Baking with Kids: Healthy Brownies and Muffins

Carrot and Courgette Muffins zucchini baking

Distract distract distract shout sums up my parenting method with my middle child right now. He gets very jealous of his big brother and his seemingly endless stream of playdates.  I try my best to make our time together fun in some way to make up for the fact he has to hang out with his mum and a baby. We visit cafes and the park and the nearby museum and surprisingly, bringing just two children places feels *almost* easy now. But when we’re at home, we enjoy baking together.

This is the same boy that saw a tiny brown mouse sitting on the path in the park recently, and squatted down for a good chat with it. I am not kidding, it made his week, once I had reassured him that mousey’s mum and dad were nearby and that he wasn’t scared on his own. You see, the bar for entertaining him can be set quite low, although, the window in which the day goes from ‘best day ever’ to ‘worstest day ever’ is also very narrow. He likes to keep me on my toes.

Let’s not kids ourselves now; when it comes to baking the mess and the bowl licking are his highlights, and eating the end product is mine. Everything in between runs the gamut from delightful bonding time to me grinding my teeth in stress at flour on the floor and maple syrup on the counter.

Of course you’re always going to find shiny videos of pristine parents and even cleaner kitchens with everyone wearing aprons if you look for videos of baking with kids on line. This is not that. We love Insta Stories and find it a fun way to share our baking escapades. Teddy particularly likes the camera and watching himself back – unsurprisingly. I like it for the rough and readiness  (see the dark chocolate on my face, some teary interruptions from Ivy and Ted wanting to lick things all the time) and for the feedback from viewers. I’ve shared the videos of us making these recipes below.

We made Black Bean Brownies with Raspberries, which I have made numerous times before and Carrot and Courgette Muffins, which were a new recipe to us. Baby Ivy is going to be starting solids in the next month so I’m keeping an eye out for things to try. These muffins will be great, I’ll just sub out the honey and use maple syrup instead. Continue reading

Four. Ted is on the Case!

Paw Patrol cupcakes

birthdaychair-croppedFour. It sounds big doesn’t it? Still a pre-schooler but definitely not a toddler. A big boy when it suits him, my little baby when it doesn’t. He’s articulate and headstrong, with a very strong sense of injustice, and a new found love of blue cutlery only. Incidentally I was trying to phase out the plastic cutlery and dishes when he decided he was suddenly very attached. See; headstrong. And the injustice? Just about everything is unjust, especially everything that his big brother does or says ever.

Continue reading

The Pool, The Stitches and The BB8 Cake

BB8 Star Wars

Like a harbinger of doom the by now six year old started asking questions in the car on the way to his party. Quite chirpily, he enquired “What happens if a mammy dies when a baby is in her tummy? Like, if her body stops working?” Now, there is no baby in mammy’s tummy and nothing quite so tragic befell us between our house and the swimming pool but we didn’t escape the day drama-free nonetheless.

I know what you’re thinking. Who would have a pool party for a six year old? Why would you do that to yourself? Luckily having read this cautionary tale I had checked the T’s & C’s: parents did not need to accompany the kids into the pool. That meant one hour of coffee drinking and viewing gallery sitting for us. Nice one. Continue reading

A Trifling Matter


I am attempting a trifle later this week. I have never made one before. I do like a challenge but I’m feeling the pressure when there’s twelve adult tasters involved. Somehow in the Great Christmas Dinner plan (in my brother and sister-in-laws house) I was delegated the trifle. Not by the hosts who are of course wonderful to have us all. There was a person, who shall remain nameless, who volunteered to make one then subcontracted it out to me due to circumstances beyond their, or clearly my, control. I could have been making an Ottolenghi-like starter or wowed them similarly with some meat free delight that would cause all to gasp and renounce the turkey* but no, I’m making a trifle. Ah sure grand so, that’s that decided then. Or is it?

See that? Now that does nothing for me.

When I had it growing up, often courtesy of a very well meaning great aunt it was full of jelly, readymade custard, tinned fruit, soggy sponge and cooking sherry. So far, so 1980s. Younger me preferred to head straight for the selection box instead. My mother-in-law makes a fabulous one that her whole family leap on each year, but I’ve been put off the whole thing as a concept.

I had an idea though. I would go off piste with the recipe. Apparently this is controversial as there are hardcore Classic Edition trifle fans attending. But they are not making it; I am, so to that end I am making this Chocolate Trifle with Baileys and I have high hopes. (Also, I don’t even eat jelly except the Veggie Percys in M&S.)

What can go wrong? Look sure, I have a checklist done.

  • Massive bowl. Borrowed: Tick.
  • Making a chocolate loaf on thursday morning: Tick.
  • Custard anxiety: I do not trust myself to make something with seven egg yolks that has the capacity to curdle. So I am going with ready made but Birds custard and other yellow sludgy monstrosities have been eschewed. Only the expensive posh creamy Madagascan vanilla stuff will do. Tesco and M&S stock same: Tick.
  • Whole shebang getting assembled thursday evening: Tick.
  • Massive bowl has a lid for car/lap transportation. Cream will be added at the final destination: Tick.

If the worst comes to worst? Who on earth is actually hungry for dessert on Christmas Day? Anyway there’s always most of a bottle of leftover Baileys to drink.

* It is twenty years, TWENTY this month since I did in fact renounce the turkey. I think it’s an anniversary worth mentioning.

Now we are Three: Pox & A Minion Birthday Cake

It looks like we might have made it to the end of the chicken pox. Two small boys down in three weeks, many tears shed (mostly mine), large doses of cabin fever and one birthday that fell on a bad day celebrated instead at the weekend. I would like to be folded into a suitcase and posted to the nearest yoga retreat with vegan food and a vow of silence right now. But I’ll settle for a cuppa and the tv to myself.

Crumbs V Pox
Crumbs V Pox

I steered Teddy away from a Star Wars cake request (think big bro had had a word in his ear). I’m a fan of age-appropriate celebratory baking, so I started big upping the idea of Minion birthday cake a few weeks ago. Continue reading