Tag Archives: Cakes

Darlek is 8 Years old!

Darlek is 8 Years old!

Yep, one of my little munchkins has reached 8 years old.  She is still alive, healthy and very full of life.  We must be doing something right.  It’s good to remind myself of that sometimes.  I’ve included some of the birthday cards I could find, apologies to relatives if your card isn’t here, Darlek has scattered a few in her room and I couldn’t find them all.

Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!  You look a monkey and you act like one too!  (Except we didn't sing that really and don't mean it either)

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! You look a monkey and you act like one too! We sang the nice version to be honest so she had no reason to throw the cake at me. 

Darlek wanted a puppy for her birthday.  This was as close as she got....  Maybe another year when she can take responsibility for one.

Darlek wanted a puppy for her birthday. This was as close as she got…. Maybe in a few years when she can properly take care of one.  Don’t tell Horace I said that.

It was a school day, so was a normal day really and I was worried it would be a bit of an anti-climax for her.  You know how it is.  They get so excited and I just didn’t know how we’d get the day to live up to her expectations.  With a bit of thought, Horace and I worked something out.  We bought a ton of ‘goodies’ so she could make her own special packed lunch in the morning so she had a birthday lunch break with posh sandwiches, an exotic yoghurt (one of those Corners yoghurts with crunchy biscuity balls), a Cheese string (which I don’t usually allow) and a nice fresh fruit smoothie.  There were lots of other little extras she could add if she liked too.  Darlek loved being able to make her own packed lunch and felt very grown up I think.

You see, we really do call her Darlek

You see, we really do call her Darlek

The presents were all opened by about 8am, with wrapping paper and ribbon strewn all over the living room. She squealed and giggled when she opened her birthday card from us which featured a Darlek blowing up a pile of eggs and shouting ‘Eggsterminate!’ We bought her ‘Paranorman’ on DVD for a token present as we had a visit to ToysRUs and Pizza Hut planned for the weekend so she could choose her own present.   The lucky girl got some clothes, a Zubber bracelet set, a Skylander bought by her brother and some money that she could spend at ToysRUs.  She’s such a love, and grinned from ear to ear.

A beautiful card for a beautiful little girl.  I'm biased, but I think she's the cutest 8 year old in the whole wide world.  So there!

A beautiful card for a beautiful little girl. I’m biased, but I think she’s the cutest 8 year old in the whole wide world.

We also bought her one of those variety packs of breakfasts (you know those tiny packs of different cereals so she could choose her own) so she had Cocoa Pops to start the day.  This is another banned breakfast cereal at our house.  When both kids piled out the door to go to school, she turned to me and said ‘Mum, and you said that it wasn’t going to be very special!’ so she must have been impressed.  It made me grin from ear to ear too.

There was a Darth Vader birthday badge on this which her brother tried to claim.  We told him he wasn't 8.  He tried to tell us he was and sulked.

There was a Darth Vader birthday badge on this which her brother tried to claim. We told him he wasn’t 8. He tried to tell us he was and sulked.

I had a hospital appointment in the afternoon so I couldn’t pick her up from school which wasn’t great.  In fact Darlek was in tears the day before, asking me if I could change the appointment.  I explained I couldn’t and felt terrible.  Sis picked her up instead and she went to their house for tea where she was thoroughly spoilt and forgot all about feeling upset at me for not being there at hometime.  When I went round to pick her up, all the kids had been fed hot dogs (on Darlek’s request), a chocolate caterpillar birthday cake with candles; there were helium balloons bouncing around the living room and she was as happy as a happy thing.  Sis, you are a star!

Another puppy birthday card, but this one's in a jumper.  Aww....

Another puppy birthday card, but this one’s in a jumper. Aww….

So there we are, a record of the day.  A written postcard for me to look back on when she’s a stroppy teenager requesting designer hundred quid trainers for a birthday present and sulking because they’re the wrong colour.  It’s so sweet that even though we couldn’t do much for her due to the timing and prior commitments, that she still appreciated the effort that we made.  Darlek gave us huge boa constrictor hugs after she opened her presents and said ‘Thank you!’

This is such an idyllic setting.  Lovely!  If we placed Darlek in the same setting she'd be up to her armpits in mud and and playing swordfights with the net.

This is such an idyllic setting. Lovely! If we placed Darlek in the same setting she’d be up to her armpits in mud and and playing swordfights with the net.

They never grow out of teddies do they! Well, I never did. My old teddy still sits in my bedroom looking, old, faded and loved. I didn't dare give him to either of my kids in case they ripped the ears off him.

They never grow out of teddies do they! Well, I never did. My old teddy still sits in my bedroom looking, old, faded and loved. I didn’t dare give him to either of my kids in case they ripped the ears off him.

This is a photograph of Darlek with her brother, just before they went to school.  Sausage looks like he's trying to get away, I think it was another of those boa constrictor hugs.

This is a photograph of Darlek with her brother, just before they went to school. Sausage looks like he’s trying to get away, I think it was another of those boa constrictor hugs.

