Rabbit 1st Birthday Cake

 

1st Rabbit Birthday Cake

How fast has the last year gone? 12 months ago I was welcoming LB to the blog and wondering how on earth us foodie selves would cope with a little one. Well here we are, we survived… Just.

birthday cake to table

Some people take their little ones to a farm or zoo for their first birthday, we took her to a restaurant. Start as we mean to go on.

ELC Wooden Activity Kitchen

All little foodies need a kitchen. Little kitchens for 1 year olds are not the easiest to find, but I happened to stumble across this fantastic wooden one from Early Learning Centre. It doubles up as a walker and the storage underneath is great for the tea set she was given. However some poor unsuspecting teddies and wooden animals have been “cooked” in the kitchen already.

Digging Rabbit First Birthday Cake

There are only a few days between mine & LB’s birthday so we decided to celebrate with a BBQ for family. We were certainly blessed with the weather. All first birthdays (or any birthday for that matter) need a birthday cake.

The inspiration behind the cake was this rabbit cake from the Asda magazine. The week before the BBQ I discovered the wonder of Nigella’s custard birthday cake. A soft, fluffy sponge cake that keeps well, can be made in the food processor all while a nearly one year old is demanding your attention? yes please.

rabbit close up

You can buy and hire tins for number cakes, but I found this crafty graphic on pinterest that shows you how to make numbers 0-9 using just square, loaf or circular tins. This method leaves a few offcuts that are perfect for coconut haters, *stares at Hubs*. Do note though I picked up the wrong sized cake board and ended up having to hack my number to fit on the board.

LB cake rabbits

As I wanted a layer of jam in the middle I find it’s often easier to bake the layers separately to ensure the cake cooks through evenly rather than cutting a cake in half. Although many of my cake tins are meant to be the same size, they aren’t. This isn’t too much of a problem if you’re going to shape the cake then smother in icing. I ended up using two disposable square tins. A bit of crafty maths to help with scaling the recipe up and we were good to go.

1st Birthday cake

What you don’t see here is that I was awake 5am the morning of the BBQ making sugarpaste rabbits, trying to remember to take photos in the dawn light in between stages while trying to get everything else sorted. Not my best set of photos, I know. LB approved though. After a few strawberries, she decided the rabbits were what she wanted.

First Birthday Rabbit Cake
Serves 15 (approx)

Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning.

For the sponge

  • 300g plain flour
  • 4 heaped tbsp custard powder
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • 340g soft butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 – 4 tbsp milk
  • Raspberry jam (roughly half a jar depending on how fond you are of jam)

For the buttercream 

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 120g custard powder
  • 300g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp recently boiled water

For the decoration

  • 150g desiccated coconut
  • green food dye
  • sugarpaste (white and tiny amount of pink)
  • Black sugarcraft pen

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C then butter and line the bottom of two 20cm / 8 inch square sandwich tins.
  2. Put all of the sponge ingredients, except the milk and jam, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake (ideally on the same shelf) for 20 minutes. The cakes are ready when golden in colour and spring back to touch.
  4. Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before turning out and removing paper liner. Allow to cool before assembling.
  5. While the cake cools make the decorations. To colour the coconut put it in a ziploc bag with a small amount of green food dye. Seal the bag, remove as much air as possible, then massage the contents until the coconut is green and evenly covered.
  6. To make the rabbits roll three pieces of white icing. One the size of a small sprout (body), one of a pea (tail) and the third the size of a small grape (head). Roll the body into a ball then squash very slightly. Take the head ball and stick this to one end of the body with a small amount of water and press slightly into the body. Stick the tail ball at the other end. Take two small pea sized pieces of the white icing and roll into pear shapes. Press these on top of the body near the head. and flatten. These are the ears. Add a tiny amount of pink icing for the nose and mark the eyes with a black sugarcraft pen.
  7. Forget sieving the icing sugar and custard powder just put it in the food processor and blitz to get rid of any lumps. Then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the icing easier to spread.
  8. Now is the time to start constructing the cake. First sandwich the two layers together with jam and cut in to thirds, like the picture above.
  9. Using a small amount of buttercream stick the pieces of cake on to the cake board in the shape of a number one. Unless you are going to ice the cake straight away cover closely in clingfilm to stop the cake drying out.
  10. As this is a light spongy cake the buttercream can pull off the cake. The best way round this is to do a crumb coat. Using a pallet knife carefully put a thin layer of buttercream over the cake and filling in any gaps. Don’t worry if some cake crumb gets stuck in the buttercream, this will be hidden in the next layer. Put the cake in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to allow the icing to set. This is when you grab your first and last cup of tea of the day and worry if the postman is going to deliver the last minute eBay purchase of party hats (he doesn’t).
  11. Once the crumb coat is set, spread on the rest of the buttercream. Before this final buttercream layer has set press the green coconut into it. Secure the bunnies and flowers with leftover buttercream.
  12. Sit down, drink that cuppa that has now gone cold and clean up the chaos.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/07/29/rabbit-1st-birthday-cake/

Yorkshire – The Barn, The Puffins & Baby

Burdale Barn view

Wonderful view from Burdale Barn.

