Pumpkin Cupcakes Every Witch Way

I’ve been promising the recipe for making pumpkin cupcakes for a couple of weeks, but of course, timing is everything so about now seems to be the optimum moment.

You can make the actual little pumpkin shaped cupcakes using either the following pumpkin flavoured recipe or a standard vanilla cupcake cake recipe which you can find here (make sure you use a large egg). The buttercream again can either be a standard recipe, such as given in the vanilla cupcake link substituting vanilla extract for orange essence for a nice twist, or again the recipe given below.

So you will need: 12 cupcakes or however many you wish, enough buttercream for the number of cupcakes you wish to decorate, orange coloured sugarpaste (allow 80g per cupcake so 3 x 250g packets will comfortably decorate 12, probably more) a little brown sugarpaste or Matchmakers or a Cadbury’s flake for the pumpkin stalk. Orange, black and green coloured sugarpaste is currently available in supermarkets.

Equipment needs: small palette knife or flat knife, 10cm pastry cutter or similar, a paintbrush or something to make a small round indent.

1) peel the cake cases away from your cupcakes

2) coat the sides and top of the cupcake in soft buttercream with the palette or flat knife

3) roll out about 80g of orange sugarpaste so that it measures at least 20cm diameter

4) Flop the sugarpaste disc over the buttercreamed cupcake and using the pastry cutter trim the disc to 10cm diameter

5) Tuck all the edges round the bottom of the cupcake

6) Sit the cake upright and using the back of a knife, score the pumpkin ridges

7) Using the end of a paintbrush, make an indent on the top of the cake in the centre, and then insert either a little piece of Matchmaker or Cadbury’s Flake or if you have the ‘where with all’ a small piece of brown sugarpaste fashioned into a stalk.

8) Tah Dah!!! Made by 8, 12 and 42 year old bakers….

9) Alternatively you can buy stencils which can be used to create Halloween-y images, once you have iced your cupcakes in the conventional manner, with cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Flavoured Cupcakes

Tricky to get a good bake and a good flavour it seems. I’ve had trouble with the straight Hummingbird recipe (wouldn’t rise) and the flavour of others can be a bit too spicy. This recipe worked for us though, giving the right amount of spice and a rise on the cakes,

For 12 cupcakes: 140g Plain Flour, 1½ tsp Cinnamon, ¼ tsp Nutmeg, ¼ tsp Ginger, ¼ tsp Salt, 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder, ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, 55g Butter softened, 100g Caster Sugar, 2 ½ tbsp Soft Brown Sugar, 1 Egg, 80 ml Milk, 125g Pumpkin Puree (you can make it or buy it in Waitrose!)

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C and fill a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Into a bowl combine the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate or soda. Stir together and set aside. In another bowl combine the sugars and the butter and beat together ( I would say until light and fluffy but there is so much sugar here I don’t think you will achieve light and fluffy). Add the egg and beat into the butter sugar mixture until smooth, add the milk and the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. At this point it will truly look like a horrible mess, just press on. Stir in the flour mixture lightly until just incorporated and then dollop the batter into the paper cases.

Bake for 25 minutes or so until brown on top and springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.

Once cold coat with the buttercream.

Buttercream with Maple Syrup

90g Butter, softened, 270g Icing Sugar, 1 tbsp Milk, 3 tbsp Maple Syrup

Pop the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat together until combined. Add the milk and maple syrup and beat slowly until incorporated and then turn up the speed on the mixture and beat for 5 minutes or so until light and fluffy. It should be very soft to spread.

Alternatively you can use a classic cream cheese buttercream: 50g Butter, softened, 300g Icing Sugar, 125g Cream Cheese, cold. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until well combined and then add the cold cream cheese and beat on a medium speed until you have a soft fluffy icing, about 2 minutes. Do not beat as ferociously as the standard buttercream or for as long as the cheese cream will render the mixture runny and it won’t pipe or spread well.

