Category Archives: Baking with Kids

A Super-Healthy Carrot, Pineapple and Coconut Oil Cake dedicated to Jacques and his Grandpa

Carrot Cake RecipeNumerous events have occurred lately that have made me take stock and have a serious think about mine and my family’s diet. Two of which I’m going to tell you about today, hopefully without boring you too much! Firstly there’s Jacques. The boy with a terrible phlegmy night-time cough that he’s had all too regularly from the tender age of 8 months, keeping us awake for many an hour and many a night, sometimes for several months at a time. Numerous trips to the doctors when he was younger confirmed nothing. Then a few weeks ago, at a particularly sleep deprived time around his 3rd birthday we started to do lots of reading around the issue, and to my surprise discovered the cough may be down to a cow’s milk allergy. I have to confess to being a little sceptical as allergies, fortunately, don’t run in either of our families. But I thought I’d give it a go, immediately cutting out all cows milk, yogurts and cheeses. And do you know what, the cough dramatically stopped that very first night! Bearing in mind he’d been coughing every night for at least an hour for the previous few weeks this was a bit of a breakthrough. To say the least.

And since then I’ve on the whole been sticking to it, not regimentally as he obviously doesn’t have a severe allergy, but definitely making sure there’s no (cow’s) dairy in the late afternoons and evenings. And for a boy that adores his after-dinner yogurts (clearly where the problem lay!) this meant switching to sheep’s milk ones instead, which interestingly happen to be far tastier and handily readily available in yogurt-loving France. Luckily he’s never been a milk fan. And he’s barely coughed since. How wonderful is that?!. The (somewhat bitter) downside of his better nights of sleep are the ever-earlier wake ups, but that’s another story!

Jacques with his Grandpa

Jacques with his beloved Grandpa

Now the second event was a chance viewing of ITV’s DayBreak show (actually a friend called me up to watch it) and an interview with a young chappie, Kal Parmar, who claimed his father’s Alzheimer’s had dramatically reversed as a result of taking a regular dose of Coconut Oil. Following the show I turned to google and found quite a few people in the States were making similar claims. And Kal, being a budding film maker, is making a film about his dad, which I’ll be most excited to see. My own father has Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed a year and a half ago. So naturally he’s on strict instructions to take his Coconut Oil! And Coconut Oil being the wonder fat and food that it is, it strikes me he’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But more on the wonders of Coconut Oil in a later blog (of which I have quite a few baked and planned!), but for now I’ll crack on with today’s recipe. A very low-sugar, low-fat, cow’s milk-free and pretty darned healthy Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake in honour of both Jacques and my dear Dad, who happen to share a very special bond. It uses Coconut Oil and Yogurt (Sheep’s in my case) in replacement of the usually large measure of Sunflower Oil, which make the cake a good deal healthier as well as being exceptionally moist. Despite it’s healthy line-up of ingredients this cake is impressively high in the taste stakes and we all loved it. And I know my Dad will too, nudge nudge Mum….

If you can’t source or don’t want to use coconut oil, just replace with sunflower. And if you want to naughty things up somewhat this would be sublime with a cream cheese frosting…

Carrot & Pineapple Cake

Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake

Great for toddlers, bigger kids, grown ups, dieters, healthy eaters, baking with kids, elevensies, lunch boxes, afternoon tea, after school treats, carrot cake fiends

Makes 20 – 25 small pieces

300g of Plain Flour

2 heaped teaspoons of ground Cinnamon

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

½ a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

150g of dark Soft Brown Sugar

4 medium Free Range Eggs

180ml of Plain Yogurt, Sheeps or Cows

60ml of Coconut Oil (softened) or Sunflower Oil

zest of an Orange

zest of a Lemon

220g of finely grated Carrots

120g of Sultanas

227g tin of Pineapple pieces, in natural juice, drained

Special Equipment: a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin, or similar

Pre-heat your oven to 150°c and line a small baking tin (about 20cm by 20cm) with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.