LB’s first official holiday was with my family to Center Parcs when she was a wee 3 months old. This June was the turn for our first family holiday as a three. Our holidays have changed a bit over the years, less of the roughing it, more comfort and luxury but still based in the UK. I’m no longer a seasoned flyer (I clocked up the air miles as a kid) and the thought of taking a 10 month old on a plane filled me with dread.

Yorkshire has been on the hit list for a while after ticking Outer HebridesDerbyshire/StaffordshireCornwall, Brecon and Herefordshire off the list over the years. It certainly didn’t disappoint and guess what? it didn’t rain!

The Barn

Burdale Barn patio

While searching for family friendly holiday cottages in Yorkshire I stumbled across the fab Kiddie Holidays blog and their article about 5 luxury baby and toddler friendly cottages in Yorkshire where they mention Burdale Barn.

Burdale Barn bedrooms

Burdale Barn is in Fimber, a tiny village in the Yorkshire Wolds half the way between York and Bridlington. We found it a great location for exploring the east side of Yorkshire. The beautiful barn conversion has two double rooms (one can be a twin) and a single room that was perfect size for the travel cot they provided. Our main bedroom had an en suite and views from the juliette balcony over the beautiful rolling green hills.

Burdale Barn downstairs

What we liked was that nearly everything we needed for LB was provided – High chair, stair gates, plastic crockery and even a baby bath if LB hadn’t outgrown it. It was also relatively baby proof (anything that wasn’t could easily be stashed out of reach). It also had an incredibly well stocked kitchen. How may self-catering places have you been to that have different types of potato peelers? Everyone is fussy when it comes to peelers. Come to think of it this is the first place we’ve stayed where I haven’t felt the need to supplement the kitchen with some of my kitchen utensils.

This property is the kind of place you see on one of George Clarke’s programmes and a place we’d love to live in. We were sad to say goodbye to the property and it’s highly likely we’ll return.

The Food

Our holidays always involve food. There were two main places on our hit list and essential places if you’re visiting Yorkshire – Bettys in York and Magpie Cafe in Whitby.

York Cocoa House, Bettys, cathedral and Treasurer's House

York Cocoa House, Bettys, cathedral and Treasurer’s House

York is famous for its bakery Bettys. As we went to York on a Saturday for the food festival we picked up lunch at the festival (kebab from Shambles Kitchen and pizza from Happy Rover highly recommended!) and like most days the line for the main Bettys shop was growing by the second and not suitable for queuing with a 10 month old so we jumped the queue and went to the lesser known Little Bettys down Stonegate to pick up some Fat Rascals and a couple of other Bettys treats without a queue in sight.

Whitby

Whitby

After many recommendations on both Twitter and Facebook we went to Magpie Cafe for lunch on our day in Whitby. No queue when we got there at 11:45, about 10 people in the line once we left 45 min later. I’m not a big fish eater, in fact I usually only eat it when it’s from a chip shop so while the menu has a large choice of fish based meals I went for what most people dining there seemed to eat – fish & chips with a side of mushy peas, curry sauce and white bread (essentials). Well it turned out to be the best fish & chips I’ve ever had. I guess it’s cooked in dripping and I think that makes the difference plus you could tell the fish was super fresh, not dry at all. They source their fish from the fish market opposite. Interestingly this is the first place we spotted a menu for babies. LB didn’t get to try as we’d brought a packed lunch for her.

During our stay we also popped to Side Oven Bakery for their Open Farm Sunday. A lovely walk around farm and their elderflower field was fueled by a tasty giant cheese straw from the bakery. This was followed by a hearty Sunday Lunch at The Triton Inn in Sledmere. This is Yorkshire, there was no skimping on portions and they welcomed LB.

The Places

National Trust & English Heritage places played a big part on this holiday as we have membership to both. It means cheap days out for us and great to use on our way to somewhere as many of the places have good baby facilities. Also many of the Nat Trust places now offer hip seats, baby carriers and sometimes suitable buggies for hire in their properties making it easier to lug LB around.

Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough Hall

One of these properties was on the way up to Yorkshire which wast Beningbrough Hall (NT) where we had a picnic in the beautiful walled gardens and LB’s first taste of ice cream, well it was holiday. A quick nosey around the National Portrait Gallery Royals exhibition to spot an Andy Worhol and a frolic in the woodland playground before we continued our journey to Fimber.

Treasurer’s House is a haven in a busy York city centre. It was lovely and cool on a warm June day and they were really welcoming to LB. Tucked just behind the Cathedral it’s a period property with an interesting history and best of all free posh toilets and baby change if you’re a National Trust member, just watch out for the ghosts!

The Deep Hull

The Deep – Hull

Hubs & I met as students in Hull so a day out here was a bit of a nostalgia trip for us. Our halls of residence has now been knocked down (RIP Cleminson) and replaced with a posh road of houses. LB was rather unimpressed when we dragged her out of the car mid-nap, in the rain for us to see how much the main campus has changed. Thankfully it hasn’t and the pristine lawns and flowerbeds still bloom. While in Hull we went to The Deep. I visited when it first opened but had no recollection of the inside. Either way this was probably LB’s favourite day. The aquariums were easily accessible for her. She spent ages standing up against the glass watching the fish and colours, though she clearly wasn’t a fan every time a stingray swam past.

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey

During the holiday we took in two abbeys. Whitby Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey. While the Whitby abbey is arguably the famous one and allegedly the most romantic ruin the atmosphere was tempered somewhat by a large primary school party so Rievaulx Abbey won for not only tranquility but also location. I would go as far to say Rievaulx Abbey was my favourite place of the holiday.

It’s unassuming on the map and guidebooks, but as you pull off the main road and drive down a steep tree-lined road to the bottom of the valley it’s almost as if you have stepped back in time. The chocolate box Yorkshire stone cottages are scattered around an impressive abbey ruin. We arrived for when the abbey opened so for a peaceful 15 minutes we had the whole place to ourselves. We were also treated to a couple of RAF fly pasts while there.

Puffin Bempton Cliffs

Spot the puffin

I’m no twitcher, but I’ve always wanted to see puffins and you can at Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington between May and July. Naively I was expecting  a bank of puffins. It took a keen eye and sweet talking some birdwatchers (quite easy when you have a waving/gurgling baby strapped to your back) to help us spot 3 in among the crowds of guillemots, gannets and kittiwakes.

After Bempton we travelled in to Bridlington. A traditional English seaside resort with a fairground, lots of kiss me quick hats, multiple ice cream options, arcades and a beach that was covered by the tide. LB had already shown her dislike for beaches at Whitby when she got mardy because sand isn’t edible. In true traditional seaside style Hubs won LB a teddy from a grabber machine and we had a gaudy Mr Whippy with not only a flake, but also a good dipping of sherbet and raspberry sauce. This is what visiting the seaside is about.

Bempton Cliffs

 

We had to vacate the cottage by 10am so stopped at Nostell Priory near Wakefield for a picnic on the lawn before driving the last of the M1 home.

Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory

 

Big thank you to everyone on Facebook, Twitter and email who recommended places that helped to shape our first proper family holiday.

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/07/15/yorkshire-the-barn-the-puffins-baby/

Make Eat Get Read Go – June ’14

megrg june 15

June has been a busy month with lots of fabulous food, a sunny holiday in Yorkshire (big blog post to come) and the beginning of the 1st birthday party rounds for LB and her friends.

Make

Buggy Liner

I know I’ve been talking about this buggy liner it for a while, finally I had time to make it. Like a lot of sewing projects I was winging it and I finally taught myself how to sew buttonholes. Far easier than I’d thought. The trickiest part was the bias binding around the edge. After having an argument with my sewing machine I ended up attaching one side of the bias binding with the machine then finishing it off by hand. There is a good buggy liner tutorial on the Sew Pony blog that I used as a guide.

Eat

Mileburne

mileburne taster menu

Earlier this month we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Date nights are quite rare for us since the arrival of LB so we let Grandma & Granddad take over the reins for the night and we headed to Melbourne (the original one, not the Australian on) for a night at the fabulous Mileburne. 8 courses for 8 years of marriage. The Mileburne only has 5 tables and one sitting. I’m not a big seafood eater so tasting menus are good at pushing me out of my comfort zone and that night was the first time I’d eaten plaice. I will certainly try it again. My favourite course was parsnip custard with rhubarb crumble topping closely followed by slider.

