What did I do with my time?

I really want to know! What did I do with my time before the Jam was around?

I ask this because I had a day to myself on Friday – DH took charge of the Jam, ably assisted by my Dad – and I impressed even myself with what I managed to achieve. Times are approximate:

  • 8.30am – got up after a lie-in.
  • 11am – got my hair dyed.
  • 12.15pm – went to Sainsbury’s and bought two bottles of bubbly for 48p. (Nectar points are awesome!)
  • 1pm – made the Jam’s lunch. (Can’t resist ‘helping’ aka interfering.)

    Birch Shawl
    Birch Shawl
  • 1.30pm – iced the last of the Christmas cupcakes.
  • 2pm – wrapped presents.
  • 3pm – spent an hour catching up with a friend.
  • 4.30pm – cooked dinner for everyone for the evening.
  • 5.30pm – played hide & seek with the Jam and DH.
  • 6.30pm – read a book on the train.
  • 7.30pm – got my legs waxed followed by a massage.
  • 8.30pm – bought the last few Christmas presents.
  • 9pm – got home, ate dinner, drank bubbly.
  • 10pm – picked up my knitting.
  • 11.15pm – finally finished the shawl I’ve been knitting for a friend.

I wouldn’t have managed that much in a whole weekend pre-Jam, so I ask again…what did I do with my time?

Stripy Dinosaur Cake

Me: Jamie, would you like a train cake for your birthday, or maybe a bus?

The Jam: I want stripy cake.

Me: Okay, I can do stripy.

The Jam: Dinosaur cake.

Me: That’s fine – dinosaur cake or stripy cake?

The Jam: Yes Mummy, stripy dinosaur cake.

My son will be having major heart surgery in the new year. If he wants stripy dinosaur cake, then he will have stripy dinosaur cake.

How to make stripy dinosaur cake

1. Prepare 1.5 x Nigella Lawson’s Victoria Sponge recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Split between four bowls and add food colouring. Worry that the food colouring will make it taste horrible. Bake in sandwich tins (in two batches). Cool, the wrap each layer in cling film and foil then freeze. Worry that freezing and defrosting will make it taste horrible.

2. At 7.45am, remove cakes from the freezer and make The Crabapple Bakery‘s Vanilla Buttercream. Split between three bowls and add food colouring. Ignore relations who are trying to get breakfast. Sandwich the layers together.

3. Continue to ignore relations who are now trying to make tea. Roll out white (bought) icing and cover the cake. Make 3D dinosaur from coloured icing and gratefully accept SiL’s offer to make a second and different 3D dinosaur. Run out of ideas and / or space so make a dinosaur egg. Roll out more coloured icing and use a dinosaur shaped cookie cutter to make 2D dinosaurs for the sides plus one for the top with ‘Jamie’ written on it. Stick everything in place. Back away slowly…

Christmas baking

mince piesHello world! I haven’t blogged for a while as we’ve been busy moving house – haven’t managed to send any Christmas cards either so I’m neglecting real friends as well as virtual ones. Apologies to all. In my defence, the move was exceptionally stressful as DH was in Hong Kong for work on the day, then delayed for 26 hours on the way home. I will post about it in full at some point, but I can’t quite bring myself to relive it yet…

xmascakeWe’ve now taken up residence at Dad’s for Christmas and I’m starting to feel more festive. I’ve wrapped presents while drinking some lovely Christmas tea, and spent most of the afternoon baking. The mince pies are based on Nigella’s recipe, but with bought pastry – I can’t do decent pastry – and the Jam made all the stars, with a little help from DH.

Over the last couple of years it has become a tradition that MiL makes an extra Christmas cake and I decorate it. Her fruit cake is lovely and I like doing the pretty bits so it’s a great arrangement. Last year I did classy white on white, but this year I decided the Jam would appreciate a splash of colour.


Fire engine cake – 5 lessons

Although it’s not the Jam’s birthday until tomorrow, he had a (girl)friend over to play this afternoon so we decided to have cake today. I spent most of yesterday making and decorating it and it’s not the most professional looking cake ever. I could have bought one for less than it cost to buy all the equipment and ingredients, but that isn’t the point – I made it, for my boy, because I love him. Also, the actual cake under the icing was far nicer than the bland sponge in most shop-bought novelty cakes.

The Jam isn’t that keen on plain sponge, so I made chocolate gingerbread sponge. The first challenge was deciding how much to make as I wasn’t following a particular recipe or template. I’d gathered and synthesised ideas from several hours of Google searches on “fire engine cake” (over two million hits!) but I knew I need three identical loaf cakes. My sponge recipe suggested a 30×20 tin so I thought three 10×20 loaf tins would be ideal.

Lesson One – 10×20 loaf tins do not exist.

So far so good…

Eventually I found a silicone loaf pan (I know that’s an American term, but surely you can’t call silicone a “tin”) that was almost the right size and bright red. I bought three. I’ve not used silicone bakeware before so I was a bit worried it would all spill when I lifted it up, but it went into and came out of the oven without an incident. I’d done my research (Google again) so I knew that I didn’t need to line or grease the pans and that I had to let it cool before removing it.

Lesson Two – you DO need to grease the pan.

Lesson Three – cool means stone cold.

After some emergency surgery to correct what was lost in the pans, the fun bit began. I’d bought red ready-roll icing, but I thought I’d colour the vanilla buttercream too in case it showed through.

Lesson Four – even gel food colouring only makes a really vibrant pink.

Once I’d smoothed, moulded, filled and trimmed the icing, I only had to add the details – Oreo cookies (wheels), liquorice wheels (hose), mints (headlights) and a Curly-Wurly (the ladder). Most ideas were from the extensive research but I’m proud to claim the Curly-Wurly as an inspired moment of my own – I wasn’t even sure they still existed! I think it turned out well, not perfect but made with love, and it tasted really good too.

The Jam’s fire engine cake

Lesson Five – little boys love “nee-nah cake” .