On Alex’s actual birthday Nate made him a cake. He is slightly obsessed with cake and loves reading my cook books. While flipping through BBC’s Good Food 100 Cakes & Bakes he found this gem. A perfect dish for a toddler to assist with. In fact, he did almost all the work. By the way, he can also count to cake: “2, 3, 4, cake!” Math is tasty!
It’s actually very easy and great if you get a punet of not-so-sweet, out of season strawberries. Cooking will bring out the sugar to make a lovely, sweet centre for your torte.
- 450g of strawberries, sliced
- 175g self raising flour
- 175g ground almonds
- 175g caster sugar
- 175g butter, softened
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1tsp cinnamon
- icing sugar for dusting
Plop everything into a food processor and give it a whir until a thick dough forms. It’s much more like cookie dough than cake batter. Take half the batter and press into your lined spring form tin. Go ahead, get your fingers dirty. Spread all the strawberries out on top of the dough. Take the rest of the dough and spread evenly on top of the berry layer. The easiest way to do this is to spoon out tablespoon size dollops around the tin, then press together to ‘hide the strawberries’. This was Nate’s favourite step.
Place in oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Loosely cover with foil to keep from over-browning and cook for a further 20-25 minutes. It will rise slightly and be a lovely golden brown. Cool until you can safely remove the spring form. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with fresh whipped cream.
It doesn’t keep for very long, not that you’ll have that much left over anyway! Nom, nom, nom. The light, frothy whipped cream really brings out the torte and is not to be missed.
Alex loved it. He’s a very happy birthday boy. And a cheeky little devil too. Someone gave him attitude for his birthday and it looks like he’s going to be trouble. Adorable trouble!
(Adapted from BBC Good Food Strawberry Cinnamon Torte recipe)
Today I baked my first loaf of bread. I’ve made soda bread and banana bread before, but this was my first honest to goodness real yeast-based bread. It is something that has been on my to-do list for much too long now. I tend to get overwhelmed by things I haven’t tried and make a much bigger deal of it in my head. Someone must have told me that making bread was super hard or maybe it is because some people us a machine to make it (that word machine sounds totally big and aggressive and scary, right?) Turns out, it wasn’t really that hard at all. It is pretty good, but the perfectionist in me thinks I can do better. Part of my ambition as a stay at home mom is to make more and buy less so this may become a regular thing. If the rain keeps up, it might actually be easier to make bread than loading up the kids in the buggy to head down to the shop to by yet another disappointing loaf of sliced bread.
It doesn’t have to be Pancake Day for the delicious breakfast staple to make an appearance in the Dare household. Usually Chris takes the helm of the griddle on weekend mornings or any time we decide to have breakfast for dinner. It’s one of the reasons I love him. Let’s get one thing clear here. I am American, so make no mistake, pancakes are pancakes. Fluffy, stacked to the ceiling and smothered in maple syrup. Anything else is a crepe.
Pancakes are super easy. Here’s our basic recipe that can be made even more delicious by adding apples, bananas, pumpkin, cinnamon, berries, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. (Makes about 6 average sized pancakes)
- 2 apples, peeled and diced
- Dash of cinnamon
- 1 C flour
- 1 C whole milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 vanilla extract (or vanilla paste for extra yum)
- pinch of salt
Step 1: Stew apples with cinnamon until soft, set asside. Step 2: Mix dry ingredients. Step 3: Whisk egg into milk and slowly pour into dry ingredients. Step 4: Stir until just mixed (over stirring will make tough pancakes). If mixture is too runny, add more flour. If too dry, more milk. Step 5: Ladle into a medium hot pan. Step 6: Spoon in apples. Step 7: Let mix sit for a couple of minutes. When bubbles begin to form on top, flip.Step 8: Cook for a couple of minutes on the other side until it starts to turn golden brown. Step 9: Cover with maple syrup and serve with bacon, eggs. Step 10: Eat um while they’re hot! (or heat up in the toaster the next day)
I try to inject a little South Texas-ness whenever I can (and was super proud when Nate ate nothing but salsa and guacamole for dinner), so I like to make toddler and adult friendly Tex-Mex. That means creating healthy-ish vershions of my favourite foods. Tonight’s dinner was mini taco bowls, a hybrid of something I’ve made before and something I saw on CBeebies. It’s a great meal to get your kids involved in cooking too!