Get

Julienne peeler

Don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get a julienne peeler, Monica from Smarter Fitter recommended one to me ages ago. I have microplane graters of various types and a food processor, but sometimes you need a no faff alternative to whip up a small salad. Ignoring its scary looking blade it’s a great for getting raw carrot in LB as unless we cut them thin when in their raw form she struggles to eat them.

Read

My Custard Pie

I’ve been reading Sally’s My Custard Pie blog for many years. I love not only her photography but also enjoy reading about her food filled life in Dubai. She also has a big love for her home turf, the UK, and usually visits once a year.

Go

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey was my favourite place we visited during our week in Yorkshire. As we pulled off the main road and drove the steep twisting road down the hidden valley we were greeted by an imposing ruined abbey surrounded by houses made of buff stone matching the abbey. It was as if we’d stepped back in time. We have English Heritage membership and arrived when the abbey opened giving us the peaceful place to ourself for 20 min. While we were there we were also treated to two fly pasts by an RAF Tucano.

Have you made any fabulous June discoveries?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/07/01/make-eat-get-read-go-june-14-2/

Little Lunches – Green Pancakes

savoury green pancakes

We’re big fan of pancakes. Sweet ones, savoury ones, simple ones, fancy ones, even honey cloud ones. There’s something versatile and comforting about them.

On weekdays we eat two lunches out while meeting up with friends, so for the other three days I try to make an effort for it not to be our usual eat out failsafe of omelette or sandwich. This green pancake recipe is paired down from what we sometimes have for dinner and it makes just the right amount for LB and me. It uses one of the most useful pieces of kitchen equipment I currently own – a non-stick 20cm frying pan.

green pancakes

You can easily change the filling with these pancakes, it’s great for using up leftovers. As long as you keep the cheese to bind the pancakes anything goes. LB goes through phases with avocado. Sometimes she eats it with gusto, sometimes she eyes and pokes it with suspicion. Though often pair anything with cheese and she’ll eat it.

There isn’t really a grown up twist with these, though I may give myself a bigger share of ham and twist of salt.

Green Pancakes

Makes enough for one grown up and a little one (Approximately 4 pancakes)

  • 50g spinach (I often use frozen)
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 1 spring onion
  • unsalted butter
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ham
  • 40g grated cheese
  • black pepper

 

  1. Put the spinach, flour, egg, milk and spring onion in a blender and blitz until you have a smooth, green-flecked pancake batter.
  2. Heat a 20cm frying pan with a small amount of butter. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the bottom of the frying pan.
  3. Allow to cook for a minute or two then flip over. Sprinkle the sliced avocado, ham, cheese and pinch of black pepper over the cooked surface of the pancake. Allow to cook for a minute then fold pancake in half. Press down lightly on the back of the pancake to help seal it. Cook for approximately 1 minute then flip over to brown the other side.
  4. Place pancake on a plate in warm oven then continue with the rest of the batch. Serve warm soon after being made.

little lunches rounded

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/06/24/little-lunches-green-pancakes/

Working with Stork – Salted Caramel Paris Brest

salted caramel Paris Brest for Stork

For the last month you may have seen hints on my Twitter and Facebook accounts that I’ve been working on a special recipe. I’ve teased you with photos of choux pastry and pans of salted caramel. I can now reveal I’ve been working for Stork and developing a delicious choux pastry recipe for them – Salted Caramel Paris Brest.

I’ve blogged before that I use Stork in baking. I know that some of my first baking attempts in the kitchen as a child will have involved Stork. I like that I can use it straight from the fridge, perfect for some last-minute cakes. For many recipes I genuinely feel it makes a lighter sponge. If it’s good enough for Mary Berry and a winning victoria sponge in the WI show, it’s good enough for me.

Stork comes in two forms – in a tub and in a packet. As a rough rule the tub is for cakes and the packet is for pastry. For the choux pastry in this recipe I used the packet Stork. Interestingly while working on some dairy-free baking for a friend, I discovered Stork packet is also dairy-free.

Stork Paris Brest stages

Choux pastry is easier than it looks, I promise. You just need to follow a few rules. One of the biggest being, DON’T open the oven before the pastry has finished cooking or you could end up with soggy choux, also make sure you cook the flour out enough before adding the egg.

One of the reasons I like choux pastry desserts is that they often look impressive plus the components can be made in advance meaning all you have to do it construct it before serving. Ideal for when time isn’t on your side.

This recipe also includes my new favourite thing – salted caramel whipped cream. Seriously, there were nearly fights in the kitchen over who would get to lick the whisk clean. This deliciously flavoured cream will certainly appear in my baking soon.

You could class this as the perfect pudding – pastry, cream, chocolate and a smattering of edible gold stars; What more could you ask for?

