Thursday, 29 November 2012

This Cake is to Die For

Courtesy of The Hummingbird Cafe's Cake Days cookbook, I attempted a boozy chocolate cake for my son's 18th , made with Guinness. Oh Boy .

I can vouch for keeping it in the fridge so that it takes on an almost fudge like consistency.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
80g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
140ml buttermilk
280g plain flour
2 tspm bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

50g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
125g soft cream cheese
cocoa powder for dusting

  • Oven Gas Mark 3 or 170 C / 325 F
  • Pour the Guinness into a saucepan with the butter and melt
  • Remove from heat and stir in cocoa and sugar
  • Mix eggs , vanilla and buttermilk in a separate bowl then add to the pan
  • Sift remaining dry ingredients and place in a  mixer bowl
  • Add contents of saucepan and using the paddle attachment or a hand held whisk , mix on slow speed
  • Pour batter into 9" springform cake tin - I baked mine for 45 mins but keep an eye on it after 30'
  • For the frosting just mix everything together until smooth
  • Smother your cake in the stuff ( I actually made double quantity ) 
  • Sprinkle with cocoa powder then refridgerate
My son confessed to not really liking cakes ( can he really be my son ?)  but loved this one. Maybe the alcoholic content helped. I was tempted to bung the empty Guinness bottle in the middle for a laugh - maybe next time and there will SO be a next time. I'm off for a slice now .

The photo doesn't show off the cake to its best advantage but it shows off my lovely boy's gorgeous smile and who cares what the cake looks like - the proof of the pudding and all that.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


It would be tempting to do the schmalzy " Now that you're a man ... " type blog entry to celebrate my eldest son's 18th birthday but as that's not my style , I offer you my alternative take - on the theme of survival.

I'm A Mother , Get Me Out of Here

18 helpful hints on how to survive motherhood from birth to 18 :

1. Forget the Pre-Nup agreement with your other half. When you're pregnant with Number One,  get a lawyer to draw up an infallible list of sleeping entitlement and chore assignment.

2. Assume , if you have boys, that they will hate all ball sports . That way if they use the goalposts as monkey bars during their first footie match or score a try ( for the other side ) in their first rugby match you will not be disappointed. Thank your lucky stars that you will not be standing on the touchline, or whatever it's called, shouting like a fishwife.

3. Buy 3 of every item of school uniform because the first 2 will be lost within a week of starting school. On that note , buy iron in name-tapes. No-one likes a martyr.

4. Buy all alcohol by the case. Cheaper in the long run . Let's face it , a bottle of wine never goes off and it will save draining the last dregs, in a moment of desperation,  of a bottle of that ill-advised holiday purchase of a bottle of  Limoncello.

5. Keep Packets of Nurofen by the bedside ( see above )

6. Assume that if you get ill , your husband / partner will too and his symptoms will be far worse than yours and doubtless warrant a week's bed-rest whilst you soldier on.

7. Hide all bottles of food colouring. They will prove irresistible to curious boys . I can still picture that day at the school gates, watching my son's entire class emerge wearing green stained shirts with the sound of " Mrs F ... can I have a word " from the class teacher ringing in my ears.

8. Keep all old tea towels. At some stage in your son's dramatic acting career he will be cast as a shepherd in he Nativity play and you will not want to fashion a suitable head-dress , with less than 24 hours notice, from your favourite Cath Kidston. Know also that if given a toy sheep to hold as a prop , your son will attempt to BBQ it on the orange cellophane Nativity fire, around which your angelic shepherd will be seated.

9. Parents Evening - I'd really rather not go there .... literally.

10. Don't bother choosing nice carpet. You won't see it for the next few years . It will be buried under a pile of primary coloured plastic and lego bricks ( on the subject of the latter, always wear slippers when negotiating a lego strewn floor - ever stepped on a brick in bare feet ? You'll know what I mean ) . If you must have a floor covering - choose the natural fibre stuff that can hide a crushed packet of digestives with ease although bear in mind that vomit removal requires a toothpick .

11. Birthday parties - someone will always cry or be sick or both. Don't book clowns they're just too weird and preferably hold them some place other than your home.

