You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Plink, plink, plink, plink, plonk…. Peeeeeeppa Pig!

cake on table

I have a 3 year old *sniff*! Its so hard to believe that it has been over three years since I officially became a mother. How much has my life changed in all that time and how much has she changed and developed. My baby is now a cheeky little girl with her own personality.

My Mother was over from the UK to stay with us for the week so she was there to celebrate with us and join in the party preparation madness. As you saw with M’s party I get a little carried away sometimes and E’s celebration was no different. Ever since February and we started talking about birthdays E has been telling me, on a daily basis, that she was going to have a Peppa Pig party with a chocolate cake. Alright I told her and started looking at feasible ideas; scouting out google image search and Pinterest.

For those of you who haven’t come across her yet Peppa Pig is a stupidly popular series on Nickelodeon. I haven’t met a child yet who has seen it and not become obsessed. E does not even get to watch much television (it is generally reserved for travel) and it was only because I stumbled across it once on the TV while staying at my Dad’s house after one particularly early start that she knows about it. The show gets a lot of stick as Peppa is seen as overly bossy and because Daddy Pig is a “bad” male role model being overweight and a little hopeless at times but I quite enjoy it. Daddy Pig might be unable to hang a picture or read a map but he is persistent and everything he does is well meaning. Likewise Peppa is very confident and a little bossy but is that really a bad thing? She learns a new lesson every episode based around something practical or how to get along better with her little brother George or her friends. Also I love the fact that the show’s creators encourage the fact that children should get dirty from time to time and enjoy the outdoor: “Peppa loves to jump in muddy puddles. Everyone loves to jump in muddle puddles!” E now loves to jump in muddily puddles too but only when wearing her wellies (thank you to the writers for adding this into the script).

Anyways back to the party. As E was turning 3 I decided this year we would have some games: musical puddles, pin the tail on the Peppa and a Piñata. We would also have an outdoor event, weather permitting, so that the children had space to burn off the sugar they would undoubtably consume.

Despite my best efforts to give plenty of healthy options, like fruit and crudités, and plenty of savoury items, such as mini pig pizzas an sausages, I always find that sweets are generally the most popular (and you can’t have a party without some sweets and biscuits). I actually raided Marks and Spencers when I was in the UK last buying up copious supplies of Percy pigs and Phizzy Pig Tails which helped to give the party an extra piggy dimension. Note: you can buy a similar product in Switzerland but it is just not the same!


Until the kids are in full time school (about 5 or 6) I will invite the parents and siblings with the child. I have seen some poor children cry the whole way through a party because they are alone and it also give me the opportunity as a foreigner in the community to get to meet some other adults. As a result however it turned into a fairly major affair with over 25 adults and 15 kids. So while we had a wonderful time designing muddy puddles for the garden out of cardboard, and they looked fun between the picnic rugs had laid out on the lawn, they never got used as by the time everyone had arrived we ran out of time for too many games. The kids were having a lovely time exploring the newly decorated playhouse which had been made to look like Peppa’s home and generally doing laps of the garden anyways.


So the time came to cut the cake to allow those that needed to depart speedily could do so. E was very happy with the results of her request (a rather rich chocolate fudge cake) and the cake despite being enormous did not leave much in the way of leftovers.


After the cake we moved on to some games starting with the Piñata which had already been pawed at by a few of the overly excited children. We used a bought “non violent” one as I did not have the time or the inclination to start playing with papier maché last week and actually the string pulling was much more manageable for the young children than trying to wield a stick. I taped up the eyeholes in a Peppa pig mask though so it wasn’t too easy for them to see which string to pull.

pinata collage

Then we had a spot of pin the tail on the Peppa which was suitable for those nearly 3 and over. The younger children couldn’t fathom why they had to wear a mask they couldn’t see out of but the older ones enjoyed the game.

pin the tail on peppa

I’ve learnt a lot from this last experience as to what is to come from birthdays as the children get older. Namely always fix a date by which to RSPV and set a precise time of arrival and departure if you want to be set on timings. If you are happy to just let the children play though our party was perfect and we had fun.

Hope you had a good week too!




Foraging for Dandelions

Today turned into a lovely day and we spent the afternoon in the garden admiring our beautiful weeds.

Recently the local market has been full of dandelion leaves. I really love dandelion salad. It is great with lardons and a olive oil and white wine vinegar dressing but considering the state of our garden I couldn’t actually bring myself to pay for some. So finally today I did a little research and found out what I should be looking for when I pick my dandelion leaves.