My chief stirrer!

My chief stirrer!

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, then whisk in the  yogurt, coconut oil and orange and lemon zest. Employ a whisker and a stirrer (i.e. small child) if you have one.

Pour the egg and yogurt mix into the flour and sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Then mix in the carrots and sultanas. Cut the pineapple pieces into small chunks and stir these in too.

Scrape the cake mix into the lined tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out of the tin and allow to cool a little on a cooling rack. It’s truly wonderful eaten fresh out-of-the-oven-warm. With a cuppa for the grown up folk.

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The Healthy Epicurean's Almond Chocolate Cake

The Healthy Epicurean’s Almond Chocolate Cake

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins


Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

We’ve just had a couple of days of bank jolidays here in France and it rained. It’s pretty much expected and part of the course of bank holidays in the UK, with the amazing exception of this last weekend obviously, but not so normal here!. So rain meant a spot of indoor baking with the littlies which we haven’t managed for quite a while now with all the flitting around I’ve been doing lately. And with a couple of prosperous rhubarb plants in the garden and the Swallow Recipes for Life challenge to mind we made some tasty and fairly wholesome Rhubarb Crumble Muffins together.

Francesca & Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

Tucking into their muffins, in a short break from the bank holiday rain!

I’m actually staying at my friend Debbie’s house this week with the littlies, on the premise of doggie and horsey sitting. To be honest it’s been a welcome wee joliday for us all, wonderful to spend some quality and relaxed time with the kids after my recent three trips to the UK without them. And they’ve been the most chilled I’ve known them in recent times. Not that anyone would exactly call either of my kids ‘chilled’, but they have indeed been a good deal calmer than normal!. And for me, I’ve enjoyed getting my blogging and cooking mojo back, hence a spree of planned blogs I have for you in store.

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The Lovely Dexter

These surprisingly healthy muffins are very low in sugar (and dark soft brown sugar at that) and fat (sunflower oil, apart from a little butter in the crumble topping). To increase the health stakes you could always omit the crumble topping and switch the plain flour for wholemeal (which I was intending to do but had run out!). Or you could un-health and sweeten with a little additional sugar if you wish!.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust incase you missed my earlier posts the Somerset based charity SWALLOW, through the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat, are running a six month Recipes for Life challenge.  Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are challenged to come up with easy, tasty and wholesome dishes using them. And for May the ingredients happen to be Rhubarb, Lemon and Spice. How lovely!

Simple and in SeasonSeeing as Rhubarb’s well and truly in season I’m entering my blog to this month’s Simple and in Season, hosted by Ren Behan herself. Just in case you hadn’t seen, this month there’s a chance of winning the gorgeous and new Yeo Valley Great British Farmhouse Cookbook! So go enter….

breakfast-club-logoAnd finally as they happen to make a pretty tasty, and healthy, breakfast munch (we’ve eaten them for breakie a couple of times now!) to Fuss Free Flavour’s Breakfast Club event. Hosted this month by Katie of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter  and the theme so happening to be Bakes.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Great for Baking with Kids, Rhubarb Lovers and/or Growers, Toddlers, Kids, Growns Ups, Picnics, Breakfasts, Elevensies, Packed Lunches, Afternoon Tea, After-school Munchies

Makes 12

For the Crumble Topping:

60g of Plain Flour

60g of Butter

50g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

40g of Oats

a heaped teaspoon of Cinnamon

For the Muffin Mix:

250g of Plain Flour

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

a heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

½ a teaspoon of Cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of Ground Ginger

a large free range Egg

150ml of natural Yogurt

3 tablespoons of Sunflower Oil

zest of a Lemon

250g of Rhubarb, washed

175g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

Special Equipment: A 12 hole muffin tin, muffin cases

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

Start with making the crumble topping. Place all the crumble ingredients together and rub the butter into the flour, cinnamon, oats and sugar. Set aside.

