Tuesday 23 April 2013

Baking: fire engine birthdays and Easter days

The Tiny One turned two! Not so tiny any more. He had a little party with his chums. I made Nigella's birthday biscuits from The Domestic Goddess, with a number two cutter and Smarties. You can never go wrong with Smarties.
I had a bit of a cake dilemma: the Tiny One asked for a fire engine, but I just wasn't comfortable with all the red food colouring that would entail for toddlers. I had a little brainwave and went with red fruit covering instead. You have to squint a bit to see it (!) but the cake above is a fire engine shape, coloured red with strawberry halves, peanut butter & jam biscuits for the wheels (another recipe from The Domestic Goddess), a breadstick ladder and blue candles for the fire engine lights. It was, to coin my Essex heritage, proper yum!
But the Tiny One wasn't content with just one cake, oh no. His party was nearly a week after his birthday so I asked him what cake he'd like for the day itself and he chose satsuma cake! Now, a) he's completely invented the idea and b) that's a pretty cool choice of a cake from a two-year-old who could have gone for something much less healthy and discerning. Luckily for me my elephantine memory for recipes (thank goodness my memory works for something) remembered Nigella's Christmassy clementine cake from How to Eat which involves boiling clementines for a ridiculous amount of time then pulverising them. Et voila! It was seriously good.
Here's the rest of the party fare, mid-party: number two biscuits (Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, p.212), peanut butter & jam jewels (same book, p.221), peanut-butter squares (same book, p.223, and oh my goodness they were incredible), and the cake (buttermilk birthday cake, p.210). It all went on my sewing table. Now that's sacrifice for you.
We also made these Easter nest cakes (since we're in the baking zone). Last year I made a proper Easter cake which was fabulous but time-consuming. These no-bake Shredded Wheat and chocolate affairs were simple, moreish and still had the requisite Easter-wow factor. If you're a time-poor, aim-high mum (like me!), go for them. I'm definitely nest caking again next year. Want to know the recipe? Oh go on then (another Nigella Domestic Goddess affair - yes, I can get a bit cook-book obsessive). I've put the ingredients in bold...

Melt 200g milk chocolate and 25g dark chocolate with 25g unsalted butter. I did this in the microwave on low, you can use a bowl over a steaming pot of water if you want. Stir it then leave it for a moment to cool. Crumble 100g shredded wheat into another bowl then mix in the chocolate. Your children will love this bit (mine did). Take little handfuls and place them on a lined baking sheet in vague nest shapes. Nigella says to make them about 7cm in diameter but I went smaller so I felt less guilty about the little ones eating them (and me, let's be honest). She also says to add the approx 25 chocolate eggs once cooled but I added them at the point of making so that they'd stick. They then sat in the fridge for about an hour before we started gobbling. (Proper recipe can be found in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, p.231)

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