12. Learn to love your washing machine . You will spend more time in its company than your husband - maybe no bad thing and possibly better company. Whilst you make one sweater last for three outings all other members of your family will seemingly change their outfits twice a day. Buy industrial quantities of washing powder and not the liquid capsules which your naughty boy will sneak into school for amusement value  ( " Mrs F .. can I have a word " )

13. When crossing school playgrounds, walk quickly and if you hear the words " Mrs F .... can I have a word ? " feign deafness and run very fast.

14. Exam revision - it won't happen. You can draw up revision timetables to your heart's content but they will remain pristine and untouched for the duration of exam week and thereafter.

15. Homework - see above . Also , buy shares in CGP. Parents will know what this stands for although I'm darned if I do even after all these years and I've read a few in my time . Understand that comments such as " Why can't you help him with his Physics homework - you did it for A Level "  aimed at your spouse will fall on deaf ears and you will have to become an expert on Kinetic Energy and Wave Theory regardless.

16. Avoid anything to do with the PTA unless you believe that the school will be so pitifully grateful for your Christmas Fair / Book Sale / Quiz NIght help that they cannot possibly entertain the idea of expelling your child from school for minor misdemeanors such as bringing bottle of green food colouring into school .

17. Smoking . It will happen. Your teenager might even take it up too.

18. Enjoy the ride . Thankfully it doesn't last forever . When they reach eighteen you will just about have got used to whatever fresh new hell presents itself along the way and then they'll leave home and you won't know what to do with yourself apart from drain the last of the dregs of that bottle of Limoncello and maybe sew in a few name-tapes for old times' sake.

Happy Birthday Love

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Funny how trends come and go. A decade ago I wouldn't have been seen dead with a pot of glitter in my hand but now I can't get enough of it. Maybe it's an antidote to the economic gloom and dark nights or maybe I'm just transported back to my childhood when Christmas came accompanied by a healthy dollop of the stuff. Christmas cards and advent calendars would be festooned with it . I can even remember the smell of it in its little glass red rubber- stoppered phial , that and the aroma of 'gloy' which would be used to transform the toilet roll tube choir boys with the ping-pong heads. Happy days.

I was therefore more than happy to spend an evening surrounded by the stuff last night at Attic - my favourite shop's Christmas shopping evening. If Santa's reading this - one of everything please. In fact , better still, I may just dispatch the boys there one weekend to choose for me. Even if you blundered around the shop blindfold ( not suggesting that they do of course ) - whatever you laid your hands on would be beautiful. The knitted tree in the background came from Next but the other lovelies are all from Attic.

I remember my mother having an ancient tin of christmas cake decorations which came out year after year which included plaster santa figures and bottle brush trees just like the ones below. If we were lucky they'd still be encrusted with the previous year's icing which we would nibble. I don't think salmonella had been invented back then.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Welcome to a new feature on my blog ... WILT .

This is a FLA ( four letter abbreviation ) for the phrase ... What I've Learnt Today

WILT for Thursday 15th November

If I lived on the moon I would weigh about 1/6 of what I weigh on earth ... in Newtons or something. Therefore I am moving to the moon. Unfortunately my mass according to my son's GCSE revision book would remain the same. My mass is the 'stuff' I'm made of , in my case fat , lard , marshmallow and the 4 mini mince pies I had for lunch. This is not a compelling enough argument to persuade me to move to the moon although it would enforce a rather strict diet regime as there would be no Dominos Pizza delivery service or fish and chip shops. Presumably I would have to eat moon dust and leftover NASA space probes.

I am 'helping' youngest son to revise Physics. I could re-write that last sentence as shouting at youngest son for making me speed read the CGP revision book for Physics GCSE because he should know this by now hence the word 'revision'.

I am running on empty after an exhausting week of helping other people's children ( other than my own ) to pass their exams. The next formula I must learn is Work Done ( Joules ) = Force x Distance. I will be calculating this as the work done in lifting a large glass of red wine from the table to my mouth , a distance of some 20cms. I Have no idea how many Joules this might involve and nor do I care at this stage.

Anyone else surviving exam week ?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sneak Peek

For those of you coming to Eastbourne or are just plain nosy , here is a tantalisingly small sneak peek of the layout I'll be sharing with you. Well I wouldn't want to give too much away now would I ?

I must still be in my Farrow and Ball phase but I may just add a pop of colour between now and the weekend just to break out of my comfort zone. It's still a work in progress so anything could appear .. or disappear from it in the next couple of days . At some stage of course I'll just have to start sticking things down. Hope you like.