellow stickered and cheap as chips.

Genuinely though, this is a delicious way to use rhubarb. A fruity sponge that’s not too sweet with a creamy custard throughout and a buttery crumble topping. Perfect comfort food for all seasons!

We made this as a traybake in a 9″ by 9″ brownie pan but you could also use an 8″ deep round cake tin. Make sure either is well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 150ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs

For the custard topping

  • 220ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

For the crumble

  • 3 tablespoons porridge oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 heaped tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 170°C gas mark 4.

There’s a few stages to this cake and a few require a bit of heat so if you’re baking with very young children you may want to prep the custard and stewed rhubarb before bringing the kids into bake.

Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and pop in a saucepan along with the water and 100g of the caster sugar.

Set over a medium heat and simmer until the rhubarb is cooked through and soft. Set aside while you make the custard.

In a large jug or bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to a thick paste.

Heat the milk in a pan over a medium heat until nearly boiling. Pour all the hot milk onto the yolk mixture whilst stirring constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set on a low heat. Stir whilst cooking until the mixture has thickened then remove from the heat and set aside.

Now you can crack on with the cake!

In a large bowl combine the butter, remaining caster sugar and brown sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.

Add the eggs then mix in the stewed rhubarb.

Finally add the flour and stir until just combined.

Pour into your greased cake tin and level the surface with a knife.

Pour your custard over the top avoiding the edge of the cake tin. You can get fancy with this and make custardy swirls if your feeling adventurous.

Pop into the centre of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

Whilst baking you can prepare your crumble topping.

Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the brown sugar and oats.

Gently remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle over the crumble.

Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the centre is firm when pressed gently with a spoon.

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

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Roots & Fruit Cakes

My 3 year old has been going through a very loving stage. It’s EXTREMELY cute when she says “You’re my best friend mummy” or “your dress is so pretty mummy.”

The only thing with 3 year olds are that the fickle sods change their mind in a heartbeat. I asked her at soft play, “who’s your best friend?” She said,

“…ummm probably that girl I just met over there.”

And never make the fatal mistake of asking if you look nice…

“your teeth are a bit weird…that one’s yellowy.”

Ummm WTF Angel? After a brief sob and trip to Boots for some Pearl Drops I’m seeking vengeance by slipping the better part of a Sunday dinner into these fruit cakes.

They’re not too revenge-y though: lower fat and sugar but still deliciously moist and cakey thanks to the vegetables being pre-cooked and mashed. They are a low guilt baking treat for your little BFF (or not if there is a stranger in soft play with more appeal).

You will need a 12 hole muffin tray lined with cases.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small/medium parsnip
  • 1 beetroot
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g sultanas
  • Tsp ground cinnamon

For the optional buttercream

  • 100g soft butter
  • 220g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste

Preheat the oven to 160°C/ gas mark 3

If you’re super organised and like to fully prepare before baking with kids then it’s worth peeling, chopping and boiling the root vegetables before you start.

I’ve popped cooked mashed veg into these cakes for two main reasons-

1. the flavour is milder and easier to disguise

2. The moisture of the mash gives a traditional cakey texture without as much additional fat and sugar.

So with your biggest child friendly bowl….

Mix the oil, sugar and mashed veg together until combined.

Mix in the eggs and sultanas follwed by the flour and cinnamon to get a thick pink batter.

Divide into the muffin tray as equally as your kids will allow.

Pop into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until raised and springy to touch.

These are delicious straight from the oven but as mentioned they’re not overly sweet. So if your looking to dessert things up, add a swirl of buttercream for a blob of indulgence.

With a whisk or determined arm and spoon, mix all buttercream ingredients together until pale and creamy.

Spoon or pipe onto the cakes once cool.

Enjoy!

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Egg Custard Tarts

I find it so strange how a set of eyes can bring anything to life. An egg custard may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you want to bake with kids but they are delicious and if you decide to minion-ise them the kids will love you for it.

