Rainbow cake and cupcakes

As I mentioned in my last post (here), for my daughter’s first birthday I had a little rainbow theme going and one of the things I really wanted to make was a rainbow layered cake. I had a recipe for an easy cake mix and from the same Pin I had a link to a ‘super-easy’ cream cheese frosting so those, along with lots of Pins for rainbow decorations, were my starting point. 

The final result

The cake and frosting mixes were indeed easy to make and both were a delicious vanilla flavour due to using vanilla bean paste rather than essence. I used gel food colouring to colour the batches of cake as it gives a much more vibrant colour to the baked sponge. 

Adding the colour
Rainbow sponges baked

My first batch of cake mix didn’t end up being the cake as I discovered a bit too late that I didn’t have the right sized cake tins, so I ended up with a load of cupcakes instead. 

The unexpected additional cupcakes

I started again the next day (with the right sized tins) and baked my six sponges. I wrapped and chilled them ready for the next day assembling the cake and getting the frosting on. In hindsight I should have trimmed the cakes to the same sizes and levelled the tops, but I’m a novice attempting this cake for the first time, so my end result looks more rustic. 

Assembling the beast

Icing the cake was very tricky as my sponge layers would slide around and as soon as the frosting got a bit warm it would melt off the sides, so I had to keep stopping to chill it all. I’ve never iced a cake with cream cheese frosting before so doing the ‘crumb coat’ and building it all up was quite fiddly. Icing the cupcakes, however, was a doddle! 

The leaning tower of cake
Still wonky!

I chose a simple decoration for on top of the cake as I already had a big cake topper ordered, and by this point I couldn’t face trying to model anything from sugar paste. I fashioned a ‘1’ from tin foil and placed it on top of the cake and then sprinkled multicoloured sugar strands over the top before removing the stencil. Et voilà! 

With its topper and the birthday board making an appearance

I have to be honest here, I love how the cake turned out. I love the decoration. I love the layers of the rainbow when the cake is slice or the cupcakes bitten in to. It turned out exactly as I hoped but… it’ll be a long, long time before I attempt another rainbow cake! 

Rainbow slices
Taste the rainbow

Cake recipe here: https://pin.it/C72Wgmr

Frosting recipe here: https://pin.it/m6RMcMS

Decoration link here: https://pin.it/xG84Zez

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Rhubarb and pear cake

Hooray! Finally a chance to bake something new! My tiny patch of rhubarb was ready for the picking, I had some Greek yogurt to use up and Pinterest provided me with a new recipe to try out. I even got to use my fancy cup measures as it’s an American recipe. 

The recipe called for four cups of rhubarb, which I didn’t have, so a rummage in the fruit bowl produced a pear to add to the mix. 

It’s a very quick make – using cup measures is super-speedy – and it makes a really thick cake mix, almost like a dough (the recipe did warn this). 

I adapted the streusel topping to just cinnamon and brown sugar to try and make it a little healthier and, let’s be honest here, I was too lazy to make the streusel!

Before baking…
And after.
 The recipe said to bake the cake for 45 minutes at 350°F, so I did it for 30 minutes at 180°C which gave the end result quite a thick crust. I divided the cake into 12 ‘fingers’ – it cut well, came out of the tin just fine and kept its shape. 

Next time I’d bake it for a little longer as it had quite a doughy, almost bread-like (like those tear-and-share style breads) texture, though that could have been due to the ‘wet’ fruit. I, however, quite liked the stickiness. 

Recipe here: http://pin.it/pmp08qL

Drop scones

Drop scones are another of my go-to baby led weaning recipes – the recipe I follow makes a batch of roughly 20 drop scones (also known as scotch pancakes) which can be frozen and defrosted in minutes. I actually got the recipe from the BLW Cookbook but I have posted a link to a recipe on Pinterest that is just the same. 

Red pepper, cheese and paprika drop scones

I always start by making up the plain mix, and then I divide it between dishes to add different sweet and savoury flavours. The first time I made drop scones I made four variations: plain, cinnamon, cheese, and cheese and spinach. It took quite a while to do this so since then I’ve always just done two batches. My most recent ones were cinnamon and ginger (good for breakfast) and cheese, red pepper and paprika (for lunches). 

Cinnamon and ginger drop scones

Drop scones are so simple to make and it is easy to adapt the recipe to vary the flavours, especially for savoury ones. 

Basic ingredients
Whisk them together

Their texture is such that I can slice them into strips for the baby to hold easily, and they retain their shape even when mushed up in her tiny hands! 

Multi-tasking in the griddle pan

I also love drop scones from a nostalgic perspective: it was always such a treat when my grandmother would make drop scones fresh for us at teatime, and whilst mine aren’t always fresh off the griddle, it makes me happy to give my baby my favourite teatime treat. 

Recipe here: http://pin.it/QtnVG7P

Porridge fingers

One morning, whilst trying to spoon porridge into my daughter’s mouth and having her outright refuse it, I gave up but was annoyed that I had a wasted bowl of porridge. I had a think about what I could do with it rather than it end up in the food waste bin (affectionately called the ‘slop bucket’ in our house). I recalled a recipe I once made (here) for baked oatmeal, so I bunged the porridge in an oven-proof dish and shoved it in the oven for 20 minutes. The result was a flapjack-style baked porridge, which I left to cool, cut into fingers and… the baby ate it all up! 