Pumpkin Puree

Cut up the pumpkin flesh into chunks and pop in a roasting tin with some water in the bottom. Cover with foil and bake until tender on 180 – 200°C. Once cooked, drain any remaining water away and blend until smooth.

Happy Halloween

Burgers with Hidden Vegetables!!!

Now I’m not pretending that this IS the answer to everyone’s prayers, nor am I suggesting that this idea is unique (I’m probably late to this party), but if you really need to entice kids to consume their 5 a day this would be an easy place to start.

I’m just going to jump straight in with this, any further talk about whether or not one’s kids eat veggies and how enthusiastically is totally unnecessary.

This makes around 5 or 6 depending how big your kids are; however don’t go too small if you are tempted as the veggie bits will then seem more prominent. Making burgers is very easy but if you really can’t bind the constituent parts by hand, you might struggle. So in a large bowl you will need:

400g lean minced steak, 1 slice of any bread whizzed up to make breadcrumbs, 1 medium carrot, grated,  1 medium courgette, grated and then pressed between kitchen paper towel to squeeze out the excess moisture (repeat this process 2 or 3 times), ½ tsp dried oregano, a large pinch of salt, a grinding of black pepper, a dribble of Lea and Perrins (optional) and 1 egg.

Combine everything with your hands, squeezing and mushing until thoroughly combined, then form into 5 or 6 burgers and arrange on a plate. Set aside for 5 or 10 minutes whilst the grill or BBQ warms up, you want it hot.

Cook as usual for 15-20 minutes or so, turning from time to time. Obviously check they are cooked through before serving.

The Kids were aware of the veg inclusion but keen to eat these nonetheless. Normally, if I try to pull this sort of stunt, I receive plenty of complaints that I am ruining a perfectly lovely tea/dinner/cake etc etc.

Beach Hut Food (or almost half a dozen things to do with Tortilla Chips)

Despite the distinctly mediocre weather we have been experiencing this week, we have found our collective stiff upper lip and pressed on with our half term/Jubilee plans regardless. We like to book a beach hut on Studland beach for a week each year and this week has been the appointed one. The weather on the Isle of Purbeck can frequently render national forecasts useless and certainly for part of the time I think we have managed to suffer far less rain than some. Sunday tea time we returned from a very pleasant afternoon at the beach, switched on the TV, to find the National Anthem in full flow on the River Thames and a bedraggled choir trying to look cheerful notwithstanding the driving rain. Nightmare.

Kitchen for the week

So during a typical week, we like to cook at the beach as much as possible and over the years we have developed Beach Hut Food. This can easily be regarded as camping food and so with the camping/glamping/festival season upon us some might find the following useful. I’m not really suggesting anything very revelatory just jogging memories I suspect.

The return of the 5 layer dip; the original recipe is here but an easier or possibly more child friendly version would be as follows:

Small tin of refried beans spread on the bottom of  the bowl/saucepan/suitable receptacle.

A layer of sweetcorn from a small tin to cover the beans or a layer of guacamole from a ‘ready to eat’ tub

A layer of tomato salsa, strength to your taste

A layer of half fat soured cream

A layer of grated cheese

Arrange the tortilla chips around the bowl as illustrated. This is really good as an accompaniment to a barbecue. N.B. Doritos are not very strong and therefore not good for scooping. Sainsburys Basics Tortilla Chips are much much better in this regard.

Tortilla Soup; British summers being what they are, soup is still a must even in July at times. Cuppa soup Cream of Tomato or a tin of Heinz Tomato can be pepped up with a few drops of Tabasco sauce and tortilla chips to dip with.

Camp style Caesar Salad; this is adapted from a Nigella recipe so she deserves all the credit. Arrange some salad leaves (Little Gem are good here) in a bowl and dress with Caesar salad dressing (we like the Pizza Express Light variety). Add to that handfuls of tortilla chips and grated Parmesan or any grated cheese.