If you’re new to the cooking with kids lark I’d describe this as an intermediate level. The pastry making and decorating are brilliant for little ones but the custard is a grown up job (or one for older kids) so you’ll need to feel comfortable that your little chef will chill with some extra pastry and cutters or splash about at the sink whilst you crack on with it.

You will need a 12 hole muffin tray (greased) a saucepan and a jug.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 300g (10oz) plain flour
  • 150g (5oz) butter
  • 30g (1oz) caster sugar
  • Few tablespoons of cold water

For the custard filling

  • 5 egg yolks
  • Tablespoon of cornflour
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 500ml (17 fluid oz) whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

To decorate (optional)

  • Edible eyes
  • 100g (3.5oz) Dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 160°C or Gas Mark 3

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, this will mean that your toddler thinks it’s cheese so you can enjoy the look of confusion on their little face when they eat some…

Stir in your caster sugar and gradually add the water a spoonful at a time, mixing well in between, until you have a firm dough .

Roll out the dough and using a large round cutter (or pint glass) Cut circles into the dough.


Press these gently into each hole of the muffin tray.

In a saucepan set on low, gently heat the milk and vanilla until nearly boiling.

In the meantime whisk your egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a large jug.

When your milk is hot hot hot (but not bubbling) steadily pour onto the egg yolk mixture whilst whisking until the liquid is combined.

Gently pour the custard mixture into each pastry case. You can fill these quite near the top and you shouldn’t have any overspill.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry in golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing.

If you want to minion up your tarts;

Melt the dark chocolate by popping in a microwave safe bowl and microwave using short bursts of 15 seconds, stirring well in between.

Pop into a piping bag and snip the end. Piped a thick line across each tart for goggle straps and semi-circles or Os for mouths.

Pop on the eyes and allow chocolate to set before serving.

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Sgorio Cookies!

Now you may be wondering what Sgorio is. An exciting Italian delicacy perhaps or some sort of Russian liquor? Well no Sgorio (pronounced scOreo) is Welsh for GOAL!!! Which is a word my English husband is hoping to be shouting at the telly at least a few times over the next few weeks.

Yes the World Cup is very much here. I’m not a football fan but it’s going to be pretty unavoidable for the next few weeks so I’m going to embrace it by eating Italian delicacies and drinking Russian liquor (or scrolling through Instagram wishing I was a lottery winner and eating the Sgorio cookies).

You’ll need a round cookie cutter and 2 baking sheets, well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

For the biscuits

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 180g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • Tablespoon of milk
  • Teaspoon Almond extract

For the filling

  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 60g white chocolate

To drizzle

  • 50g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C gas mark 4

In a large kid friendly bowl, rub the butter into the flour and cocoa powder until it resembles breadcrumbs (but dark brown).

Stir in the sugar and then mix in the egg, almond extract and milk and stir to form a firm dough.

If you’re not a fan of almond you can use any flavour you like here. I found almond gave a good sweetness to the dark chocolate biscuit but vanilla or orange would also be delicious.

Roll out to toddler finger thickness (about 1/4 inch) and cut rounds using a circle cutter.

Place on the sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. By the time you pop the dishes in the sink and watch the Muppet version of Boheimian Rhapsody they’ll be pretty much done.

Allow to cool while you make the filling;

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until creamy.

Break up the white chocolate and pop into a microwave safe bowl. Blast for 15 seconds in the microwave and stir. If not yet melted, pop back in for 5 second bursts, stirring well in between until fully melted.

Beat into the butter icing mixture until smooth and well combined.

Sandwich together two biscuits with the buttercream.

Melt the remaining white chocolate as per the above and drizzle over the sandwiched biscuits 😀

Mwynhau!

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Rainbow Fudge

It was my youngest’s 2nd birthday recently and I mistakenly thought that booking a soft play meant I didn’t have to pick a party theme. My kids’ interests outside of baking and general mess making are fairly typical; Peppa pig, all dinosaurs and Waffle the wonder dog being the current faves but when you have a soft play full of hyped up toddlers does it really matter? Apparently yes, according to school gate mums. The trauma of not having a theme at her 2nd party would no doubt plunge my youngest into a dangerous spiral of destruction, which would have her hot wiring cars by the age of 5. I dare not mention the time she slipped a bag of Haribo under the pram in Poundland. #shoplifting #thuglife

So for ease and brightness we decided on a rainbow theme and these rainbow fudge squares were completely perfect for the party bags!

