Birthday Cake

After much humming and hah-ing about what cake to make for my daughter’s 2nd birthday I came up with a grassy knoll….

Not very exhilarating you may think, but atop it will be plonked, er carefully placed, Ben & Holly’s castle.  I was going to make Gaston the ladybird from the same series, but there is no way I am going to be able to get to the shops for black and red gel in time unless Waitrose get here tout de suite.  So grassy knoll it is with a few toadstools and perhaps a mini Gaston to decorate.
If you don’t have small children you will have no ides what I’m talking about, but suffice to say it’s a pre-school TV program that is funny enough for adults to enjoy (due to a very sarcastic Nanny Plum) and Littlest loves it.
The recipe I am using is an old favourite – very easy to make and it really is the most moist, scrummy chocolate cake ever.  At every birthday party, people can’t believe I made it.  I am never sure whether to take that as a compliment or not…
Anyway, it is, of course, a Nigella recipe from her book Feast.  I am wont to cheat and when time is tight use Betty Crocker instead of the given icing recipe, but shhh!  Don’t tell!

For the cake:

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
40g best quality cocoa
175g soft, unsalted butter
2 large eggs (free range please!)
2 tsps vanilla extract (NOT essence!)
150ml sour cream


Preheat oven to 140ºC/gas mark 4.  Line two 20cm cake tins.

Bung all the ingredients into your kitchenaid/food processor and mix until you have a smooth, thick batter.  Divide between the two tins and bake for about 35 minutes but do check according to how your oven bakes (Mine new oven seems to cook very quickly and I take them out about 20-25 mins!).  I also put a small dish of water in the bottom of the oven to keep the sponge moist.
Leave to cool for 10 mins before turning them out of their tins and cooling on a wire rack.

I fill with 1/3 tub of Betty Crocker choc fudge icing and then splat the rest over the top.  Then leave as is, or decorate with flowers, mini-eggs, whatever takes your fancy!

My Easter cake, decorated by the kids!

Or, I have smoothed over some warmed apricot jam and then rolled icing to make a variety of party cakes.


Ah-ha!  I think I hear the soft rumble of a Waitrose van….Let the cake-making commence!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So desperate was I for a biscuit with my cup of tea, I tried one of my daughter’s baby biscuits.  Not going to do that again in a hurry.  So I thought, sod it, I’ll make some.  Where better to turn for baking than the Great British Bake Off cook book.  I actually had all the ingredients and got to work.  Then something happened that was definitely not in the recipe.

With Kitchenaid in full swing, I dropped the entire egg into the mix.  There were two obvious options.  (1) Swear loudly, bin in the lot, forget about biscuits and sulk.  (2) Swear loudly, pick out the eggshell and carry on regardless.  I went for option two and biscuits were made.

Alas, they weren’t terribly nice.  Nice enough for me to have two before they’d cooled, but not great.  The only think I changed was dark muscovado sugar not light and I can’t believe that makes a huge difference.  They were quite cakey and actually not very sweet.  Baked well, easy recipe (apart from the egg debacle) but not one I’d make again.  Any recipes for choc chip cookies welcome as I have been looking for a really good recipe for ages and every one I try just doesn’t quite match up to Millie’s Cookies……