Chocolate and Strawberry Layer Cake

Summer Tea Party

Summer Tea Parties

Summer’s here. Don’t tell the English weather though. As soon as it hears the rain will come. It’s like “hello July, hello torrential rain.”

So let’s talk hush hush.

I’ve got some great ideas for a summer’s day afternoon tea party. It’s the high-class picnic and all the better for it.

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Very Posh Chocolate Cupcake Display

Top Tier

When my eldest daughter started at her sixth form college, after years of private school, she got labelled “posh”.

For one thing she said “prep” instead of “homework”.

Posh kids say “mummy I haven’t got any prep tonight.” Apparently.

I bought her one of those old school badges you can get in novelty shops that said “posh” on it. She wore it on the lapel of her jacket with pride. It became a bit of a joke in our family.

If you met us you would know instantly that we are anything but posh.

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Beetroot & Chocolate Loaf

Mono-chrome Memories

There is an ochre and crimson multi-coloured crinkling carpet under my feet
I’m spinning round and round beneath the wind swept trees
Almost barren now with just their branches reaching out for the last remnants of winter’s light
Arms wide open, hair pulled tightly in bunches, fingers spread to the sky
Nose and ears pinched ruby with autumn’s early evening chill
It’s just a moment, just a second, but it’s everything
Moving to the left, then the right, unsteady feet, catching the world as it
Falls out of focus
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D’s Perfect Cake (Balls)


Just over a week ago we got that dreaded call, the one where your child’s school phones to say there has been an accident. “Come immediately,” they said, “we think your son has broken his collar-bone.”

A trip to A&E proved them to be right. The x-ray showed a clean break just by his shoulder joint. D would have to spend the next few weeks with his arm in a sling. He arrived home subdued and pale dosed up on pain killers.

It turned out that the breakage was a result of a few of the boys “playing” rough during break time. D called the game “benching” and, although he explained it to me, I still can’t quite get to terms with exactly how it works. All I know is it involves a lot of pushing and shoving  and knocking each other to the ground. From a female perspective, I just don’t get it, but all the men I’ve discussed it with, including my OH, grin in acknowledgement. That’s the way boys play.  

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Making Whoopie Pies!

My daughter and I made Whoopie Pies last night. It was a monumental occasion. She was in control.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love my daughter. Her in charge of the baking, though? That’s hard.

It was the time of evening when I was all over the place. Picking one child up, dropping the other off. Thinking about dinner. Supervising the homework. I wouldn’t bake during this time. Not for anything. Well, except for George Clooney maybe.

So there I am, all the time trying to keep an eye on her progress. Getting just the tiniest bit stressy. You could say that.

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Chocolate Birthday Cake…Of Course!

Last week my baby girl turned six. When I asked what kind of cake she wanted to celebrate it with, she said “chocolate cake of course!” So chocolate cake she got. E is not a huge fan of icing but loves cream and jam. Pretty smart that E. I found this recipe in a new cook book I got called Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros. A visual delight the chapters are separated in to colours. Not surprisingly the cake is in the brown section. (Hamburgers are also in this section, as is lentil soup and brownies.) She actually suggests that the cake be served with a “not-to-sweet raspberry or strawberry jam and a few dollops of cream”. So I choose to use a high fruit content spread with no added sugar to keep the sweetness down. As you can see from the photos I used quite a lot of cream and it spilled out on to the sides of the cake which gave it a rather homely feel. If you want it tidier use less cream! Continue reading

Beetroot and Baking?

Having done a quick search on the Internet it seems a few bloggers have already covered Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache cookbook. So I won’t spend any time doing what many have already done better – review the book. In fact it was reviewed in The Guardian by Zoe Williams back in the summer. She too found the grating of the veggies* rather tedious but was a convert once she tasted the end product.

I first came across it when a friend gave it to me as a thank you present. I have to say I was immediately excited by the concept of vegetables turning “naughty” cakes in to something “good”. It is beneficial not only from a calorie perspective but also because I am regularly baking for my four kiddies. Using sweet potato, butternut squash or beetroot instead of butter means they are eating healthily without knowing it. When my five-year, who has thus far held out on all attempts to get greens inside her, grabbed her third American Vanilla cupcake from the counter I couldn’t help but smile in secret victory. (They are made with courgettes!)

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