Tortilla chip sandwiches; if you are at the beach, the ‘do I have sand in my sandwich’ concern can be offset by adding tortilla chips to the filling. The crunchy sensation they provide will mask any actual sand. Again grated cheese, a drop of Tabasco and chips work well and should you have these ingredients around because you made the 5 layer dip, will help with using stuff up.

As it was Jubilee weekend, we really pushed the boat out however and had my favourite sandwich of all, baguette with smoked salmon, lots of dill, lemon juice and black pepper and whilst barbecuing constructed this user-friendly arrangement.

Frozen raw King Prawns can defrost throughout the day in a cool box. Thread onto the skewers as the barbecue is lit to finish defrosting if necessary. Fill a fish holder with the skewers and cherry tomatoes for ease of handling.

The fish holder is often filled with Bream stuffed with dill. If you have sea air up your nostrils, this barbecue dish has to be one of life’s great pleasures.

Warming up for Wimbledon

Quacking Easter Beaver Biscuits

The Cutest Cakes spent some time down at the local Beaver Colony recently decorating Easter themed biscuits. The trick here was to find an activity which would engage all concerned and only take ½ hour or so. Simplicity was definitely the key. This particular activity would work well with children of all ages and different animals can obviously be tackled, pigs, bunnies, sheep for example. Aardman-esque designs might look good!

The Beavers seemed very excited at the prospect of a bit of modelling, perhaps it was the thought of all that sugar but enthusiasm was not in short supply. As with many of these types of workshop, we began with a demonstration:

and then the Beavers ‘hatched’ a few ducklings of their own.

You will need: Some rich tea biscuits, some boiled sieved apricot jam, a pastry brush, a pastry cutter (slightly smaller than the biscuits), some white, yellow, orange and black sugarpaste, a rolling-pin and a cup with a small amount of water in it.

To make the ducks:

  • roll around 25g of yellow sugarpaste into an egg/oval shape and then flatten to some degree on the work surface you are using.
  • take around 5g of orange paste, break off a pea sized piece and set aside and roll the rest into a jelly bean shape. Again flatten on the work surface and then fold in half lengthways. Shape into the beak and stick on the head.
  • 2 petit pois sized pieces of white paste, roll into balls and flatten onto the head as eyes. Flatten the balls as part of the attachment process to the head.
  • 2 even smaller pieces of black paste can be rolled into balls and again flatten onto the white eyes as pupils.
  • finally the remaining pea sized piece of orange paste can be attached on top of the head as a quiffy bit.

To finish the biscuit:

  • using the pastry brush paint the jam onto the centre of the biscuit.
  • roll out and cut out a circle of sugarpaste and stick onto the biscuit over the jam.
  • attach the duck head

The water can be used to provide ‘damp fingers ‘ which can help the sugarpaste elements stick to each other if required. You do not want ‘wet’ fingers as this will essentially make a right mess, a little moistening of the paste can however aid the sticking process.

Well done Beavers! How very egg-citing!

Kids, food and the art of not losing your sanity

Here we go. The subject that can keep mothers ranting/stressing/ arguing/ pleading with their beloved children ad nauseam which of course will not aid the process of getting them to eat what you want them to eat.

My Mother who was in the US trying to order breakfast in a diner about a decade ago spent so long deliberating over what to choose due to the overwhelming choice/time of day/unfamiliarity of options that she felt the need to apologise. The waitress cheerfully quipped,  ‘we just want you to have what you want to have’ (you will have to imagine the appropriate accent) and this has stuck with us all as a bit of a joke, but rarely do you ever really get a free choice with food, constricted by time, money, sometimes season, whom else you are cooking/preparing for or what you have left in the fridge.

