Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

As the person who does most of the baking in my family, I was tasked with bringing a cake to our Mother’s Day get together. I’m not saying my family are picky, but there’s a big list of things people can’t or won’t eat, but everyone loves a lemon cake. It was suggested I make a lemon drizzle cake, but I had a jar of lemon curd in the cupboard and I wanted to put it to good use. Instead I baked this lemon curd sponge cake, and it was as delicious as it was pretty.

It’s based on my failsafe Victoria Sponge recipe, but it uses a whole jar of zingy lemon curd. It’s definitely a cake I’ll be baking again and again. Because I was baking for Mother’s Day, I did pipe some buttercream on the top and add some pretty daisies, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t want. It’s still an absolute banger of a bake without its fancy hat!

Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

I added some lemon curd into my sponge mix, which did make the sponge layers a little darker than you may like. If you wanted a lighter coloured cake with the lemon flavour, you could swap this out for the zest of a lemon and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

200g caster sugar
200g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
4 medium eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of lemon curd
1.5 tbsp milk
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the buttercream:
150g softened unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon curd

Optional extras:
1 more tablespoon of lemon curd for spreading between the layers
Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies, or similar
Icing sugar, a sprinkle

How to make a Lemon Curd Sponge Cake:

Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins. I also lined the bottom of each tin with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk and lemon curd and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the two 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.

Leave your cakes to cool fully. While your cakes are cooling, now is a good time to make your lemon curd buttercream. In a bowl and using a mixer or electric hand whisk, beat your butter until it is soft. Add your icing sugar, and taking care not to create an icing sugar cloud, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the lemon curd and once that’s combined, taste it and see if you want to add a bit more lemon curd, which you absolutely can do. Once you’re happy with you buttercream, it’s time to assemble your cake.

Put your first layer on a cake board, or cake stand, or whatever you’re presenting it on. If you’re worried about it sliding around, a small dollop of buttercream on the bottom will stick your first layer in place and stop it moving around. Generously top the first layer with some of the buttercream, spread it evenly across the cake.

Just to really hammer home that it was a lemon curd sponge cake, I then spread a thin layer of lemon curd over the buttercream, and sandwiched the second layer on top of that.

Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

Now, if you’re wanting to decorate it further, like I did, then now is the time to get a piping bag and a nozzle. I use a Wilton 2D nozzle and I’d like to make it clear than I’m firmly am amateur level cake decorator; so if I can do this, you can too! Fill the piping bag with your leftover buttercream and just practice a few times on a chopping board or plate. I was wanting to do a crescent shape of little start shaped dollops. These are easy to do as you just squeeze equal amounts on, and then if you top with a scattering of wafer daises; then they can hide any imperfections. Here’s some more expert guidance on the wilton blog, which I do recommend you take a look at.

I didn’t love the look of the small gap between the layers, so I piped around the gaps and then smoothed it out with the back of a knife. It does look like there’s a huge amount of buttercream inside, but there really isn’t.

Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

For one final flourish, a small dusting of icing sugar makes it look at least 5% prettier. And that’s it, your lemon curd sponge cake is ready to be cut up into greedy slices and devoured.

It’s such a pretty cake and really light and spring-like. It’s a good store cupboard bake too, and worth keeping a jar of lemon curd in for, for when the baking mood strikes!

Beautiful Bakes: Lemon Curd Sponge Cake

FREE Mother’s Day Colouring Printables

Mother’s Day aka Mothering Sunday is coming this weekend. If you’re anything like me, thing can be a bit last minute. But fear not, I, like most mums are happy with a bit of breakfast in bed and a homemade card. I’ve put together four Mother’s Day colouring sheets which could happily be turned into cards, or stuck to the fridge in celebration of Mother’s Day!

Review: Guess How Much I Love You Big Nutbrown Hare

The Mother’s Day Colouring sheets are ideal for entertaining little ones, or colouring in to give to mummy, grandma or a favourite female family member. There are four very different styles to choose from, so there’s something for everyone.

