Biscuit Brigade

This blog has been like a ghost town since my last post, which promised a website reveal and cronuts recipe that never materialised. The shame! I promise they are both on the horizon, and will appear one day before the year's end. In the meantime I've been up to my armpits in cake orders and small children, and haven't even checked an email for actual weeks. However, I've been shocked out of my sugar rush by the realisation that Christmas is hurtling towards me. It's just one month away, and I've not even thought about all the festive fun I want to cram in before I wake up in a sea of Quality Street wrappers on the 27th to the harsh realisation that life is once again devoid of reason for overeating, over-baking, random platters of large cheeses and general overindulgence in port. 

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So it was that we kicked things off with a gingerbread party! I thought it would be fun to add a bit of nutrition to balance the treacle, and so we attempted the following, which I stumbled upon via this site

Spelt and Agave Gingerbread

330g spelt flour 
.5 tsp salt
.75 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
.25 tsp ground nutmeg
.25 tsp ground cloves
113g unsalted butter
1 large egg
80ml agave syrup
80ml treacle/molasses

(if you prefer your gingerbread lighter in colour, use golden syrup in place of treacle)

some of the treacle actually made it into the dough...

some of the treacle actually made it into the dough...

The dough is so easy to make that the kids did it all themselves, bar the weighing and measuring, and despite devouring dangerous amounts of treacle along the way it came together perfectly. Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and all the wet (including butter) in another, then just stir them together, at some stage transferring from spoon to hands to squish it all into a ball. We then left ours in the fridge overnight, but you would want to leave it for at least half an hour as otherwise it's too sticky to work with. 

Cutter-sorting kept her busy for almost an hour! Coup!

Cutter-sorting kept her busy for almost an hour! Coup!

Next day we had besties Edie & Holly coming over for a dinner date, so we planned a gingerbread baking party beforehand and the kids went to town making some fabulous gingery creations. Roll the dough out to about 5mm thickness, cut your desired shape, then pop on a parchment-lined tray in the oven (170C) for approx 10 minutes. We decorated ours first, with varying degrees of success, with pumpkin seeds, raisins, sugar crystals and bits of orange peel. You could also ice with basic royal icing and sprinkles after they are cooked and cooled, which I did a tiny bit of before losing interest and just eating them. The pumpkin seeds were super yummy baked into the gingerbread. It was lovely to watch the kids really get into decorating - Indy and Holly, despite being the littlest, really focussed on making pretty designs. It took them ages to catch on to the fact that the dough was edible, at which point we had to step in and confiscate it… Such a lovely activity from start to finish, that the kids can really just take over with and isn't hideously messy. Needless to say we all enjoyed devouring them afterwards too… 

Happy Birthday Edie

incredible monster cake by Edie's mama Hannah, complete with lollipop eyeballs galore

incredible monster cake by Edie's mama Hannah, complete with lollipop eyeballs galore

Two little parties for Pablo's best best best friend Edie, one after school cupcakes in the park and the other a superhero pizza party at the Vestry House Museum. Supermen everywhere, and a rare opportunity for Pablo to scamper about with his lovely Montessori pals. Happy 4 beautiful Edes!

the ones i love

Valentine's day is always a fun one. If you're single you can indulge in either extreme margarita drinking or embarrassingly girly film & cookie binge, if you're partnered up you have a whole extra day a year to get presents and be all about love. Boyfriends and husbands rarely really indulge much in this little celebration of romance for the sake of it, but once kids come along there are whole new people to shower with love, and chances are they are into any excuse for a party. Pablo was so taken with the idea of a whole day devoted to love that he really did spend all grinning and telling Indy and me that he loved us, and announcing "Happy Calens Day!" to everyone else, because he couldn't quite grasp the word 'Valentine'. He also insisted on making a valentine for his best friend Edie "because I really REALLY love her!" 

We kicked off with heart-shaped pink pancakes, then I dropped Pablo at Montessori and spent the next few hours running about like a lovecrazed fool on Valentine's errands. Pablo gave Edie her card and balloon after school and she said "Pablo, why did you give me this balloon?" to which he replied "because I love you..." HEART MELT. Then they scampered down the street shouting "I LOVE YOU PABLO!" "I LOVE YOU EDIE!" at maniac volume until we had to separate them by extreme force at the park gates, and they both had a bit of a sulk. 

After school cupcake and after dinner strawberry and marshmallow mousse for some extra sweetness. We saw the dentist the next day, and she said his teeth were fine... phew. 

Eventually I got my lovely husband home and we managed a whole uninterrupted steak dinner and a bottle of wedding champagne. He brought me a dozen dark red roses. I am really very lucky. And in love.

He's a keeper...

He's a keeper...

elf

Pablo had the starring role of elf-at-the-front-chewing-on-a-bell-off-his-shoe-instead-of-singing in his school Christmas concert 'Ralph the Reindeer' (me neither...) Costume making was a bit more fun than last year's "Biblical villager"... Thank god for old pillowcases, H&M and Dylon! The ears are his own...

After an exhausting performance, and an even more exhausting photo shoot by me, he was allowed home to open his first Christmas present - 'Farts Around the World' - from his best friend & fellow elf Edie...

Halloweenies

Excuse for a party at Edie's...

Happy birthday edie

Headed down to Countryside Live for some sheep shearing, beehive-gazing, falconry, ferret-racing, bat-watching and candyfloss to celebrate Edie's 3rd! Then back to hers for a proper pink fairy princess cake and prosecco.

Pablo had spent the morning insisting on making her some birthday cupcakes, and flicking through his favourite cupcake book to choose which. Vanilla with chocolate icing and pink sprinkles won.