So, my darling Darlek is 8 years old.  Today this blog is all hearts and flowers, I make no apology.  My kids are the sunshine of my days and today I feel particularly proud of both of them.  They must be wellard to survive our chaotic parenting techniques…  Darlek has managed 8 years!  That’s one tough cookie!

A Jubilee Cake!

A Jubilee Cake!

I have only ever made three cakes in my entire life, including this one.  This is how much of an amateur I am. I have made buns which are sort of mini cakes, but they don’t count really do they.

When Bart Spices asked me to make a cake I thought they’d simply gone off their rockers or something.  I can do basic savoury dishes, but cake?!!!  I sat staring at the email for a couple of minutes, tapping my fingers on the computer desk, drinking tea, thinking……dare I?  Obviously I’d have to blog it, however badly it turned out.  Well, in the end I thought I might as well live life dangerously and have a go!  What the hell, I had nothing more exciting to do on that day other than run the dishwasher with the knives and forks stuck in the rack thing the wrong way round.  (Very dangerous dontcha know!)

Can I just state, I’m not actually keen on royalty, but I am mad about cake and this is as good an excuse as any to indulge.

Here’s what I used for the sponge cake!

½ tsp Bart Bristol Blend Five Peppercorns
½ tsp Bart Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Bart Ground Ginger
¼ tsp Bart Ground Nutmeg
2 tsp Bart Mint (Freeze Dried)
250g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
250g margarine or butter
250g Bart Vanilla Sugar
4 eggs, beaten and a partridge in a pear tree.

My sous chef and I prepared the cake tins:

I greased the cake tin, both sides of the greaseproof paper and my son. Think I may have overdone things a little.

I always think it’s best to include the kids when I cook, they like it and so do I, sort of.  Usually I end up yelling ‘Nooooo!!!! Not in there!’ and ‘If you don’t stop licking your fingers I’ll chop ’em off!’ and things like that, but it’s all fun. *ahem!*

Next I creamed together the butter and the Vanilla sugar (which in my case was sugar with a vanilla pod scraped into it).  I’ve never used a vanilla pod before, and I love them!  They’re rather reminiscent of tiny caviar eggs – not that I actually know what caviar looks like, it’s just a guess.

I christened my food processor! I’ve had it for two years, it’s been unassembled for one year and ignored for the other. To my shame up to this day, I’d only ever made one smoothie in it.

Then I added the four eggs to the mixture, along with all the dry spices.  I loved the look of the cake mix once it all blended in.  Despite being very wary of the mint and the pepper, it added a really nice christmassy mulled spice flavour. By this point I couldn’t wait to cook it!

It tasted as good as it looks!

Following this we poured it into 2 cake tins (ideally 2 cake tins, 20cm round), and sat licking the bowl whilst staring hungrily at the oven while it cooked for 20 – 25 minutes at gas mark 4 / 180C.  We left them to cool in the tins for ten mins, then tipped them onto a wire rack.  I did not bite a huge piece out of the side, it fell off. Honest.

Here are the cooked, cooled sponge cakes with the raw ingredients for the topping. Remember not to leave small children alone with a bowl of strawberries. They eat them when you’re not looking.

To help keep Sausage involved, I asked him to take the tops off the strawberries, so he ate about 4 of them without me realising.  While he was sneaky-eating strawberries I combined  250 g of cream cheese with 150ml of double cream and 100g of icing sugar until it was beaten to a delicious sloppy white fluffyish, gooey texture.

One cake tin was bigger than the other so I had to cut the excess off once I’d turned it into a cake burger…see next picture.

Then we got to the fun bit!  Sausage and I slapped the cream-cheese topping onto both of the cooled sponges and slithered a spatula over each side until reasonably smooth.  Half the remaining strawberries (some halved, some quartered) were liberally plonked on one half and then the other sponge was delicately sandwiched on top of it. I was delighted to see the cream cheese oozed out of the sides a little.  Obviously I had to tidy that up a little – and of course eat the excess.

Finally I put another load of cream-cheese on the top, smoothed it as best I could and then began decorating it.  Not meaning to ‘over-egg the pudding’ as they say, but it took me absolutely ages, I mean, it should go in the Tate gallery, no exaggeration at all,  it’s a work of art!  Please clap enthusiastically now.  Thank you.

This is meant to look like a Union Jack, I couldn’t manage the white stripes though. If anyone says it looks like a red ant I will sulk.

The sponge cake itself was a little dry once I sliced into it, but I think that’s just my oven and my rubbish baking skills.  It did however look amazing, just look at the sponge in the next photograph!  As for the cream-cheese, it is to die for!  Really sweet with a sour twang from the cream cheese! I could have eaten bowls of just the topping!

Note the green and black speckled spices in the sponge, they give a whole new twist to a basic victoria sponge recipe and look fabulous too :O)

To summarise!  Whoever said ‘All you need is love!’ was a fool.  ‘All you need is Cake!’ if you ask me.

‘Cake is the food of love!’ not music.

And the meaning of life is not 42, it is CAKE!

Many thanks to Bart Spices for sending me the ingredients and for taking a huge risk.  I think it was the PR equivalent of jumping off a really high building in a flying squirrel suit – it could have gone very, very badly!

