First Arabesque Birthday Muffins

The two most important things in life are birthdays and ballet. But not in that order ….

Welcome to life according to M. Where once as a 4-year old she lived for rainbows and unicorns, she’s now 11 years old and her life (and therefore mine too!) revolves around ballet. As she writes on her ballet blog, First Arabesque …….

Small girl, big imagination.

So when it came to baking some birthday muffins, it was inevitable that ballet would find its way into the mixture.

It started with 4 oz of butter and 7 oz of caster sugar …

… which were creamed and then beaten together with 2 large eggs and 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.

8 1/2 oz of plain flour was sifted with 2 tsp baking powder and 3/4 tsp salt, then stirred into the mixture alternatively with 120 ml of milk.

There was definitely no licking of fingers.

The mixture was spooned into 12 muffin cases ….

…. and baked at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes.

Although she is now 11 years old, I get the impression that she still believes a messy kitchen can be cleaned as if by magic …

The ballet company were invited over to decorate the muffins ….

…. and to sing Happy Birthday (which was only 3 months late, M’s actual birthday having been in June!)

A special request to anyone who has read this far ….. Please head over to M’s blog and say hello – it would make her day!

Queen Rosie’s Royal Rose Cupcakes

I’d like to introduce you to a delightful 6-year old who will become my sister’s stepdaughter next year … (will that make me a step-aunty?). My sister is obviously failing to live up to the evil stepmother cliché but instead has been busy in the kitchen stirring up wonderful magic and regal surprises. Here’s the tale of Rose Fairy …

Rose Fairy writes letters to me. I make houses for her out of boxes and glitter. Lucy and I read a story called The Fairies Cupcake Ball (we borrowed the book from Kate, L, M and T) which is about a girl called Flossie and she dresses up when she’s cooking. Flossie and her Mum bake cakes for fairies. We chose the recipe for Queen Rosie’s Royal Rose Cupcakes because we were making them for my Rose Fairy.


We chose special ingredients to make the cake taste of rose and we decorated them.


Here’s me putting the decorations on the cakes.


This is the cake I decorated for Rose and her friends.


In the afternoon, I made a fairy house for Rose. I used a shoe box and made a bed and a bath for Rose. I used a match box for Rose’s bed. I made some perfume for her too. I used rose water and a drop of food colouring and put it in a tiny perfume bottle. Wainwright, the dog, got very messy because he got pink paint on his chin! My Dad loves clearing up glitter…especially when he gets all sparkly!!



The inside of the house

In the evening, I put the house outside before I went to bed. I left out the special cake for Rose. The next morning, Rose had left me a card and she’d eaten the cake with her friends. There were crumbs all around the house and in the friends’ bed!


This is what she did.


It’s really fun making houses and cakes for Rose.
Amazingly, my tooth fell out the following day so I was lucky enough to be visited by two fairies on two nights!

Queen Rosie’s Royal Rose Cupcakes


115g sugar
115g softened butter
115g self-raising flour
2 eggs (we used medium organic)
½ teaspoon rose water

25g melted butter (only we forgot that bit and it worked out fine!)
400g icing sugar
4 tablespoons cold water
A few drops of natural pink food colouring

Finishing Touches (all bought from Cake Expectations)
Pink icing roses
Edible diamonds
Jelly roses


Ask a grown-up to turn on the oven to 190 degrees C

Mix all the cake ingredients together really well.

Put 12 cupcake paper cases into a 12-hole fairy cake tin and spoon the mixture evenly between the cases.

Bake for 15 minutes and then ask a grown-up to place them carefully onto a wire rack to cool.

When cool, place all of the icing ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix them together for a few minutes. You might need some help with this because it’s really stiff.

We used a piping bag to swirl the icing onto the cakes but you can just use a warmed teaspoon if you don’t have the icing bag and nozzle.

The best bit is decorating the cakes – have fun!

Doctor Who Cupcakes


Angel Bob: Doctor? Excuse me, hello, Doctor? Angel Bob here, sir.
The Doctor: Ah, there you are, Angel Bob. How’s life? Sorry, bad subject.


Angel Bob: The Angels are wondering what you hope to achieve.
The Doctor: Achieve? We’re not achieving anything. We’re just hanging, it’s nice in here: consoles; comfy chairs; a forest… how’s things with you?


Angel Bob: The Angels are feasting, sir. Soon we will be able to absorb enough power to consume this vessel, this world, and all the stars and worlds beyond.
The Doctor: Yeah, but we’ve got comfy chairs. Did I mention?


Angel Bob: We have no need for comfy chairs.
The Doctor: [amused] I made him say ‘comfy chairs’.



Lemon Almond Sundrops

Will the summer sunshine disappear if I comment on it? Or perhaps it’s about to disappear anyway. The weather right now certainly seems too good to be true for all things Jubilee …

But then, as the sun him(her?)self once told Frank O’Hara:

Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You’ll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.
If you don’t appear
at all one day they think you’re lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.

A sun with attitude.

“Awesome!” as L would say (and she should know, being someone not unfamiliar with the concept of attitude).

I made some little sundrops for the children’s school summer fête last weekend. They didn’t really look chock-a-block full of attitude, but I have to tell you that there was no way they were going to let me dress them in anything other than their natural, feisty golden colours. And when you consider that these could be just about the only sweet celebration treats you’ll find right now that don’t come in various shades of red, white or blue …

Now – that’s attitude for you 😉

Lemon Almond Sundrops

7 oz butter
7 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp orange flower water
2 oz plain flour
7 oz ground almonds

6 oz icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and baseline a 9″x12″ rectangular baking tray.

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs gradually. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, and the orange water.

Carefully fold in the flour and ground almonds.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth evenly. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and springy. Leave for 5 minutes to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

Prepare the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar, lemon juice and water.

When the cake is just cool enough to handle, use a circular biscuit cutter to cut out … well, circles really (what else can I say?). I used a diameter of 1 7/8″, which made 24 circles.

Dip the tops of each sundrop in the glaze and return to the wire rack to set. Lick your fingers (because they’ll be very sticky by now).

Mothering Sunday Scones


Spring flowers and lighter evenings – it’s a lovely, hopeful time of year for celebrating motherhood.

My children proudly handed their handmade cards to me on Sunday morning whilst I enjoyed a special Mothering Sunday cup of tea in bed. M had written that she loves me because I’m cosy. T’s card told me that it’s because I make chocolate biscuits.

For my own Mum, I baked some fruit scones and gingerbread.

Fruit Scones (adapted from a recipe by Claire Clark)

440g/15 3/4 oz plain flour
50g/1 3/4 oz baking powder
80g/2 3/4 oz caster sugar
a pinch of salt
80g/2 3/4 oz unsalted butter, diced
40g/1 1/2 oz sultanas
150ml/5fl oz double cream
150ml/5fl oz milk

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sultanas.

Mix the cream and milk together. Pour onto the flour mixture and mix until the dough starts to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to form a smooth, soft ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F. Roll out the dough to a 2.5cm/1 inch thickness and use a 5cm/2 inch cutter to cut it into rounds. Transfer these to a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Bake for 10 minutes until the scones are golden brown.