Sift all the dry muffin ingredients together into a large bowl, namely the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg then stir in the yogurt, oil and lemon zest.

Slice each strip of rhubarb lengthways into 2 or 3 strips depending on width. Then dice across. Place the diced rhubarb in a bowl with the sugar and stir. Set aside.

Combine the egg and yogurt mix with the sugared rhubarb and pour into the flour mix and combine well.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the muffin mix into each muffin case. Then spoon a layer of the crumble mix on the top and lightly press down.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen, golden and a cake skewer comes out clean.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

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Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread


Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Cheese Bread

Now I know this isn’t exactly the most suitable recipe for any New Year dieters out there, but my excuse is I haven’t started mine yet. I’m still working my way from the excesses of choccies, biscuits, mince pies, christmas cakes, salami and cheese that are still lurking each and every which way I look. How could one possibly start any sort of diet and waste such bounty?. So today I decided to help myself along a little and throw all the cheese scrag ends into an oh so easy and oh soooooo naughty Cheese & Onion Loaf. Though I should hasten to add I still have a quarter of a Stilton and an equal amount of a mighty fine aged local Brebis (Sheeps Cheese). So I’m still a long LONG way of the D word. Thankfully. So my apologies now to any dieters out there, and I would seriously advice you not to make this, as just the one, ridiculously calorific, slice will not possibly be enough. You’ve been warned.

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Finally it seems I have my baking mojo back. After endless freezer-filling pre-christmas baking sessions it’s been the last thing on my mind the last couple of weeks. But today’s a Wednesday and that’s a baking day in our house. The kids aren’t at school and I always try to bake something or other with them each week. Today it was just Jacques and I, as Big Sis was out with Mr F collecting wood. So we made a gloriously quick and simple yeastless and kneadless throw-it-all together Cheese & Onion Bread, that was all made in the time it took to put together a simple Pumpkin Soup. This cheese fest bread is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up a lunch time soup and particularly wonderful served piping hot out of the oven whilst the cheeses are still oozy. And you can literally use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, you happen to have in. I really did use up all our scrag ends, throwing in chunks of goats cheese, Manchego and Comte.

Leftover Cheese Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Makes one large loaf

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

a large red onion, finely sliced

450g of plain flour

a level tablespoon of baking powder

a teaspoon of English mustard powder

a large pinch of salt

a large pinch of black pepper

75g of butter, melted

375ml of milk

250g of leftover cheeses, roughly cut into chunks

Special Equipment: a large loaf tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat your oven to 200ºC.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently saute for 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile sieve together the flour, baking powder and mustard powder and stir in the salt and pepper, ensuring everything is thoroughly combined.

Melt the butter and stir into the milk, then stir them both into the dry mixture. Finally mix in the cheesy chunks and onions and dollop into a large lined loaf tin.

Place in your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on the top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with soup. Perfect. Perfectly naughty anyway.

If you like this, you might also like to try these other super-easy to bake with kids recipes:  Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins or Cheesy Biscuits

Cheese & Onion Loaf


White Chocolate and Cranberry Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

I’ve had a bit of a spate of cookie baking lately. Due in the main to my new cooker and in keeping my promise to Mr F that it would feed him with a regular supply of biscuity goodies. He is rather fond of his biscuits to say the least, and gets very grumpy if there happen to be less than two spare packets in the cupboard (the number of which he can easily polish off in a single tea dunking session). And cookies I find are the perfect almost instantaneous biscuit hit. The dough’s frighteningly easy and quick to make and can handily be made in advance and stored for several days in the fridge or considerably longer in the freezer. Then simply brought out when the urge for a cookie takes over or guests arrive, cut up (even straight from the freezer) and placed on a baking tray. And voila 9 minutes later you have the most perfectly naughty fresh cookies to munch.  Or in my case one very happy husband.