Recipe: Salted Caramel Paris Brest

This post is sponsored by Stork, but like all sponsored content I do it’s because I genuinely use the product. The words are my own.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/06/15/working-with-stork-salted-caramel-paris-brest/

Make Eat Get Read Go – May ’15

megrg may 15

Make

Jamie Oliver Chicken Kiev

I’ve cooked two things in the last month that have been so good we’ll make again. One being Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake and the second – Jamie O’s Chicken Kievs from Comfort Food. Back in our student days Hubs & I lived on chicken kievs, albeit Tesco value ones that probably cost £1 for 4. I’m not proud. This recipe has been on our meal plan for weeks and we finally got to make it last week. They were so good I’m sure they’ll be made again soon. Even the broccoli mash, especially once the garlic butter had soaked in to it, was a perfect partner to kievs. I highly recommend it.

Eat

Paul A Young Beer & Crisps chocolate

I’ve recently done some work for my brother and he paid me in Paul A Young chocolates. If you haven’t tried the chocolates and brownies from Paul A Young you must. They are something else and a delectable treat.  Paul A Young are renowned for their experimental chocolate flavours. In the selection my brother bought me this time it included beer and crisp chocolates. The beer gives the dark truffle a bitter richness and the crisps a slightly salty element. There were also crispy bits in the truffle. I’m not sure if these were crisps or feuilletine. Surprisingly tasty and I would happily eat another one again.

Get

Rob Ryan Plate

I’ve been a fan of Roy Ryan’s work for a few years and was given this beautiful plate by a good friend a few years. I finally got around to buying a stand to display it on this month. When I’m having a tough day the saying “Other planets cannot be as beautiful as this one” makes me smile.

Read

Polly Mixtures blog

I discovered Polly Mixture blog around the time LB was born. She lives in Gibraltar and has a beautiful daughter a month older than LB. I enjoy reading about her life as an expat and some of her honest blogs about motherhood have struck a chord with me.

Go

Moseley Old Hall

This Go has changed various times over the month. We had our first child-free night out since LB was born with a fabulous meal at Anoki, we also went to Kedleston Hall for the Derbyshire Food & Drink Fair where we stuffed our faces with churros and posh toasties, then over the bank holiday weekend decided to visit a new National Trust property to us – Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton. This little property hid Charles II from Cromwell and currently serves rather tasty scones, but it also had another hidden gem – A play wood full of things for big and little kids to do. Mud kitchen, barefoot walk, tree swings, bluebells, fire pit, willow weaving and a rather grand tree house. We had the wood to ourselves to took full advantage of the swings. LB loved it and we’ll certainly return once she is walking.

We already have lots of adventures planned for June. What are you up to?

megrg tag

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/29/make-eat-get-read-go-may-15/

Little Baker Picks – May ’15

 

little baker picks may 2015

BlueZoo bug print dress

When LB was born I said she wouldn’t wear much pink as there were lots of other colours in the world, well guess what, she suits pink especially deep pink and other deep vibrant colours. Saying this I’m still not a fan of pretty pastel frilly fru fru some shops pass off as baby girl clothes, so when I saw this bug print dress from Debenhams I knew I had to buy it for LB.

Carrot, Tomato and Cheese Pasta

The toothless wonder she is means she still struggles to eat certain foods, especially vegetables, but this recipe for carrot, tomato and cheese pasta from One Handed Cooks has proved to be a big hit. It’s quick, tasty and features a good amount of vegetables. We usually serve it with fusilli or oat and wheat pasta shapes. My 4 year old goddaughter even enjoyed a portion when she stayed a few weekends back.

Discovery bottles

One of LB’s favourite places in the kitchen is the recycling crate filled with empty cereal boxes and plastic pots. She’ll be the kid who prefers to play with cardboard boxes and not the toy that came in it. I came across discovery bottles on Imagination Tree and I enjoy making them for LB. Her favourite so far is either the bottle filled with balls of foil or the one filled with rice and various cake sprinkles.

Osprey Poco Plus rucksack

LB is an outdoors, active type of girl. We regularly go on walks and as she’s getting older the slings I usually wear with her are not practical  for long walks. My parents gave us an Osprey Poco Plus rucksack for Christmas and we love ours. It provides great adjustable support for your back, has generous storage for that all important changing bag essentials and snacks plus the bag stays upright when placed on the ground. You’d be surprised how many of these bags don’t. It also comes with a sunshade which has already been used a lot. Not just for the sun, but also as wind protection while walking along a blustery Formby beach on Easter Sunday.

Have you discovered any great things for little ones this month?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2015/05/25/little-baker-picks-may-15/

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