Pancake Muffins

My children are all pancake fiends. There are frequent requests for pancakes during the school week and I feel terrible having to say no. The stove time with normal pancakes  makes them impractical if not impossible when faced with the stark reality of getting three children out the house for the school run and morning activities. They are generally reserved for the weekends, unless I am being super organised like I was yesterday. Atticus and I made the pancake batter last night before our bedtime routine and stored it in the fridge overnight. All we had to do this morning, was put the batter into our silicone muffin and mini muffin trays, add the toppings and bake.

We like several flavour combinations, but the most popular in our house are coconut chocolate chip or orange and cranberry. There are generally discussions about not eating the toppings while preparing the pancake muffins and they usually fall on deaf ears, but this does not distract the enjoyment that all the participants get (me included!) from the process!

Ingredients

Makes 12 large muffins or 24 mini muffins (or even 6 large and 12 mini muffins). Best served warm and eaten on day of making. Batter can be made the night before and kept in the fridge overnight, but leave out dried fruit and chocolate chips until just before cooking.

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 320ml unsweetened almond milk

For coconut chocolate chip

  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 60g chocolate chips

For orange and cranberry

  • zest of 1 orange
  • 40ml orange juice (and only 280ml unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4tsp orange essence (if you want a really orangey flavour)
  • 60g dried cranberries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c and grease the muffin trays.
  2. Place all the pancake ingredients in a bowl and whisk until fully combined and there are no lumps left (add the orange juice here if you are using it).
  3. Add the flavourings that you want (the zest or the desiccated coconut. It is better to add the chocolate chips or dried cranberries after putting them in the muffin holes in the trays.)
  4. Divide the mixture between the muffin holes.
  5. Add the chocolate chips or dried fruit.
  6. Put in the oven for 15 minutes if they are mini muffins and 18-20 minutes if they are big muffins.

I hope that your little chefs enjoy these as much as mine do. I must admit it is definitely the way forward for pancakes during the working week!

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Fairy Bread and Butter Pudding

As far as I am aware, Fairy Bread is considerably more common in Australia and New Zealand than it is here in the UK. For those of you who, like my husband, had never heard of this yummy delicacy it is merely bread with butter and lashings of sprinkles. I think it is a yummy treat which  makes the children happy as it has sprinkles and it makes mum happy too as it doesn’t take an age to put together and older children can even do it by themselves.

Confession time; our kids have fairy bread when we really need to go shopping, but haven’t quite made it. Normally when I need to wait for Simon to return from work as I can’t stand the idea of braving the supermarket with three children in tow. Have I mentioned how much I really hate taking children to the supermarket?!  I recently discovered that taking Ophelia was far from the mother-daughter bonding time I was anticipating. I made the mistake of attempting to use the self service scanner and she managed to reset not one, but two machines in the space of 20 minutes. I really don’t know what she was doing to them. She’s two, and she managed it twice! We had to go through the tills instead. I had to take a couple of really deep breaths to prevent me from having a tantrum on the floor of the supermarket. She remained oblivious to my frustration and continued to chat to everyone with whom she could make eye contact.

Seb had a friend over to play last week and I decided it would be fun for them to make the pudding. I had been wanting to try Fairy Bread and Butter Pudding for a couple of weeks, but wanted to leave it for a special occasion and this seemed to be it. I was somewhat concerned that the sprinkles would just dissolve or leak their colour out. They did do the latter a bit, but it looked really fun and everyone had a lot of fun so I am going to declare it a success. You could use darker coloured sprinkles and they would then be more visible.

Me writing up this recipe had also very handily combined with pudding week on the Great British Bake Off! See how that worked out?!

