Easter Goodies

I sort of find Easter a weird one. At Christmas time it's much easier to tell and retell the Christmas Story and warble one about peace of earth, goodwill to all, that kind of thing. But the Easter story lends itself less well to bedtime stories plus the whole Easter Bunny thing just confuses things massively.

However I don't think we were going to get away with another year of just ignoring the whole thing. Plus any excuse for crafting right?

I've had this treat bag pinned for years and I'm so glad I got round to making some. I'm completely on board with this reusable wrapping thing and these were so easy to make.  I love felt. I feel like I may have mentioned that about 32432432 times on the blog, but it's so good to make with.

But what's in the bag? Well for the kids I made one for, including my most handsome nephew Robbie I just put some non edible little gifts I thought they would get a kick out of. A wee chocolate bunny may also have sneaked in....

For B and G I put some easter chick pegs in - random but fun - and I made theme some of these chocolate surprise eggs. I found a silicon egg mould in the poundshop which I filled with melted chocolate, leaving them somewhat hollow in the centre. Before I glued the halfs together with melted chocolate I popped in some haribo sweets to make them surprise eggs.

They are quite small - but thick and the kids already have a shelf groaning with eggs kindly gifted to them by friends and family.

I can see me making suprise eggs a yearly tradition and I'll make sure to reuse the bunny bags too. I bought some plastic fillable eggs which I filled with marshmallows which we will  (Greig will) hide tomorrow morning and I think we'll hand over the bunny booty when they've found all of the eggs.

Do you have any Easter traditions you'd like to tell me about? Or do you mostly just subscribe to the eating so much chocolate you feel a bit pukey camp?

Type A Baking

This week has been the kind where I think how on earth do I manage to blog ever? How is it possible to fit it in with all the child wrangling, house stuff, and of course the knitting.

I've been trying to find a balance between letting the kids get a little bored and all out destruction. Don't you find boredom is the first step to them being completely absorbed in playing a new game or enjoying an old one? So I've been trying to have some down time at home waiting for kidspiration to strike and also see some friends and not go completely stir crazy. There is also a fine line between hanging out at home and developing cabin fever.

One of Brodie's favourite things to do is baking. Grier is cottoning on now as well but sometimes baking with 2 little people is a battleground.

I will stir it

No I will stir it

NO I WILL STIR IT - as wooden spoon flies across kitchen spraying flour and raw egg.

You get the picture.

One thing that did work well though was making chocolate nests. Granny furnished us with 'Wheetabricks' and chocolate and those dangerously addicitive little chocolate eggs - don't tell me you don't know what I mean. They enjoyed all the mushing and arranging of tiny eggs. Grier of course hasn't actually eaten any of these cakes she just eats off the eggs and hands me back the slavery chocolate nest with a smile.

Brodie wanted to make Easter biscuits, so biscuit we did. I fully embrace letting the kids loose when baking. I don't hover over them, I let them do it solo and worry about the mess later. We took it in turns to weigh out the ingredients with minimal sibling violence. Then I split the dough into three parts - this is how I am able to let them go at it and not feel the need to intervene and correct them. I save myself for dough for later so I can bake in peace and let the Type A personality I inherited shine through.


And later when Brodie was watching a DVD - (what it's the HOLIDAYS!) and Grier was napping - lucky duck. I uniformly rolled out my dough. I used only the Easter egg cutter - no Easter angels or platypus cookies for me. I watched them in the oven so they were just browning around the edges when I whipped them out. Later I made royal icing - in pink and yellow - and iced those bad boys.

To be fair my piping technique is still rubbish but it was fun. And seeing all my eggs lined up on the worktop made me so happy. And the kids still got to smother their attempts with 40 colours of sprinkles with Grier managing to eat a considerable amount of raw cookie dough.

Of course I can't actually eat any of them but I'm quickly realising that doesn't matter as much as I thought it did. Making it pretty, mastering techniques that's what baking is for me. Which is weird.

Edward Sprinklehands

Quick, keep up!

I'd just like to document here on ye olde blog that for once I am way ahead of the times. I first made marshmallows in like 2011 or something.

And whilst I can't quite claim to have invented marshmallows apparently they are now the height of fashion, the new cronut as it were. AND I WAS THERE FIRST.

