A Tangled Birthday Cake For Little Squirrel’s 4th Birthday

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It is hard to believe yet another month has gone by since we celebrated Little Squirrel turning 4.
For her 4th birthday cake, she had been telling me since before Christmas that she would like a Rapunzel/Tangled cake. As usual I turned to Pinterest for my inspiration, and these were my two favourite designs I came across…

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Left – Rapunzel cake by www.cutelittlecupcakes.co.uk
Right – Tangled cake by www.madeleinescakes.com

I consulted with the birthday girl herself and she decided on the design on the right. Now I usually try to put my own twist on my cakes, but this design was perfectly simple, yet effective, so I just replicated this cake.

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This was my first time using a transfer for a larger cake. Thanks to the lovely Frances Auty Bakes for recommending Edible Prints as a reliable suppler of icing sheets. My order with Edible Prints was very simple to process through their website, and the icing sheet arrived within a couple of days. I will definitely used this supplier again, and I think the icing sheet in combination with some handmade decorations gives a great finish!

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Little Squirrel loved her Tangled cake, and I was thrilled to see her happy little face as she saw it for the first time…

As I am writing this post Little Squirrel is looking at these photos of her 4th birthday cake and is telling me she would like the same cake but with a 5 on it for her next birthday. Definitely a sign that the cake was a big hit for her! 🙂

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A Bunny Birthday Cake For Littlest Squirrel’s 2nd Birthday

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Littlest Squirrel turned two almost a month ago now, so I thought it was time to publish a birthday cake post…

I had been planing her birthday cake since the New Year, and knew straight away it would have to be a bunny cake as her favourite toy is a little cuddly bunny that she cannot be without! As usual my cake inspiration came from Pinterest with this sweet little bunny cake…

The little bunny was super easy to make with some modelling paste, and I decided to introduce a little more colour with green fondant icing and some coloured flowers and little butterflies.

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We had a lovely little celebration in our home with some of our neighbours, and I loved to watch Littlest Squirrel’s face light up when the cake was presented and everyone sang Happy Birthday.

Blueberry & Banana Muffins

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The Little Squirrels love banana muffins, and I love blueberry muffins, so I decided to experiment with a banana muffin recipe I have been using, and throw some blueberries in. The result is a deliciously moist muffin, bursting with juicy blueberry goodness.

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Since posting the picture above on Instagram and Facebook a few of you have been asking for the recipe, so here you go…

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large bananas mashed
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 75g (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 150g (1 cup) blueberries
  • a sprinkling of Demerara sugar
Method

Prehat the oven to 180°C.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add in the salt, caster sugar, and cinnamon and stir with a large metal spoon until all ingredients mixed evenly.

In a separate large bowl mix the mashed bananas, beaten eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. Pour this mix into the dry ingredients and fold in gently with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to overwork the batter. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Set paper cases into a deep muffin tin, and then spoon in the mixture so that each case is almost full.
If you like a little crunch on the top of your muffin, sprinkle each one with a little Demerara sugar before putting in the oven.

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Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then set on a wire rack to cool.

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These are best eaten on the day of baking and I think they are at their most delicious while still warm! Enjoy…

A Unicorn Cake For Little Squirrel’s 3rd Birthday

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It took me a while to decide what the theme of this year’s birthday cake would be for Little Squirrel. I wanted to make something special for her, as I didn’t get round to making her a birthday cake last year with Littlest Squirrel only weeks old.
Little Squirrel really loves all things magical and fantastical such as fairies, unicorns, and mermaids. I settled on the unicorn theme, when a few weeks ago she told me she would like a pet Unicorn called Unicornio for her birthday! (Dora The Explorer fans will understand where this comes from). As usual I took to Pinterest for some inspiration. Here were my favourites from Pinterest…

I stuck to Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate cake for the cake itself and I used a free online tutorial by Celia Adams to create the little unicorn.

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The trickiest part of this cake was creating the rainbow stripes that went round the circumference of the cake. I used regular sugar paste and modelling paste to create the stripes but it was much too malleable and I found it very difficult to keep the stripes uniform and tidy. If I was to do this again, I think flower paste would be the answer.

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Unicorn Cake for Little Squirrel’s 3rd Birthday

Most importantly Little Squirrel absolutely loved her cake.

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Little Squirrel & her Unicorn Cake

This is definitely one of my favourite cakes so far. I love the unicorn, I love the bright colours of the rainbow stripes and I love how happy it made my big 3 year old!

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Cutting the cake…

Triple Choc Orange Brownies

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Chocolate + orange = pure joy!

Yes, I love this flavour combination… add in a bit of chew factor and I am in my happy place. If you share my love of chewy, chocolatey, orangey goodness, then this brownie recipe is going to be right up your street.
One word of warning, however, this recipe is dangerously quick and easy!