Ingredients

Makes 4  generous children-sized portions

  • 4 slices of white bread
  • Enough butter to spread on each slice of bread
  • 200ml of whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Dash on cinnamon
  • Many many sprinkles!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan.
  2. Grease a shallow dish with butter. My kids enjoy ‘painting’ the butter on with silicone pastry brush.
  3. Cut the crusts of the bread using a table knife.
  4. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter.
  5. Cut each slice of bread in half diagonally to create two triangles.
  6. Pour a generous amount of sprinkles onto a plate and put each triangle of bread butter-side down into the sprinkles to coat the bread in them.
  7. Layer the bread in a shallow dish with the sprinkles facing upwards.
  8. Crack the egg into the milk and mix together thoroughly.
  9. Add a pinch of cinnamon to the milk and egg mixture and stir well.
  10. Pour the milk mixture over the sprinkle-coated bread.
  11. Put more sprinkles over the pudding. I will leave you to decide how many is too many!
  12. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes until it is set.

This pudding made the kids ridiculously happy. I mean to say, have you ever  met a child who doesn’t love, (please read completely adores and would argue to the death over) sprinkles?! I am yet to meet one. The children shared this pudding really nicely and there was enough for Simon to have a small sample too. Unfortunately I didn’t get a look in this time, but the empty plates testify to the success of this pudding and the children are eager to make it again!

If you do decide to make this, or any of my creations, please do drop me a line. I love to hear if your little ones have had fun with these recipes.

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Parmesan and Poppy Seed Oatcakes

Do you ever buy a particular ingredient for a recipe, make the recipe and then end up left with the rest of the ingredient and no inclination to make the initial dish a second time quite so soon after? The other scenario is that you end up being completely unable to remember for what you originally bought them although when going around the supermarket they absolutely had to make their way into the trolley. I can tell you right now that I have been victim to both of these scenarios and unfortunately on more than one occasion. Is this a symptom of ageing or having kids?! Or is it a combination of the two?! Either way it is frustrating.

I bought some poppy seeds a while ago. I can’t remember their initial purpose and the packet was open so I must have used them for what I intended. As I was taking stock of our pantry, which isn’t messy – it is organised chaos, I found them and started to wonder what I could make with them. My initial thought was to combine them with lemon in something. But, while looking at my list of ideas of things I would like to make with the kids oatcakes jumped out at me. Then I realised that we also had some parmesan left in the fridge from making pesto and decided to combine the two. I also like the alliteration of parmesan and poppy seed! The latter was, of course, a big factor!

Ingredients

  • 250g rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4tsp paprika
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1tbsp melted butter
  • 190-220ml boiling water

Method

This recipe will make approximately 35 oatcakes with a 58mm round cutter.

  1. According to Ophelia, the dragon was going to help too.

    Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line two baking trays with silicone mats or greaseproof paper.

  2. Put the oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda, paprika, poppy seeds and parmesan into a bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.
  4. Pour in the boiling water as much as you need to bring the dough together. We used 220ml. I poured the boiling water in and we mixed it with a wooden spoon initially. Then I checked its temperature and when it was a bit cooler we used our hands to bring it together fully.
  5. Flour your surface and the rolling pin and roll out the oatcake mixture as thin as you can (some bits of ours were thinner than other bits) and cut out biscuits with the cutter.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are becoming golden-brown and the oatcakes are firm to the touch (they will harden as they cool).
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

It seems that Ophelia thought that the oatcake was playdough as she insisted on poking and prodding it while cutting out the rounds. I can understand why she thought that, and I didn’t begrudge her a bit of time doing that and she didn’t have the patience or concentration to cut out all the rounds on her own.

These oatcakes were popular with all the children. I even managed to polish of quite a few when the kids had gone to bed. They taste great with extra cheese oh and pickle, I really love pickle!

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Fruit and Nut Soda Bread

It was bread week on GBBO this week. My original intention was to bake one of the challenges each week. But I chickened out this week; I went for a bread that doesn’t need to be proved and is therefore more suited to a toddler’s attention span, namely soda bread. Yes we could have made the naan breads, but they didn’t seem like a bread that I could give to my kids as a snack so soda bread won.

In my excitement to get started I neglected to put an apron the aforementioned toddler or myself. The result was a little girl that resembled an exploded flour baby rather than my daughter and a me questioning how I managed to forget to give her an apron. I have cleared the surfaces, but I am postponing sweeping the floor by writing this and munching on my lunch. I am very good at procrastinating. I know though it will have to be done before the school run otherwise the boys will trample it all over the house and that will be more housework…

Soda bread is made without yeast. The bicarbonate of soda was traditionally activated with soured milk. Instead of soured milk, it is more common now to use either buttermilk or a mixture of milk and natural yoghurt. The iconic cross dividing the bread into quarters helps the bread cook through, but when reading many soda bread recipes, I learnt that traditionally it was said the let the fairies out. This makes me smile and that is how I will put it next time I am asked why we are scoring bread!

