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Wednesday 27 February 2019

Life and Baking - A Reflection

Life and baking can be a game of two halves.

Sometimes life is an absolute pleasure.  
An amazing half term in glorious sunshine having fun with the grandkiddies.  
A cosy Sunday lunch for a family birthday celebration.  
That was life last week and I definitely don't blog when I'm having so much fun!

Sometimes life can be sad and difficult.
And just when I planned to write up a blog last weekend, sad life happened and my time was immediately allocated to pressing matters which needed dealing with immediately.

So what I'm saying here is that there will be times in a hobby blogger's calendar when blogging is put on hold and these last few days have been such.

But I'll share some of the nice stuff with you.  
Baking.  My baking game is one of two halves too.
Success.  And failure.

First, the rip-roaring success..


GD made these little clouds of yumminess


using this cook book.

She's been going through the book in the school holidays and I'm always excited when I see her walk into my kitchen with The Unicorn Cookbook under her arm.  Every single thing we've tried has been delicious yet easy to make.  I really recommend this cookbook and what a great no-brainer pressie this makes to help engage children in cooking - Yumminess and UNICORNS in one!!

Dressed for the part!

Oh and just in case you go looking for the recipe in the book,  the actual recipe was for a piled up pavlova but we thought it would be easier to eat and share with the family if made as individual merengues.  
And it was!  OK, GD and I may have had a bigger share than the rest of the family but hey, isn't that the cooks' prerogative?!!

And then there was the den building whilst we engaged ourselves in our baking.
GS built an amazing Den City!  It was an all-mod-cons den with a secret extension under the kitchen table.  All manner of conveniences were amassed in there, including a water-filled bowl to create a bathroom area.  Ok granny did baulk a bit at this convenience,  but there was zero spillage!

So this is pretty much what my kitchen looked like last week.  Den City and merengues.  Not a bad place to be!

Then, the failure.

I made a birthday cake for the family lunch.  A birthday girl must have a cake, eh?  She is diabetic so I hunted around for a recipe. 

I chose this one, link below.  

It uses prunes to bring some of the sweetness to the party.  The rest comes from regular demerera sugar - but I decided I could  make it even more diabetic-friendly by replacing that with sugar substitute.
Here I should remind the reader that cake baking is absolute chemistry.  It belongs in the alchemist's corner of the kitchen.    know that.  
I thought I was clever enough that I could adapt the recipe ...

The day before the lunch I set about making the cake and with hindsight I'm glad that I set out early on this journey.  The cake was an epic fail!  I got the sugar substitute to sugar conversion wrong - do not yet this at home as it was a solid as a rock.
It put me in mind of Mrs Cropley's* culinary experimentation.

Initially I thought I could double the sweetness in the ricotta frosting and mask my cock-up but I woke up in a cold sweat at 5am and resolved to draw a line under my failed alchemy and start again.  I then went back to sleep, peaceful in the knowledge that I had a plan B. 

 And thus, Sunday morning found me squeezing in some time around my chicken roastie lunch to put plan B in action.  
And phew!  Following the recipe to the letter, the cake was yumminess itself, deliciously moist and moreish.

Do try it, it's delish!

So the lesson here is that in cake making DO NOT DEVIATE.
And when it goes rock-shaped, bin it and start again!

*And remember Mrs Cropley!

Now please tell me you've had cake fails too!

A la perchoine, 
Mary x.


  1. Well I sure am sorry you have had some sad days but boy isn't that the way life is. It's good to take time away and handle things. I love all the creativity with the grandkids - they must love spending time with you. My niece loves unicorns - she'd love that recipe book. I think your grandson is pretty clever to come up with a bathroom area in his design. I have not tried to use sugar substitute when baking but I'll heed your warning and remember the chemistry involved. Glad the plan B cake was delish!!

