Thursday, 23 March 2017

Red Nose Day Maltesers Cake

When I saw that Maltesers was donating £5 to Comic Relief for every cake made in their #bakeamillion challenge, it seemed like a better than usual reason to make a chocolate cake!  The devil's food cake I'd tried for Theo's birthday was so good that I didn't need much persuasion to bake it again.  The original recipe made a BIG cake.  So in the interests of all our waistlines, I halved the quantities this time.  And of course, adorned it with Maltesers.



Devil's Food Cake
Recipe adapted from Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes.  Apart from halving it, I reduced the amount of sugar and avoided mixing the cocoa with the cold water.  In my experience, all this does is give you a brown sludge which is hard to get out of the measuring jug.  I don't see how that improves the quality of the cake.

175g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
50g cocoa powder
200ml cold water
125g margarine or shortening
200g sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cocoa.

Cream the margarine and sugar together until light and very soft.  Whisk the eggs, then add to the creamed mixture a little at a time, beating well.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the cold water to give a light airy batter.  

Scoop into a greased and base-lined 8-inch round tin, and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then on a wire rack. Decorate as desired.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Lake District photo dump

Day 1:

We stopped at Rufford Old Hall for a lunch break on the drive up.  We enjoyed the drifts of snowdrops, the very friendly volunteers, and the binoculars!  When we arrived at Grange-over-Sands, we went for an evening walk along the promenade.





Day 2:

We went on the Windermere Lake Cruise, starting off on the top deck and retreating to underneath the seats, and ultimately the covered lower deck when it began to rain.





Day 3:

We spent the morning at the very well-stocked Lakeland Motor Museum, packed with cars, bikes, motorbikes, toy cars and much more.  Then we drove up to Skelwith Bridge for lunch (the cafe we had hoped to go to was packed out, so we had a picnic instead) and walked along the River Brathay.  There was a small but fierce waterfall, and the boys enthusiastically dissected a rotting tree. It took so long to drive back down the M6 that we were forced to stop at McDonalds for tea.









Thursday, 2 March 2017

Monthly Munch: February 2017

Most of the photos this month were either of Theo's birthday or our short break in the Lake District, which I will tell you about soon, I promise.  We also went for a walk up Streatley Hill with my parents (last time we did that, Toby was in a baby sling!) and ate both British and American pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.  And finally, the spring flowers are starting to appear!  My favourite time of year.



Toby


- has become very interested in big numbers, especially googolplex.  He wanted to know whether googolplex was larger than infinity.

- is getting quite good at an app called Cute Munchies, a logic puzzle where you navigate small creatures round a kind of maze.

- enjoyed looking at VERY EXPENSIVE cars with Graham, on a recent visit to my parents'.  (No, we haven't suddenly got rich.)


- can ride one-handed on his bike.

- found the biggest tyre ever at Lakeland Motor Museum.


Theo


- is getting going on his balance bike pretty well

- calls fried eggs "Friday eggs".  He used to call boiled eggs "eggshell eggs" and still prefers them to any other kind.

Where's my eggs?

- visited a friend's house and wore her child-size oven mitts the whole time.  Do you think naming him after a chef has had an effect?

- loves wearing the Batman mask he got in a McDonalds meal - although he usually refers to it as Super Spy Chase from Paw Patrol.



Thankful for:

- being able to join a new Christian writers' group - it was fascinating to meet so many people writing in so many different ways.

- getting to play a National Trust grand piano at Rufford Old Hall.

Glad I don't have to wear one of these, though!
- help and advice from several people as I'm trying to kickstart my career again.

Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Cherry Trifle


I'd had some chocolate cake offcuts in the freezer for so long I couldn't even remember which cake they came from.  So I thought it was about time to use them for something delicious.  Here is my very precise and elegant trifle recipe.

Bits of chocolate cake
1 packet black cherry jelly (Jello)
Custard powder, sugar and milk (or ready-made custard, or vanilla pudding mix)
Sugar sprinkles
Squirty cream

Make the custard first so it has more time to cool.  Follow the packet instructions to make 1 pint, going generous on the custard powder to make it nice and thick.  Set aside to cool.

Break or chop the cake into chunks and put in the bottom of a large bowl.  You don't want it too packed in - mine came out a bit solid because I was trying to use the cake up, but if I'd had some canned cherries I would have used less cake and added the fruit.

Make the jelly following the packet instructions.  Pour over the cake and put in the fridge to set.  If the cake was frozen this obviously speeds up the setting process.

When the jelly is set and the custard is at least lukewarm, if not completely cold, remove any skin from the custard and pour it over the jelly layer.  Press clingfilm over the custard to prevent any more skin forming.  Refrigerate until cold.

If everyone likes cream, you can put proper whipped cream all over the top.  Half the people in my house won't eat it, so I put sprinkles over the custard and let the boys add squirty cream as they wished (a great treat!).