Cheddar and parsnip bread


‘You’re too gorgeous,’ I said to Bert, grabbing him for a cuddle as this was cooking for our lunch.

‘I not too gorgeous,’ he said strictly. ‘I right amount gorgeous.’

Too true.

Makes 2 small loaves

175g self raising flour

50g grated strong Cheddar

175g grated parsnip (about 3 parsnips)

1 lightly beaten egg

4-5 tablespoons whole milk

Salt

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180. Combine all the ingredients gently until they’re just formed into a dough, then split into 2 rough, round loafs. Bake on a lined baking sheet for abou 35-40 minutes, until they’re golden and hollow-sounding when the bottom’s tapped.

Raspberry, almond and yoghurt cake


I strapped Bert into his car seat as he picked his nose and… ‘Are you eating your snot?’ I said. ‘That’s disgusting.’ 

‘No,’ he corrected me. ‘It’s delicious.’

He then swiped the back of his hand across his nose and held it out to me. ‘You try it,’ he said.

This cake was moist, just sweet enough and delicious. But its not the most delicious thing we’ve eaten this week.

Makes a small loaf

125g soft butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

125g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

45g ground almonds

125ml Greek yoghurt (or other plain yoghurt)

125g raspberries

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees.

Beat the sugar and butter together till light and creamy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Fold through the flour, baking powder, almonds and yoghurt, then finally stir through the raspberries, gently. Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin or 20cm round tin. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, till golden and firm on top. We had ours warm with a dollop of yoghurt, and now I’m thinking that that’s practically a balanced breakfast tomorrow.

 

Banana and chocolate button loaf


Do I really need another recipe for a banana loaf? Yes, I do.

Bert’s been saving reward stickers for a month now and today was the day we went shopping for his chosen toy (‘Zuma, Skye, Rocky [all Paw Patrol dog characters that drive a vehicle], a dinosaur, a Gruffalo, another Gruffalo’ he said, ambitiously.) He got the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child and we walked back to the car, Bert in full Gruffalo outfit, holding a Gruffalo in each hand and explaining to me he’s going to live in the ‘deep, dark woods’ with the Gruffalos plus the real Gruffalo, cuddling and kissing them and telling stories. Bliss indeed. (Yes, he’s sleeping in the Gruffalo body.)

He tells me Gruffalos don’t eat cake so I’ll have this one to myself.

Makes a 2lb loaf 

125g butter

150g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg

60ml whole milk 

190g self-raising flour

100g chocolate buttons

Pre heat the oven to gas mark 3/ 170 degreee. Line a 2lb loaf tin (I partly make so many loaves because I have a pack of the ready made paper liners.)

Melt the butter, sugar and vanilla together then mix into the bananas and egg. Add the milk then stir through the flour and then the chocolate buttons. Tip into the tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes. 

If Bert finds six empty packets of chocolate buttons in the bin tomorrow I’ll be mince meat.

Blueberry and lemon loaf (or 12 muffins)


Me and Bert took my mum out for dinner for Mother’s Day, to a perfectly family-friendly restaurant (in fact, the waitress was either Bert’s soul mate or a highly-skilled professional charmer, and exchanged dinosaur facts with him for hours, seeming genuinely disappointed to serve other tables). But yet again we were given the blandest of food options for Bert. Even though I had delicious sticky ribs, coleslaw and fries and my mum had an amazing fish pie, his options were the usual fish fingers, chicken nuggets, macaroni cheese and spag bol. No kids’ cutlery, so he had to struggle with even larger than usual adult ones (or a teaspoon). And I’d lugged a bag of stickers, books and playmobil people with me to try to stave off the moment where all the child-free adults in the room collectively put a court order on him to leave. (Despite this, the ten minutes before we left were taken up with trying to coax a three year old in full Gruffalo gear out from under the table.)

I thought, I should set up a Me and Bert cafe! Books and lego at every table, children’s plates and cutlery, a different, free, ‘try something new’ tiny-taster bowl with the kids’ meals each day, children’s loyalty cards and space for push chairs. Child-friendly food that’s tasty first, nutritious second and edible by actual adults. We’d clean up with the pre-school mums and dads and grandparents! We’d only need to open school hours…

Then I remembered that, as a work at home freelancer, my standard day encompasses putting dinner on, stroking the dog’s ears (not a euphamism) and making an impulsive cake for pudding. And I realised that the reality of running a cafe  would be a huge shock to my  system, one that would probably age me ten years in a week. Nevermind my less than perfect cooking days suddenly being extremely public.

But here’s a cake that would have been on the menu.

