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Baking Family Kitty Recipes

Kitty’s Valentine’s Invention: Chocolate and Strawberry Fairy Cakes


Kitty is very excited. Apparently, the day after the day after tomorrow is not any ordinary day. It’s not even just ballet class day.  No, it’s Valentines’ Day. What is Valentines’ Day? Well she’s not exactly sure but she thinks it’s when we get roses. And hearts. I asked her who from but she’s not too sure about that, and when I asked who we were going to send valentines too she wasn’t sure about that either.  What she has grasped is that is is a celebration that seems to revolve around pink and chocolate, and she’s wholly on board with both of those concepts.

And it’s had a cross over into our baking.  We’ve been making fairy cakes (because I’m reliably informed that we haven’t made any in ages) and it was Kitty’s turn to choose the flavour; “strawberry!” she said, “and chocolate! And gamilla (vanilla)!”. Most of the time I’d smile and ask her to pick just one, or suggest that perhaps the perfect flavour might be lemon because we’ve got a couple of lemons in the bottom of the fridge that really need eating up before they go weird and squishy, but instead I thought we’d give it a whirl, and so chocolate, strawberry and vanilla it would be.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We started with a plain 2 egg sponge mix, then divided it into two and mixed mashed strawberries into one half and cocoa powder into the other, then dolloped a spoonful of each into fairy cake cases, chocolate on the bottom and strawberry over the top.  We thought about adding a bit of pink food colouring to the strawberry batter and it would make it stand out better once it’s baked but my children and food colouring are not a great combination so we went for the more subtle approach.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And while our little cakes spent 20 minutes baking in the oven the girls engaged in the time honoured pursuit of licky-scrapers!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

When the cakes were baked and cooled we covered them with vanilla glace icing and, in lieu of anything remotely appropriately valentine’s-esque being found in my box of cake decorating bits and bobs, the girls set to with a tub of leftover could-be-winter-probably-supposed-to-be-Christmas sprinkles.  And the result?Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life



Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well it turns out Kitty was on to something.   The chocolate and strawberry are delicious together.  You might not necessarily be able to see the change between the two flavours as clearly as if we’d used food colouring but it’s there if you look for it, and it’s definitely there once you take a bite.  It’s like a cake version of those Cadbury Roses strawberry creams in the pink foil wrapper.  They always get eaten first in our house so it’s perhaps no surprise that the cake was a hit.

I think I need put Kitty in charge of the flavours more often.

And if you’d like to try them for yourself, the recipe is below:


[yumprint-recipe id=’1′]

Baking Family Recipes

Smiley Spider Cupcakes


I’m never entirely sure how I feel about Halloween. Trick or treating just wasn’t part of my childhood, and the whole thing was vastly overshadowed by Bonfire Night which always involved a massive bonfire on the school playing field, baked potatoes to keep your hands warm and the call and answer of fireworks being let off across the town.  As a family I think we still make more of a celebration of Bonfire Night, though that might just be because we have friends with a garden big enough for some decent sized rockets.

But I am absolutely certain about where I fall on the question of cake.  You should never say no to cake. And well, I’m never one to turn down a good excuse for a bit of themed baking either.  So without too much waffling on and further ado, may I introduce you to the only sort of spiders I willingly welcome into the house and have never chased away with a hoover or scooped up in a tea towel and thrown into the garden.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I first had the idea for these a few years ago, wanting to make a treat for my team at work and looking for any excuse for the acquisition of more cupcake cases (you can never had too many cupcake cases).  They are very simple, and very easy to make, but they look really cute, and taste delicious.  This recipe will make 12 fairy cake sized Smily Spider Cupcakes but if you have a muffin tin instead you could easily make them bigger by multiplying quantities by 1.5 and letting them cook for 3-5 minutes longer.

To make 12 fairy-cake sized Smily Spider Cupcakes you will need:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

for the cakes

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs

for the decoration

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 packet of Milky Way Magic Stars
  • Black writing icing


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a 12-hole fairy cake tin with paper cases.
  2. Put all of the cake ingredients in a food processor/ stand mixer and whizz until completely combined.
  3. Divide the mixture between the 12 cake cases, it’s about a dessert spoonful each and you want to fill each case about 2/3 of the way to the top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are risen and spring back to the touch.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life
  5. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  6. While the cakes are cooling have a look at your Magic Stars.  They all have little faces set in the middle of the five point star; we need 12 of the ones that have a point over the top of the face like this; Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life rather than the upside down sort that look like this. Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeThose ones can be fed to passing children/husband/considered a cook’s treat!
  7. Whisk the icing sugar in a bowl to break up any lumps then slowly add in 1-2tbsp of water until the icing is smooth and will coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Cover each of the cakes with about a teaspoon of icing and set the Magic Star in the middle, then allow the icing to dry.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life
  9. Using the writing icing, draw four spiders’ legs between the points on each side of the Magic Star for a total of eight legs per spider.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And there you have it, enough spiders to spook a whole host of trick or treaters – assuming they last that long that is.