Kids seem not to have received the memo in this respect and definitely exercise the right to express how they feel if they don’t get their choice and the upshot can be lengthy domestic traumas as mothers attempt to broaden the range of foods consumed. Just to make us all feel better I hardly know anyone who doesn’t have trouble with this in one way shape or form. The pendulum swings from the ‘allergies’ people who are, to a man, cheerful despite not being able to eat all manner of delicious stuff, and are deeply grateful if you attempt to make a something-free cake just for them (I do appreciate choice is not the issue here), to the soooo fussy ones that they might just have to pop home for their own brand of tomato ketchup because you only have Sainsburys Own or only eat particular types of sausages ‘I only like Gloucester Old Spot’ !!!! O.M.G.

It really does make for some testing times at tea.

I don’t think I have any particular pearls of wisdom here although I am starting to wonder if there are a few Golden Rules :

  • Be seen eating the controversial stuff yourself, practice what you preach.
  • Try and eat together as much as you can or stand.
  • Try not to create an air of anticipation if you have ‘hidden’ something in the food. Think Poker Face.
  • Keep it plain, particularly with little kids who genuinely don’t seem to like anything too strong and spicy. (Even strong cheddar can trip you up! It did with us. Grrrr!!!!) Tastes do mature with age it seems.
  • Don’t attempt to pass off something that looks like a dish they like if it isn’t exactly what they like, this almost never works.
  • Don’t worry about individual battles, just concentrate on winning the war.

Some just aren’t into food and this can make bribing and bargaining tricky. In our house we have a nod to my Mother’s mantra ‘eat what’s put in front of you’ for public consumption but we have also attempted to ‘just keep trying’ with unpopular stuff bearing in mind the golden rules and ours can be swayed with the promise of something they like if they eat something they don’t (or pretend they don’t). One friend told me she could have some sweets/chocolate/a biscuit if she had eaten 3 pieces of fruit as a child. This was very clever. Presumably there would be no room left for a treat after 3 pieces of fruit!

Are either of you Gloucester Old Spots?

The ‘just keep trying’ I know sounds a bit pathetic but there is method in the madness – we have been known to hide the offending offering amongst other more beloved stuff. Not in the ‘passing off something as something else’ as above, but genuinely hiding it in casseroles, spaghetti bolognese, crumbles, that sort of thing. Eventually you reveal they have been eating kidneys or celeriac for ages in a casserole and so, in the case of celeriac, you move on to trying it mashed with potato. Or, more realistically, grate carrots into spaghetti bolognese and then move onto visible diced pieces and then once they’ve spotted that, try carrots for real. They don’t take kindly to being hoodwinked but sometimes there’s also relief that they have been eating yucky carrots and they weren’t that bad after all.

There are some very sophisticated hidden vegetable ideas and in fact a blog and book are the product. (I’m now awaiting a comment from someone who knows who she is, who’s going to give us the details). Beetroot in Chocolate cake would be one of mine, and for those desperate to get veg into kids this would definitely be the place to start. Eventually though I suspect one has to attempt to actually expand the repertoire of actual-veg-looking-like-veg eaten and then the gradual increase in visibility of it in a dish is a good tactic to take.

If anyone would like to comment with additional Golden Rules I’d really love to hear them. I’m considering setting up a page about this with the results of any discussion. Perhaps we’ll have a poll!

I won’t post a recipe today as where to pitch it is a bit of a challenge. I’ll add some recipes we have had some recent success with soon, but for some adaptable old favourites try Barely got your hat off Chicken Noodle Soup and Garlicky Breadcrumbs with Spaghetti.

And what did my Mother finally order in that diner all those years ago? Eggs, tea and toast, yummy!

Was it 10 out of 10 for the Birthday Cupcake Workshop?

Well, there were 14 party guests, 4 cupcakes to decorate each and about 2 hours to fill. No sign of a 10 so far, oh but hang on, 10 was the birthday age being celebrated today.

Following on from my first Children’s Party, we all had an absorbing afternoon, creating beautiful cakes this time with a vintage feel.

Personalising the cupcake boxes was a great success first time around, so we began this party in the same manner. An excellent way to provide an opening activity.

