Monday, 17 September 2012

birthday cake for daddy

i was super organised and made this cake weeks in advance and put it in the freezer. it made the day of sam's birthday so much more relaxed than the usual stress of trying to bake a cake on the day. 

it was utterly delicious and moist and very very moreish. we had this cake with the children in the afternoon and then headed off on a surprise secret trip i had organised - our first night away from the kids EVER!! we walked along the beach, drank champagne in the rose garden of a five-star hotel, went to a quirky pub for dinner, stayed the night in a cheap B&B and vowed to try to have a night away on our own every 6 months. neither of us have parents living near by so childcare for such things is tricky. my dad kindly looked after them on this occasion and we are so grateful. much as we totally adore our children, it was so refreshing to be nowhere near them and to wake up in the morning and lie in bed with no responsibilities... 

it was pouring with rain when we woke up (as it did for most of july) so instead of going to the beach we went to a shopping mall!!!.. the most hideous place you can imagine. but it was so great to try on clothes together with no distraction. i think we came away with lots of cheap potential outfits for the weddings we were going to over the summer and returned most of them. but we had a lot of fun... it is amazing what tat you can think looks great in the store and then realise how tacky it is when you get home and look in your own mirror. the shop mirrors must have tat-reflectors that hide how cheap & overly tight things really look.

clothes shopping is something that is totally impossible with kids in tow. i took both my children with me when they were tiny and i was desperate for some new jeans. i grabbed a million pairs off the shelves and flung them over my shoulder, pushed the overloaded stroller in to the disabled changing room and started manic-ly trying on one pair after the next. my baby started screaming and my toilet-training 2 year old boy yelled at the top of his lungs with each pair that i took off "mummy doing a poo!" i eventually left in a hurry with nothing.. completely flustered and ready to sob - can i do nothing for myself any more?...apparently not.

this cake is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and thanks to misselizabethsbakingblog for the inspiration. i'm not sure what it's called - a banana pineapple walnut cake?

300g caster sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
270g bananas, mashed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
100g tinned pineapple (chopped)
100g walnuts (chopped)
500g cream cheese
300g icing sugar 
1. preheat the oven to 170⁰C. Grease 2 round cake tins. 
2. beat together the sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon.
3. stir in the bicarbonate of soda, salt and vanilla extract 
4. slowly beat in the flour
5. stir in the walnuts and pineapple
4. divide the mixture between the tins 
5. bake for 20-25 minutes 
6. cool cakes on a wire rack
7. for the icing - beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together - add icing sugar to suit your taste (good excuse to keep sticking your finger in to the mix)
8. when the cakes are cooled, spread a third of the icing on one cake and put the next cake on top - cover this cake with the remaining icing. put walnut halves on top to decorate.

here it is...
and leftovers the next day .. and the next. it was so moist and delicious i could eat it every afternoon with a cup of tea.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

banana, prune & almond muffins

i made these as a getting home from school snack. i have had a tin of prunes in the cupboard that needed using up (you know when a tin of prunes is reaching its use by date that it has been sitting there for way too long!). These turned out really well. Mr Z and I loved them. Little Miss M wasn't so keen on all the bits in them - bits of prune and almonds. you could use ground almonds or no nuts at all... or a different nut altogether. i think walnuts would be nice but didn't have any in the house. Little Miss M has taken to shrieking when she cant have her way - such as not being able to eat the muffins that we had taken to the school playground to give to a friend. She has also, very sweetly, adopted the phrase "in my life" from her brother saying things like "that's the smallest snail i have EVER seen in my life!!" She tends to stick it on the end of sentences rather randomly. When she looked at the finished muffins she proclaimed "i need more cakes in my life!" .. don't we all!!

100g dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
3 large bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tin of prunes
1/2 cup loosely chopped almonds

1. preheat oven to 180
2. mash the bananas
3. combine the sugar, oil and egg and beat well
4. mix in the banana and vanilla
5. sift the dry ingredients together and mix gently in to the wet ingredients
6. gently stir in the prunes and chopped almonds
7. spoon the mix in to muffin cases or greased muffin tray
8. bake for 20 mins
These are heaven!