Makes a small loaf

150g soft butter

150g golden caster sugar

150g self-raising flour (hold a tablespoon back to toss the blueberries in)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon whole milk

3 eggs

Grated zest of one lemon

100g blueberries, tossed in a tablespoon of flour (supposed to help them not to sink) (update: but didn’t)

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees and line a small loaf tin or 12 muffin holes.

Beat everything except the blueberries together for a good 5-10 minutes (about 4 minutes in a mixer), till it’s pale and fluffy. Gently fold through the blueberries and bake for about an hour (or 15-20 minutes for the muffins), till it’s golden and firm on top. Hide from your child’s father till dinner time. (The cake, that is – I’m not suggesting a game of hide and seek.) Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or yoghurt.

Mother’s Day marmalade cake (or a banana and oat loaf for toddlers)


(I say the banana loaf versions for toddlers – Bert’s dad’s eaten about 1/2 a loaf in the last ten minutes.)

The marmalade version’s a mother’s day present for my mum. I overheard Bert telling his dad, ‘I love Gran!’ this morning – if only I’d recorded it that it could be a mother’s day present too.

Anyway, here’s an easy to make and easy to eat cake for the person in your life who taught you how to talk, spoon food into your mouth and wee in the right places.

Makes a small loaf

150g soft butter

100g golden castor sugar

50g soft dark brown sugar

1teaspoon baking powder

150g self-raising flour

3  eggs

I heaped tablespoon marmalade (to convert to a banana loaf, use 2 large or 3 small bananas instead)

Zest of one orange (to convert to a banana loaf, use 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence instead)

115g porridge oats

150ml double cream or full fat yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180°C or gas mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin (one of the smaller ones).

If you have a mixer, bung everything in and cream together till fluffy (about 5 minutes). You don’t even have to mash the bananas for the banana version first. If you don’t, then cream the butter and sugar together before adding the wet ingredients (bananas mashed in this case) and stiring the dry ingredients through.

Bake for around a hour, till the top’s cracked and firm.

 

Jammy berry, lime and coconut cake

I was in the car with Bert yesterday, went to change gear and couldn’t find it straight away. Bert laughed and laughed. ‘Your driving!’ he said, overcome with mirth. ‘You drive like this!’ And he leaned forward, scrunched his face up, held an imaginary wheel and made a screeching sound.

Today, on an empty country lane, I went round a bend slightly wide. ‘Too fast!’ he chuckled. ‘Corner too fast!’

Despite this, I made him a coconut cake for pudding. ‘You!’ Bert laughed, ‘you put cheese on cake!’ He picked the berries off, stood up, emptied the plate into the bin, put it in the dishwasher and pressed start.

Makes a 25cm square cake 

110g self raising flour

110g golden caster sugar

110g soft butter

2 eggs

Zest of 1 lime, finely grated

80g dessicated coconut

To top:

Dessert of spoon jam (we used raspberry)

Berries (we used blueberries and blackberries)

Scattering of dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180/ gas mark 4.

Beat together all the cake ingredients until smooth, then tip into a lined 25cm square tin. Bake at gas mark 4/ 180 for 25-30 minutes, till golden and springy to the touch. 

Let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove to a wire rack. When completely cool, thinly spread jam over the top. Stud with berries then shower with coconut (not cheese).

Banana, chocolate and coconut loaf


For the last few weeks I’ve finally got Bert to sleep at nine at the earliest, despite one night of success when he was silent from eight onwards (mutely doing who knows what) on the promise of a sticker. Last night all the stickers in the world weren’t going to convince him when he knew that ‘I not sleepy’. He got up and watched ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Houses’ – ‘Wow, look that house! It’s like your house!’ – and was finally convinced to remain behind a closed door at about ten. Still, it’s nice to know he appreciates Modernist architecture.

I walked into his room this morning to find his trike (or his motorbike, as he calls it) on his head. I guess he went straight to sleep then.

Anyway, as a result, it’s goodbye, lunchtime naps. How I’ve loved you! How I’ve cherished you! How I’ll miss you!

All the online parenting guides calmly suggest you switch naptime for quiet time, like sitting at a table reading or colouring in for an hour and a half. This seems about as likely as Bert turning down a packet of chocolate buttons. On the other hand, if I series linked Grand Designs, maybe…

Makes a large loaf

175g golden caster sugar

175g wholemeal self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons dessicated coconut

2 ripe bananas, mashed

3 eggs, separated, whites beaten to stiff peaks

50ml whole milk

100ml sunflower oil

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 (140-160 degrees) and line a large loaf tin.

Combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed banana, egg yolk, milk and oil, then stir into the dry ingredients. Fold through a quarter of the beaten egg white then quickly fold through all of the rest and tip the mixture into the tin. Bake for about 1 hour and ten minutes.