Birthday cake. As promised.

Ok, so let me say it now. Celebration cakes are Not My Thing.

I don’t take pleasure from the precision of baking. It’s a science, not an art. Or maybe a scientific art. I don’t know. What I like (as you by now probably know), is the kind of cooking that requires more imagination than discipline.

But I LOVE this cake. It has never, EVER failed me.

The basic recipe is:

Four eggs. Weigh them (this bit is important). Crack them into a mixing bowl.

Whatever they weigh, add in equal amounts of sugar (I particularly like golden caster sugar), butter and flour (I use Marriage’s organic light brown SR flour). If you have any cornflour to hand, substitute 25g of the flour (it seems to make a lighter sponge), oh, and throw in 1 tsp of baking powder for luck!

Mix well. Add a splash of milk if you feel it is needed (I rarely do). Then you have your base for any cake.

Now essentially this is a Victoria sponge, however, I adapt it in many ways:

– add a few drops of flavouring ie: vanilla / orange / rose – for a lightly flavoured sponge

– add some cocoa powder (around 25g should do, but taste the mixture first and adjust accordingly) – for a chocolate sponge

– add a handful (or more!) of berries – raspberries are particularly good as they kind of explode. Any cooked hard fruit would work as well, or even tinned mandarin segments etc

– add chocolate chunks/ chips

– it is endless

For this cake, however, I used whole strawberries, stalks removed. A small punnet. gently folded into the cake mixture.

This mixture will provide enough batter for an 8″ sandwich (ie one big beast or two 8″ cakes sandwiched, if you see what I mean!)

An oven pre-heated to 180º should suffice, and cook the mixture in greased tins for around 25-35 mins – check whether a skewer comes out clean (when it does, it is ready!) That’s the cake done.

Now for the buttercream. I use double the amount of icing sugar to butter – so if just sandwiching the cake I’d use 75g butter and 150g icing sugar, however, I like to also ice the cake with buttercream as well, so use double that – 150g butter and 300g icing sugar. I also add in a whole punnet of fresh raspberries – thrown into the mixer at the same time as everything else and they are obliterated into a wonderful pink mess of icing and raspberry flavour. Yum.

The joy of icing a cake with this is that it kind of doesn’t matter how bad you are at icing.

And the joy of eating it is not only in enjoying the deliciousness, but also in the knowledge that it is kind of good for you (ok, don’t quote me on that, but it DOES have lots of fruit in it so surely must count towards your five a day?)

ps. don’t judge Mister Tumble! He made Boy O very happy!!

photo (1)


Green Eggs

A bit distracted this week, so sorry for the late, short post, but it is Boy O’s 2nd birthday today! Happy Birthday Prince O.

This means unfortunately there’s nothing particularly new here. Dr Seuss had this one covered years ago. However, it’s an old faithful for us and ticks all of the boxes:

Quick ✔️

Easy ✔️

Cheap ✔️

Nutritious ✔️

Tasty ✔️

Here goes: Defrost a cube of frozen chopped spinach. Crack open two eggs and whisk into the spinach with a splash of milk and a desert spoon of soft cheese (mild goats, if the little people don’t object!)

Scramble as you usually would.

Or fry into an omelette.

Or fill a muffin tin with shortcrust pastry, pop the mixture inside (including any extras you wish – chopped ham, cold cooked sausage / chicken / etc) and place in a pre-heated oven as per the cooking instructions for the pastry for quick mini quiches.

See you next week 😉

Crab à la Mummy

Last week I made a discovery: My boys like crabs.

First up was crabbing.
We crabbed every day – the boys loved it. The grown-ups loved it. Perhaps a little too much so because on the penultimate day Boy A declared that “the grown ups are having all the fun. They aren’t sharing.”

Crab sandwiches. Easy peasy.

Crab linguine. Wow! Wow!
Now this really shouldn’t have surprised me at all, seeing as my boys will eat almost anything with pasta and love fish. But whilst on holiday Boy O developed some kind of obsession with crab linguine and every time I ordered it he somehow ended hoovering it up leaving me with his children’s meal.
So back at home I had high hopes of recreating a child friendly version that we could all eat.
It worked. And so here is my recipe for Crab à la Mummy

Take the meat from a whole crab (obviously I bought it from the fishmonger ready prepared and shoved back in the shell).
FYI I used both the brown and white meat

Pasta – I like linguine but any will do – enough for two grown-ups and two hungry boys

A courgette, coarsely grated

A lemon

A drizzle of olive oil

One heaped tablespoon of soft cheese

A thinly sliced red chilli (for the grown-ups!)

Prepare everything and cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta and throw it back into the hot pan. Drizzle in a little olive oil and toss to coat the pasta.
Gently stir in the cream cheese, crab and courgette, until the cheese has melted and everything is nicely coated, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Resist temptation to stir in more cheese as you’re not after a cheese sauce, just a gentle cheese coating on the pasta – if it feels at all dry add a little more oil or lemon juice, to taste.
Serve the children’s portions then mix into the rest of the pasta the red chilli and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Sit down together and gobble it up.

Tuna With Hidden Goodness Pittas

We’re on holiday this week and it’s a heatwave.
My boys are eating fish and chips, fish goujons and chips, fish fingers and chips. And ice cream.
Yep, that’s it. Nutrition is out of the window. Daddy is worried. I’m not. It’s holiday.
That said, I’m sneaking vegetables in where I can.

Today, to make up some of their missed five-a-days (we need to make up around 20) we’re having Tuna With Hidden Goodness Pittas.

Now, if you haven’t twigged already, I mostly enjoy cooking when it’s simple, quick, nutritious and tasty. I get a thrill out of getting hidden nutrients into their meals. Even more-so if they eat and enjoy a new food in its basic form. Like broccoli. When it looks like broccoli. Or carrots, that look like carrots. Or peas, small and green… you get the idea.

Anyway, enough waffle.
So these are simple. So very simple.

You’ll need:

A tin of tuna, drained
A handful of broccoli and cauliflower florets, chopped into small pieces and over-boiled until a little squishy)
Half a courgette, grated
A couple of heaped desert spoons of soft cheese
A dollop of creme fraiche

Mash everything together, spoon into pittas with some lettuce (which will invariably be tossed aside before the pitta is eaten), and serve.

They’re actually pretty ok. Even the grown ups we’ve served them to like them. Even I like them.