It turns out, unsurprisingly, that you should go for the younger plants which haven’t yet given a bud or flower as they are less bitter. You can also eat the flowers and the buds. Apparently the buds go well in omelettes and you can tempura the flowers. The flowers are bitter but have a sweet taste and I am definitely going to start using them in my salads for extra colour.

You can eat this?

Now when I started explaining to E that we can eat dandelions she was a little skeptical but did taste a few admitting that they were ok but needed a bit of salad sauce. I think our dandelions might be getting a bit bitter but I managed to find a decent selection of fresh leaves for a tonight.

Then E found one lone blossom that had already turned to seed and I showed a very excited little girl how you can blow them and watch the seeds fly away.

Dandelions collage

E also picked a bunch of dandelions for Teddy in-between scooting around on her tricycle.


picking dandelions collage

After all our salad picking we sat down for a little tea party with Teddy and tried out a batch of some homemade Jaffa cakes. I am still perfecting the recipe though so bare with me on that one.


It was a lovely day in the sunshine and the only shame was that poor M has been under the weather and slept it all away. Fingers crossed he will be back on form tomorrow.

Hope you enjoyed your weekends too!


Diet Bake #2: Bakes with Fruit

For those of you who didn’t see my previous post I am currently compiling a list of recipes that won’t completely sabotage my diet and allow me and my daughter to carry on enjoying baking. While there are many diet bakes out there I am trying to find healthier recipes rather those that simply substitute ingredients like sugar with artificial sweeteners.

Diet Bake #2 Bakes with Fruit

This week I have been trying out recipes that use fruit for the sweetness rather than huge quantities of sugar.

My first recipe is a Baby Led Weaning one I’ve adapted. This Banana Bread basically gets all of its sweetness from the bananas and sultanas and it is actually my hubby’s favourite.

Banana Bread


  • 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour (you can use plain flour but just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g sultanas (or raisins)
  • 200g mashed bananas
  • 1 egg beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly grease a 450g loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl with the spices. Rub the butter into the flour or use a blender until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sultanas and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl mash the bananas and add the egg.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mix and fold in.
  6. Put the mixture into mould and place the oven. Turn the oven down to 160°C and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. When it is done a skewer should come out clean when it is inserted.

For this bake I actually used 3 mini loaf tins instead and baked than for 25 minutes in a same temperature oven. This meant each loaf gave 6 slices (so 18 slices in total). I sometimes think choice of tin is everything. 2 smaller slices seem more satisfying to me than one big one and sometimes a small slice of a square bake can seem like more than one of a round cake. I guess it is like that experiment where they use highball glasses and tumblers to distort perception of quantity by Wansink, B. & van Ittersum, K. (2007). We are so easily fooled by optical illusions we might as well use it to our advantage.

With 18 slices 1 slice was 2 WeightWatchers points, while 2 slices was only 3 points (yay!) and this came to only 64 calories per slice!

N.B. These banana loaves also freeze really well.

Next I had to try out an apple recipe. You can’t do a fruit bake series without one but surprisingly trying to find a good recipe to work off was pretty tricky as they all tend to be laden with sugar and butter.

I eventually found a one but lowered some of the sugar quantities as I found them unnecessary Next time I might try lowering them further – it depends so much on the fruit you use.

Apple and Pear Cake

Apple Cake


  • 3 ½ medium apples or pears (you can actually use any fruit e.g. peaches or plums)
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 230 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain white flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 20cm square tin (or 23cm round one)
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple and pears into slices and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and 30 g of sugar and leave the apple to sit.
  4. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In another bowl or a mixer cream together the butter and 200g of the sugar and then add the eggs and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Arrange the apple and pear slices on top and place in the oven for 45 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This cake gives 12 slices at 6 WeightWatchers points a piece or 224 calories. Ok, it isn’t the lightest cake but its really yummy and it could be so much worse.

I love Mary Berry but her recipes are generally not very WeightWatchers friendly. She generally seems to use more fat in all of her recipes than anyone else. They are darn good though. You can understand my surprise though when reading through her book I came across one that looked like it might fit the bill. Here are Mary Berry’s Blueberry muffins.



  • 250 g white self-raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoons of baking powder
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 175 g blueberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a muffin tin or place cases in a 12 hole muffin tin (I use silicon muffin trays so I don’t use cases)
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (you can do this in a blender).
  3. Stir in the sugar, zest and blueberries (don’t do this bit in the blender though or you will destroy your blueberries).
  4. Mix the eggs and milk and add it directly to the dry mixture the mixture and blend quickly.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (almost to the top).
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the are well risen, firm and golden,
  7. Cool in the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and serve warm.