Ingredients

  • Standard 397g tin sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 400g White Chocolate
  • Good quality food colour gel or paste in red,yellow,green, blue and purple

You will need a small rectangular tuppaware container (17cm x 12cm) or equivalent. We used what’s officially known here in the UK as a Chinese takeaway container in ‘crispy beef size’ but I’m assured these are fairly common…

Line the container with baking/greaseproof paper.

In a microwave safe bowl add 80g of white chocolate and 3 tablespoons of the condensed milk.

Microwave for 10-15 seconds, remove, add a few drops of red food colour and stir well. Don’t worry if the chocolate is still chunky when you take it out of the microwave, it should melt in whilst stirring.

When the mixture is fully coloured, transfer into your lined (takeaway) container and smooth to cover the base.

Freeze while you continue with the next layer.

Repeat the above process with the yellow colour. Remove the container from the freezer and pour the yellow layer on top of the red and smooth with a knife to level the surface.

We found 5 minutes of freezer time between layers was enough for the fudge to set and for us to make the next layer. If you’re super speedy with the breaking up of chocolate, microwaving, etc. you may find your freezer layers are still a bit wet. Give them another 5 minutes of freezer time and gently reheat the unpoured layer (5 seconds of micro time) to keep it fluid in the meantime.

Continue until you have 5 different colour layers. Allow to set in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Once completely set, slice to serve.

This fudge is fine at room temperature but best keep in the fridge if it’s a warm day 😀

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Skinny Doughnuts

Everyone loves a long weekend, but if you’re anything like me you see a weekend as an excuse for extra treats and before you realise the kids have eaten their body weight in pom-bears and freddos and their fluid intake has been 80% rocket lollys and 20% slush drinks!

And this weekend it’s not just the kids- I’ve had some kid-free time at BBCs big weekend and I did the classic ‘I may have a cheeky cider’ which turned into many ciders and a hangover that started at 8pm the same day! Daytime drinking is a dangerous game…

So a healthier bake was definitely on the cards and these are a super simple compromise! A recipe easy enough for kids and a treat that tastes far naughtier than it actually is;

You will need doughnut baking mould or for muffins a 12 hole muffin tray, sprayed well with 1 calorie cooking spray

Ingredients

  • 300g Self raising Flour
  • 300g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml agave syrup or 1 cup of powdered stevia
  • Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 calorie cooking spray (We used frylight)

Preheat the oven to 170°C /Gas Mark 4

Pop the flour into the mixing bowl and pour in the yoghurt.

Quickly add the eggs, sweetener and vanilla and mix well until combined.

The yoghurt reacts quickly with the raising agent in the flour so as quick as the kids will let you, spoon the mixture into the moulds/baking tray.

Bake for 15-10 minutes or until raised and golden.

Turn out into a wire rack to cool and dust with some powdered sweetener and cinnamon (optional) to serve 😊

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Tropical Fruit Cake

It may not come as a surprise that I don’t give parenting advice, ever. Cooking queries? Yes. Recipe suggestions? Of course! What to watch on Netflix? I’ll write you a list! But parenting advice- not from me.

There’s plenty of it about if you want it from Facebook groups, forums, Instagram, even strangers in the supermarket. I find though that there’s so much advice that parenting can become an anxiety riddled guilt trip. The inspiration for this cake came from one kid’s love of giant coconuts (thank you Blaze and the Monster Machines) and the other’s love of Agado by Black lace (which she discovered through YouTube).

Whereas some may consider these screen time fuelled obsessions with tropical fruits parenting fails, I very much consider my way to be ok. And I’m sure your way is too.

This is a cake that relies heavily on child labour (in the best way) as there’s lots of fun tasks that they can crack on with while you drink tea and watch the mess unfold!

