Raspberry and yoghurt muffins

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Some cakes shouldn’t pretend to be useful. This isn’t one of them. Bert pressed two to his face and digested them like a fly, innocent to the fact they contain spelt flour, yoghurt, almonds and not a huge amount of sugar.

Makes 6 muffins

90g plain flour

30g spelt (or plain brown) flour

70g sunflower oil

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

80g golden caster sugar

100g frozen or fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt

Flaked almonds to scatter on top

Pre hear the oven to 190/ 180 fan.

Beat all the ingredients except the raspberries and almonds together. Fold through the raspberries then spoon the mixture into a case-lined muffin tin. Scatter each muffin with almonds then bake for 20-25 minutes, till firm to the touch.

The oil gives them a more delicate crumb than butter, and they’re not too sweet. I think frozen raspberries are less prone to sinking, but both work.

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Peanut butter and jam mini-brownies

… in 20 minutes.

Today Bert passed his stage 1 gymnastics badge. It involved ‘hopping on one leg and other very hard things.’

He also sulked for an hour when I chose flapjack over chocolate cake at play group (hey, he’d had his Rich Tea!)

This was commiseration and celebration.

Makes 5-6

50g crunchy, unsweetened peanut butter

75g butter

1 egg

25g cocoa powder

50g plain flour

100g golden caster sugar

5-6 teaspoons jam

Preheat the oven to 180/ 160 fan.

Melt the butter and peanut butter.

Mix the other ingredients, except the jam, in a small bowl then stir in the peanut butter and butter mixture.

Grease 6 holes of a cupcake tray and spoon in the mixture to just under the top of each. Better to have 5 good portions than 6 stingy! Make a little hole in the top of each with a teaspoon and add a teaspoon of jam to each.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Eat two each.

Chilli balls

When I started this blog, Bert was a great eater. Now he declares anything in a sauce, cooked in a sauce then fished out, sitting near a sauce, as ‘soupy’.

I was prepared for a veg avoider but not a soup avoider.

This may be my most niche recipe yet, but if you fancy a soupy chilli and your child is a sauce avoider, try these. Then make a normal chilli for all the sane people in the room.

Or cook up a bigger batch in tomato sauce and serve with rice, grated Cheddar cheese, sour cream and guacamole. (Naked, soupless balls also being available.)

Makes 6 meatballs

60g minced beef

20g red kidney beans, mashed with a fork.

10g finely grated cheddar

10g finely grated carrot

Pinch each of ground cinnamon, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt

Preheat the oven to 180. Mix all the ingredients together and form into walnut-sized balls. Bake on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Serve with rice, broccoli (and soupy guacamole if you dare).

Strawberry shortcake pudding


When you fancy strawberry shortcake but can’t be arsed to make it. This has the same soft, vanilla crumb and berry sweetness but takes 10 minutes to prepare and 10 seconds to finish off out of the oven.

Bert declared this ‘not a birthday cake: a normal cake’.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. On his way out this afternoon Bert’s dad asked me if we needed any food. 

Me: you might need chocolate? Self-raising flour? Candles?

Him: blank face

Leftover normal cake it is then.

Serves 4-6 (ahem. Ok. Three)

6 tablespoons soft butter

1 measuring cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1.5 measuring cups plain flour

1/2 measuring cup milk 

1 punnet strawberries

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180.

Beat the sugar and butter together till fluffy then add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Mix through the flour, baking powder and milk till you have a smooth, thick batter then tip into a deep, buttered pie dish and smooth out the top. Top with the hulled and halved strawberries and bake for about an hour (check after 50 minutes – it’s ready when it’s deep golden brown and coming away from the sides). 

Dust with sieved icing sugar and serve warm with thick cream.

Plum and ginger crumble


I left for a two-day work trip before Bert finished pre-school on Monday. So I wrote a note for him – ‘I love you, gorgeous Bert, love from Mum xxx’. I drew a roaring dinosaur, folded it in half, wrote his name on the front and secured it in the jaws of the dinosaur on his bedside table. 

The trip was fine but today was a true sod. Bert woke me up at 5 and stayed awake. I had two big, stressful arguments. I dropped and broke the phone I bought yesterday. I had a reprimanding email from a client about something relatively small, which I found excruciating. Pudding was a disaster.  (We had this crumble a few days ago and it was delicious – but if anyone wants the recipe for black tarte tatin, I’m happy to share.)

I got in the bath at Bert’s bedtime and he called me back to clear up a poo. I got back in and almost straight away he called for me again.

When I opened his door he was clunching my note in his hand. It was folded over and over and crumpled up. He held it out. 

‘Do you want me to straighten it?’ I said, reaching for it. 

‘No,’ he said, ‘I want you to throw it in the bin.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t like the words.’

‘The words I wrote?’ 

‘Read then to me,’ he said.

I read it out.

‘I don’t like the words. Throw it in the bin.’

I obediently put it in the bin and found another reason to cry a bit later. 

But at least he still falls gorgeously and hotly asleep on me and lets me eat most of the crumble.

Serves six

1 punnet of plums, cored and chopped into eight or so pieces each

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

6 or 8 cubes of crystallized ginger, chopped up into smaller pieces

 230g plain flour

40g bran

115g butter, cold and in small pieces

90g soft brown sugar

Level teaspoon ground ginger

Put the plums in a pan with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the chopped, crystallised ginger, and cook on a low heat on the hob while you prepare the crumble topping. Pre heat the oven to 200/ gas mark six.

Breadcrumb the flour and butter, by rubbing between your fingers or pulsing in a food processor. Stir through the sugar, bran and ground ginger. By now the plums should be starting to soften. Tip them into an ovenproof dish, cover with crumble topping and bake for 30 minutes, till the fruit is bubbling up round the edges.

 

Citrus and almond cake 

When Bert was a tiny newborn, me and his dad had a conversation about what we wanted for him. His dad looked wistfully into the air and I gazed pensively at my hands.

‘I want him to drive a sports car to France!’ he said and simultaneously I said, ‘I want him to be kind!’ We looked at each other in utter bemusement and moved on.

Given the extent of Bert’s deadpan, patronising backseat driving (me: ‘oh God, this is the only place to park. How will I get out?’ Him, briefly glancing up: ‘I think you’ll have to reverse, maybe’) and the fact he’s attacking me in this picture, maybe his father’s wish will be granted first.

We had breaded fish (home made) and chips (not home made) for dinner. Bert pointed at the fish and said, dismissively, ‘I not like that.’ His dad said, ‘Mum spent ages making that’ (ten minutes, actually, but the support was appreciated), ‘remember when you made some cakes. How would you have felt if we said we didn’t like them? Maybe sad. Maybe Mum might feel sad too.’ Bert looked at his fish thoughtfully and said ‘yessss.’

We had this cake for pudding. Bert said, ‘can I have more orange cake? It lovely.’ Twice. It was a good cake. But maybe he’s got a bit of kindness bubbling away in there after all.

Bert’s dad read him bedtime stories while I had a bath. I would have had my boy’s head on the pillow sooner. But his dad got deep, gurgling belly laughs out of him. 

Lets at least make it a hybrid, shall we Bert?

Makes a 21cm cake 

2 clementines, 1 lime, 1 lemon

250g caster sugar

6 eggs

250g ground almonds

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder 

Put the fruit in a saucepan, cover with cold water, put on a lid and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Then heat the oven to gas mark 5/ 190 degrees and grease a 21cm round, loose bottomed tin. Purée the fruit and beat together with the remaining ingredients. Pour into the tin and bake for about an hour, till the top’s a deep golden brown and the cake’s coming away from the tin at the edges. 

We had it warm with cream.