As the girls were older, a demonstration followed illustrating how to make fondant roses and icing two of the cupcakes with sugarpaste discs.

Icing cupcakes with discs of sugarpaste is an extremely effective way of creating a neat professional looking finish. Discs can be cut out using a standard pastry cutter of an appropriate size, the type of equipment many people have knocking around the kitchen. Boiled sieved apricot jam is brushed onto the cakes to allow the discs to stick.

The girls picked up the techniques very quickly and demonstrated a good degree of skill. Definitely 10 out of 10.

So by half time this is what we had.
After a few more pointers the girls rolled out more paste this time in a variety of pastel colours and cut out flowers, stars and blossoms and also had a go at royal icing piping.
Advanced stuff!
Glitter and silver sugar balls provided the finishing touches.
Individually the cakes looked gorgeous and collectively they looked stunning.
A beautiful take home treat. 10 out of 10 all round.
For more information about Children’s Parties contact me via the website or facebook (see side bar).

Perfect Pancakes and no Palaver

At Last! My perfect pancake.

As it’s Shrove Tuesday tomorrow I feel I should blog about Pancakes. However these delicious creations feature large in our house as Child 2 is a creature of habit and campaigns weekly, without fail, to have them for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Seeing as this is the least busy day of the week from the point of view of cooking something up first thing, I have generally been happy to indulge him.

Of course I’m talking about the American variety and therefore Delia just won’t do. I have been through several versions over the years and I have always been left wanting in some way. Typically I’ve used a recipe of Nigella’s but this involves melting butter which then has to be cooled to some degree before being added to the various other ingredients, which I could not commit to memory, basically a bit of a faff. At that time of the week, let alone morning, I want to be able to bang these out in a family-tradition-I’ve-been-doing-it-all-my-life kind of way, with a minimum of brain power, equipment and little opportunity to forget some vital ingredient. I have learnt this the hard way and after 5 years have finally come up with the ideal recipe, and here it is.

Adapted from the inspirational Rachel Allen, and the result of a happy accident, her Drop Scones recipe has been morphed into our American Pancake one, and because it is all about stateside in this post, I use my anglicised version of american measures:

a generous ½ cup self-raising flour, pinch of salt, 1 tbsp (15g) caster sugar, 1 egg, ½ cup milk, a drop of sunflower oil. That’s all you need apart from a bowl, a balloon whisk and a frying pan. (I do appreciate you can buy pancake mix (type in pancake mix at the link) which would be far simpler but that’s not what this blog’s about).

So put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the middle and add the egg and milk. Whisk until you have a smooth batter and that’s it. Heat 1 tsp oil over a moderate heat and after a minute, wipe the non stick frying pan with some kitchen paper, to remove the liquid oil or use that oil spray. Depending on the size of your frying pan dot single dessert spoonfuls of mixture around the pan. It will spread out, so to a say 22cm (9″) pan add about 3 dollops. Allow the mixture to cook on that side until you can see bubbles popping on the surface of the cooking batter, then get a little palette knife or fish slice under the pancake and flip it over, give it another 30 seconds to a minute and remove to a plate and a slightly warm oven whilst you carry on with the next batch, wiping the frying pan carefully with the oily kitchen paper between each batch. Keep going ’til you have used up all the batter, you will probably end up with around 12 or so depending on how big you decide to make them. There is no right size but you know what they should look like. We don’t go massive.

Delicious with the following:  honey, jam, eggs and bacon, any fruit, sliced to go with, and of course Maple Syrup.

Maple Syrup – Canada – Thinking Day (c.1982). What can the Girl Guides Thinking Day Celebrations have to do with all this I hear you asking? Thinking Day is also this week (22nd) and is celebrated by Guides world-wide as it’s their founder’s birth date. Back in 1982 we were duly celebrating this with other Guides from our town in a school hall somewhere. Each Guide Company providing a display from another one of the Guiding Nations. This was to include food from the relevant country for us to eat ourselves as a snack.