Not the most attractive but they taste good!

My initial porridge was simply equal measures of porridge oats and full fat milk. I’ve since tried it out with added cinnamon, apple purée (I wasn’t going to let my frozen cubes of apple purée be wasted) and ginger. 

Equal measures of porridge and milk, with some cinnamon thrown in

I usually make too much porridge so that I have some to keep in the fridge for the next day, or to have in the freezer for a quick breakfast. The porridge fingers keep their shape well, so I’ve wrapped them in cling film and taken them out with us for a snack-on-the-go too. 

Baked porridge

I’ve since searched for them on Pinterest and found some good variations on flavours to try out – carrot cake, apple pie, raspberry and coconut are a few on my list for future versions. 

Link here: http://pin.it/oNP6BbM

Savoury flapjacks

My little girl has shown us that she’s very strong-willed and has decided that she does not like to be spoon-fed, but would rather feed herself. So somewhat reluctantly I turned to Baby Led Weaning (BLW). I read up on it and actually my opinion of it has been changed – I initially thought it was one of those ‘faddy’ things – and I wish now that we’d just started the weaning process with it, avoiding the stress of her refusing the spoon and wasted purées! 

Red pepper, cheese, spinach and paprika flapjacks

As we cook the majority of our meals from scratch, we weren’t looking to use jars or pouches of ready made food, but some of our own meals aren’t so baby-friendly at the moment – or just would be too messy for me to deal with! – so I’ve been trying out some easy recipes to vary what my daughter eats and to introduce lots of new tastes and textures. 

One of two dishes of flapjack mixture

I found this savoury flapjack recipe and it looked simple to make, so I tried it out. I added red pepper, cheese, spinach and paprika for lots of lovely flavour. The quantity of ingredients made a lot of flapjacks so I’ve frozen some for future meals. 

Up close

It wasn’t an entirely mess-free meals as flapjacks do crumble up, and it was a bit ‘claggy’ as Mary Berry would say, but my little girl seemed to enjoy it… I certainly thought it was tasty so I’d try it again with some different ingredients.  

Perfect for little fingers

Recipe here: http://pin.it/Ba_ikrK

Blackberry and apple loaf

My husband reminded me I had a bag of wild blackberries stashed away in the freezer, hint, use them or lose them. So I looked for a nice new recipe to try. Last year I chose a blackberry pie slice and it was lovely (and there’s an old blog post about it) but I wanted something different that I could freeze in portions for quick sweet snacks in the future.

cake-5
I forgot to take a photo of the finished loaf before slicing it up, so here’s a slice!

This recipe stood out to me as I rarely make loaf cakes and it sounded tasty with the apple, orange zest and cinnamon mixed in. I used ‘Stork for Cakes’ rather than butter, which did melt a bit in the breadcrumb making stage instead of making fine, dry breadcrumbs. This didn’t seem to ruin the recipe however.

cake-1
Not quite fine, dry breadcrumbs

I used the blackberries straight from frozen instead of defrosting them so they wouldn’t turn to mush before mixing into the cake mix.

The recipe suggested checking the cake after 50 minutes that it wasn’t browning too much, and mine wasn’t, neither was it 15 minutes later, nor in the final 15 minutes, so all good there.

Once cooled and cut, I discovered the cake could have done with an extra five or ten minutes in the oven as it was very moist inside. This could be due to the amount of blackberries in it too, so next time, I’d bake for longer and adjust the amount of fruit I put in. Still, it’s a very tasty loaf cake.

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Tasty!

Recipe here: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/533324780856418892/

Garlic croutons

A little-seen savoury recipe for today, rather than the usual sweet treats I try out. I had some slices of white bloomer bread left over from the weekend that had gone stale and I fancied making some croutons to go with an evening meal.

croutons-1
Leftovers

Embarrassingly I didn’t know how to make croutons properly – I thought it was a case of toasting the bread and then cutting it into cubes, which you can do but it makes for a very boring crouton. Instead I looked on Pinterest for some more exciting ideas and I found this pin for ‘easy garlic croutons’. Easy is always a key word in my Pinterest searches. And it was indeed an easy make. Cut the stale bread into cubes, sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried parsley and garlic.

croutons-3
The main ingredients

The recipe suggested garlic powder but as I didn’t have any, I used crushed instead. Then drizzle oil over the bread and mix well before putting it all onto a baking tray and into the oven. I went for 190°C for 10 minutes, turning halfway.

croutons-4
Halfway through

They turned out very tasty and went well sprinkled on top of the evening’s pasta dish. I’d try the suggested garlic powder next time, or crushing the garlic more, to avoid the chunky, slightly burnt bits left on the tray. They last well in an airtight container for several days.

croutons-5
Finished and delicious

Recipe here: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/AX7H8LIUVHgrVLNYX4hmEQe2TX70t0nOJY6k3gkF08hhZXlOhfJJre0/