Three sausage rolls of Cookie Dough

Three sausage rolls of Cookie Dough, ready to be cut and baked

And so here’s my recipe for Christmas Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks and Dried Cranberries. This makes enough for about 30 large cookies, but I split the dough into thirds and only bake one lot at a time. Which will be particularly handy for sudden guests over the festive period. I’m planning on stockpiling quite a bit of cookie dough over the next couple of weeks!

breakfast-club-logoI’m entering my recipe to a couple of bloggie events that are running this month. Firstly for my first ever time to the Breakfast Club challenge created by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more interesting breakfasts. This month it’s being hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat and has the theme of ‘Brunch’. And as it’s Christmas my cookies make a wickedly good brunch snack with a cup or two of coffee (I can vouch for this).

Christmas TTTI’m also entering this month’s Tea Time Treats, an event held jointly by What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is Chocolate and these cookies so happen to be equally good with a cuppa at the end of the day (which I can also vouch for!).

White Chocolate & Cranberry Christmas Cookies

Makes 30 large cookies:

225g of butter, very soft

175g of light muscovado sugar

175g of caster sugar

2 medium free range eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

350g of plain flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon of salt

200g of white chocolate, chopped into small chunks

150g of dried cranberries

Simply beat the butter until very soft (which is much easier to do if it’s been left to warm up out of the fridge for a while). Then beat in the sugars, then the eggs and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Employ any spare children to do this bit for you!

In another bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet until  fully combined. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries. That really is all there is to it!.

Divide the mixture into three. Dollop each third onto a length of cling film. Using the cling film to hold the mixture together (it’s very soft and almost unworkable with bare hands) form into a long sausage shape, about 20 cm long and 5 cm wide. Twirl the ends of the cling film to secure into shape and pop into the fridge to firm up. Repeat with the other two thirds.

It’s good to use after about 30 minutes of firming up time. The dough will keep like this for several days in the fridge or much longer in a freezer.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 190º/Gas 5. When it’s up to temperature, remove a section of dough from the fridge or freezer. Cut the sausage dough into 1.5 cm rounds, and simply place the rounds as they are, but very spread out, on a large baking sheet. They’ll melt down into a flat cookie shape all by themselves, my kids love to watch this.

Pop in the oven for 9 to 11 minutes. They’re ready when almost firm in the middle and a little brown. Remove from the tray immediately and cool a little on a rack before eating.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

You might also like:

Cheesy Biscuits:                                     Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Cheesy Biscuits

Francesca Super Fruity Banana Mini Muffins


Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

I’m baking more and more with my littlies these days which is wonderful. At the ages of 2 and 4 they really enjoy getting involved at all stages. Every wednesday, as there’s no school on Wednesdays here in France, we bake at least one thing together, usually some sort of muffin, cake or biscuit. They love doing all the stirring, whisking, dolloping, sprinkling, decorating. Then obviously the scoffing.

We’ve made these muffins many a Wednesday baking session lately and I’ve only just realised they’ve yet to be blogged. So easy peasy to make, especially for little hands that like to do stirring, and pretty healthy to boot with all that deliciously sweet roasted pumpkin and red onion. I’m sure they must count as at least one of your five a day? If you or your kids are cheese fiends (like all of us!) then savoury muffins are the way to go, great for snacks, lunches and lunch boxes, picnics and even tea time treats. Fresh out of the oven is best, but they still hold their own cold.

Unusually for me I made large muffins this time round, I usually prefer to make smaller mini sized ones in fairy cake cases. It’s up to you. As for the cheese, I used about half Cheddar and half Parmesan in this batch but you could use all Cheddar or all Parmesan equally as successfully. You can happily substitute the pumpkin for butternut.

Cheesy Grins for Cheesy Muffins!

Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins or 24 small mini-muffins

500g of pumpkin or butternut squash, skin and seeds removed

a large red onion

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

275g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ a teaspoon of English mustard powder

salt & pepper

85g butter

2 free range medium sized eggs

200ml of milk

100g of grated Mature Cheddar or Parmesan or a mixture of the two

Special Equipment: Cake or Muffin Trays, Cake or Muffin Cases

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Start with roasting off your pumpkin. Cut into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until pretty soft and cooked through, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once roasted place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Set aside cool a little. This part could always been done before when you happen to be using the oven for something else. Over the pumpkin season I tend to always have some pre-roasted pumpkin in the fridge to be used in cakes, muffins, pasta dishes or soups.

While the pumpkin’s roasting, finely slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 10 to 15 minutes until softened.

Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard powder into a large bowl. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Melt the butter and allow to cool a little. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk or stir in the milk. Once the butter’s cooled a little whisk into the eggs and milk.

Attention littlies, lots of stirring action now required!. Throw the wet mixture into the dry and stir, stir, stir. Once combined chuck in the roasted and mashed pumpkin, red onion and ⅔ of the cheese.

Dollop the mixture into cake or muffin cases in cake or muffin trays. It’s about a dessertspoon of the raw mixture for a fairy cake sized mini-muffin or a heaped tablespoon for a large muffin. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.

Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes for mini-muffins or 40 to 50 minutes for normal full sized. They’re ready when they’re golden on the top, firm to touch and an inserted cake skewer or fork comes out crumb free.

Remove from the trays and cool on a cooling rack. Particularly lovely eaten warm, and if you want to be exceptionally naughty, ahem, break in half and smear in butter.

You might also like:

Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins     

Pumpkin Carbonara

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake                          

Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins


Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday it was Wednesday and there’s no school in most parts of France on Wednesdays so the littlies were at home. A bit odd at first but quite nice for the kids to have a day off half way through the week, especially as the school hours of 9 to 5 are so long (for Frannie anyway). Over the last few weeks it’s become a bit of baking day at Chez Foti, trying out a new cake or muffin recipe or two and getting the littlies to help with the weighing, pouring, whisking, stirring and of course most importantly the tasting. Yesterday it was the turn of a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, not only one of the ‘healthiest’ cakes I’ve ever made but one of the moistest and most temptingly delicious. And the kids LOVE it. I think this’ll be a regular Wednesday bake!.

The stirring and tasting team

I love experimenting with veggies in cakes, much to the horror of the French who still haven’t really got to grips with the humble carrot cake. I made many a Courgette Cake with homemade Lemon Curd over the summer, and lots of Chocolate Courgette or Marrow Cakes of late using up the last of the glut. I’ve also baked quite a bit with Butternut Squash in Muffins and Cakes and once even made a gloriously coloured Beetroot Chocolate Cake. But using Pumpkin was a newbie to me, and after a couple of attempts I’ve perfected my recipe and it really is a winner. Low in sugar, and only using healthier unrefined Light Muscavado anyway, and richly flavoured by Roasted Pumpkin, Cocoa and a little warming Cinnamon.

We’ve more than a few pumpkins at Chez Foti, to be honest I’ve not counted them but there’s a lot. They should definitely see us through the winter and I have a feeling the blog will be moving from it’s recent tomato red to pumpkin orange. I’ve picked a few already but most are still out on the patch and will stay there slowly ripening until there’s a risk of frosts.

The Leaning Tower of Pumpkins!

I’m entering this blog for my first ever time to the We Should Cocoa challenge, held by Choclette of the Chocolate Log Blog and the Chocolate Teapot Blog and this month guest hosted by Hungry Hinny. This month’s challenge is to pair Pumpkin with Chocolate or Cocoa.

I’m going for a double whammy and also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, as this month the ingredient so happens to be Squash or Pumpkin!. The challenge is held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

I baked my cake in a medium sized baking tin and made a wee extra in one of my Oogaa bowls for the kids. Being silicone they’re perfect for baking cakes in. Incase you haven’t already dropped by, the Oogaa Recipe site is now up and running and features several Chez Foti baby and kids recipes. You can even add your own recipes!

