Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails


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Friday Photo – Cake

I had a cake commission today *small fist pump*.  Not just a cake commission, a cake commission with the spec of “12 cupcakes, whatever you want, suitable for children”.  Cool.

So I made vanilla sponge cakes, took the core out and filled it with toffee sauce and then put a swirl of salted toffee buttercream on the top.  If you’d like the recipe, let me know and I’ll post up over on Bake Yummy.  The downside being that the cakes were in the oven by 8am as the children wanted porridge for breakfast and oddly enough needed to get to school.

What do you reckon..?


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Jubilee

We were fortunate to celebrate not only the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but the 60th Anniversary of the school that the Cheetah Keeper and his Sister attend being opened.  Cue, a playground street party, balloons, cake and ‘my’ (obviously mine because I play the piano for them!) brilliant choir singing.  These kids turn me into an emotional mess pretty much every rehearsal now – the growing confidence, beauty of sound, the one who cried because she was leaving the school and would miss choir…

We then embarked on what would be an epic nearly 7 hour journey to Devon for our half term break.  Sorry London, but if half the population was descending on us, we wanted to head in the opposite direction – along with the remaining half of the population so it seemed.  There we were treated to a street party at our Holiday Park, bunting and general merriment – and I realised I am a right sucker for bunting against blue sky pictures.

https://i1.wp.com/www.iheartsnapping.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Ilovemysnap1.jpg


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The Rice Crispie Cake Easter Bonnet

If you haven’t grasped it by now, I’m a bit mad (go read some more of the blog if you haven’t).   I live with 200(ish) imaginary Cheetahs, some banana people, 48 Dinos, 48 Dino Brothers (all called ‘Strike’) and a whole load of medical needs.  I’m also fond of making a cake (or 100), having a go at a bit of crafty stuff and whole-heartedly approve of kids getting stuck in and making a mess.

So when asked whether we could make an Easter Bonnet for the competition at school out of cake, the logical answer would have been….

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (darling)

The actual answer was – “well yes, ok then”.  Then I realised (duh…) that two would be required (one for each child) and that I had to significantly up my game.  The next line was the cruncher – bear in mind I have already said ‘yes’ – “and we can wear them to school…?  OK, time to make a plan… and after a quick trip to Sainsburys here’s how we made an Easter Bonnet Cake…(and you could too)

I glued a plastic serving bowl on an aluminium platter

you need to use ‘extra tacky’ glue and leave it to set for a bit.  Patience is required – this is the frame that you’re going to build the cake on.

Turn the 'hat' onto it's crown and use something sharp to make a hole to fit your scissors into

Using decent scissors (I used florist’s scissors that can be used to cut wire) work outwards from the hole so that it looks like this

into 8 triangles

Stop cutting when the tips of the scissors touch the edge of the bowl.  I tried gluing the triangles into the bowl (to form the actual hat bit) but that so did not work.  So with a bit, ok, a lot, of electrical tape I taped it all into place and made sure there were no sharp edges.

It's not going to show!

Check the fit!

She does have quite a large head – it fits her brother better but it will have to do.

Make sure the glue is really dry.

Ready for action!

Then get yourself a helper as you’ll need to make a shed load of rice crispie cake.

We used (for 2 hats – just) 250g butter, 10 tablespoons (ish) of golden syrup and about 500g of rice crispie (we used the basics range).

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in the microwave (do it in bursts and stir in-between) and then stir in the rice crispies until you get a thick, sticky mix.  Then smother the frame in it (seriously sticky work) and leave it to set.  Make sure you’re working on a tray or something else that will catch the bits!

and leave to set

We left it to set for 24 hours and then set about decorating it.

With icing, icing pens, sprinkles, cutters, writing icing, and anything else that I use to decorate my more sensible cakes

Leaving us with these

this is the Cheetah Keeper’s creation.  All his own work!

and this is what his sister will be wearing on Friday.  Hopefully it won’t rain, or be too hot and there won’t be any wasps about!  Yes, the chick is wearing glasses – just like she does now.

Fun – yes.  Messy – oh good grief, yes.  Quality family time – yes.  Unique – yes.