Cooking Recipes Uncategorized

Mmmm! Blackcurrant or Red Gooseberry Ice Cream Recipe


Once upon a time (that would be August), on one of those lovely hot days currently fading from our memories, a girl looked in the fridge.  A packet of blackcurrants looked back.  Red gooseberries peered over their shoulders, and in the door sat a little pot of double cream, bought to splosh over apple pie and sadly overlooked in favour of vanilla ice-cream.

Well I didn’t want any of it to go to waste, especially the blackcurrants, and so on a whim I decided to make a little ice-cream.  And while I think I might own an ice-cream maker, if I’m right it’s (a) the sort that needs to be pre-frozen, which isn’t exactly conducive to impulse cooking, and (b) in a place that involves discussing the minutiae of cupboard ownership with the family spiders.  I went without.

So, just in case you fancy clinging onto the last vestiges of the summer, I have a little treat to share:

Red Gooseberry or Blackcurrant Ice Cream Recipe

Blackcurrant or Red Gooseberry Ice Cream – Ice cream maker optional

At its bare bones this is a recipe for a custard ice cream base, taken from a River Cottage recipe, which is mixed with a stewed fruit puree.  The custard recipe makes enough for both purees, or you can substitute anything else you fancy having in an ice-cream from a drop or two of vanilla extract to the ends of your imagination.

Part 1 – The Custard

Note: this makes enough custard for both purees.

You will need:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200ml whole milk

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy.

Heat the milk and cream in a pan until it’s just about to boil.

Pour the hot milk/cream over the egg/sugar mix, whisking as you do. (You need to do it this way around to stop the egg being scrambled).

Pour it all back into the saucepan and place over a low heat, whisking gently but constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Take it off the heat and allow it to cool, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming.

Divide into two roughly equal portions.

Part 2 – The Flavours

For Blackcurrant you will need:

  • 100g blackcurrants, washed
  • 25g caster sugar

For Red Gooseberry you will need:

  • 100g red gooseberries, washed and top and tailed
  • caster sugar to taste

For each puree, put the fruit in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover the base of the pan.



Place on the heat, bring to the boil and then simmer very gently until the fruit has softened, usually about 5-10 minutes.

Blackcurrant Icecream Recipe, Red Gooseberry Icecream recipe

Push the softened fruit through a metal sieve to make the puree.

Return the puree to the pan.

Taste. How sweet or tart it is will depend entirely on your fruit.  Blackcurrants are notoriously tart so you will probably want to add most if not all of the suggested amount of sugar.  Red gooseberries are naturally much sweeter than their green cousins so I would taste first and then add sugar a tablespoon at a time until you think it tastes sweet enough.  If you’re havering over a final spoonful it is better to be a smidgen too sweet than too tart as the big freeze will take the edge off the sweetness.

Stir the sugar to dissolve, you can place the pan briefly on a very low heat to help dissolve it, but you shouldn’t need to, the warmth of the fruit puree should do it all.

Part 3 – The Ice cream

Pour a puree into each of your portions of custard.

Taste again. (Note I said taste, not eat – try to resist the temptation to deny all knowledge of ice cream and retreat to the sofa with the pan and a spoon). You want the molten ice cream to be a smidge too sweet.  This would also be your chance to tone things down a bit if you find the flavour is a bit full on.  Personally I like my blackcurrants to have a punch but you could add up to another 50ml of cream to either if you wanted to.Blackcurrant Icecream Recipe, Red Gooseberry Icecream recipe

Place each in a plastic freezeable pot with a lid, leave to cool then place in the freezer.

Every hour or so, bring the pots out, beat vigorously with a fork and return to the freezer.  Do this at least four times, then leave it to freeze.  Or use an ice cream maker if you have one.

Red Gooseberry or Blackcurrant Ice Cream Recipe

Part 4 – Mmmmm!

Serving notes: You will need to take it out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before you want to eat it (depending on the temperature of your house).

