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Recipes for reading

In this page you will find the recipes for the foods I like to munch on whilst reading. It’s mostly cake.

Chocolate Easter nests

  • 200g plain or milk cooking chocolate*
  • shredded wheat – x3 or 4 of the large biscuits
  • Mini eggs

This is probably the easiest recipe to make with a little one. The list of ingredients and measurements is a guide only – you can substitute shredded wheat with rice krispies, cornflakes etc… whatever’s in the cupboard.

As these do only have 3 ingredients and require no cooking time, just a short spell in the fridge, Easter nests are a quick make. And an ideal last minute Easter present.

Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of just boiling water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally. While you are doing this (and of course you should never leave a child unattended when cooking on the hob), pop a few shredded wheat biscuits in a large bowl and let your little one loose scrunching and crunching. Messy play but with something tasty and edible at the end of it!

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it into the shredded wheat and mix. Spoon tablespoons of your nest mix into paper casings and dent a hole into the middle to add your chocolate eggs.  Pop in the fridge until the nests are hard.

You can then arrange these in a little box tied with ribbon or just eat them straight away!

*I’ve always found that cooking with Milo (and myself to be fair), you should always account for a little extra chocolate being needed for the impromptu tasting session that might happen!

Just loving Fiona Cairns’ Bake and Decorate

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll probably mention it again, but I’m just loving Fiona Cairns Bake and Decorate from Quadrille publishing. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book full of beautiful cakes and ideas. I think I have made the lemon crunch cake about five times this year already, but we never tire of serving it up or eating it. Milo especially. Here’s my latest effort with crystalised violas and pansies from the garden.

Notice the excess of purple and lilac. Milo’s absolute favourite colour – I think our garden will be very purply this year!

The lemon cake itself is exactly as described, lemony with a lovely crunchy topping – granulated sugar and lemon juice. And it’s light too so a second slice doesn’t feel too cheeky.

You don’t need to ice it, it tastes just as good without but if you want to add some crystalised flowers then it’s nicer to cover first. Fiona Cairns recommends a lilac coloured icing (just like the one on the cover of her book) but I can never find the food colouring locally so I go with white. I did try a lemon colour once, but it kind of looked like I’d poured custard over the cake. I don’t know how she gets her crystalised flowers so beautifully neat and tidy – I think our pansies are just too big, the smaller violas work a lot better (or you can go out and buy some crystalised flowers ready made, probably a bit less hassle!).

If you are thinking you need a new baking recipe book for your collection don’t hesitate to just head straight out and buy this one.

A special treat, but so worth it. Fiona Cairns’ website is also worth spending a little time drooling over too, if only for the sumptuous display of (I presume) VV Rouleaux ribbon in the background of some of the pages. Yum.

Battle of the Battenburg

Aha… a new Recipe for Reading. It’s been a little while hasn’t it?

I’ve always liked Battenburg for its retro look and quite honestly the marzipan. Who doesn’t love marzipan (apart from my grandma, but I find that odd)? Marzipan is lovely. And Battenburg definitely feels like a tea time kind of a cake and something to eat alongside a good read.

I thought I’d try Mary Berry’s recipe from her Baking Bible book, which I am using more and more at the moment. The cake came out well, the sponge was springy, not at all dry and all in all it looks like a perfectly acceptable Battenburg. But I was a little disappointed with the grainy texture of the sponge. I think this must be down to the ground rice in the mixture. It made sense to me when I was baking the cake, but doesn’t now. I’m wondering how it would fair if the ground rice were replaced with ground almonds… whether some of the grainyness would go? I was also a little disappointed with the flavour. Mary Berry suggests you add a few drops of almond essence. I added six. I really like almond flavoured baked goods! It still didn’t seem to come through for me.

So, there are things I might have done wrong. I might not have mixed for long enough – though it was a nice, smooth mixture going into the pan. There’s a possibility that I overcooked the sponge slightly, but I think this would have resulted in dryness as opposed to a grainy texture. Either way I wasn’t satisfied.

Battenburg take 2. Fiona Cairns this time with her delightful book Bake and Decorate which I want to fall into and be swallowed up by the pages. Her recipe calls for three eggs as opposed to the two in Mary Berry’s recipe and I am a big fan of the three egg cake. This sounds daft. It isn’t meant to – I just don’t think you can make a Victoria Sponge successfully without three eggs.

A little trickier to prepare to bake in the sense that you need to place a divider in your tin so your pink half doesn’t run into your plain half, if you catch my drift. I also found it need about 10-15 minutes longer in the oven than the recipe suggested, but this could be down to my rather old, useless oven.

Either way, it made for a very tasty, not grainy at all, vanilla sponge. A little more flimsy to work with when move about to cover with marzipan (so be careful), but otherwise very tasty. I think this comes out tops for me, and was especially good two days after I baked it. Improving with age – that’s what I like!

Both were consumed (not in one go of course), while reading The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson which I very, very much enjoyed.

Victoria sponge cake

Cakey cake

This is pretty much the same recipe as the fairy cakes but with a few changes (and I use good old Delia for this one!) You will need:

For an 8 inch cake:
6 oz self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 oz very soft butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (if you are using flavouring increase this to a teaspoon)
a little icing sugar for dusting

Take your biggest mixing bowl and put all the ingredients into it (except the icing sugar) – whisk away until smooth and well-combined! Pour out into your tins (grease and line with baking parchment) and then bake in the oven on 170 for 30 -35 minutes. Tip out onto a wire rack to let cool before adding your filling.

Now, Delia makes this with a raspberry and mascarpone cream. But I don’t like mascarpone cream so I normally just get a good raspberry or strawberry jam for the filing and add a good, hearty amount of fresh, whipped double cream. I don’t know how much cream I use – I just guess the right amount, and if there’s a little left over, all the better! A quick spoonful with a dollop of jam – lovely!