Our Company had picked Canada and so someone had kindly prepared a kind of Maple Syrup Tart (a bit like Treacle Tart) for us all. Maple syrup for the uninitiated has a distinctive, intense flavour in such a dish. I should like to point out that I adore maple syrup but as we all sat there that evening, hungry and picking miserably at this confection, we were all absolutely bright green with envy as we looked across to the Company who had chosen Italy……

Ham up and give it a try!

This post is for my Brother, his partner and their brand new daughter, my Niece, with love. (See Baking:Recipes and What not Page above for some details on constructing this cake)

Baby in Pram - Vanilla Sponge Cake

Apparently my Mother doesn’t like ham. When she mentioned this in passing during my twenties, it came as quite a surprise. Somehow I had never noticed despite the perpetual complaining about the size of ham my Father wished to buy and bake to help along the Christmas festivities. The general mantra in our house when I was a child on the testy subject of liking food was that ‘you eat what is put in front of you’. Clearly as I had not realised her aversion to ham, she does practice what she preaches, however the genius in this remark is of course that if you are the Senior Buyer and Cook as well, you can serve up what you like. Clever. For the Junior Food Consumers though I remember a couple of battles on this front;

1. The psuedo-chilli.  Something, when I was 8 or 9, resembling some sort of chilli dish (mince-y thing on rice) was served up one evening at tea but tasted utterly alien based on appearance expectations and I have to say, WAS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. Very rarely in our house did my Mother misjudge these things but even now as an adult I cannot image what ingredients she had used and why she was trying to pass this concoction off as something more familiar. There were a fair few tears about this, mainly of disappointment on the Junior Food Consumers part (we♥chilli) and I have no recollection of the outcome. (Brother now believes this was a tin won at a Tombola).

2. Mac and Cheesegate. Now, an unusual victory for one Junior Food Consumer in particular. I’m fairly sure this wasn’t the first time this dish had been served up. If I remember rightly our Mac and Cheese came with a squirt of tomato ketchup as a kind of garnish. Yummy. Naturally I was munching away quite happily. (This was back in the 70s way before the food revolution and Jamie Oliver was definitely still in nappies). My Brother, I realised after a little while, was picking at his serving and eventually my Mother passed by, noticed and said something along the lines of  ‘eat your tea up’.

‘ I don’t like it’

‘Never mind about that, just eat it up’

‘But I don’t like it’

Well, eat it now I’ve made it’

‘But….’              you get my drift.

I was long finished and in the circumstances had been allowed to leave the table, but not my unfortunate Brother. One could occasionally hear my Mother’s increasingly irate demands and my Brother’s wailing as he sat there contemplating his fate. Eventually the ultimate sanction was issued, ‘if you don’t eat it you will have to go to you room for the rest of the evening’. And, without missing a beat, he hopped down from the table and headed to his room rather than eat up and get on with his day. The stuff seemed to make him heave and as a result this turned into the one exception from the ‘eat what’s put in front of you’ rule.

Anyway, back to my Mother and the ham. The upshot of all this was there were few meals, now I think about it, which included ham in any form (I’m not sure where she is on bacon) and my Father will always have ham, egg and chips if he sees it on a pub menu.

So the discovery of unsmoked gammon ham joints has been an inevitable revelation. I love the endless and often instant options and find the taste and texture far superior to the regular, sliced stuff in a packet. Most recipes to cook these joints seem to include, at least in part, an instruction to roast in the oven at some point, but I really don’t think this necessary so:

  • Having purchased one of those vacuum packed joints from the supermarket, often around 750g, cut open the wrapper and remove making a note of the weight.
  • Place joint in a saucepan and barely cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then discard this just boiled water. Process removes scum and excess curing salt.
  • Start again from cold, filling the saucepan so that it barely covers the ham again and return to the boil. This time round though reduce the heat so you achieve a vigorous simmer and cook for 20 minutes per 500g or per lb, so 750g one needs just 30 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and you can either lift it out with a slotted spoon and serve slices of it immediately or leave it in the water for another 30 mins (keeps it lovely and moist) before draining the water in to a bowl (great stock!) or down the sink and allowing it to cool completely on a plate.