The kids love their cakes baked in an Oogaa silicone bowl

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Makes one very large traybake (20 x 35cm tin) or a smaller tin and a few individual cakes. Can be frozen.

700g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into very large chunks

120g of unsalted butter, room temperature

120ml of sunflower oil

260g of light muscovado sugar

3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten

130ml of milk

350g of plain flour

50g of cocoa powder

2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Special Equipment: 20 x 35cm baking tin lined with baking parchment, or 6 silicone Oogaa bowls 

Begin with roasting your pumpkin. Place the very large chunks on a baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Bake for about 40 minutes until they’re pretty soft, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once cooked remove from the pan, place in a bowl and thoroughly mash with a potato masher. Leave to cool a little. This part could always be done before, when you happen to be using the oven.

Meanwhile start the cake batter. Place the very soft butter, sunflower oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until well combined.

Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk.

Now gradually sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon to the cake mixture, stirring until well combined with each sifting.

Finally stir in the slightly cooled mashed pumpkin and spoon out into your lined baking tin or bowls. Bake big cakes in the preheated oven (190ºC/Gas Mark 5) for 30 to 40 minutes and smaller ones for around 25 minutes. They’re ready when they’re firm to touch on the top (but still feeling a little squidgy), and an inserted skewer comes out clean of crumbs.

Cut into squares and serve as soon as cool enough to eat. You won’t be able to resist long!

Here’s some other Chez Foti sweet treats: Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Chocolate Brownies, My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins.

Little Miss F having an approving taste!

My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven!

After all those tomatoes here’s a bit of cakey relief! It was my daughter’s fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago and I copped out of making a big show stopper iced cake and opted for these quickie, but nevertheless impressive (to a four year old anyway), pink iced glittery and oh so girly fairy cakes.

Unfortunately what she really wanted was a ‘horsey’ cake, but I’d made her a ‘horsey’ cake last year to the very best of my cakey baking and icing abilities. After initially recoiling in horror at the prospect of shaping and icing a horses head and/or body I had a major brain wave last year to construct a substantially simpler rectangular field of (plastic shop bought) horses complete with choccie finger fencing. It was a success. A huge success. But not a success I could beat this year…unless obviously I made her the exact same cake!

Last year’s third birthday ‘Horsey’ Cake!

So huge apologies Little Miss F, but I am not, nor ever will be a prospective candidate for the GBBO and thus it’s highly unlikely I’ll be carving that horses head too soon my lovely. Shame. She’s completely and utterly ridiculously infatuated with horses, and has been from a year old. Interestingly it’s come from no-where as we’re not horsey people at all. It’s the only thing she’s ever been interested in, every conversation or question she’ll without fail relate back to horses in some way. She only eats in the belief that one day she’ll grow enough to reach the stirrups (she’s no foodie, but does have a particular partiality for carrots, you guessed it, because horses do), the only film she’s EVER watched the whole of is Black Beauty (and I have no idea HOW many times she’s now watched it), she dreams of horses and riding EVERY night and loves nothing more than to watch the horse racing on TV, or worse in the local bar with all the drunken men folk whilst supping on an apple juice. Her life really is horses. And she’s going to be expensive.

So anyway back to the cakes, horsey cake request aside my pink and glittery job lot of fairy cakes seemed to be a good second best and she was, luckily, suitably impressed. Albeit most of her birthday party guests, being boys, weren’t so impressed. She doesn’t seem to have many girlie friends does funny Little Miss F!

Incidentally don’t be put off by the number (48), they’re really a doddle and don’t take long at all to bake, ice and decorate. Albeit I did bake them in a couple of batches as I don’t have that many cake tins or a big enough oven for that matter. The good thing about lots of little cakes is if you balls up on the decoration no one will notice….unlike on a big show-stopper cake. And they’re easy for your party guests to pick up and scoff and take home.