Step one: Tear the tortillas in half and press into a muffin tin. A little oil (very little) or cake release spray will help it stick. Put in the oven at 180C for 8-10 min (or until it starts to get golden brown.
Step Two: Fill with yummy things. Pre-cook mince with a little cumin, diced potatoes, tomato paste and oregano for a tasty taco flavour. The big people can add a little chili or jalapeño to spice it up. Add kidney or black beans and pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes or so. Layer up lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (or whole yoghurt). Or go crazy, add anything else you want!
For a bigger bowl, stick a tortilla inside an oven proof bowl and bake in the oven for a few minutes. Carefully switch to the outside of the bowl to finish the job.
Nate and I love cooking together, especially when it’s cornbread for Chili Night! Recipes are much more fun when they’re set to music, don’t you think. This one is super easy…enjoy!
Let’s Make Cornbread from The Dares on Vimeo.
For all you metric folks, here’s the recipe for you
- 1 cup cornmeal (polenta) (160g)
- 1 cup plain flour (120g)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk (full fat) (240ml)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 stick of butter, melted (I think this is around 50g…US sticks of butter are A LOT smaller than over here)
- 1/4 cup honey (60ml)
Makes a dozen large muffins. Be sure to use casings because they stick and are really crumbly. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/180C fan assisted.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt) In another bowl whisk the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, butter, honey) Add wet to dry and stir until just mixed. Fill muffin casings until mostly full (they wont rise much) and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. They only last a couple days at most in an air tight container. You’ll know if they are too old…and will regret testing it!
It is May. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. One month left of my maternity leave, soon Nate will be in creche three days a week and I’ll be back at work. I’m trying to embrace all the Mommy Time I have with him before this amazing life as a SAHM comes to an end.
One of the toughest parts of going back to work is giving up breastfeeding. Nate and I struggled and worked very hard together to make breastfeeding work in the first couple of months. Now that it is quick, easy and enjoyable I really hate to stop. But I am grateful for the 9 months we had and for everything I learned about breastfeeding. I’m a huge advocate for it and if I could get my boobs to work, so can just about any gal. I’m giving myself one more week before I start to ween him to the bottle full time.
I can’t say enough positive things about breastfeeding. I did bottle feed for a bit, so I can compare. Once established breastfeeding is so easy, convenient and an amazing bonding experience for you and your baby. But I don’t want to be preachy. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. However, if you really want to breastfeed and are having trouble here’s my story.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed from the beginning. Lots of my friends told me not to get my hopes up, some people can’t breastfeed. I thought that was crazy, women have had no choice but to breastfeed for thousands of years so why would I be the exception. I’m very stubborn, so the more people told me I might not be able to feed Nate and the more problems we encountered, the more I dug in my heels and pushed to make it work.
Like his momma, Nate loves to entertain. So it’s no wonder that he goes all out when his baby buddies are coming over for our playgroup. I’ll admit that I spend less time in the kitchen than most moms (thanks to my gourmet hubby), but I do like baking easy cakes and cookies. We were delighted to try out this recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake by my dear friend Aimee of The Apron Archives.
Aimee’s blog is a real treat, with so many goodies that I can’t wait to try out. The mommas at my play group loved the cake and even took some home. I love the days when I get so much done and make the most of being home with Nate, channeling my inner Donna Reed. The best thing about coffee cakes is the chat that goes along with it. I’m so lucky to have a great group of ladies with babies around Nate’s age to share our war stories. Plus, the little babies are ridiculously cute!
I can’t wait to really bake with Nate! It was so tempting to let him lick the spoon!