The on again off again birthday cake

The birthday party cookery for various reasons has not been going as planned, but I’ll write about that another time possibly. The main thing I wanted to do this week was to make a basic sponge cake and to then ice it in the shape as a skull and cross bones – really simple and easy, the only difficult bit is trying to turn the white fondant icing the right shade of black.

Anyway this week has not been good for me, I wake up tired, I am tired all day at work, I go to bed tired and I fail to sleep as there are far too many things floating around in my head. So last night when I was meant to be making the sponge cake I was instead trying to have an early night, which didn’t work out for various reasons (see yesterday’s post)…I left the butter out intending to make the cake in the morning, but as I mentioned previously someone tried to be helpful and tidied it away back into the fridge for me – and my hand held mixer can’t cope with fridge cold butter (how I miss my kenwood mixer).

At lunchtime Flapjack Queen phoned up to say that the party bags we had bought ready filled cos its cheaper are actually quite small and 2 slices of cake probably won’t fit in the bag…I agreed with her that instead we would break with small people’s party tradition and serve the cake up after the rest of the food for eating then and there. I also decided that I would copy her idea and turn Spider’s birthday cake into a pile of cup cakes instead a la Nigella.

7.30pm there was a further change of plan back to the original skull and cross bones cake due to the difficulty of persuading a certain small boy that it would be better to have the big cake on his actual birthday when he has his second party “family only”…

So spent the next 30 minutes trying to make 12oz of victoria sponge cake mixture in a too small bowl with a hand held mixer and then fitting 4 cake tins in the oven…there was more mixture on me and the walls of the kitchen by the time I had finished.

Anyway, early start again tomorrow…may be an even earlier trip to Saino’s or Tescbury if the fondant icing I’ve had in the cupboard for over a year turns out to be off…or anything else goes wrong between now and 2.30pm…

Yo ho ho me hearties, I’m off to bed to dream of pieces of eight and making people who cut you up in traffic walk the plank…

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Cooking with children

My son has a Fairy Gothmother (FGM), he also has a Not Quite Godfather (the NQG) and a VIP (very important person in life aka KT Cupcake). People who know this about me and about Spider are therefore quite surprised to discover that I have a goddaughter.

Yes, I am a godmother, possibly not a very good one because as KT Cupcake sometimes likes to recall at the time of my goddaughter’s (Cookie) christening I was actually on the other side of the world and 18 metres under water – actually because of the time difference I was probably tucked up in a hotel room somewhere snoring my head off, but that’s not quite so good a story. The idea behind me being a godmother was that Cookie’s parents wanted her to have an adult influence in her life of someone with a different attitude towards life than her parents.

Her mother is a talented artistic person. I am not. I like making cakes to make people smile, KT Cupcake spreads happiness in other ways. Anyway, for Cookie’s  last birthday I gave her a voucher for a mornings cooking together and since her 7th birthday is now approaching at speed, we thought it was probably about time that she cashed it in.

Now, since I am feeling guilty about the fact that I have been a bit of an absentee godmother since Spider was born, I was planning on making it a special occasion, perhaps buying in some fancy cooking bits from the Pink Fairy Cake website, but as usual in my life things were very last minute “are you free tomorrow ?” “why ?” “Cookie’s ballet has been cancelled, can she come and cook with you saturday morning ?”

So had to make do with a container of 4 different sprinkles from Budgens, food colouring and some gold and silver foil cake cases dug out from the back of the cupboard (dating from when I got married I think)…I also managed to find a little whisk shaped like a chick in an egg which I bought as something for Cookie to take away with her as memento.

The house was also a mess and needed an early start saturday morning to ensure that the house could receive visitors and the kitchen declared fit enough to cook in and no longer a health hazzard.

The jury is out on whether I have provided her with a different approach to life after one morning together but I have at least introduced her to a few new things. She had never cracked an egg before and thought that you needed a bread maker to make pizza…

We made:

Since Saturday I have been in and out of bed with a stress related problem…I don’t think it was related to cooking with Cookie, who it would appear had a fantastic time and wants to do it again – soon. We had fun, but I don’t think teaching cooking to children is going to be my route out of debt, not unless I want to spend all my spare time chipping icing off the sink… I actually had fun too and am planning to make more of an effort to cook with Spider and to live up to my godmotherly duties…currently trying to overcome my make and do phobia and make a little scrapbook for Cookie of our morning together plus the recipes.

Photos to follow – I have technical gremlins at the moment

 

Christmas Cake indecision

I was flicking through How to be a Domestic Goddess:Nigella Lawson trying to choose a Christmas Cake which wouldn’t end up sitting on the sideboard like last year and I came across her Certosino which is a “fabulous spicy fruit cake” which is decorated with dried fruit and nuts. It seemed to fit the requirements of our family namely fruit cake, nothing too heavy, perhaps slightly alcoholic, easy on the icing. Also I have most of the ingredients in, just need to buy a few things.

Anyway I was all set to make this when I got struck down with the lurgy meaning that I’ve since had a lot of time in bed and between sleeping have been reading cookbooks and have of course changed my mind. Same idea as the Certosino just the cake itself uses up more of what I have in the cupboard including a tin of chestnut puree which has been sitting neglected in the kitchen since last christmas.

The Easy Action Christmas Cake (from Feast) can be found here. Normally with recipes from Feast I automatically halve the quantites but this recipe actually suggests if you don’t want a large cake then you could make a small cake and 12 muffins – so that’s what I will be doing between now and Christmas as soon as I get the all clear and can cook again. I know I’m cutting it fine, but since there is no icing involved, just sticking fruit on the top and glazing with jam, I can if I need leave it until Wednesday night…not going to mention christmas cake again this year but will post a pic when I finally get myself off this sickbed and into the kitchen.

My new years resolution is less procrastination, more action… sitting here reading a time management book !

My name is…I am a shopaphobic

According to the news, it is expected that today will be the busiest day in the year for on line shopping with the busiest time being between 1pm and 2pm.

I am no good at shopping. I hate it. I do not have the girly shopping gene. But then if you asked people who like shopping you will probably find that they only really like certain types of shopping and my shopping interests are very very narrowly defined. In a book shop I can be happy, it is my oasis of calm from the storm of the high street, my cathedral, a place of worship, and in the case of Waterstones in Reading this is literally true as I believe it used to be some sort of methodist central hall or similar.

Milton Keynes yesterday really was my idea of hell on earth. My only reason for going was that I had a long standing agreement with a friend that we would take our children to see Father Christmas in his grotto – we did and it was fun, but as usual we needn’t have gone out of our way as when asked what was the best bit about the day Spider replied “going under the bridge and pretending to be a train” (in the carpark on the way into the town centre).

Anyway, as a result of the trip to MK I am behind with my cooking, had hoped to have another batch of Brownies ready today plus some biscuits for Spider’s preschool…I also now have plans for some Ottolenghi cupcakes as a present for luscious Lulabelle who heroically drove to MK despite her terrible cold, as I’m too much of a wimp to drive on icy roads.

Anyway, recipe for Brownies will go up hopefully tomorrow morning.