Ever since Nino celebrated his second birthday, we’ve been talking almost daily about what kind of cake family members will be getting for their upcoming birthdays. For Grandpa there was polenta cake, rolled out annually on request (with ever so slight variations to satisfy my urge to experiment). Daddy wants a whiskey one next January. Nino was shocked to discover that his Nonna isn’t that keen on cake, nor is a close toddler friend, but we’ve now been to enough birthdays with caterpillars and rainbows and tray bakes to establish a playing field to work from and, after much debate, we’ve hit on a lemon sponge with fresh strawberry buttercream to make for me at the end of the month.
My go-to is almost always chocolate so it’s refreshing to be pointed in a different direction by my mini kitchen sidekick and I’m excited to make and taste his fruity creation. But before then, chocolate cravings still call – thank goodness for an uncle with a birthday before mine and a last minute lunch invite creating the need to whip up an easy one bowl chocolate cake for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Continue reading
A week ago we celebrated your second birthday. Two years since you stormed into the world and changed our lives forever. Two years since I clutched your slippery newborn body to my chest and covered you in kisses before the doctors could whisk you away to the neonatal unit. Two years since I sat, shaking but so completely complete, eating pizza from a cardboard box in a blood-stained nightgown as we waited to hear when you would transfer to the Brompton Hospital. Tears and fear and love and all these overwhelming emotions I can’t begin to put into words: birthdays really do make you feel all the feelings.
Every year on my birthday, your Nonna would tell the story of a hot, sticky summer’s day. How she smuggled Mars Bars into the hospital for emergency fuel and how after I emerged, fierce and dark as predicted, your Grandpa stripped off his shirt in the blazing heat to hold me to his chest, skin on skin. She’d always get a little teary and I’d always roll my eyes, but now I’m right there on the same page. It could be genetics, but I’d wager it’s just being a mummy. Every birthday you celebrate, for the rest of my days, I’m pretty sure that misty-eyed lady is going to be me. Continue reading
If, like me, you watch more than your fair share of food programmes, you’ll be aware of a running theme. Every time a presenter takes a bite of the food they’ve just prepared or been served or discovered by the side of the road in some exotic country – Great British Bake Off judgement and soggy bottoms excluded – they declare it the best they’ve ever eaten. Food bloggers can be guilty of the same hyperbole – it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment that nothing else compares; it’s not exaggeration, it’s how you actually feel. So here goes . . . this is the most delicious chocolate loaf cake I have ever eaten.
A shop-bought Jaffa cake is one of those goodies somehow so much greater than the sum of its parts. The cake-y base is drier than you average sponge, the jelly too sticky to wobble and the outer coating too thin for a proper chocolate fix. Yet somehow, combined, these elements make a uniquely satisfying and more-ish mouthful. Better still, have you ever tried making your own Jaffa cakes at home? Now that’s where the magic really begins to happen . . .
The last time I celebrated a fourth birthday, I was about 3 feet tall. My party took place at the brilliantly named Roly Poly Club, a room made up of what I remember as wall-to-wall bouncy castles where my friends and I careered around, fuelled by the heady mix of excitement and mint choc-chip ice cream (there are rosy-cheeked, chocolate-covered photographs to prove this). My mum reminded me recently that I wrote her a shopping list beforehand ‘in case you get it wrong’, consisting simply of ‘mus bus’ (Mars Bars) and ‘sossighes’ (sausages). All the essentials then. Continue reading
Yesterday, we celebrated my Mum’s birthday. There was a meal at The River Cafe, sunshine in the sky and sunshine on our plates in the form of these grapefruit and ginger cupcakes. The time slipped away with me and I’m afraid there’s no recipe today, but I’ve got something up my sleeve for next time. Until then, have a wonderful week. Continue reading