From Delia’s Vegetarian Collection

Fairy cakes

Fairy cake

These are so simple to make, literally just pop all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk away adding the milk slowly. Put in the oven on 200 and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown on top.

125 g self-raising flour
125 g caster sugar
125 g butter
2 medium eggs
2-3 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

For the buttercream icing:
100g icing sugar
100g butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, then add the icing sugar until you have the consistency you want. Have fun decorating!

This is a pretty standard fairy cake recipe, but I followed Nigella Lawson’s guide to remind myself and because I couldn’t find my childhood cookbook. Think it is at mums still!

Chocolate chip oat cookies

mmm... tea and cookies

1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I often use a little more)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips – any kind you like. I always use a mixture

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a few baking sheets. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt – set aside. Cream with an electric mixer the butter and the sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat slowly until everything is thoroughly bended. The dough should be crumbly.

Drop teaspoons on to the baking sheets, spacing the dough about 1 – 2 inches apart. I misread this the first time I made these and thought it meant a tablespoon. I had some very large cookies. Bake for about 15 minutes until just firm around the edges, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

From Cookies by Hilaire Walden

Pooh’s flapjacks

2 oz butter or margarine
1 rounded tablespoon golden syrup
2 oz soft brown sugar
4 oz rolled oats
pinch of salt

(I always double up on the mixture to make chunkier flapjacks, but that just might be me being a bit greedy!)

You’ll need a 7″ sponge cake tin (greased well and preferably lined also). Just heat up all the ingredients in a saucepan, holding the oats back until everything else is well combined. Mix the oats in well. Spoon the mixture into the greased tin and pop into the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or 25- 30 mins if you’ve doubled -up on the recipe.

I sometimes like to vary the recipe by adding chocolate chunks or cinnamon and raisins.

From the Pooh Cook Book – recipes by Katie Stewart

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a lovely idea!
    I have just discovered your blog and it’s really lovely!

    April 22, 2009
  2. LOVE your reading recipes. I am also a bookseller of children’s genre; and have just embarked on a journey to become published children’s author. Have just put your blog into my blogroll list of playmates. the fairy cakes are beautiful and though I have made this size cakes for children’s class parties, never thought of them as “fairy cakes”, but it does fit so well. I will definitely have to make some soon and invite my granddaughters to enjoy them. Where does the name come from? If you happen to know. I will also have to look up the “Pooh Cook Book”. thanks for the lovely photos here, and the bit on “Library Mice” Talula

    April 30, 2009
  3. Fairy cakes ~ did the research and it seems to be a term particular to British households, but centuries old. I did a post inspired by reading this and a couple of pictures & sites I found while researching the term. Funny ~ i would have thought it to be an Irish or Scots phrase. Thanks for the recipe – I will be making some tomorrow a.m. for my little “grands” Hope your Mayday was fun! Talula

    May 2, 2009
  4. natashaworswick #

    Hi Talula, Thanks so much for your comments. I’d never really thought before about the name “fairy cakes” – they were just always called that in my house, by my mum and grandmas. It’s interesting as my mum is Norwegian but must have called these little cakes “fairy cakes” as her mum in English perhaps? I also have a cook book back at my parent’s house where they are called just that.

    I think “cupcakes” is becoming a more prominent and fashionable term in the UK now, but to me that means a slightly larger cake – almost a muffin, and to me anyway, they will always be “fairy cakes”.

    Best of luck with your journey to become a published children’s author – that sounds really exciting! If you ever need someone to critique/carry out a basic edit of your manuscript, drop me a line as that is something that I do for a living! My website has more info:

    I hope the cakes went down well with your little “grands”!

    May 3, 2009
  5. Hi Again, Natasha. Thanks for the offer on edits, I’ll be sure to look you up for a bit of discussion when I’m near that point. Still prepping the space for the creative ‘muse’ right now – I have already run across about 25-30 half baked ones so far, while cleaning out the office; so it shouldn’t be too long after the office is ready.

    As for the Fairy cakes vs cupcakes – In the research I found ‘cup cake’ was the larger version only, and originally was simply the recipe; as in a cup of flour/cup of sugar/cup of milk etc. and that was to show the difference between it and a ‘pound cake’ that called for a pound of flour/pound of sugar/pound of butter etc. They seem to be pretty much the same white cake recipe, except for the amount/measurement of the ingredients. And to your family’s Norwegian ancestry – don’t they also have ‘little people’ in their cultural legends? I find those same similarities with my Irish & Native American Cherokee legends & folklore. Quite interesting how so many cultures worldwide have a form of ‘little people’, isn’t it??

    My little ‘grands’ loved their fairy cakes – I took them about 5 dozen to have a few, then let mom place in the freezer in small packs for after school snacks & tea parties. They are probably going to use some on the combined Birthday party coming up on Memorial Day (May 28) for the two 3 yr olds. Mine were done with a carrot cake recipe with the tradiotional cream cheese slick icing, and a white cake recipe with pink strawberry fluffy icing and chocolate fluffy icing, with plenty of decorative sprinkes/colored trim icing/icing rosettes stc. Alas – I didn’t think to take photos before I delivered them, but they were very cute! Like you, I think i have ben making these little cakes since I was a small girl, too! Just didn’t know they were called fairy cakes! Thanks for being my inspiration! Talula

    May 4, 2009
  6. Hi Natasha,

    Seeing these delicious recipes I thought you might like – all about (kids’) books and baking 🙂

    January 15, 2010
    • natashaworswick #

      Hi Zoe,

      Your blog looks great – think I might be spending some time drooling over it from now on! Thanks for stopping by.


      January 15, 2010

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