You will need a deep 8″ round cake tin or two 8″ sandwich tins, well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 2 bananas
  • 150g shredded coconut (or dessicated coconut)
  • 200g pinanple chunks (from a tin in juice)
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 120g coconut oil- melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 150g full fat soft cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 50g shredded coconut to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160°C Gas Mark 3

In a large bowl mash the two bananas with a fork until gooey. My kids love this as it seems like more of a grown up job than it is!

Add in the sugar and coconut oil and mix well.

Beat in the eggs then add the pineapple and coconut.

Fold in the rest of the ingredients and pour the batter into the tin.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing.

To decorate

To make the cream cheese frosting beat all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Slice the cooled cake through the middle horizontally.

Spread a layer of frosting through the middle and sandwich both halves together.

Spread the sides of the cake with buttercream.

Spread or pipe the remaining buttercream over the top of the cake.

Finally, gently press the remaining coconut into the sides of the cake.

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Party popcorn

I’m no stranger to a kitchen mishap but the first time I attempted this rainbow coloured popcorn I nearly burnt down the house. Literally my husband had to evacuate the kids to the back garden while I tried to blow away smoke plumes with the hair dryer….

My top tips are don’t rush and try to make the 3 coloured syrups at the same time, whilst also popping the corn and supervising the kids. Things will burn… badly!

There’s a bit of heat here so full adult supervision is needed. I took the lead on this one but my 3 year old loved measuring out the sugar and stirring in the colouring.

You will need 3 saucepans and a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 100g popcorn kernels popped as per packet instructions
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150ml water
  • Red/blue/purple food colouring
  • 200g sweets/sprinkles/mini eggs

Spread your popped corn over the baking sheet and roughly seperate into 3 piles.

In a saucepan set over a medium heat, combine 75ml water and 75g sugar with a few drops of food colour. Bring to the boil and keep bubbling for a few minutes or until the sugar has melted and the mixture is syrupy.

Pour the mixture over one third of the popcorn and mix well.

Repeat the above with the other two colours and leave the coated popcorn to cool completely.

Break up any stuck together bits of popcorn and stir in the sweets and sprinkles to serve.

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7 Layer Bars

Sometimes I worry that the kids are slightly over indulged by all the baking. I try to counteract the cake by making sure our meals are super healthy which so far I feel evens out the treats…

Then fate (social media) put these 7 Layer Bars in my path. Layers of chocolate, fudge, sweets, coconut and a buttery biscuit base….so it’s brocolli and kale salad for dinner for the rest of the week.

These cakey-biscuit bars were a completely new concept to me. I was given a bag of sweetened shredded coconut (that my mother brought back from the states and never used) so I asked Instagram What should I do with it. The overwhelming response was 7 Layer Bars.

Judy, a lovely member of the Instagram community, was lovely enough to send me her recipe which she calls LOL bars (for lots of layers). Lol bars are actually a far better name although I wasn’t lolling after i ate 3/4s of the batch and put on about 7lbs…

These are extremely customisable. We used big chunks of fudge and left out pecans whole but you can chop and change however you prefer 😀

You will need a 9″ by 12″ baking tray, well greased or lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 300g digestive biscuits
  • 150g melted butter
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • 150g fudge pieces
  • 150g pecans or other chopped nuts
  • 200g Sweetened shredded coconut US or 150g dessicated coconut UK
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 150g mini eggs (or and chocolate/sweets)

Preheat oven to 180°C 350°F Gas Mark 6

Bash the biscuits with a rolling pin until they’re fully crumbled. Then stir in the melted butter.

Press the biscuit mixture into the base of the baking tray to form the bottom layer.

Sprinkle the Chocolate chips over the biscuit layer. Then top with the fudge pieces and pecans.

Drizzle with half the can of condensed milk.

Add the coconut and finally the mini eggs/sweets then pour over the rest of the condensed milk.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has lightly browned.

Allow to cool completely before cutting. The advice given to me was to chill in the fridge and this made them very easy to cut.

Slice into squares (or oddly shaped rombuses if you’re anything like me) and enjoy 😀