Download the FREE Mother’s Day Colouring Sheets here!

Mothering Sunday in the UK falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Day. Traditionally Mothering Sunday was the day when people would visit their “mother” church (the church they were baptised in). Mothering Sunday has become an occasion for celebrating mothers and giving them presents, though these days we have shortened it to Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world on different days, in the UK, Canada and Australia it falls in March. In America it is a slightly more commercial celebration which takes place in May.

Our Mother’s Day celebrations are usually pretty low-key (which is how I like it). I will be given breakfast in bed and a cuddle and a card, then we will go to church and the children hand out little bunches of flowers to all the adult women in the congregation. Then we will put on our walking boots and go for a nice bracing walk with the dog somewhere. To me, that is perfect.

If you fancy doing some Mother’s Day crafts, here are some lovely spring crafts you could try –

FREE Mother's Day Colouring Printables

Six Children’s Books for Mother’s Day

We read quite a lot together and to each other, we regard it as a special time together. We often give each other nice books as gifts for occasions and Mother’s Day is no exception. I’ve been taking a look at some lovely books which might make nice gifts for Mother’s Day.

Six Children’s Books for Mother’s Day

With My Mummy by James Brown and Cally Johnson-Isaacs is a heartwarming celebration of the relationship between mother and child. Told in gentle rhyme by James Brown and brought to life with illustrations by Cally Johnson-Isaacs. With My Mummy is a charming picture book and the perfect gift to share time and time again.

Six Children's Books for Mother's Day

Mother’s Day by Shirley Hughes would make a gorgeous gift for Mother’s Day. Katy and her little brother Olly tell us about their day with Mum. From the fun of waking up in the morning, getting the bus into town with Mum and reading bedtime stories together. This joyous tale gives us a snapshot into a child’s day and celebrates the special bond between a mother and child.

I Love Mum with The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This is a celebration of love and all the ways to tell your mum how much you care. This delightful little book features Eric Carle’s bright and distinctive artwork of animal mother’s and babies – from giraffes and crocodiles to bears and penguins – with The Very Hungry Caterpillar making an appearance alongside each one. The perfect gift for Mother’s Day, or any day you want to show your mum how much you care.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is an absolutely gorgeous book which perfectly sums up how much a parent loves a child. Featuring Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare; they take it in turns to try to measure how much love they have for each other. It’s lovely, it’s heartwarming and it’s about the most famous book about parental love you could think of, for good reason too!

My Mum Is Fantastic by Nick Butterworth. I love the title of this book, it’s what I’d hope my son would say about me. The mum in this book is truly fantastic. She’s a brilliant artist, she can balance on a tightrope, she can swim like a fish, do amazing stunts on a bike and she can tame wild animals. There’s very little this astounding mum can’t do. And if that leaves you feeling a bit inadequate, I’m sure you’re fantastic in our own special way.

Superhero Mom by Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger. All mums are amazing, and the mum in this story is no exception. She doesn’t wear a cape or fly around, but she runs for the bus so fast it feels like flying; she uses her super-strength to carry her daughter’s boots, coat, bag, and scooter; and can make bumps and bruises better with just a kiss. Maybe mums really do have superpowers after all!

If you enjoyed this, you might like our pick of five children’s books about love.

Six Children's Books for Mother's Day

A little catch up with HodgePodgeDays – Spring 2018

Hello there. I don’t feel like I’ve been writing much about the things we’ve been doing and what we’ve been up to lately, so I thought it might be about time for a little catch up.

The last month has been a bit of a whirlwind really. We went away for a week in Devon with some friends for February half term. That seems like it was a million years ago now, but in reality it was just over a fortnight ago. We had a brilliant time. It was so good for my son, an only child, to share some space with other children. To have the more lively companionship of people his own age, rather than just his boring parents who want to sit down with a brew every hour or so.

