Tag Archives: cooking with children

Kitchen Essentials: Fail-Safe Sponge Cake Recipe

As a parent one of the key skills you need is the ability to quickly knock up a tray of cakes for the school bake sale, or for a party you’ve forgotten about, or maybe just because it’s Thursday and you and your brood fancy some cake.

Before I became a mum I was a competent cook, but a terrible baker. After several years of trial and error and a bin full of failed bakes, I’ve finally found a recipe and method which works every – single – time for me.

sponge cake recipe

Over the years I’ve tried everything; Delia recipes, Nigella recipes, recipes passed down through the generations. I’ve tried a thousand different bakes and finally hit upon this – it’s my “Works Every Time” Sponge Cake Recipe. And it does, it really does.

I use this recipe as the basis for every sponge recipe I ever make now. If I’m baking buns or cupcakes, I just cut the recipe down by a third (so 200g of sugar instead of 300g etc). This is enough to make a three layer show-stopper of a cake, over the weekend I used this sponge recipe to make two lemon drizzle cakes in loaf tins – much to the delight of my family.

If I find myself with too much cake batter and not enough tin, then it’s just an excuse to make a few little buns on the side for a teatime treat for the boys.

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

One of the key things you need to do is to really, really beat your butter (or margarine) and sugar together until they are really light and fluffy. This makes a massive difference to the texture of your cake (trust me, a Dutchman who made incredible cakes give me that tip).

Works-Every-Time Sponge Cake

If you need a sponge cake recipe which works every single time – try this. You won’t regret it!

Ingredients:
300 g caster sugar
300 g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
300 g self-raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

Method:
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease three 20cm sandwich tins. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the three tins, you can weigh them to make sure they’re fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until golden and they’re cooked. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

I’ve made quite a few things with this sponge cake recipe. Looking back I’ve not really blogged many of those bakes, but here they are some examples of great bakes…

My easy sponge cake recipe which works every time! #Baking #EasyBakes #Cakes

Recipe: Malty Malteser Butterfly Cakes

In my family, September is birthday month and this week it was my brother’s turn to blow out the candles. We weren’t having a big bash for him, but you can’t successfully have a birthday without cake. My brother loves Maltesers, so I thought I’d make him some quick and easy butterfly cakes, but with a Maltesery twist.

I’ve had a jar of malt extract lurking in my cupboard for a little while now, so I knocked up a standard sponge recipe and added a big dollop of the lovely malty stuff. Baked my buns until they were golden and whipped up a chocolate buttercream icing complete with a big bag of smashed up Maltesers. There was no room for candles, but at his age they’re verging on a fire hazard anyway!

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

The little Malteser Butterfly Cakes came out a little darker than a plain sponge would. This is because the dark malt extract makes the mixture darker. They’re not overdone, that’s their natural bronzed colour.

This recipe makes around 12 malteser butterfly cakes.

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

4oz Butter or margarine
4oz sugar
1 dessert spoon of malt extract
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
4oz self raising flour

For the buttercream:
4oz butter
4oz icing sugar
1 tablespoon of drinking chocolate powder
10oz of Maltesers

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and the stir in the eggs and malt extract.
2. Carefully fold through the baking soda and self raising flour until combined.
3. Dollop into cake cases, there should be enough to make about 12 buns.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 190c for around 15 minutes. Once cooked leave to cool.
5. To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and hot chocolate powder until soft and fluffy. Bash up the Maltesers and gently fold in.
6. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of each of your cooled cakes, cut the circle in two, dollop a teaspoon of buttercream into the hole and top with the halves to make them look like butterfly wings.

Malteser Butterfly Cakes

If you love butterfly cakes, you might also enjoy my Peanut Butter Butterfly Cake recipe.

Casa Costello

Cooking with Kids: Homemade Butter

At the end of September I was lucky enough to spend a day at River Cottage with a gorgeous group of food bloggers and Foodies100. It was a marvellous day and you can read about it all here. But for me one of the highlights was making homemade butter from scratch. It was something I did at school about 25 years ago, but this was quicker and much more fun. So it was one of the first things I wanted to try with the boy when I got home.