Ophelia had a lot of fun with this bread, pouring ingredients in and squishing and squashing the dough with my help to bring it all together. She was desperate to put her beloved apricots in it, but they didn’t make the cut this time. She wasn’t bothered for long when she saw the raisins and dried cranberries though. That is one good thing about the short attention span of a toddler!

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 100g oats
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 2tbsp runny honey
  • 75g chopped nuts
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix to combine.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl and rub in with your fingers.
  4. Add the buttermilk and honey and mix together with a table knife.
  5. Add the dried fruit and nuts and bring together fully with your hands. Do not overwork.
  6. Shape into a round about 20cm across and score a deep cross on the top.
  7. Put on a floured baking tray and cook for 30-35 minutes. It will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. If it doesn’t quite sound hollow return to the oven for a couple of minutes and keep a close eye on it.
  8. Put on a wire rack to cool and cover with a tea towel.

To serve you can break the bread into quarters and slice them into small pieces or you can simply slice across the whole loaf. This bread is best eaten fresh, we stored ours wrapped in a tea towel and in a Tupperware container. We had finished the loaf the day after making it!

Let me know if your little one enjoyed helping you make soda bread. Ophelia was very happy to take some to her brothers after school the day she made it. Oh and you will be delighted to hear that I also swept the floor before the school run thus preventing the kids from trampling the excess flour all over the house after school. It was a productive day.

 

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Curly Fries

Sebastian, our eldest, has inherited my curly hair. As his is a darn sight shorter than mine, it curls beautifully. He hair is the envy of pretty much every woman we meet who has paid or spent many hours with a curling iron at some point or other to put curls into their hair. Seb’s hair does add an inch or two to his height depending on how recently we have had it cut, so when measuring his height it does have to be flattened! One of his school friends said Seb’s hair was cool as it looked like he had brains outside his head! Don’t you just love the hearing about the world from a kid’s perspective?!

Anyway back to food. Simon’s favourite frozen chips are curly fries. Maybe now the introduction paragraph makes more sense?! The children do tend to want to try pretty much everything that daddy eats. So I decided that we would try to recreate curly fries for dinner. Now we have made this recipe a couple of times. Seb and Ophelia always gobble them up no questions. One time, Atticus, our resident potato-hater, was happily munching on them until he remembered that they were made out of potato and then he decided he couldn’t abide them!

Despite making them several times, I have epically failed to get any nice pictures of them. They just don’t seem to be particularly photogenic. The kids loved making them and happily experimented with spice combinations, but they just don’t look wonderful. This meant I was somewhat reluctant to blog about them, but then I thought did the kids make them (yes they did), did they have fun (yes they did) and did they eat them (yes they did) so I might as well share the recipe.

Equipment

  • Apple Peeler and Corer machine (we have a kitchen craft one – it is usually used for apples in our house for crumbles and pies etc)
  • Baking sheet lined with baking parchment or a silicone mat.
  • Smallish bowl filled with water
  • Large bowl (we used Pyrex)

Ingredients

  • 1 jacket potato per child (I know this sounds like a lot, but when peeling it and coring it you don’t end up using it all.)
  • 2-3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2tsp of spices of your choice depending on how many potatoes you have and how much your children are used to spices (we have used any combination of cumin, paprika, garlic salt, cinnamon and ground coriander)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or greaseproof paper.
  2. Fix the apple peeler and corer to the surface and attach your first potato. Turn the handle to start peeling it. All of my kids find this process completely fascinating. It is harder to do with a potato than an apple, but it does work. You will be left with the potato skin which can be composted or binned. A long curly bit of potato which needs to go in the bowl with water and a middle ‘core’. I tend to eat the cores cooked for my dinner so they don’t go to waste so I put these in the water with the curly fries. Peel all the potatoes this way.
  3. Once you have made all the potatoes all curly, cut each long curl in half so they are smaller and put them in the large bowl.
  4. Put the oil (we used 3tbsp for 3 potatoes) to the large bowl. Add the spices you want. My kids really like any combination of the above spices. Last time we used 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1tsp cumin.
  5. Shake the bowl side to side (not up and down!) to coat all the potatoes in the spice and oil mixture. You could cover the bowl with a plate to prevent any spillages, but we didn’t. In the above video Seb shows us how it is done.