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Spiced Toffee Apple Cakes

There are many advantages to living down the road to Renata who writes at Just Bring the Chocolate – not only does she write an awesome blog, dish out oodles of common sense, know how to perform the odd miracle, manipulate the NHS and give me a good kick up the backside when it’s needed, I also get home from work on some days to find a dozen eggs waiting for me.  Her chickens are laying and therefore cake is required.

Whilst I know that she is after a batch of my rolo cakes I need to restock on rolos so in the meantime, I set about creating something with the bramley apples that I have in stock.  I wanted to do something a bit more with them than just grate the apple into the sponge mix so I softened the apple off first in a caramel…

So, preheat your oven to about 190C, 170C (Fan), Gas 3/4ish and line some deep bun tins with cases – this batch made 16 cakes.

Peel and core 2 largish bramley apples and chop into small dice.  Pop these into a frying pan (you want a single layer) with 3 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of water and cook very gently for about 10 minutes until the apple is soft and there’s no obvious liquid left.  As you turn the heat off, stir in 1 teaspoon of mixed spice and leave it to cool a little.  The apple should be soft, slightly golden but not disintegrating completely.

Then, in large bowl put in 150g softened butter, 150g light muscavado sugar, 150g Self-Raising flour, 1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder and 3 eggs. Beat together with your trusty handmixer until you’ve got a smooth batter.  Finally, add you warm apple mix and give it one big mix together.  Unless you’ve let the apple cool completely, the warmth of the apple mix will mean you get quite a runny batter and you need to work relatively fast once you’ve mixed it in because the baking powder will start working and you need to make the most of it!

As usual, the ice-cream scoop method of filling the cases works really well and I filled them to about ¾ full which gave nice domed cakes.

I didn’t want to slather these in buttercream but wanted to add a bit more toffee to them so I sprinkled some little fudge chunks (ice-cream sprinkles) on some and some caramel sugar (other ice-cream sprinkles) on the others.  Demerera sugar or crumbled sugar lumps would do the same job – or bashed up bits of toffee.  You don’t want too much otherwise it will push the cakes down as it melts (still tastes good though).

I baked mine for 20 minutes and they came out looking like this.

I think they’d be great warm with cream, ice-cream, custard (or natural yoghurt if you’re feeling worthy).  Cold, they’re just as yummy.  Enjoy

Other recipes from my kitchen:

 


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Do Something Yummy – Share Cake

This week, Love All Blogs are asking us to “#dosomethingyummy – share cake!”  and post a picture of cake to raise awareness and support of Yummy Mummy Week – 10-18th March 2012. Yummy Mummy Week is a week long fundraising event where mums are being asked to get together with friends and family and ‘do something yummy’ for CLIC Sargent.

So here you are – cake,

And if you want to do something yummy and bake some cakes in support of CLIC Sargent (or any other charity for that matter) here are some of my very easy recipes – great for baking with children.


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6 months of Blogging and 5 things that make me happy

I’ve been blogging for 6 months.  6 whole months…of me, my laptop, my camera and a whole load of imaginary friends.  Bits of my history, bits of now, sadness, family life, beautiful (I hope) pictures, some silliness and a fair amount of cake along the way.

So, how to mark this auspicious occasion?  It’s not been a jolly few weeks for me but after You’re Beautiful yesterday I think the blog needs a bit of a smile so I’ve taken the lovely Kate Takes 5 Listography theme of 5 things that make me happy to do so.  I’ve spent too much of today thinking about the word ‘happy’.  It’s not a word I associate with ‘me’ at the moment, it’ll come but it may take a while.  So I’ve chosen 5 things that are helping me get into a better ‘place’:

1

Washing on the line, drying, with bright blue sky, in February

2

Things growing that we planted together - these daffodils were planted with the Cheetah Keeper's sister 5 years ago! Spring is on the way

 3

Pepsi Max on special offer in the supermarket. I have a bit of an addiction!

4

Baking. I'm not very good with compliments but watching people look at, eat and enjoy the cakes that I make is something that baffles and delights me in equal measure

5

Going to the Zoo. Seeing things (like this Sloth actually moving!), feeding the children's love of learning, being outside in the fresh air and being lucky enough to see these amazing animals on such a regular basis.

Here’s to the next six months – and if there’s anything I write that you particularly enjoy, please let me know.

There’s lots of other happy thoughts over on Kate’s Listography this week – pop over for a bit more feel good blogging

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