These muffins are suspiciously healthy at only 4 WeightWatchers points a piece or 157 calories.

I’m going to finish on a very healthy sounding one Banana Bran Muffins.

Banana Bran Muffins


  • 115g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 115ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g wholemeal flour
  • 100g wheat bran
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a muffin tin or line with muffin cases.
    2. In a large mixing bowl or blender, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
    3. Add the bananas, milk, vanilla and eggs and mix well.
    4. Combine the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt and blend into the banana mixture.
    5. Pour the mixture into the muffin tray or cases.
    6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in the tray for five minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.


This mixture makes about 14 muffins. They are also only 4 WeightWatchers points a muffin or 212 calories but you could add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix which would bring them up to 5 points or 276 calories a muffin.

With all of the banana recipes I find that if you can keep them a couple of days they just get stickier and yummier! So try to hold off a bit.

Wow, thats a lot of cake. Don’t worry we aren’t going to eat all the cakes ourselves we have the whole family including our 93 year old Granny coming to tea so hopefully they will all get eaten.

Happy baking!


Baking and Weight Loss

I know what you are thinking: it just doesn’t work. Ok, you’re kind of right. As my catering college teacher taught me, “fat is flavour”, so the moment you cut it out you risk losing a dimension of taste.

This post has been inspired by:

  1. Hunger
  2. Reading too many good blogs on baking
  3. Missing baking with E (my little girl) since I started the diet


I am currently on WeightWatchers and they just don’t seem to do good desserts. Being a big baker if I want to succeed with anything long term I am going to have to find a solution. I do think there is a balance to be struck though and this might turn out be very personal to me; my tastes and where I am willing to compromise.

When I cook savoury dishes I always weigh up the points difference between real cream and fat free yoghurt or adding an extra splash of olive oil. Generally I prefer to eat a little less of something really good than lots of something that is a bit dry or flavourless. Other times its whether we go for the fattier cut of meat for a slow cook with plenty of free root veg or a more expensive leaner cut with more carbs. Its about finding work arounds or ways to make informed healthy choices, for example, I have discovered that a tablespoon of cream does the same job as half a pot of fat free yoghurt for the same points value so it’s a no brainer for me on that one now.

The thing that really gets me with the WeightWatchers’ dessert books is the amount of sweetener they use or the measly portion sizes. That just doesn’t cut it for me. What a total waste of points!

My latest mission is to find good desserts or bakes that you can have a decent portion of and feel satisfied without having to sacrifice a meal (for those of you dieting). My first thoughts lead me to believe that this could be something so decadent that you only need a small taste or it could be something lighter than air that you could get a proper mouthful of minus the calories. I might have to experiment with lighter sponges or fruity desserts. And no a fresh fruit salad doesn’t count!

Is it possible? Let’s give it a go.

Diet Bake Attempts #1: Whisking-Method Cakes

Today we experimented with fat-free or low fat sponges. The only raising agent used in Whisking-Method Cakes is the air that has been trapped in the mixture during preparation. You therefore have to be very careful when folding in flour or putting the mixture in the tin so as not to knock the air bubbles out of the mix.

Fat free sponges

Firstly we made an Angel Cake:

Angel Cake has an almost chewy meringue like consistency, is relatively sweet, and most importantly for us it is light and fat free meaning less calories.

My recipe called for a 20cm springform cake tin with a funnel base but I used a 24cm silicon one with excellent results.


  • 85g plain flour
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tbsp icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line your tin with greaseproof paper (if you are using a silicon mould just grease it lightly).
  2. To incorporate the maximum amount of air possible it is important to sift the flour 3 times and sift the sugar separately. Then mix the flour and 40g of sugar and sift well together.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until very stiff and them hold them over your head to see if they are stiff enough (see picture). It is important that the eggs are room temperature as they can incorporate more air. The cream of tartar stabilised the mix so it does not over whip. Add the vanilla and 2 tbsp of sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny. Then gradually whack in the remaining sugar until the egg white form soft peaks.
  4. Fold in the flour and sugar mixture very carefully using a large metal spoon. You need to get rid of any large pockets of flour or bubbles but don’t over fold as the air is what makes the cake light. Then turn the mixture into the tin. Make sure the mixture is flat in the tin as this will be your base.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed.
  6. Once cooked leave to cook upside-down on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then remove carefully. Due to the low fat content the cake tends to stick so carefully use a knife to pull it away from the sides.
  7. When the cake was completely cool I dusted it with some icing sugar.