A little catch up - Spring 2018 Devon cottage

We were incredibly lucky with the weather too. It wasn’t wet or miserable, it certainly wasn’t warm, but for the most part it was clear blue skies and sunshine. We returned home just before the “Beast from the East” made itself known and we were treated to a week of snow. We didn’t have drifts of it, but enough for the boy to go to school on his sledge on a couple of days. I don’t like snow, so I spent most of that week looking out of the window wanting it to go away so I could go out again.

I always worry a little more about some of my neighbours when the weather is bad. So I did force myself out to visit a neighbour who I am very fond of. I took her a cake I’d baked, had a chat with her and fussed her dog for a bit. It was nice to get out and I felt a bit better about seeing her. It put my mind at rest that she wasn’t starving or shivering to death and that she wasn’t too lonely.

A little catch up - Spring 2018 snow

Then I had some bad news from my husband. He’d broken my favourite chair. This really is bad news, because of my ruined spine (I have constant pain and my legs are always a bit numb and prone to going completely numb) this is the only chair I can sit it comfortably. The problem is, it’s a vintage g-plan saddleback armchair made in the 1960s. They don’t make them anymore and they’re very hard to come by. I’m hoping my original chair can be repaired, but in the meantime we’ve managed to find a replacement in Glasgow and hopefully that should arrive this week.

I was a bit cross about it, but if my chair can be repaired and my new one reupholstered, then I will have two good chairs in the house which I can sit on in comfort. I work in my favourite chair, with a plank of wood resting across the arms with my laptop on. It sounds weird, but ergonomically it’s the best set up for my back. In the meantime (and as I type this) I’m working for my bed. Three days into this working arrangement and I can’t feel the soles of my feet anymore. Hurry up new chair, hurry up!

And then it was Mother’s Day. I don’t want anyone in my life to feel like they need to make grand gestures to make me happy; so Mother’s Day is always a low key affair. I was woken with a card and a cuddle. He toasted me a hot cross bun which slid off the plate several times on its way to me before dog ate it. It’s the thought that counts!

A little catch up - Spring 2018 Devon

We hung out together for the day, none of us were feeling particularly amazing. I think we are about to simultaneously come down with colds. I even managed an early night. I’d like to say I woke up feeling refreshed and wonderful, but I woke up with a sore throat and a snuffle. And now we find ourselves in mid March.

Shall I do a little catch up post on a more regular basis? What do you think?

Easy Recipe: Sparkly Chocolate Cups

I love getting homemade cards and gifts from my son on Mother’s Day (and any other day he wants to make me something). As you can probably imagine, we’re quite big on baking at home and we bake for almost any occasion. I’m a firm believer in making life easy for myself. Whilst I’m happy to bake a fairly complex cake, there’s definitely space in my kitchen for incredibly simple recipes. I’ve made these Sparkly Chocolate Cups for Mother’s Day. They’re very, very easy to make and perfect for kids to make with a little adult supervision.

Easy Recipe: Sparkly Chocolate Cups for Mother's Day

Not only are they great for kids to make, if you lack confidence in the kitchen, these are so easy to make and look pretty impressive too.

Sparkly Chocolate Cups

250g of good quality dark or milk chocolate
Cake decorating sprinkles, stars, silver balls, whatever you fancy

You will need:
A saucepan, a glass bowl which will sit in the pan, but so it doesn’t touch the bottom, a metal spoon, some cupcake cases – I used silicone but paper ones are fine.

How to make your chocolate cups:
Boil some water and pour the water into your pan so it’s about 3cm deep. Carefully place the glass bowl in the pan making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This is called a bain marie.

Break your chocolate up into small pieces and put it in the glass bowl, the water in the pan needs to be at a gentle simmer, not bubbling and boiling. Stir the chocolate until it is melted.

Once the chocolate is melted, with a spoon scoop about two dessert spoons of melted chocolate into each cupcake case. Gently shake each one so the chocolate settles.