If you’d like to visit Bart Spices website, please click HERE, they’ll be pleased to see you I’m sure!

Simple, Easy, Birthday Cake!

Simple, Easy, Birthday Cake!

Whaddya think! (looks a bit Barbie-esque if you ask me, but it was my bestest effort ever!))

Add icing sugar to the pile too. The basic ingredients!

I have quite literally made about 3 cakes in five years.   They are not my speciality at all!   As a rule I tend to avoid cooking sweet things because I become very greedy and am prone to hiding in the kitchen and eating slice after slice when no-one is looking.  Will power is not my strongpoint.  But….drum roll…..this weekend I made a birthday cake, completely from scratch and even decorated it!  Why the change of heart you ask?  It’s because my sis is the best sis in the world and I wanted her to know how much I appreciate the help and support she’s given me and my family over the last month or so.

Anyway! If you’re similarly domestically challenged, you might find this recipe useful?  I thought I’d share it, and to be absolutely honest I really wanted to post a picture of it because it took me all afternoon and I was actually quite pleased with it in the end.  See what you think!

The recipe came from the Good Food website and it’s for a basic Victoria Sponge cake.

You’ll need 2 cake tins, 20cm diameter.  I greased them with Biona coconut oil.  There’s a lot of butter in this recipe already, so I figured using a little less on the tins at least helps keep the fat content down a bit.

Lightly grease the cake tins. The kids love this bit.

Ingredients for cake:

175g Xlitol (sugar substitute)

3 eggs (beaten)

175g Butter

175g Self Raising Flour

Step 1: Cream together butter and Xlitol till light and fluffy (or until your arm goes numb from beating the stuff)

Looks like snow!

Step2: Add beaten eggs very gradually.  I curdled the mixture terribly and it looked like scrambled eggs for a while, but my trusty hand held blender came to the rescue.

Scrambled eggs anyone?

Step 3: Fold in Self Raising Flour.  I’ve never really ‘got’ this folding malarkey, so I just stir it in slowly and hope that does the trick usually.

Step 4: Pour equal amounts into both cake tins.

Step 5: Cross fingers and toes, put cakes in oven at 180 degrees and keep peeping through the oven window to check they’re not burning.  I think it took about 15 minutes in this case.

Step 6: Leave to cool on wire rack. (cover with tea-towel because of blasted flies buzzing around the house – Oh the joys of summer!)

Look, they're not burnt! Shock, horror, fall over!

Step 7:  For the icing I simply got 100g of icing sugar and dissolved a tablespoon of lukewarm water into it, and then mixed.  It was more than enough to cover the cake. Very gloopy stuff!

Step 8: Whisk medium size tub of double cream until it’s the texture of fluffy concrete.  Fight kids off, as they have a tendency to eat everything as they go along (this particular tip applies all the way through the cake making to be honest)

Beware of splattering cream all over the place.

Step 9:  Liberally plaster each cake with jam on one side, slap a load of cream on one, and then sandwich the two cakes together.  *important note* When kids offer to ‘squish’ the cake, do not….Repeat DO NOT let them press down too hard.  We had cream oozing all over the place after some rather too enthusiastic squishing.

Spread carefully so as not to break the sponge cake in half.

Step 9 – Dribble icing on cake and then scatter Chocobeans all over it (or whatever edible niceties you have in the kitchen that’ll do)

Looks posh doesn't it! (ahem!) A little over squished...

Step 10 – Wrap a strip of tin foil around the sides to tidy the oozing jam & cream up a little – wrap ribbon, tie bow, stick on random butterfly found in craft cupboard –  stand back and go ‘Oh my God, it actually looks edible!’

I went to hell and back trying to fit this in the biscuit tin without it dropping in pieces!

Step 11 – Drink small glass of wine to steady nerves after manic cake making.

Step 12 – Avoid washing up or tidying kitchen.

All in all, it was quite a sucess, no-one was more shocked than me!  Last night I trekked over to Sis’s house so that she could have her birthday cake after a hard day’s work, the poor love finished at 10pm.  Today she is visiting with her kids and aforementioned cake, so I’ll get to try a piece then.  Apparently it is ‘sublime!’  I’m just happy to have made something that even goes a little way towards saying thank you to her for being my sister and my sanity most days.

Healthy Supplies provided the Xlitol and the Biona Coconut oil, and for that I am very grateful.   It meant the cake was a lot healthier than it would have been!  Xlitol is very clever stuff too, you use it in exactly the same amounts as you would sugar, so it’s simple to use.   The Biona Organic Coconut Oil is amazing stuff too!  Not only can you use it for cooking, frying etc, you can use it on your skin and hair too!    I told that to Sausage, he looked very puzzled at me and said ‘Not for hair!  Is for cake!’ but if you’re more adventurous with your beauty products than I am, you might want to give it a try.

* Just as an afterpost, I’ve just found out that Xylitol is not very good for Colitis sufferers, so if you do this recipe, please do bear that in mind. Mind you, double cream, butter etc isn’t v good for Colitis sufferers either. I think moderation is probably the key. I had 1 and half pieces, very restrained for me! (waits for pat on back)