The obvious quick meal here is ham, fried egg and JP’s or potato wedges, more yumminess. It goes without saying, it makes great sarnies, and would be a tasty addition to the above Mac and Cheese! Once completely cold, wrap in foil and fridge where it should keep for up to 5 days.

I shall post more recipes with this ham in due course but for the record, lardons (small diced pieces of ham) can be fried until crispy and dropped into the celeriac soup recipe from the Veg box and unloved vegetables post.

Barely got your hat off Chicken Noodle Soup

I always remember a wise member of my family quoting an expression her mother used to use regarding those occasions where you come bursting through the front door, and for whatever reason, a meal should have been on the table 10 minutes beforehand. She described it as ‘being in such a rush to get started on the cooking that she had barely got her hat off’. I know the feeling, chopping in your coat, frequently in fact and today was such a day.

We had been travelling home from our weekend away and despite having left plenty of time (and thank goodness we had), we were starting to run late. It was a lengthier trip than usual due to downpours, copious roadworks, heaps of traffic, the gods conspiring to send every traffic light we approached red and some extremely dawdle-y type individuals. Child 1 needed to be at cricket practice (yes that’s right, cricket) more or less upon arrival home and guess what – needed some tea before he went.

What do you cook at such a moment – barely got your hat off, practically store cupboard Chicken Noodle Soup.

I had had the foresight to buy the cooked chicken you need, those packets of ready roasted chicken (breast or legs) or even thickly sliced chargrilled chicken are perfect for this, but as it’s Monday you might have left over Roast Chicken knocking about.

So for 2 medium sized children:

to a saucepan add a chicken stock cube, about 800mls to 1 litre of boiling water, 2 tbsp each of mirin and soy sauce (reduced salt is fine), 2 layers of Sharwoods medium egg noodles, broken up a fair bit, a good handful of frozen peas and/or sweetcorn (or whatever you think you can get away with) and an amount of cooked shredded chicken equivalent to a chicken breast or so. Allow the whole lot to come to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes or so until the noodles are cooked and the chicken is piping hot. Check the broth for seasoning, you can always add a little more soy sauce if necessary. Ladle into bowls and supply those conjoined chopsticks or a fork and also a spoon. Perfect.

Mine love this and not just because it is quick.

Adults may eat it too, but you might need to get a bit more creative, assuming time and scope. One might add a little chilli, flakes or fresh, mushrooms, fresh coriander etc.

Emergency Children’s Cupcake Decorating Party

Due to an accident which prevented a little friend of mine enjoying his planned birthday treat, he agreed to a less energetic and more sugar-fueled way to celebrate his birthday:

Well some of us had lots of fun this afternoon decorating cupcakes and making sugarcraft creatures, some real talents emerged. Watch out Debbie Brown!

We started off by decorating our boxes and included our names.

We moved on to icing and sprinkling. A Jubilee theme today, much care and creativity was applied.

The finished cupcakes. Some were iced with buttercream and others with discs of sugarpaste, we tried to keep the colour theme red, white and blue!

The final task was to make a sugarpaste bear once we had been fortified with pizza and icecream. The box of cupcakes and our bears made great take home treats.

I have been experimenting with workshops in cake decorating for a couple of months and had previously thought I would stick with teaching adults, however it was hugely enjoyable spending time with the children and they picked up the techniques very quickly. I’m trialing this again in a couple of weeks with slightly older girls (this one was a mixture of 7-year-old boys and girls) and will be attempting to teach them to make fondant roses, an excellent staple for decorating cupcakes and traditional celebration cakes alike. Food for thought…..

By the way ‘didn’t they do well!’

Previous Older Entries

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.