Pink & Glittery Fairy Birthday Cakes!

To make 48 small buttercream-iced fairy cakes:

For the Cakes:

330g of caster sugar

330g of butter, room temperature

6 medium eggs, free range, lightly beaten

3 teaspoons of vanilla extract

330g of self-raising flour

For the Buttercream Icing:

200g of butter, room temperature

400g of icing sugar

a few drops of red food colouring

For the Decoration:

Anything small, edible and pink/glittery

Mini smarties or other mini sweet or chocolates

Hundreds & Thousands

Edible glitter or sprinkles

Silver balls

Candles

Special Equipment:

4 small x 12 fairy cake tins and a large oven! Or 2 tins and 2 batches of half quantity cake mix and a smaller oven! 48 fairy cake cases

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Line the fairy cake tins with the cake cases.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the room temperature butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon until well combined.

Spoon a teaspoon of the cake batter into each of the cake cases. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown on the top (you could also insert a cake skewer and if it comes out clean they’re ready).

When baked place on a cooling rack to cool.

Meanwhile make your icing by beating the butter until very soft. Add half the sieved icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth again.

Now add a few drops of the red food colouring and beat until you have an even colour. You can’t really tell from the pictures but I iced half my cakes in a pale pink and the other half in a slightly deeper pink. If you want to do this just divide the icing in half and add a little more colouring to one of the halves.

Now for the fun bit!. Spoon about a half a teaspoon of the icing onto each fairy cake and smear evenly over. Gather your decorations and get creative! Kids love doing this so get them involved if you can (although not so good if it’s their birthday cake as it may just spoil the surprise!). I love this part, and it’s surprisingly quick to decorate 48 cakes!.

Arrange on a plate or cake stand. Add the appropriate number of candles and there you have it, Girlie Fairy Cake Heaven!

For Jacques’ birthday I made him this easy peasy Chocolate Birthday Cake. Here’s some other party food ideas: Cheesy Biscuits, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini Muffins, Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets (good for the mums and dads!), Chocolate Brownies (always a winner), A Trio of Dips for Babies, Toddler & Big People.


Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

We’re just over the middle of the loooooonnnnng 10 week, yes TEN week summer school holidays here. France reportedly has more school holidays than anywhere else in the world, a great place to be if you’re a teacher. Actually I moan a lot about them but in truth I’m quite enjoying it really, well this holiday anyway. The first half we had lots of visitors which is always fun, and now we haven’t but I’m just enjoying being lazy and not having to get dressed and washed and breakfasted (well eventually we do!) and do the school run (not that it’s terribly stressful round here, 5 kms in about 6 mins, and it’s rare you ever see another car until you get to the actual school and there’s never any hassle parking). This holiday it’s lots of walks around the garden, fruit picking, marathon trampoline and paddling pool sessions, visits to local parks and the odd lake or swimming pool dip. Plus plenty of baking. I’m not going to mention the squabbling, squealing, screaming or sulking. Really I’m not. Ahhhrrrrr.

My daughter’s now nearly four and loves to bake (she’s been at school since she was just over two by the way, they start them young here!). Strangely though she’s not really a big cake fan (we really should have a DNA test done) but does love to eat anything she’s helped make. And Jacques at just over two has now decided he wants a piece of the baking action and is very much my master stirrer. He likes his cake but also has a partiality for savory. So during these long summer jollidays we’ve had many a baking session. Many way too messy to blog and show, but some just about okish!. Today it was the turn of some really-fruity fairly-healthy mini-muffins made with bananas, apricots and sultanas. I like to make my muffins small for the kids (and for me so I can eat twice as many) and tend to make them in the normal fairy cake sized cases and tins, but feel free to make them a normal muffin size too.

Use really ripe, preferably over-ripe with blackened skins, bananas.