It was very easy, fun to do and with an educational element we can all get behind. By chance I’d spied some yellow stickered cream in my local supermarket and at 25p for a big carton, it had “make me into butter” written all over it.

making butter

The recipe is from the River Cottage team, it’s not mine so I won’t even try and claim it as my own. On the day we all picked a variety of herbs, chopped them up and incorporated them into the butter, or you could just salt it like we did at home (it’s hard to get green bits in butter past the rigorous quality control standards of a small child). It’s the kind of recipe you can adapt however you want. Tarragon butter? Garlic butter? Thyme butter? You choose!

Homemade Butter

Make your own creamy homemade butter. It’s so easy and a lovely fun thing to do with the kids.

Ingredients
200ml double cream
Pinch salt, optional

Instructions
Using an electric whisk, whip the cream until it looks like very stiff scrambled eggs. Keep mixing using a spatula until the mixture separates into butter and buttermilk. Set aside the buttermilk.

Using your cold hands, squeeze the excess buttermilk from the butter. Rinse the butter in iced water, squeeze any further moisture out and pat dry.

Put your homemade butter on a piece of baking parchment and flatten into a rectangle and sprinkle with salt, adding any herbs if you are making a herb butter.

Roll up like a swiss roll and put it in the fridge to chill. It is ready to use however you wish.

Notes

You can save the buttermilk and use it in another recipe, maybe in scones or soda bread.

It’s pretty quick to make if you use an electric whisk, you could beat it by hand if you wanted, but it might take forever. The small boy loved helping to whisk the cream, insisted on trying it when it looked (but did not taste) like scrambled eggs and he enjoyed helping to pat it flat, like play-dough but all slippy. 

making butter

It’s a lovely thing to do with kids, I think it’s good to teach them where food comes from and how it is made. Cookery, maths and science go hand in hand. It’s edible education and I think we can all agree that’s a very good thing indeed!

Recipe: How to make a Malteser Milkshake

One of  the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this blog were some recipes for peanut butter milkshakes. They were incredibly good, but they also contained a healthy slug of bourbon, which made them a bit adult. Today we fancied a sweet treat, so we raided the cupboards and made this delicious Malteser Milkshake.

Recipe: How to make a Malteser Milkshake

How to make a Malteser Milkshake

You will need – 
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 packet of maltesers
350mls of milk
Squirty cream

Method –
Whizz the maltesers up in a blender until they’re crumbs (but not too fine, you still want a hint of crunch). Add the ice cream and the milk and whizz up together until blended. Pour into a glass and top with squirty cream and decorate with whatever you fancy, I put a couple of maltesers aside and popped them on top.

Many hands make light work, so I enlisted the help of the small boy to help make the milkshake. As you can see from his little face he was pretty happy with his creation.

What’s your favourite flavour milkshake?

Pancake Day Breakfast

I’ve always been a massive fan of Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday to give it it’s proper name). Pancakes are cheap and easy to make, but they’re a real greedy treat for us.

We usually have the traditional pancake which my husband whips up and we sprinkle with lemon and sugar. But sometimes if we’re having a lazy weekend we’ll have a stack of Blueberry pancakes from a recipe in the River Cottage Everyday cookbook.

So today, being Pancake Day we treated ourselves to this special breakfast, of course our resident junior chef got involved, a bit of a mess was made, but where there’s no mess, there’s no fun!

Pancake making

Flour…stir, stir, stir!

Pancake making

Daddy adds the milk and eggs. Careful Daddy!

Pancake making

Add the blueberries and stir, stir, stir!

Blueberry pancake

Yummy blueberry pancake.

The pancakes were delicious. I like my blueberry pancakes drizzled in honey, the boys liked theirs with yoghurt and more blueberries.

How do you eat yours?