Angel Cake Collage

I found that the cake served 8 people at 4 WeightWatchers points or 140 calories a piece. Angel Cake is very sweet so you really don’t need much more than one portion which is great but maybe next time I’ll add some lemon zest to cut through some of that sweetness.

Next we had good fun trying out a Swiss Roll.

I haven’t made one of these since school. They have a reputation for being difficult (not the actual baking but the preparation) but there are a few tricks to making them easier to roll.


  •  85g plain flour, sifted
  • a pinch of salt (optional)
  • 3 room-temperature eggs
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp lukewarm water
  • 2-3 drops of vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp Caster sugar for dusting
  • 3 tbsp seedless jam (room temperature)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease the base and sides of a Swiss roll tin. Line the base with greaseproof paper and dust it with a little of  the caster sugar for dusting.
  2. Sift the flour and salt.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar, water and vanilla essence in a large heatproof bowl and fit it over (but not in) a saucepan of steaming water. Whisk with an electric beater until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
  4. Using a large metal spoon, fold the flour into the egg mixture and pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the sides have shrunk very slightly away from the tin and no impression remains when the top is pressed lightly with a finger tip.
  6. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on the work surface and sprinkle it evenly with caster sugar. Using a knife loosen the edges of the cake and turn it out onto the sugared greaseproof paper. Remove the lining paper carefully and trim the edges of the cake neatly. (If the lining paper doesn’t come away very easily at first lay a damp clean tea towel over it for a minute or so).
  7. While the cake is still warm spread it with the jam.
  8. Make a shallow cut across the width of the cake at about a cm from the end you are going to start rolling from (to facilitate rolling) and then using the paper under the cake to help you, roll the cake up tightly from one end. (Don’t worry they really aren’t that fragile when you do it while they are still warm!)
  9. Sprinkle some more caster sugar over the finished roll and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely with the seam on the underside of the roll.

swissroll collage

Once I had trimmed the sides and rolled the cake it was about 20cm wide and I found it gave 13 finger width slices each. One slice was 2 WeightWatchers points a piece or about 85 calories – unfortunately it was 5 points for 2 slices.

By the way, I went pretty traditional with only jam, but if you are feeling decadent and want to add cream you have to wait for it to cool first. Roll up the cake, unfilled, and keep it wrapped in greaseproof paper until it is cool. Unroll it very carefully, spread with whipped cream and roll it up again,

Generally some pretty successful baking I’d say – got to eat lots of cake and stayed on track with the diet. Through making some clever choices of cake I didn’t even have to compromise the original recipes!

Hope you enjoy testing them out yourselves. I’m also very interested to hear your suggestions for “lighter” bakes too if you have any?


Ich Liebster Dich

I’m feeling very honoured to have been nominated for the Leibster Award by Kelly at This Mom Gig! I didn’t think I had been blogging long enough to come on to anyone’s radar yet. I came across her blog relatively recently when she was writing about her “high-needs” little girl who reminds me a bit of E when she was a baby. I couldn’t imagine having to raise her on my own so hats off to her.

The Liebster Award is a “pass it on award” which helps lesser known blogs get some extra views from a different audience. I really like the idea as it is often hard to find new and interesting blogs to read.

The general rules are that you:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 500 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them.

So here are the answers to the questions Kelly set me:

  1. What is your favorite season? – I love the season of change best but they are so different… I’m going to have to say Spring right now probably because its topical but I might change my mind again in Autumn.
  2. What is your favorite meal to cook? – Wow, that’s a toughie. Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner or occasion or is it a set menu? I’m going to go with Breakfast as I love how it starts your day on a high note when you do a cooked breakfast. Often its on weekends too and I like begin relaxed when I cook.
  3. What is your earliest childhood memory? – I think it was in Kindergarden when I was about 3. We were having an argument during colouring with some girls and a few boys on whether pink of black was a better colour.
  4. Who in your family are you closest to? – My father. He has been very ill twice now in my life and each time it has brought us closer.
  5. Where would you rather wake up: a tent in the woods or a resort hotel bed? – Tent! I don’t like resorts and prefer having our own space.
  6. What makes you happy? – “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” but seriously it would have to be sunshine and my family.
  7. How do you take your coffee? – Depends on the time of day and the weather… Normally what the Swiss call a “café” which is like a slightly longer expresso.
  8. What is success? – Being happy.
  9. Dogs, cats, both or neither? – Both.
  10. If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would you have? – My aunt. I miss her.
  11. What is something you’re great at? – Being a mum. I know we all have our moments of doubt as parents but generally I love being a mum and looking after my two. I’ve always mothered everyone really so its not really new and being in hotellerie and food and beverage before has helped. Also I’m frankly pretty average at most things. Let’s skip forward to the teenage years and see if I’m saying the same thing…

