There is a ‘street party’ in the playground of the children’s school on Thursday afternoon. The excellent PTA has arranged a fun afternoon of maypole dancing, ‘crown’ decorating competitions and most important of all a ‘tea party’. As ever, those words fill me with dread. Apparently, there are cakes and jelly and ice cream on the menu. So, as usual, I need to create something fun for Zac to take along, so he feels part of the celebration. Obviously, I cannot send him in with his ice cream, in this heat it wouldn’t make it as far as the car, but I can make him some cakes. I think.
His favourites still seem to be my rock cakes, which makes me happy, because they are so quick and easy to make. But in an attempt to get in the Jubilee mood, I feel I need to supply him with something even more English, pretty and suitable for a party. No doubt the other children will be eating amazing looking cupcakes, made by the army of skilled baker/mothers who live in the village.
I am not in that class and to be honest, am a bit bored by this new obsession with cupcakes. It is almost at a competitive level now and I know I cannot ever get excited enough to make the effort. I don’t even like to eat them. The swirly thick, creamy looking toppings turn my stomach and they are certain to do the same to Zac, quite literally.
So I decided to push against it and stick to what I know. I am pretty sure cupcakes are an American thing anyway, and I am fairly confident it is based on their measuring system of ‘cups’. When I was a little girl, sweet little cakes in the pretty cases were called ‘fairy cakes’ and were much smaller. In an age when obesity and greed is becoming an issue, perhaps we should return to baking our more traditional bitesize English teatime treats, starting with fairy cakes. I am sure the Queen would approve.
I have found some recipes, in my mother’s cooking notebook, the one she handwrote at cookery class back in the seventies. I plan to attack the fairy cakes tomorrow. I have found a recipe for a Victoria Sponge, also in the book. Obviously I have to make them all dairy free, gluten free and wheat free but even so – they look beautifully simple, which baking has to be to entice me to get my pinny on. The sponge has a regal enough name but perhaps, as this is ‘my’ recipe and I have created it for the Jubilee of our queen, it will be known as an Elizabeth sponge.
But as I am so nervous about baking and Zac loves cakes with ‘fruit’ I decided to start with a flapjack today. It has just come out of the oven and I am happy to say it was the easiest thing I have ever made. It took minutes and was relatively mess free. I am sure it is very nutritious and relatively wholesome. It certainly smells amazing and I can’t wait for the children to come home and try it. I hope they like it, but not too much, otherwise I will need to make a fresh batch for the party.
Here’s an interesting thing I have learned about homemade cakes – they never go stale, because they are never around long enough! I have about fifteen pounds worth of Asda’s own brand ‘free from’ cakes in my cupboard – they have been there weeks and are still not stale or even out of date! Yet whenever I make a cake, it is gone in less than 48 hours.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get organised enough to do this! I think it is saving me money too.
So the party is on Thursday. The flapjacks are made and now I just need to pluck up the courage to make the fairy cakes and Elizabeth sponge! Here is the recipe for the flapjack and some photos. I will post the fairy cakes and Elizabeth sponge tomorrow.
200g Pure sunflower spread
1 dessert spoon ‘The Groovy Food Company’ organic virgin coconut oil
200g caster sugar
150g golden syrup
1 dessert spoon ‘The Groovy Food Company’ premium agave nectar (light and mild)
375g gluten free porridge oats
2 handfuls of sultanas and a small handful of chopped apricots
Heat oven to 180C. Lightly oil and line the base of a 20x30cm cake tin with baking parchment.
Melt the ‘Pure’ spread, sugar, coconut oil, syrup, agave nectar in a medium pan, over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, sultanas and apricots. You could add chocolate chips – e.g. MooFree chocolate drops, if you prefer.
Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cut into even sized bars and leave until cold. Turn out of the tin and cut into slices.
I got the porridge oats in the free from section of Waitrose and the agave nectar from the free from section in Tesco. The coconut oil was among all other cooking oils in the ‘normal’ aisles.
I added the coconut oil purely for flavour and because it melts so well at a high temperature. I was also running a bit low on Pure spread and thought I would improvise. I added the agave nectar just because I bought some the other day and haven’t had the courage to use it yet. It is a low GI sugar substitute, totally organic and I keep reading about it so thought I should try it. It tastes a bit more like honey than syrup but, it works. So you could leave both out and just add a bit more butter and a bit more syrup and I am sure the end result would be the same.