Happy Birthday Nanny Jo

Yesterday it was my mum’s and Rose’s Nanny Jo’s birthday! We didn’t manage to see her on the day, but had a get together today. Rose likes birthdays a lot and we’ve had a lot recently, although she still has a little way to go before her own. But she enjoys the celebrations and knows what’s important for a birthday – especially a cake.

So we decided it would be nice to make Nanny Jo a cake to celebrate, especially as she would never let any of our birthdays pass without it.

I whisked up a simple jam sponge sandwich secretly in the kitchen while Rose was eating her lunch. She love loves to bake, but we did a bit of baking over the weekend (bit of a baking flop – although I might share the photos of the mess one day….) and I was feeling like I was a bit baked out to bear a re-run so soon. Instead I decided to approach this activity as a creative cake decorating event, and Rose really embraced the challenge.

all set up for cake decoratingbirthday cake in progressa delicate operation cake decorating like a pro

I set everything up in advance, putting different decorative sweets into bowls and pre icing the cake ready. Since starting my blog I have tried really hard to do more creative activities with her, but this has really highlighted to me that she is not that interested in them – which is hard for me because that’s really what I like – she is more of a whirlwind climber / thrower type (although she likes the look of knitting so I haven’t given up hope) I have mostly given up on anything which involves too much structure for success, but she does have fun when left to her own creative devices – which is really hard for me, because I just want to ‘help’ her to make ‘something’. I wasn’t sure how this cake was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised at her focus (and how much of the decorations made it onto the cake and how little she actually tried to eat). I was proud of myself too for keeping my guidance purely to the hygiene issues (don’t put that on the cake after it’s been in your mouth/in your ear etc) EVEN when she started on the sprinkles.

finished toddler decorated cake

And it tasted nice too. Nanny Jo and Grandpop seemed to enjoy their slices and Grandpop even had seconds! That is good measure of cake success.

Happy Birthday Nanny Jo! xx

Little Spelt and Apple Biscuits

This morning was a bit of a sugar fuelled one around here. We went to meet some friends at a cafe on the beach and this meant an icecream for Rose, then a biscuit on the way back and that seemed to lead to chaos and unhappiness. All was well after some lunch and a rest (no nap!) but i decided it might be a good plan to stock up on some refined sugar free treats to help see us through the afternoon and beyond.

I found a lovely recipe which I wanted to try instantly, not only because of it’s sugar free quality, but also it’s simplicity. I still have some spelt flour in the cupboard from our little spelt, fig and walnut bake, so just a little trip to the shop for some apple juice and we were ready:

i n g r e d i e n t s

100g plain white flour
100g spelt flour
half a tsp of baking powder
75g chilled butter, diced
75ml apple juice

m e t h o d

this was not such a toddler friendly bake to begin with as there were not many steps and they all really needed to be done by me! But the cutting out part is good for little hands so perhaps get to that stage before introducing little helpers.

Mix together the flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in until evenly combined. Add the apple juice and mix together to form a soft dough.

That’s it!

Next, flour your surface and roll out to about 3mm thickness and introduce child and cookie cutters!

little one hard at workcuttting out shapesbiscuits in the making

Cut out your shapes and place on greaseproof paper or a greased baking tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown a little. remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. And then enjoy.

apple and spelt sugar free biscuits I read that these biscuits are perfect for freezing, and a good first food snack for little ones and toddlers alike. They are quite a plain biscuit, but lovely and buttery with a tiny hint of sweetness which does make them quite satisfying. And the spelt flour adds a nice quality too. We had ours with some apple, although they might be good with a little cheese spread too. Next time.

apple and spelt sugar free biscuitsapple and spelt sugar free biscuits

Pumpkin steamed pudding

Last week we were off for Christmas and none of Rose’s groups or activities were running, but we had some nice home days and discovered a new interest of Rose’s  – she loves to bake (well, she loves to stand on a chair in the kitchen and move things around) she calls it cooking.

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I have had a little bake in mind since halloween. After making my pumpkin and raisin tea loaf there was still a lot of pumpkin leftover and so I sneakily roasted it with some apple and pureed it and put it in the freezer ready for a rainy day (which there were not shortage of last week!)

I was a little delayed in giving this a go also because I didn’t have a suitable bowl that would fit inside our largest saucepan to be able to steam a pudding, but that has been put right now.

I was drawn to this recipe as I had never steamed a pudding before (well, maybe a Christmas pudding once) and also liked that it didn’t have much sugar in it so a great pudding for Rose who is likely to have trouble falling to sleep if she’s had anything too sweet after dinner.

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I had forgotten how nice a steamed pudding is – there’s a lovely quality to it, especially when freshly steamed. We ate our pudding more like a cake, but I still have three batches of puree in the freezer so the next one we will definitely be having as a pudding with custard.

Here is the recipe in case you want to try. It is another one from my River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook which I really recommend, even if you don’t have a baby or toddler I think it’s a good one.

For the puree:

you need 500g of pumpkin or squash (a large wedge of pumpkin or half a butternut squash) and 4 dessert apples.

Cut your pumpkin into wedges and place on a baking tray skin down. Cover with foil and roast in the oven at 190 degrees for half an hour. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples and add these to the tray and bake for a further 30 minutes until everything is soft. Scoop away the pumpkin skin and put the apple and pumpkin flesh in a blender until all smooth. This should make about 500g of puree. Measure out 200g for the pudding, and freeze the rest for a future pud, or use as you wish.

For the pudding:

100g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
100g of self raising flour
100g of wholemeal self raising flour (or you can use all white or whatever ratio you like as long as you have 200g total)
1tsp ground cinnamon (we had run out so used ginger powder instead)
A good grating of nutmeg (again, we used the powder!)
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract

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Start by buttering a 1 litre pudding basin. Mix together the flours, cinnamon (or ginger) and nutmeg in a bowl (Rose did this bit for me, our ginger is in a shaker so she liked adding that and it flowed quite slowly so we were safe) While toddler is helping with that part, beat together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy (I didn’t want to get the electric blender out with Rose so close so i just creamed my butter and sugar with a metal spoon until smooth) Add the egg, vanilla and a spoon of flour (I broke the egg into a little cup so Rose could add that, and the spoon of flour. This made her very pleased, although she did grab a spare egg and tried quite hard to pull that apart) Beat together well, then add the pumpkin puree and sift the remaining flour (another good task for toddler) and fold in gently until everything is combined.

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Scoop your mixture into the pudding basin and cover with a piece of pleated foil. Secure with string and stand your basin in a large saucepan, fill the pan half full with boiling water and put the lid on. Bring the water back to the boil and then turn the heat down to simmer. Steam your pudding for 1 and a half hours (keep an eye on the water level, topping up when needed)

When done, use the string to help lift the basin out and turn out onto a plate. The recipe suggests serving immediately with custard and I second that.

A really lovely activity for little one, and a really nice pud. Grand! x