It now falls on me to nominate my 11 favourite blogs with less than 500 followers:

  1. The Clear Parent
  2. Teaching Every Day
  3. Eat Sleep Bake Repeat
  4. Freedom Home Learning
  5. it’s ok to call your kid an asshole…
  6. Mom Goes On
  7. familydaystriedandtested’s Blog
  8. Two Three Or Not Two Three…
  9. Life Changing Moments
  10. The Peachicks Bakery
  11. A series of changes

Here are your questions:

  1. How did you decide on the title of your blog?
  2. In your opinion, what is the best blog post you’ve written so far? Give us the link.
  3. What’s the best advice you ever received?
  4. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you choose?
  5. What would be your ideal day out?
  6. What is your favourite recipe? (Can you share it?)
  7. What is your most cherished memory?
  8. How many hours did you sleep last night?
  9. If you had to live in a decade other than the current one, which would you choose?
  10. Who is your favorite author?
  11. What makes you laugh out loud?

I look forward to reading your answers!

Liebster Award


I Love Birthdays!

Well to clarify: I love throwing birthday parties, especially for my children.

Today we had my son’s first birthday party. As with my Daughter’s first Birthday we chose his favourite toy as the theme; everything was based upon his Ewan (a little fluffy purple sheep which plays calming womb sounds and helps him to sleep).

I had so much fun with the planning as I have only ever seen one other Ewan cake, and have never seen a sheep themed party. I decided to stay simple on the colour scheme with white, purple and green.

In planning it was important to take into account the fact we would have many different aged children attending. We needed a space for babies where they could amuse themselves crawling about. As the whole party was about sheep we created them out of balloons by sticking on faces (with googly eyes) and 4 legs with double sided sticky tape.

I then proceeded to make them a pen out of an old cardboard box. This was pretty simple:

  1. Cut out 8 long slats and 24 short ones out of cardboard
  2. Stick 2 long slats and 6 short ones together with glue to create each side
  3. Then jigsaw them together by cutting upward slits on the left hand ends of the horizontal slats and and downward slits on the right hand ends
  4. Taaadaaa 4 sided pen

The sheep pen baby area was completed with some grass effect stuck on the windows (cut out finger painted paper), a picnic on a bathmat lawn, our very own sheep dog and some of you might recognise our flowers from our bee post.

sheep pen

As it was tea time we didn’t go too overboard on the food. Obviously cake is a necessity and its nice to have a mix of fruit and sweets for young children plus some savoury snacks for the adults. Our menu consisted of: birthday cake, cake pops (I couldn’t resist the idea even though I’ve never tried them before), blueberries (purple), black grapes (purple again), purple smarties, sheep-esque marshmallows, purple potato crisps, sausages (everyone loves sausages), and breadsticks (M’s favourite).

birthday spread

I loved doing the cake pops. They were super easy once you know the tricks. Let me outline the bits you need to watch out for:

  1. Once you have crumbled your cakes and are adding the buttercream (or other frosting) add the minimum you can and still make it bind into balls. This stops them being too stodgy.
  2. When you are sticking the sticks in to the balls coat them in your covering (I used white chocolate as I have been advised that this is way easier than candy melts).
  3. Once you have the sticks in your balls pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes before coating them so that they are nice and solid and the stick is well stuck!
  4. Don’t rush to stick the accessories on as they will just slide off if the coating isn’t partially set.
  5. You can use upside down egg cartons to dry your cake pops if you don’t have polystyrene foam. Just make a hole in each egg section with a skewer for your cake pop stick.

Sheep pops

I think it was the actual cake which caused me the most bother although I was certainly happiest with the results out of all my creations to this date. It was only because I didn’t like the first recipe I tried and had to scale up my recipe and then try to figure out how much by and how long it would end up needing in the oven. I got there eventually though.

