And just like that he was six, had lost three teeth, could spell and didn’t want morning cuddles. Suddenly things are classed as ’embarrassing’ (not me – yet) and ‘boring’, he’s peppering his sentences with ‘like’ and he wants to train to be a ninja.
But squidged in between this is a boy who writes me love letters, nods earnestly with wide eyes about pretty much any surprising fact and fully believes the world is fair, loving, orderly and safe. I’ll keep his bit of it that way as long as I can.
Makes 1 small loaf cake
160g soft butter
160g granulated sugar
160g ground almonds
160g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon dried raspberries
75g white chooolate chunks
150g fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 180/ 170 fan.
Beat together the eggs, butter, sugar and ground almonds till soft and pale then stir in the flour, coconut milk, dried raspberries and chocolate.
Line a 1lb loaf tin with a paper liner and spread in half of the cake batter (it’s a little thicker than some cake batters). Scatter the fresh raspberries over and then cover with the rest of the batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
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
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
45g ground almonds
125ml Greek yoghurt (or other plain yoghurt)
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.
Today’s a good day. I got up to find Bert sitting up in bed, reading a book about dinosaurs to his diplodocus. He greeted me with ‘oh, hi Mum!’ and a laugh. He was topless and I asked why – apparently he’d split some of last night’s milk on himself so he took his top off and put it in the dirty washing basket.
An angelic child and a round toddler belly – what could be better? Oh yes, a large cheque from HMRC reimbursing me for a mysterious overpayment of … some kind of tax. And I’m down to the last two on a project in Winchester, where one of my oldest friends lives. For now I’ll enjoy imagining the cups of tea and glasses of wine rather than worrying about the childcare.
Bring on the chocolate trifle!
Makes 3 mini trifles (one for you and two for me)
Leftover chocolate cake (I get that this is kind of a weird concept, but me and Bert have been on our own a lot recently and found our banana and chocolate loaf a bit big to get through)
3 teaspoons raspberry or cherry jam
12 raspberries (give or take)
100g ricotta (or whipped cream)
1 tablespoon golden icing sugar
1/2 Cadbury’s flake, crumbled (hmm, what to do with the other half?)
Push slices or crumbled up pieces of the cake into the bottom of three ramekins, top each with a spoon of jam and then some raspberries. Beat together the ricotta and icing sugar (or whip the cream and fold the sugar in) and spread it over the fruit. Crumble flake on top and chill before serving.
I pity the fool!
Serves 4 (or, in our case, two and a toddler)
1 punnet of raspberries
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
2 egg white
2 tablespoons golden icing sugar
About 300ml double cream (I used a 284ml tub)
Simmer the raspberries with the golden caster sugar for about five minutes, till they start to break down. Mash them with the back of a fork and leave to cool. You still want chunks in there so don’t mash too thoroughly.
Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Tip them gently into your serving bowl. Then whisk the double cream and icing sugar till they form stiff peaks too. (Instructions always say to whisk in separate bowls, but so long as you do the eggs first, since eggs are the more temperamental, you can use the same bowl and whisk for the cream.) Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg whites and then swirl the berries through to get a ripple affect. Chill before you serve.
Today Bert declared Ray (the dog) to be ‘beautiful’ and then asked if he was beautiful. I said he was and that we’re beautiful to everyone who loves us. By that logic, Ray is indeed beautiful. And yet…
Quick, stealth photo plus photo-bomber.
1 mango, peeled, stoned, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of frozen raspberries
I was cutting a mango up for pudding and realised that since it wouldn’t pass the slime test it was a completely pointless pursuit. I made this instead.
Put the mango and frozen raspberries into a blender or Nutribullet, and whizz up as quickly as possible, before popping into the freezer for five minutes or so. Because the raspberries are frozen, you get a sorbet like consistency straight away.
You could add honey or brown sugar when you blend it, but Bert ate it without so why bother? The photo-bomber winced a bit, though.
A treaty Sunday pudding.
For the meringue:
2 egg whites
4oz golden caster sugar (the maths is easier with ounces)
For the Eton Mess:
200ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
50g white chocolate, smashed to splinters
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks then gradually add the sugar till it’s thick and glossy. Spread out on a lined baking sheet and bake at a low temperature (I did mine in the Aga simmering oven – 140 for a normal oven) for 2-2.5 hours, so it’s cooked but still mallowy inside. Combine with everything else and serve. Bert alternated his with mouthfuls of corn on the cob but I can’t say I’d recommend that.
This gave Bert enough energy to empty the tins cupboard, stacking the contents neatly in the toilet, behind his tiny piano and in the fireplace. There may still be a tin or two of treacle in the utility room.
200ml plain yoghurt
50ml double cream
60g golden caster sugar
20g dessicated coconut
Blend the raspberries to a puree then put everything in an icecream maker till frozen while your toddler sits in the sink, filling beakers, teapots, buckets and small, plastic turtles and cooling their fat, little feet with cold water.
Okay, I admit I didn’t eat this myself, but Bert loved it. I’ve been struggling with lunches since he stopped eating eggs and refuses most sandwiches, but this worked. Now, how can I sneak a carrot in?
Serves a greedy 0.5
1 English muffin
Generous slathering of Philadelphia cheese
Scattering of raspberries
Split the muffin, spread with cheese, squish in the raspberries and stuff in face.
We walked Ray, hunted Gruffolos and Bert ate a picnic in his baby carrier, which he found a totally hilarious concept. At one point, Ray ran into the woods and a couple of seconds later three black spaniels, including Ray, ran out – also hilarious if you’re one and a half.
2 tablespoons melted butter
225g self raising wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
300ml whole milk
1 crushed banana
Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
Mash the banana together with the raspberries and melt the butter. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the fruit and use the traces of melted butter in the pan to grease a hot frying pan. Fry dessert spoons in batches, turning over when they start to bubble. Cook till golden on both sides and firm.
Do not attempt this with plain wholemeal flour – you will get flat, dry patties.
Bert’s dad’s on a health kick and this is my attempt to make our normal weekend banana pancakes daddy-friendly. Apparently the maple syrup was missed. (I wouldn’t know – mine were drowned in it.)
Serves 4 – me, Bert, Daddy and Ben
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
2 dessert spoons self raising flour
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
Sprinkling of cinnamon
A handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
Mix all the ingredients except the berries together and grease some small tins with a little butter – I used Yorkshire pudding tins. Put a few raspberries in each then pour in the batter and cook at 180 degrees or in the middle of the Aga roasting oven for 12 minutes. Perfect for babies who’ve worked up an appetite by being pushed round in a wheelbarrow.