  6. Spread them out on the lined baking sheet and place them in the oven to cook. Ours took 35 minutes and were turned half way through baking.

As I have mentioned previously, these don’t look great, but the kids seem to find the whole process using the peeling and coring machine mesmerising. Seb is always very excited when he can use this piece of equipment. I also love it when the kids ask to smell the spices and try to guess what we are going to use. They always get cinnamon and garlic right. In time I am hoping that they will recognise more scents as we use them more frequently.

 

 

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Peanut Butter Traybake

We do a lot of cooking and baking in this house. No surprise there, you have probably seen the vast majority of my creations on here or on social media. I do admit to sometimes feeling guilty about the amount of sweet treats my kids consume. Sugar is still sugar even if it is in a homemade recipe. Increasingly I have started adapting recipes and reducing the sugar in some and we have even been known to make healthier options like cereal bars and no added sugar brownies.

When it was healthier!

This recipe is one that started off as one of a ‘healthy cake’, with no added sugar and only using some honey to sweeten it. But this time, I got influenced by the Great British Bake Off. These were originally going to be muffins, but after cake week on GBBO, I decided to make it into a traybake. When it came out of the oven, it smelt lovely and like a rich nutty banana bread. All good. Had we left it there, they would have been the original ‘healthy cake’ I had planned and fabulous for fuelling my kids on the return journey from school. But no, I let myself be convinced by my little people (it didn’t take much convincing in all honesty) to drench them in Nutella. Everything is better with Nutella right?! It did make them a lot messier too so they never ended up being eaten on the way home from school, only at the table to try and contain the inevitable mess! We did get 16 evenish looking pieces all decorated the same – we added an peanut on each of the slices to try and make them look elegant.

Ingredients

These can be made in a traybake like we did, or even in mini muffin or normal muffin sized portions. I often like to make 12 tiny muffins and 6 large ones so the children can have smaller portions and still eats ‘a whole cake’.

  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 75g wholemeal flour
  • 100g oats (ground in the food processor)
  • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 300g smooth no added sugar peanut butter
  • 3tbsp runny honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and grease and line a brownie tin.
  2. Put the bananas into a large bowl and squish and squash with forks.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until fully combined.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool for a little in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  6. When cool, spread Nutella or your chocolate spread of choice on them if you wish.

I admit these were shared with friends as I cannot be trusted with peanut butter or Nutella. I didn’t want to have an argument with myself about how many slices is too many!

If you do make any of my recipes I would love to hear from you on here or social media, so please do get in contact!

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Squishy-Cake Cakes

I am a big fan of malt loaf. During my second and third pregnancies I ate a lot of the stuff. The kids enjoy eating it and I love the fact that it is a slightly healthier treat. Malt loaf (or Soreen if you know it by its brand name), is called squishy cake in our house as it is so beautifully squishy and full of squidgy goodness. It is a name which encompasses its true essence.

Beautifully proportioned and delightfully squishy.

I often make a loaf for when we go away as it can be stored for a week or so in an airtight container and seems to mature into its characteristics and get more squishy. It can, however, be a bit challenging to get nice neat slices. This means for an after school snack on the go or even at a picnic, it isn’t entirely helpful. Imagine my kids arguing over slices of squishy cake as they think someone else has the larger piece. I kid you not, this has happened and quite frankly this is the last thing I want at the end of the day or on a picnic! Especially after going to the effort of making it. And so I present to you Squishy-Cake Cakes! Instead of pouring the mixture into a loaf tin, we divided it between 12 muffin cases for individual treats with no excess plastic! This makes me a very happy bunny Kat!