My recipe for a GIANT Victoria Sponge (which fills half a football):

  • 460g softened butter
  • 460g caster sugar
  • 8 beaten eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 460g self-raising flour

Preheat fan oven to 150°C.
Grease the cake tin.
Mix the butter till it is nice and fluffy and add the sugar.
Beat until the whole mixture is light and then very, very slowly add the eggs.
The mixture will curdle if you add the eggs too quickly or if they are cold. (You can add a tablespoon of flour if it looks like it is starting to split to try and save it).
Add the vanilla once all the egg is incorporated and then fold in the flour.
Bake in oven for 2 hours 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Once it was baked and cooled I cut it in half and filled it with Cherry Jam (more purple) and buttercream and then coated it in buttercream in order to stick on my topping of halved marshmallows. The head and legs were made out of fondant icing (the ears were helped to stay in place with a couple of cocktail sticks).

While preparing this cake I feel like I made a major discovery! I don’t know about you but whenever I apply buttercream I end up with half my cake surface sticking to the frosting on the knife rather than the cake. Ready to destroy my cake in frustration I took a break and thought over the dilemma. Frosting is mainly butter (fat). What repels fat? Water! Aha! I wet the knife and suddenly everything was simples. My cake looked just like one of those example cakes in the Debbie Brown books. Why does noone tell you this?

I love my cake if only for the fact that it felt so easy to decorate for once!

sheep cake

And also because M was absolutely thrilled with it. I don’t think we managed to capture it all in the photos but here is when he first set eyes on it.

Is that for me

E spent the whole evening before bed trying to pick up all the balloons that we had taken down. Try to spot the 2 year old:

Trying to pick up all the balloons

Potentially the only let down was my glass marker idea which didn’t really take off but I can understand it was a little fussy. Hope you like my homemade stickers and party bags in the background though.


All in all a very successful party I’d say.

Hope you have enjoyed your weekends too.

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Its oh so easy to just buy a pizza ready-made and pop it in the oven (or even easier to pick up the phone) but actually they are pretty simple to make from scratch. Here is my lazy guide to pizza making that even the kids can do.

Ok, so there is a little bit of work involved: You have to buy the ingredients at the shop and make the recipes at some point. This does involves some kneading by hand (if you don’t have a kneading attachment on your mixer). Kneading is a great workout though and can help release a lot of built up tension.

Here is my pizza dough recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver:pizza dough

  • 1 kg white bread flour or Tipo ’00’ flour, or 800g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 x 7 g dried yeast sachet
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tsbp extra virgin olive oil
  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • semolina flour for dusting (you can use normal flour but I prefer semolina)


Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface (or into your mixer with kneading attachment if you have one) and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about eight pizzas but I roll thinly.

I tend to make this and freeze 2 thirds as 1 third is enough for us as a family. If you freeze it into pizza size portions it is easier later.

When I know I want to make pizzas I just pop a couple of portions in the fridge the night before and it is perfect the next day and ready to roll. (That’s the lazy bit as I don’t actually have to make the dough when I want to make pizza).

I roll them out just before we are going to eat on to semolina flour as it gives it that nice slightly grainy base. I don’t really throw my pizza about much as I tend to lose it to the floor but feel free.

The next stage is the tomato sauce. Here is the perfect pizza sauce recipe and so easy to do. This is also a staple I have in the freezer pre-portioned and I take it out to defrost with the pizza dough the night before:

Pizza prep

Even Teddy helped


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper


Cook down onions until they are soft and then add the garlic. After one minute add the other ingredients (except the salt and pepper which you add right at the end to taste) and simmer for an hour. The sauce will be nice and thick and relatively chunky at the end but you can purée it if you are less lazy than me.

So this is why I said it was easy. For me it is a meal that doesn’t generally involve any cooking on the actual night: E loves to cook and the assembly is a task she can pretty much do alone. I supervise the rolling if we don’t want too many holes in our pizza bases but the rest is up to her. I like to promote independence in our children and even had her chopping button mushrooms from about 18 months (with her baby knife). I believe that there is no better way of learning than letting your toddler take part in everyday tasks. Of course there is a limit to how much you can bake (and actually consume) or what you can allow your child to clean without it becoming dangerous hence we do crafts too.

The great thing about pizzas is that you can put anything on them. Yesterday was fairly basic though as I had made a mushroom salad at lunch so that went on with some lardons left over from a quiche we made.  As for cheese we went classical again with Mozzarella and Parmesan.
The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

The kids picking out which pizzas were theirs.

They took about 20 minutes in a 220°C oven. If you can heat it from the bottom element only and preheat the baking trays this helps you to get the lift and air in the dough like in pizza-oven baked ones.
We made two medium pizzas and one giant calzone. Please do give it a go as it really isn’t as daunting as it looks. Happy pizza making.