Also, small children will approach you with spoons and pleading expressions while you try to take photographs for your blog.  If you give in to them they will wolf it down with only an occasional break to exclaim:

“Mmmm! Tasty!”

Get your own spoon ready first.

Baking Cooking Recipes

Five Feasts


Delicious things that we’ve been eating from the internets (and a magazine)

Tiger Bread (from Bread magazine)

I can’t find a link to Bread magazine which is frankly a travesty. I can’t imagine that they are entirely without a web presence but it seems that for the time being they have decided to hide their light under a bushel. Or my Google-fu is weak, which is entirely possible.

The only extraordinary ingredient to this loaf is the rice flour in the crust, but thanks to some recipe or other we had a barely touched packet lingering at the back of the cupboard just waiting to be discovered and put to use. On a complete tangent, wouldn’t it be great if flour companies could take a leaf out of the jam pot cookbook and make little ‘sample’ sizes of unusual flour, 100g or so, so that you could try out whatever it was that made me buy rice flour, buckwheat, or dark rye in the first place (to name but a few) without my spending the rest of its sell by date wondering how to use it up or justify the cupboard space.

Anyway, the bread. Delicious to eat and incredibly tactile to make. After shaping a nice white bread dough you mix together rice flour, plain flour, a little yeast, salt, sugar and some water to make something that’s supposed to resemble wallpaper paste. I’ve never wallpapered so I went for ‘gloop’, vaguely reminiscent of something we used to play with at playschool that involved water and shredded paper; was it a glue? Then you smother this nice smooth dough with a thick layer of the gritty gloop and bake it.


and lo – wallpaper paste becomes tiger (or “gi-giraffe” according to Kitty)

It’s beautiful to look at, and as I said, disappears at a rate of knots, but is almost impossible to slice neatly, which may account for the speed of dispatch. Next time I’m going to use a bread tin and just wallpaper the top of it. Less fun, slightly more practical -oh dear, that sounds worryingly grown up.

Coconut Rosemary Carrots and Lamb T-bones from French Foodie Baby.

Kitty adores carrots.  I am certain that she will be able to see well in the dark or have curly hair or whatever it’s supposed to be; this little girl puts them away in preference even to roast potatoes (although I think I saw the Yorkshire Pudding start to edge it last Sunday).  But while she would quite happily have them peeled, sliced and boiled for every meal, the rest of us like a little variety now and then.  But what to do with them? I ask, and the internet answers.

Helene’s blog is a fount of wonderful recipes, beautifully photographed, and really easy to follow, and this is no exception.  I would never have thought of baking carrots in coconut milk steeped with rosemary, but the result is a fragrant parcel of tender little slices, with just a little twist on a familiar taste, perfect for introducing another new taste to Kitty, and a lovely accompaniment to Cornish lamb T-bones.

Peepo Flowers, riffed off the Peekabo Bread from A Beautiful Mess.

You knew all this savoury stuff wasn’t going to last didn’t you;  this cake had my name on it from the start.  My one and only attempt at a surprise cake (green and white checks for H’s birthday) was either a bit of a wobbly disaster or I invented giant piles of cake pops as a ‘thing’ long before they caught on the pages of cupcake magazines.  But this, this looked doable.


I used an M&S madeira slab cake for the centre flowers, and for the raspberry cake I subbed the plain flour plus raising agents for a similar quantity of self-raising.  I also halved the sugar as the original recipe had double what I’d ordinarily add to a 2 egg cake.  We even managed to get most of the raspberries in the batter despite some small marauding fingers.

The finished raspberry cake was more of a muffin consistency than a true sponge, but it tasted good and held up to the madeira flowers nicely.  I’d love to try this with homemade cake in the centre next time, but it’s going to need to be something sturdy to stand up to the slicing and dicing – any suggestions?

Homemade Creamsicles also from A Beautiful Mess.

I’d show you pictures but I’m afraid we ate the evidence. Kitty had been carting the ice lolly moulds around with her for about a week when this cropped up in my feed reader and the highlight for her may well have been getting to stir and pour the molten ice cream; she was not keen on the idea of putting them in the freezer and still less the realisation that she’d have to wait for supper time before we could get them out again.

As for the results, American readers will have to let me know whether they’re a childhood staple over the water as I can’t think of anything English that would be an equivalent. I suppose a smooshed up Solero would be as close as you’d get; it’s a creamy orange granita with a blob of cream at the stem. The orange granita part was really refreshing, part way between an ice lolly and full on ice cream but the frozen double cream was a bit chewy for my taste.

