Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Triple Strawberry Birthday Cake

My son is mad for strawberries so it came as no surprise that he requested a strawberry birthday cake this year. Only condition - no pink sponge!
Loved the cake and am already thinking of how to change the strawberries for raspberries, or even a citrus twist next time :-)

Makes a three layer 8 inch cake

Here's how I made it :

Strawberry flavoured sponge
300g self-raising flour, sieved
350g caster sugar
2 x 23g sachets strawberry flavoured jelly powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
4 eggs, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp vanilla extract
250 ml milk

Strawberry filling
450g fresh strawberries
30ml cold water
2tsp strawberry jelly powder
350ml double cream
100g icing sugar, sifted
1tsp vanilla extract
1/8tsp salt

Topping
Chocolate cake covering block, melted
Strawberries, handful

Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease three 8 inch baking tins, dust with flour and then tap out the excess. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, or measuring cup, combine the milk with the vanilla. Set aside.
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl cream the sugar, jelly powder and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each egg.
Add the milk/vanilla extract combo & dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add a little of the dry ingredients first, mix, add a little of the milk combo, mix, repeat until all ingredients are combined in the creamed mixture bowl.
Divide the mixture in three, spreading it evenly with a spatula, or knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Leave to cool on wire racks.

While the cakes cool, wash strawberries and allow to dry slightly in a colander. Trim off the greens and slice the strawberries into a bowl and set aside.
Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, pour the jelly powder and water into a bowl. Stir and leave it to sit for 10 minutes.
Place 80mls of the cream in a small pan over medium-low heat. Once cream comes to a simmer, pour slowly over the jelly powder. Mix with a fork until jelly has dissolved. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow to cool. Stir the bowl often or the cream will begin to gel.

Using an electric whisk beat the remaining cream, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt on high until soft peaks form, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Reduce to medium-speed and drizzle the jelly mixture into mixer bowl. Return to high and beat until firm peaks form.

Once your strawberries are sliced and your whipped cream is prepared place one of your sponge layers onto a plate or serving platter. Spread one third of the whipped cream over the top of the cake layer to the edges, leaving the sides bare. Spread one third of the strawberries evenly over the whipped cream. Repeat the order for the next two layers.
To decorate I covered with melted chocolate and chocolate dipped strawberries.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Our weekend camping


Last weekend we marked Chalk's 7th birthday by going on a camping trip.
A whole weekend was dedicated to celebrating his birthday, needless to say he lavished the idea!
The car was packed ready to go and as soon as the boys were finished school/nursery on Friday we headed off to a Parkdean campsite that is under two hours away.
We had never been to this campsite before, in fact we had never been to a Parkdean site before, and were very pleasantly surprised.
As it was for Chalk's birthday we chose this site for the chance to take him to the evening show and the swimming pool. Make it a little more special seeing as it was for his birthday.
Needless to say it was a bit cold, and wet, but being September we expected it to be and because we took full advantage of the facilities (even managed to introduce the boys to the world of bingo!) we were only in the tent to sleep anyway.
Fantastic family weekend, lots of memories made.
Chalk's favourite part - the arcades!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Preparing


This week I has spent the majority of my time doing one of the most satisfying tasks - ticking off checklists :-)
We have a two-in-one reason for my preparing this week. The first is that Chalk turns 7 on Saturday and this means I have been given strict instructions of what cake he would like made. A square strawberry sponge cake (but not pink sponge) with fresh strawberries in the middle. So recipes have been adapted and shopping lists have been made.
As part of his birthday celebrations comes the second (and bigger!) preparations. As soon as the boys are done school on Friday we are off camping for the weekend! So my camping checklist has come out and I have slowly been ticking it off as the week has gone by. All we need now is some good weather!

Hope you all had a good week. I know that a few of you had children going back to/starting school this week, hope it was a happy time for you all :-)


The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Our Summer Holidays in Photos


With only one day away to Landmark Forest Park our summer holiday was filled with visits to parks, beaches, barbecues and back garden water fun. Oh, and with Cheese turning 4 thrown into the mix :-)

Friday, 29 August 2014

School


The boys have been back to school/nursery for a week and a half now and the summer holidays feel like a distant memory already.
We are well, and truly, back into the academic routine. This week the 'easing the child/parent into the school year' view from the first couple of days have passed.
Homework has arrived home, the new Viking class project has been discussed daily, tiredness (and the lovely stroppy attitude that comes with it!) is expected and weekends are now counted down to.
I have also had a meet the teachers evening this week. With both boys having new teachers this year (Chalk has 2, Cheese has 3) it was an opportunity to put a face behind their names and find out how the boys are settling in.
This also gave me my quote of the week, courtesy of one of Chalk's teacher.  I introduced myself as Chalk's mum, to which she replied "oh he is a right little old man sometimes!" ?! Mmm, think i'll take that as a compliment!


The Reading Residence

Friday, 15 August 2014

Birthday


There was no doubt that this would be my word this week, as Cheese turned 4 today!
Scary to think how time has flown by, confirmation to make the most of everyday. Blink and it's gone!
With his birthday approaching Cheese has mastered the days of the week. Every morning we have had "what day is it?" and then counting the days down to today. One last skill he achieved as a three year old:-)

Although I was preparing last week for his birthday I did, of course, have a last minute panic. I have come to expect the doubt of "have we got him enough?". Thankfully I have also learned to stand up against it and say "yes we do, I'm not buying for the sake of it!" Start as you mean to go on, they don't expect a mountain so why should I get conscerned with counting presents!
So today is the day and Cheese has been having a great birthday. He doesn't like being the centre of attention and by lunchtime was already telling us to stop calling him birthday boy. He does enjoy the amount of chocolate cake he's allowed to eat though (absolute chocoholic!).



The Reading Residence

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Kids in the Car

Honestly want to know how good a driver you are? Easy, ask your kids. I was recently asked to share my views on the new Kids in the Car campaign that Road Safety Scotland and the Scottish Government are running, and after watching the commercial it got me thinking.
 

I must admit I am not the main driver, much so that when I do the boys always question why I'm sitting in Daddy's seat. I also have to admit that I am a very hesitant driver. When I took my driving test I lost points for hesitating at a junction.
But that is a good thing, right? Well on the Kids in the Car campaign website there is a questionnaire of 6 questions that evaluates your driving skills. This was my result:
' You’re a very careful driver and present the best possible example to your little passengers. Keep up the good work and make your promise to continue to be a better driver, so they grow up to be as safe on the road as you.'
Woohoo, feeling really good about myself I asked the boys what they thought of my driving. "You take longer, and sometimes ask other cars what they are doing, but you don't beep the horn like some Mummys".
Ok maybe I do question other drivers skills and manuevers, and for that split second I forget there are human sponges behind me that have nothing else to do but watch their surroundings, and that includes me.
It is so easy to become so focused when driving, and without looking in the rear view mirror, to forget that you are constantly being examined.
So in future I will be trying extra hard to think before reacting to other drivers actions. I want to explain why I am not happy with what another driver did, so the boys understand what was wrong, not leave them with the impression that you just make remarks everytime someone does something you don't like.
So if you have a spare 5mins ask your kids about your driving, even better ask them to draw you driving (and if you upload their drawing here you will automatically be entered into a family holiday competition ) and I would love it if you let know :-)