Once you’ve used all of your chocolate, take your chosen sprinkles and sprinkle as much or as little as you like over the top of each chocolate. Leave them to cool for at least two hours.

Easy Recipe: Sparkly Chocolate Cups for Mother's Day

Once they’re cool you can either take the chocolates out of their cases and put them in a nice gift box or cellophane bag, or you could just present them as they are in their pretty cupcake cases.

They’re so easy to make and they look impressive, whoever you give these to will be as pleased as punch!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like these super-easy love heart jam tarts.

Easy Recipe: Sparkly Chocolate Cups for Mother's Day

Why I don’t need fuss on Mother’s Day

I know I’m a rare specimen, but I can live without too much fuss on Mother’s Day. I’m very content with a homemade card and a cuddle. I have a great relationship with my son and I feel loved, admired and appreciated by him every day. Plus I don’t want him to grow up feeling obligated to make a fuss when no fuss needs to be made.

Why I don't need fuss on Mother's Day

Nevertheless, I know at school there will be some card and gift making going on in readiness for Mothering Sunday. No doubt instructions for fuss making will also be issued from my husband.

My husband is prone to bouts of extravagance, so I have very firmly put in a request to go to our local community farm to see the baby animals. This is something we can all enjoy together. Ben and I can see the animals and meet the newborn lambs and calves. Daddy can walk the dog and then we can all go to the playground and have an ice cream. Sounds like a pretty good day out to me and one I’m really looking forward to.

Last night after dinner, I asked Ben some questions about Mother’s Day and got some surprisingly adorable answers. We’d been talking about the zoo, so both the zoo and walking the dog feature heavily; but I reckon this is worth three minutes of your time any day. 

I am so proud of my boy. Every day he brings sunshine and light into my life. We laugh and giggle an awful lot. He’s wonderfully creative and determined. He’s stubborn and wilful and as bright as a button. He wakes me up every morning with a kiss (because that’s how you wake a princess). Ben goes to bed every night insisting that we have a big family cuddle. He is kind and caring and I love the very bones of him.

Having him in my life is the best present I could wish for on Mother’s Day. Being a mum isn’t easy, not by a long chalk, but for me at least there are endless rewards.

What are your plans this Mother’s Day?


Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother’s Day Gifts from Amara

With several mothers to buy for, Mother’s Day always takes a little bit of planning and forethought. Nipping down to the garage and buying a bunch of forecourt flowers isn’t really an option. It’s just nice to spoil the people who do so much for us. I’ve recently discovered Amara who sell a beautiful selection of luxury interiors and gifts.

Amara stock over 300 of the world’s most luxurious home fashion brands. There were so many gorgeous gifts to choose from. I sat down with a cuppa and got all of my Mother’s Day shopping done and dusted in one sitting. I’m certain the mums in our lives will be delighted on Mothering Sunday. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

Jewellery is always a solid choice for a Mother’s Day gift. I loved this Ted Baker Harly & Sinaa box set (£44) which includes a pair of heart shaped, silver coloured studs and a round shaped pair enhanced with glittering Swarovski crystals. These will be perfect for a certain someone who has a very classic taste in jewellery. I know she will love this set and wear them a lot. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

Another special mum in our family loves candles and home fragrances. When I spotted this limited edition reed diffuser from Voluspa (a brand I know she loves) I put it straight in my basket. Presented in a beautiful glass vessel, with a set of reeds, this diffuser will fill her home with scents of orchid, white lily and spring moss. The diffuser costs £27 and will last up to six months. It’s a brand I know she loves, so I know I’m onto a winner here.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I couldn’t resist putting this Joules Printed Picnic Rug with Carry Strap into by basket. We are all big fans of picnics, whether it’s an impromptu lunch in our local park, or a day out somewhere. A picnic rug is a great present for one of the outdoorsy mums in the family. This is an especially stylish one. It has an eye-catching floral print against a grey background. The soft rug is perfect for picnicking and has a water-resistant backing to protect you from the damp ground. This picnic rug is only £30, which I think is excellent value for such a stylish item.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I am a little bit obsessed with good stationery. I know I’m not alone in this. Good stationery always makes for a great gift (especially for me, I’m hinting wildly here). This Nom De Plume pen from Kate Spade New York (£32) is gorgeous. With chic gold detailing, this bold blue and green enamel pen would be an elegant addition to a writer’s desk. Presented in a stylish gift box, this would be a wonderful gift idea for bloggers or avid writers.