Miss F the Urchin Child & Champion Spoon Licker

Makes 24 mini-muffins or 12 regular:

250g of plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

a large pinch of cinnamon

180g of golden caster sugar

2 large eggs

75ml of sunflower oil

75ml of creme fraiche (half fat works fine) or yogurt

2 very large over-ripe bananas or 3 medium sized

80g of apricots, chopped (the slightly squishy ‘ready to eat’ ones are best, but dried work too)

80g of sultanas

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a largish mixing bowl then stir in the sugar.

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and creme fraiche or yogurt. And in another bowl roughly mash up the bananas with the back of a fork.

Now for some serious stirring action. Throw the wet mixture into the dry along with the mashed bananas, chopped apricots and sultanas. Stir until well combined.

Place in cake or muffin cases in cake or muffin trays. It’s about a dessertspoon of the raw mixture for a fairy cake sized mini-muffin.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until a little golden on the top, firm to touch and an inserted cake skewer or fork comes out crumb free.

Remove from the trays and cool on a cooling rack for as long as your little ones will allow. Go gobble.

Here’s some other easy peasy baking with kids ideas: Cheesy Biscuits, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini-Muffins, Chocolate Brownies

The new Naked Chef, admittedly it was 38°C and we were baking!


Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Mini Muffins

Toddlers &  Young Children, Finger Foods, Grown Ups too!

We make cheesy muffins pretty often at Chez Foti as both my kids adore them (and so do I!), especially when they’re still warm out of the oven. They’ve each been known to eat five in one go!  As it was public holidays here last Thursday and Friday and no school we did a spot of baking together. Actually the holiday was only officially on the Thursday but being France employees, teachers included, like to take the Friday off too and make a long weekend of it. Most of May it seems is taken up by these long weekends.

Anyway back to the baking, Francesca who’s now three and a half loves to do all the stirring, whisking, muffin case choosing and placing in the tins, dolloping and sprinkling. It’s a messy business but well worth it, if your patience and tolerance levels will allow!. Kids always seem much more interested in eating anything they’ve had a helping hand in making. Though Jacques at just two was more than happy to do some scribbling, with the occasional cursory glance, on the other side of the table. He participated in the eating only, which needless to say he excelled himself at again. I’m sure it won’t be long before he wants to join in too as he’s a natural born foodie.

As well as a mid morning or tea time treat savoury muffins are a great alternative to all the sweet stuff at kids parties, and are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My monsters had these for their dinner with some baked beans on the side. They happened to be coming out of the oven unintentionally at their dinner time anyway and there was no way they’d eat less than three so dinner they were!.

I make small fairy cake size mini-muffins for my kids using ordinary cake cases, and this recipe makes about 24. If you’re  making ordinary muffin sizes you should make 12.

To make 24 small mini-muffins, or 12 ordinary sized: 

2 medium free range eggs

250ml of semi-skimmed or full fat milk

85g of butter, melted then allowed to cool

280g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

½ teaspoon of English mustard powder

140g of Cheddar cheese, grated

100g of ham, diced into roughly 1cm squares

100g of drained tinned sweetcorn (or defrosted frozen sweetcorn)

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Line muffin or cake tins with 12 or 24 cases depending on which size you opt to make.

Beat the eggs together, stir in the milk and the melted and cooled butter.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & pepper and mustard powder.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg, milk and butter mixture. Stir together gently.

Stir in ⅔ of the grated Cheddar, the diced ham and sweetcorn and stir well without over mixing.

Spoon the mixture into the cake or muffin cases. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.

Place in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes until risen, firm to touch and a little golden on the tops.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes then dig in….as if you couldn’t resist! They’re at their best eaten fresh out of the oven.

How about trying these other recipes? Cheesy Biscuits, Choccie Brownies, a Trio of Dips,  Homemade Fish Fingers or Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

Little Miss F making the same muffins at Grandma’s a few weeks ago


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