If I were to make them again (and a trial run at a pink grapefruit flavour is almost certainly on the cards) I’d leave the cream out or swirl it in completely, the little lump doesn’t do it for me, although I’m entirely prepared to accept that it’s the green fruit pastel element (you don’t really like them, but it wouldn’t be a packet of fruit pastels without them).

Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Tart also from French Foodie Baby


And last, but by no means least, a little bit of show off baking, a layer of apples on a strawberry and rhubarb puree all tucked up in a spelt case flavoured with fresh basil.  Yes, it was as delicious as it sounds, sweet without being saccharine, and with perfectly balanced flavours.

When I make this again, and it is definitely a ‘when’, my only alteration would be to return the puree to the pan and reduce it a little more before I put it in the pastry case, mine was just a little too runny to stay on the pastry once we’d cut a slice, which is partially the reason why there are no photos of the tart post-baking, the main reason of course being that we ate it!

My Pinterest board called What’s for Supper, which is mostly full of deeply calorific things that I want to try, has been around for a while, so I’ve also now added a new one, We saw, we cooked, we ate it, with some of the things I’ve actually cooked, together with my cooking notes.  Hopefully it will prompt me to make some inroad into the ‘make me’ list!

Baking Cooking Recipes

Butternut Squash Pizza


Disclaimer: I hold myself in no way responsible if this post makes you hungry. I’ve only put the pictures together so far but I’ve had to do a little detour to the kitchen for a slice of bread and butter. If you’re reading this while supper cooks, maybe come back later.

Because, yes, hurrah, and all good things; our veg box had a butternut squash in it, the supermarket ably compensated for the effects of all of that snow earlier in the year rampaging through my herb garden, leaving them a little on the bonsai side, and we even found some buffalo mozzarella to add to the mix. So for Mandy, who asked for the recipe, and anyone else who gets a little tired of cheese and tomato, this is how to make my absolute favourite pizza:

Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza


Ingredients :
(this recipe makes three main meal sized pizzas)

for the base

1lb 2oz (500g) strong white bread flour
2 tsp. (7g) dried yeast
0.5 oz (10g) sea salt
2 tbsp. dried oregano
5 tbsp. olive oil
0.5 pint (300ml) tepid water

for the topping

1 butternut squash
1 handful fresh sage
1 ball buffalo mozzarella
smidgen of fresh parmesan (optional)
drizzle of olive oil (optional)



  1. Put the flour in a bowl together with the salt, yeast and dried oregano. Put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil to the tepid water and pour them onto the flour.
  3. Mix until it starts to come together as a soft dough, then turn out onto a worksurface and kneed for 10 minutes until the dough is silky smooth. (As just about all prodding and pulling at the dough will help, this is a great step for little cooks to help with; Kit loves playing with it, although I do have to keep a weather eye to stop too much dough disappearing into a tiny tummy).
  4. Lightly oil the mixing bowl, then pop the dough in it, cover the top with clingfilm/ damp teatowl/ spare showercap and leave somewhere warm to prove until doubled in size (1-2 hours ish depending on how warm your house is).
  5. When the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured worksurface and divide into however many pizzas you want. I make three and we often have leftovers (great cold for lunch the next day).
  6. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten with your hands. To stretch it further you can either use a rolling pin, or whirl it around in your fingers. We go for the whirling, but we’re not very good so we tend to get slightly wonky pizzas.
  7. Place each on baking parchment on a baking tray and set aside. If you don’t have any baking paper you can just use a smidgen of olive oil on the tray; I use the parchment because I only have two baking trays so I need to do a quick change over when I’m cooking, and the baking paper makes that easy.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C and gather your topping ingredients.
  9. Peel the butternut squash and slice as thinly as you can. They aren’t the easiest things to cut so use the biggest sharpest knife you have.
  10. Lay overlapping slices of the squash over your base.DSC_0159.jpg
  11. Take a handful of fresh sage, tear it roughly and scatter all over the top.DSC_0164.jpg
  12. Pull the ball of mozzarella into little pieces and scatter over the top.
  13. If you want to, add a smidgen of freshly grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  14. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Precisely how long it will take will depend on how thinly your rolled your pizza base and sliced your squash. I find mine usually take nearer to the 15 minute mark, but it’s better to check at 10 mins than end up with burnt pizza. The cheese should be melted and golden, the crust light brown and the squash soft and tender.