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

To go with the pen, I couldn’t resist this So Well Composed spiral notebook from Kate Spade New York (£16). It has an elegant black dotted design on the front cover, with the text ‘so well composed’ and has 160 lined pages inside. It’s got a practical interior pocket and it is just beautiful. 

Gift Guide: Beautiful Mother's Day Gifts from Amara

I was really impressed with Amara. They have so much to choose from, and it’s full of gorgeous, high-end gifts I know will be loved by the recipients. You get free delivery when you spend over £70 too.

Amara have nearly 35,000 products on their website, so whatever your mum’s style they’ll have a gorgeous gift to match!

Visit with Amara website for more stylish interiors and gifts for Mother’s Day and beyond.

Disclaimer: I was offered these gifts in return for this post, all images and opinions are my own.

The No Fuss Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I think this year it’s really crept up on us, I feel wholly unprepared and will spend the next few days with my boy making little cards and gifts. Handmade presents from little ones always go down well, but I can’t help but feel if I presented a homemade pasta necklace to someone as a gift it might raise an eyebrow or two, so off to the (online) shops I must go!

Here are some of my favourite things right now, so this list can also double as a shopping list for any relatives who fancy treating me (hint)…

Olverum Bath Oil – I recently encountered this little bottle of herbal scented joy. This is an invigorating and relaxing bath oil which contains Siberian fir, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, lime and geranium. A little goes a long way and it leaves my (sensitive and hard to please) skin feeling really soft and fragrant and I feel wonderfully relaxed and renewed afterwards. I love this bath oil and I’ll be sad when I eventually run out! Olverum Bath Oil is sold in Harvey Nichols and is available online too.Mother's Day Gift GuideDrop Dead Chocolates – we love these chocolates. There’s something to suit all tastes and budgets. They’re a bit special, not available in the shops and probably the best chocolates I’ve ever had. I love the macarons and their salted caramel chocolates are beyond amazing. They’re letter-box friendly so they’re perfect and convenient if you need a speedy delivery.

Nelson’s Arnicare Arnica Bath & Massage Balm – as the owner of a particularly achy back I use this a lot. You can use it as a bath oil, but I think it is rather excellent to massage in. On the rare occasion I get a massage at home, this is perfect for the job. The balm is made with Arnica combined with evening primrose, sweet almond oil, lavender and grapefruit. It’s not heavily scented, but fragrant enough to relax you. The oil sinks in beautifully and leaves no residue, I love this for soothing aches and pains and it’s excellent value for money too. 

Mother's Day Gift Guide

I’ve recently joined a craft group, so these days I’m never happier than when I’m folding bits of paper, painting plant pots or sticking and glueing. I loved making these tissue paper flowers from Baker Ross, and they look so pretty too. You can read my full write up here, but I’m itching to get my hands on another pack of them. A carefully chosen selection of craft goodies is my idea of Mother’s Day heaven right now!

Mother's Day crafts

And last, but by no means least, if money is tight or inspiration is low, you can print off the voucher below and slip it into her card, you will have to make her breakfast in bed, so make sure you don’t burn the toast!

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Happy Mother’s Day!