Ingredients

  • 75ml black tea
  • 85g malt extract (plus extra for coating at the end. It can be bought at Holland and Barrett if you local supermarket doesn’t stock it)
  • 40 dark muscovado sugar
  • 50 prunes
  • 50g raisins
  • 50 dried cranberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 130°c fan and put 12 muffin cases (silicone or paper) into the slots of a muffin tray.
  2. Pour the hot tea into a medium-sized bowl and add the dried fruit, the sugar and the malt extract. Beware, the malt extract isn’t as thick and viscous as it looks and it comes out rather quickly! Mix well until fully combined.
  3. Crack the egg and add it to the mixture and mix again.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix quickly.
  5. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and put in the oven to bake for 17-20 minutes until they are firm and well risen.
  6. Once out of the oven, brush them with a little more malt extract to glaze them and leave to fully cool.
Up close to the Squishy Cake.

The kids have been delighted with these Seb and Atticus have a particular fondness for squishy cake so were very eager to get started and eat the finished product. Ophelia was more hesitant, but oh my she can really make one disappear at an astonishing rate! Do reach out if you make these and let me know if you liked them. I shall leave you with a close up of the gorgeously squidgy squishy cake that is making me want to whip up another batch for me so I don’t have to share…

 

 

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Fudgy Toffee Rocky Road

I am a massive chocaholic. It is a weakness and I dream of living on chocolate. But the harsh reality is that I would be a whole lot bigger and subsiding on chocolate alone isn’t exactly a healthy diet. So I have many, many cake books and books dedicated to chocolate and when Simon is working late, I can often be found sitting on the sofa reading the recipes and salivating over the yummy cake pictures secure in the thought that this is a more slimline way to enjoy chocolate! I value the hard work I put into losing the baby weight I put on during my first pregnancy to binge on chocolate on a weekly basis.

After reading that, it isn’t a surprise that my children love chocolate too. Birthday cakes are chocolate as standard and you can guarantee that there is always chocolate in some form or other in our pantry.

Ingredients ready!

Rocky Road is a favourite of our kids; it contains chocolate, marshmallows and biscuits – incidentally all items which I am sure my children would classify in a food group of their own if they had a chance (I am very glad that they don’t!). I don’t tend to share the rocky road with them when we have it as marshmallows make it unsuitable for a vegetarian diet. But, in addition to ensuring his wife always has a good supply of caffeine (in the form of coffee), Simon bought me a whole load of vegetarian marshmallows. Yes I could go out and buy them for myself, but it makes them all the more special when they are bought for you.

So this time the rocky road was to be vegetarian. I decided that instead of a traditional rocky road I would fill it with chocolate and treats that I like so we put fudge, Crunchie bars and oaties biscuits (like Hobnobs) in. It was epic. Honestly I was worried that no-one else would get a look in, but I am happy to report I shared this creation admirably.

Ingredients

  • 400g chocolate (we used a mixture of dark and milk)
  • 125g butter
  • 5tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g Crunchie Bars
  • 150g Oaties biscuits (or Hobnobs)
  • 100g vegetarian marshmallows
  • 100g fudge

Method

  1. Grease and line a brownie pan.
  2. Weigh out the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a large bowl and melt in a double boiler on the stove.
  3. Meanwhile, using scissors chop the marshmallow (if they aren’t mini) and the fudge pieces.
  4. Bash the biscuits in a zip lock bag with a rolling pin or a wooden spoon. You want a selection of bigger and smaller biscuit pieces.
  5. Slice the Crunchie bars.
  6. Once the chocolate mixture has fully melted take it off the stove.
  7. Add the crushed biscuit, marshmallows, fudge and Crunchie bars and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the lined brownie pan and gently smooth with the back of the wooden spoon or a spatula.
  9. Place in the refrigerator until set, sprinkle on icing sugar
    The ridiculously big slices before they underwent an operation to reduce their size!

    and then slice. I initially cut this into large slabs (clearly I was thinking about how much of it I wanted to eat!), but later I cut each piece into three smaller pieces. This made them more suitable for snacks for the kids!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do and please do let me know if you give it a go.

 

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