    1. Thanks, Kellyann, it was my elderly uncle and my days haven't been my own. Hope you're doing ok, you have so much to deal with right now.
      Oh I really hope they enjoy coming to Granny's house! And your little niece will love cooking from this book with you and I know you enjoy spending time with her. Glad grandson's architect talents impressed you.
      Wishing you a great weekend ahead sista, x.

  2. I've only made meringue cookies once for a special occasion, they are so pretty and delicate. The thing that I like about baking is most flops are still pretty tasty! Haha, my Grands have not done fort building at our house yet--so creative!

    1. Oh you call it fort building over there, that explains an episode of Friends to me now!
      You are so right Kim, just change the name from cake to biscuit and suddenly the flop is hidden!
      Wishing you happy fort and Unicorn baking days to come, x.

  3. I made some meringues once from a Weight Watchers recipe that was using a sugar substitute(Stevia I think) and I think it was 4ozs, well 4ozs of that was a huge amount and they were disgusting don't know if it was a misprint. But yours look Yum.

    1. Hi Polly, it's great to hear from you. I used Splenda and the weight of a tspn was 1/10th that of sugar - I think it would have flopped even if I'd got the maths right so perhaps yours wasn't a misprint!
      Hugs, x.

  4. Life is always up and down, Mary. As long as you can cope with downs the ups will make up for them!

    My two older grandsons used to love making dens under the table. Not sure what the youngest would make of it; I'll have to try it out with him!

    The meringues look delicious and your reborn birthday cake sounds wonderful.

    Hope this week is going better for you.

    1. Thanks for your wise words, Vronni. An elderly uncle passed away and the first few days were consumed with this. Den building is something you must take up again!
      Hope you weekend goes well, Hugs x.

  5. Those meranguies look so tasty and I'm glad your second cake worked out - it also looks so delicious!

    Thank you so much for joining the #weekdayWearLinkUp :)

    Sorry you've been having a few bad days though, I hope things improve.

    Away From The Blue

    1. Things are back on track again thanks, Mica. That recipe is definitely worth trying, it's as little healthier than regular choc cake.

      Wishing you a fab weekend, x.

  6. Sorry to hear this Mary, sending you lots of good wishes. You look like you've been having such fun with the grandkids - we make dens and often bake cakes too. Your's look delicious, I could just eat one of them with a nice cup of tea! Jacqui Mummabstylish

    1. Thanks, Jacqui. Aren't half term hols fun?! And there's never a cake around when you fancy a slice eh?!
      Have a super weekend skiing, x.

  7. The merengue looks beautiful and delicious and so does the cake! Glad you were able to get it right the second time!

    1. Oh Laura, I'm so pleased I gave that cake a second shot, otherwise I would have felt a failure forever more!
      Have a super weekend, hope you the polar vortex misses you, x.

  8. Well done on having a second go and getting the birthday cake right! They both look yummy. I never bake, the hubster just won't eat cake and I don't want to be tempted. If sweet treats are needed, I go to M&S. But I do wish I had the time (and skill) to be able to bake as it's such an act of love. Hope all is well - hugs.

  9. Feel your pain Gail, I have the same issue with TP, so I get really excited to bake for those I know will enjoy it! Maybe bake one for you mum on your next trip down to Plymouth?
    Hugs and happy weekend, x.

  10. What fun! A den city and Unicorn meringues. I can't think of a better way to spend the day. Too bad about the "rock" cake. LOL That sounds exactly like something I'd try to do and have an epic fail too. Oh well. Thank goodness for plan B. XOXO

    1. Haha 😂, yes it really was a rock cake! Gotta be fleet of foot in the kitchen to cover up the disasters!
      Hope your weekend is going great, x.

  11. oh that unicorn merchanising just goes on doesn't it. Inventive to bring out a cookery book for the young people, and the grandmas.

    1. Yes, it fires up enthusiasm and engages more than the non-unicorn kiddies cook book I have at granny's house, so it seems work well.
      Hugs, x.