Easy Mother’s Day Crafts

I’ll hold my hands up, when I originally planned this blog post it was all about doing Mother’s Day crafts with my five year old son. We enjoy crafting together, making things that are beautifully wonky and imperfect, but I very rarely spend any time by myself doing some crafting, partly because of lack of time I guess. This month I looked at our box of seasonal goodies from Baker Ross and decided it was time to do some crafting by myself, and the results were very pleasing, at least I think so.

Mother's Day crafts

We were sent a box of ceramic bird flowerpots to paint, these were pretty adorable and we set about painting them in our own style. He wanted to paint his black, but thankfully I was able to steer him towards some brighter colours. I just did whatever I fancied and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’m no artist but they were really lovely to do, especially together. I have bought some tiny crocus bulbs which I’ll plant in them nearer to Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day crafts

The next thing I tackled were these lovely tissue paper flowers. I sat down for a quiet half hour and made myself these lovely blooms. They were incredibly easy to do, everything you needed was in the pack. I just wrapped a pipe-cleaner around the middle of the tissue paper and then slowly and gently teased the paper out to form the flower.

They were so simple to do and really relaxing, I was a bit sad when I’d made them all and the pack was empty. I put them all in a vase which now sits on my office desk, brightening the place up, they never need watering and they’ll never die. I really love them!

Mother's Day crafts

As you can see from our Mother’s Day crafts, there are lots of really cheery, colourful crafts you can do to usher spring into your home. The flowers would make a lovely gift for mum, but if you really love her you’ll make her a cup of tea and let her get on with making them herself!

Breakfast with Mummy at The Hard Rock Cafe

On Mother’s Day it is the law that no mother anywhere should have to cook her own breakfast. Breakfast in bed, or at the very least a morning cuppa is essential, but being taken out for breakfast is a really lovely treat. This year the boys and I went to “Breakfast with Mummy” at The Hard Rock Cafe, in The Printworks, Manchester, which was a fine way to kick off our Mothering Sunday celebrations.

We arrived at 9am with empty bellies and a thirst for coffee. We were quickly sat at our table, each Mum receiving a goodie bag comprising some Hard Rock goodies and some pampering treats from Clarins. The tables each had a lovely flower arrangement on which you could buy for a £5 charity donation.

The small boy had never been to The Hard Rock Cafe before and he was fascinated with all the musical instruments on the walls, he didn’t understand that they were once played by famous people, but that didn’t matter to him.

Once we were settled, coffee and juice was brought round by the lovely waiting staff and we were invited to go and be served our buffet breakfast. Being veggie I went for grilled tomatoes, baked beans, hash browns and scrambled egg, while the boys added sausage and bacon to their plates. Hubs had extra mushrooms too, a rare treat as I’m allergic to them. There was toast, cereal and fruit available too, so no one left with an empty belly.

Hard Rock Cafe

The staff at The Hard Rock Cafe were incredibly lovely and friendly, re-filling our coffee mugs and making sure we were happy, nothing was too much trouble. We were first in line for the face painter who was fantastic, the small boy got a spider on his face which was the nicest looking spider I’ve seen, he was really proud of it and kept looking in the mirror.

There was also a balloon modeller who worked the room, making everyone a special balloon to take home, I got a lovely flower balloon to wear on my wrist and the small boy got a zebra. One lovely touch was there was a photographer who took informal family portrait of each family as a little keepsake for everyone, which I thought was an especially lovely thing to do.

Attending one of the “Breakfast with…” events at The Hard Rock Cafe in The Printworks is a lovely way to start the day, especially a celebratory day. I think next time I’d plan it better and go off and do something afterwards, like visit the cinema, go shopping or visit a museum.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I did leave The Hard Rock Cafe feeling pampered and spoilt, which is as it should be on Mother’s Day.

The Hard Rock Cafe run regular “Breakfast with…” events, the next one being “Breakfast with Bunny” on 4th and 5th April. Tickets are £9.50 per adult and £7.50 for children. More information can be found on their website.

Note: We were invited guests of The Hard Rock Cafe and were not asked to pay for our breakfast. All images and opinions are our own.