Since poor Morag can't have wheat or dairy in her diet marshmallows are one of the only things I can make for her, safe in the knowledge that I'm not going to make her ill. 

I made her a batch of pale blue marshmallows for Mothering Sunday and wrapped them in a brown bag, pegged with a tiny doily because it looks cute and I still have a lot of doilies to use up. Doily anyone?

I'd like to say marshmallows are really difficult to make but that would be untrue. You do need a sugar thermometer and some patience but the possibilities for flavour combinations are endless.

Next up I'm going to try this recipe from The Marshmallowists

It does require one to open a bottle of champagne and only use 2 tablespoons in the recipe itself, but that's the kind of decadence I live for.

It appears Brodie is a fan too.


Creative Challenge

A whole lot of Wonka cake

Making cake is fun, eating cake is better. You can view previous Brodie birthday cake adventures and his fabulous chubby cheeks here and here and here

Pinterest is your best friend in cake makery. I'd been pinning submarine cakes for months leading up to Brodie's birthday, thinking I was ahead of the game. Then he threw me the curve ball of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party request.

 

There are about 8 million Wonka cakes on Pinterest so I had plenty of inspiration. Most of them had fondant icing covering the main cake and because I watch a lot of Cake Boss I know that fondant is hard to handle for the amateur cake wrangler so I went with buttercream and made the smaller fondant decorations in front of the telly a few nights before the party. I bought a variety pack of fondant from the supermarket along with a package of white and made the toadstools, lollipops and candy canes. Fondant icing doesn't actually taste very good though so I felt it was a bit of false advertising but they held up well - I let them dry and harden so they were pretty robust.

The cake was just a basic red velvet which I baked in my largest round tin. I shaved a bit off the front and stacked it at the back so make the cake more hilly and so the chocolate river could flow down the way. I attempted to temper the chocolate so it would stay shiny but clearly my tempering skills are lacking so it was a bit dull in the end. I melted chocolate and poured it down the cake - tricky eh? Greig suggested some Malteser bubbles for the river and they looked good.

 

I whipped up a double batch of Peggy Porschen's white chocolate buttercream - first used here - and dyed it green with gel food colour. I gave it a thin coat using a palette knife - I believe this is called 'dirty icing' thanks Buddy! Finally I piped the 'grass' all over with a star tip.


Then it was time to add the decorations I'd already made. Greig came up up with the idea of including Augustus Gloop in the form of a lego man trapped inside some marble run tubes and drizzled in chocolate and dare I say that might be my favourite bit of this cake?

 

I have no idea what next year's request will be but I'm looking forward to the challenge and I won't be trying to make any early predictions!

A Wonka Birthday

About a month ago Brodie announced that his birthday would be a Charlie and the Chocolate factory party. Fair enough.

Give me a theme and I'll run with it.

During the last week we've been busy making some decorations, purple 'W's to decorate the gates and door with, giant lollipops made from paper plates wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons,  giant sweeties - balloons wrapped in cellophane. I think he enjoyed the build up as much as the day itself.

We played pass the parcel at the birthday boy's request and the young guest who was helping to play the music ensured Brodie won which was just lovely. Greig and I had already spoken at length about the politics of who should win but in the end it was taken out of our hands and Brodie was disproportionately happy to win a set of glow in the dark ceiling stars. We played some other party games and food and cake. As you do.

I'm planning posts on the cake and party bags later this week but suffice to say planning and making things to celebrate feels good. I felt very proud that Brodie wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and eat and play with him on his special day. He was so excited to dress up smartly and have his hair 'spiked'. Of course he was delighted that people kindly brought him gifts and he opened them all and said thanks and since the party finished has looked through them all and run his fingers over the pages on new books and delighted in new games. I think he was gracious and well mannered, as much as anyone can expect a nearly five year old hopped up on sugar to be.

I feel like I say this every time but our friends and family who celebrate so generously with us make my heart swell, they mean so much to me and they are the village who are raising this wonderful boy. Thank you.

The worst bit for the boy was waiting for the party to start. We started the fun at 11am which was perhaps unconventional but meant everyone was on top form for the main part and gave us plenty of time to wind down and play when it was all over. Good times.

Fizzy lifting drink, or lemonade to you and me.

Thank you for all those who contacted me yesterday about the MADS post, thank you, thank you.