Note – this recipe uses orange extract. I use Nielsen-Massey orange extract, available in Sainsburys and Asda.

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The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 110g (4oz) butter
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 50g (2oz) light soft brown sugar
  • 35g (1.5oz) cocoa powder
  • 50g (2oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp orange extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 100g bar of white chocolate, chopped roughly into chunks
  • a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips
Method
Heat the oven to 170°C (fan oven) / 180°C (conventional oven) and line a brownie tin with greaseproof paper.
In a large heavy-based non-stick saucepan melt the butter, then add the two sugars and stir on low heat for 1 minute.
Remove pan from the heat and add in the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, orange extract and orange zest, and stir until all ingredients are combined.
Add chopped white chocolate and stir through.
Pour mixture in to the tin, sprinkle with chocolate chips, then put on the middle shelf of your oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
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Remove from the oven and leave in tin until completely cool, and then cut into little slabs of brownie heaven!
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Little Squirrel’s 1st Birthday Celebrations

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So first things first, what sort of cake to make for Little Squirrel turning 1?!
It has been around 18 months since I last created a celebration cake, but this was the perfect excuse to dust off those sugarcraft skills.

I found this beautiful woodland-themed cake by Cake Avenue, Sydney, Australia while searching cakes on Pinterest and knew straight away that this would be my inspiration for Little Squirrel’s cake.

Stunning cake from http://cakeavenue.com.au

Stunning cake from http://cakeavenue.com.au

Initially, I had thought of recreating this cake as it is so beautiful. However, I soon decided that it would be more apt to create a unique cake for Little Squirrel featuring none other than a Little Squirrel. This is how it turned out…

A Little Squirrel cake for Little Squirrel

A Little Squirrel cake for Little Squirrel

Love these little toadstools :)

Love these little toadstools 🙂

Aerial view!

Aerial view!

I have to be honest, despite a little stress when it came to covering the cake, I am thrilled with the end result. Many Thanks to my friend Margaret and the incredibly talented Frances of Frances Bakes for their advice and reassurance via email during this process!

Next, what to do to mark the occasion of Little Squirrel’s 1st birthday?!…
We don’t have a lot of family nearby, so decided we would like to get together with some of our closest friends to mark the occasion. We live, at present, in a 2 bed traditional Glasgow tenement flat, and there just isn’t the space to host more than a couple of guests. We had thought of booking a table at Pizza Express in Princes Square in Glasgow, but they weren’t keen to host us as we would have used up 8 of their highchairs.

Then just the other week, we were out for Mr Hungry Squirrel’s birthday lunch at The Waverley Tearoom in Glasgow’s Southside, when we noticed they have a private area (Book the Box) available for bookings.

I approached the Manager, Chris, to enquire about booking this space. He couldn’t have been more helpful, and was happy for us to book.
8 highchairs is a lot of highchairs to accommodate, so we decided that we could arrange for some of the guests to bring their own highchairs with them… perfect!

So 2 days before Little Squirrel’s birthday we had a birthday lunch in The Waverley Tearoom’s glass box. It was a huge success, as we had our own private space to catch up with our guests, open presents, and to present the cake. What’s more, there is a little soft play area at one end of the main restaurant to keep the little ones entertained once their table threshold has been surpassed!

Friends!

Friends!
The Box at The Waverley Tearoom

I can’t Thanks Chris, and the lovely Dean, enough for hosting us on Sunday at The Waverley Tearoom… much appreciated!
I highly recommend the Waverley Tearoom as a great family-friendly venue. The Box is just perfect for private dining.

Thanks to our good friends who came for sharing the day with us, and for your generous gifts and cards.
Little Squirrel loved her Birthday gathering!

Happy Little Squirrel!

Happy Little Squirrel!

Smarties Cookies

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I haven’t made cookies in a long time. Cookies and biscuits require a steady and controlled oven temperature, so now that we have a new (normally functioning) oven, I decided to try out a recipe that my good friend Alex introduced me to.
The original recipe is from the BBC Good Food website, although Alex had substituted M&Ms for the chocolate chips, and I liked it a lot! Sadly, our local shops seemed to be completely sold out of original M&Ms last week, so Smarties was the next best thing!

These cookies are sweet, a little crispy on the outside and deliciously chewy on the inside, with a generous chocolate hit from the Smarties! Also, not far away from Millies Cookies in taste and texture… result!

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125g Smarties or M&Ms
Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes until smooth and pale.
Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
Add the flour and salt and mix until smooth.
Then add in your chosen candy and mix until distributed throughout the dough.
Roll the dough into little walnut-sized balls, and place on baking paper on a baking sheet. I baked 9 at a time to allow for spreading (this recipe made 28 cookies).
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Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until just golden round the edges.

Cool for a few minutes on the tray, and then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

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Store in an airtight container.

Yum yum yum!