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Why do foxes glow?

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In which I bombard you with photos and beat a hasty retreat to answer REALLY important questions from Big Bear about why foxes glow when they’re pregnant*. And to stop Baby Bear from dialling 999…. again. 

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I claim they are homage to Wimbledon and strawberries. Really I just got over excited with the Cath Kidston sale. 

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They’re Earl Grey flavour. Because there’s no time for the Great British tea and cake tradition when you’re trying to fish out coins that have been lovingly inserted into air vents. So it has to be tea flavoured cake instead. It’s just as good, although cake flavoured tea might be quicker. Just a thought. 

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Pretty sure the Bears are the ONLY people who don’t understand the Pimms fascination. They aren’t particularly British summer-esque, but at least they taste pretty awesome: Malibu and Coke flavoured Bear-y cakes. Having said that, Daddy Bear doesn’t like Malibu. Herein lies the reason why Mummy Bear’s diet always fails. Cola flavoured sponge topped with a malibu and lime buttercream frosting, amazingly cute straws, and the most humongous tantrum from Baby Bear when I wouldn’t let him lick the frosting bowl. 

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Actually, this is more Wimbledon-ish isn’t it? I did start a diet. And then I made this. And it had no soggy bottom and was absolutely delicious. But did have an entire tub on marscapone in it. So basically the diet had been pointless. 

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And that moment when you realise LAST weekend was Father’s day, and the computer won’t print your amazon voucher? Gluten Free Cherry Bakewell flavour Bear-y cakes. Almond sponge, filled with cherry jam and topped with lemon glace icing. Or, how to get out of a tight spot using lots of sugar. 

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Except I haven’t showered yet. So maybe the recipes will come later. Much later.

Mummy Bear x 

*Fantastic Mr Fox; confusing asd kids since 2009. 

Mr Fox: By the way, you look unbelievably beautiful tonight. You’re practically glowing. Maybe                                                                                                             it’s the lighting. 

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet

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Well, ok, it’s not really tropical here, but at least it’s not the Arctic conditions of last week. To celebrate we’ve made individual Caribbean-upside-down-cakes. (Also because Daddy Bear loves upside-down-cake and he is back at work this week whilst Mummy Bear and the Little Bears are still at home. They certainly soften the blow!)

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Individual portions are excellent for the Bears House. Then nobody can complain about who got the bigger piece of pineapple. Or, when Daddy Bear decides to reheat it and forgets it’s in the oven, he only ruins his own one, not everyone’s.

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These get the official name of Caribbean-upside-down-cakes because Mummy Bear is still desperately trying to finish off the bottle of Coconut Rum without actually having to drink it. Basically they’re just a boozy version of normal upside down cake. But it definitely sounds better doesn’t it?!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs (about 50g each without shells)

100g Self Raising Flour

100g Stork

50g Caster Sugar

50g Light Brown Soft Sugar

4 tbsp Golden Syrup

4 pineapple rings

4 whole glace cherries

1 tbsp Coconut Rum

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat gently. Add the Stork, the sifted flour and both of the sugars. Whisk gently until combined with a hand whisk. Add in the rum and whisk again.

Lightly grease four ramekin dishes, then spoon a tablespoon of golden syrup into the bottom of each one. Place a pineapple ring on top of the syrup in each ramekin, and then a glace cherry in the hole in the middle of the ring. Split all of the batter equally between the four ramekin dishes, spreading it gently over the top of the fruit so not to displace too much of the syrup.

Pop the four ramekins in the oven for around 35 ish minutes (until the centre of the cake springs back when touched). Leave to cool in the ramekins for 20 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges, and then turn out onto a plate – perfect pudding cake!

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Let’s hope that spring is FINALLY on its way. Or at least that it has definitely finished snowing for the next six months.

Mummy Bear x

Tis the season to be Jolly……

….. Or at least it would be if everywhere wasn’t flooding outside, if I didn’t have a hideous cold and an assignment to hand in tomorrow. But never mind, because I have a secret weapon – Eggnog Bear-y Cakes! They have an eggnog flavoured sponge with a sparkly rum buttercream to make them look like snowballs.

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The recipe for this is easy – use a normal vanilla cupcake batter, but replace the 240ml of milk with the same amount of non alcholic Eggnog (I discovered it in the world food aisle at Tesco) and bake as normal. Make the frosting by creaming 110g unsalted butter with 500g icing sugar, 75ml whole milk and 1 tsp rum flavouring (or real rum if you don’t have Baby Bears who want to lick all the frosting off every cake). When the cakes are cool, smear on the buttercream with a palette knife and sprinkle with white magic sparkles.

Spread the Christmas cheer – the holidays ARE coming!

Mummy Bear x

Winter Baking Begins – The first fruit cake!

Winter Baking Begins - The first fruit cake!

After having to scrape ice off the car last week I have formally declared that it is winter, and hence forth only be baking autumnal and winter recipes. This explains why Nanny Bear’s birthday cake was a rich fruit cake (well, that and the fact I had some brandy soaked dried fruit hanging around my cupboard which were complaining bitterly that they hadn’t been eaten!)

Because of the pre-packed fruit I have no recipe for you, but I do have a little word of warning: Using Daddy Bear’s ‘anything for the quiet life’ motto, I bought pre rolled marzipan to cover the cake underneath the sugar paste. All I can say is don’t be lazy – roll it yourself, because it really needs to be kneaded before being rolled and applying to the cake to stop the cracks forming, and so defeats the point of spending more to have it pre rolled!

Now, I’m off to make a gingerbread latte and listen to Christmas carols – it’s only 12 weeks away you know!

Mummy Bear x

Oh, let the Jameson sink in, I drink to that…

Last October I went to Dublin for the weekend with Auntie Bear, and it was brilliant – I’d recommend it for a weekend away to anyone. (Mostly because it’s a lot nearer than New York, and easier to get around than Paris.) Whilst there we went on the Jameson Irish Whiskey factory tour, which taught us what we needed to know about the differences between a whiskey, a whisky and a bourbon (and let us taste lots.)

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This was a very cunning ploy, because once you entered the gift shop at the end of the tour, you had a couple of whiskeys on your breath and everything was looking a little more rosey. Which is how I ended up with 3 different types of Jameson Whiskey bottles sat on my kitchen shelf at home, several months later. And somehow, it just doesn’t taste the same when you’re not in Dublin.

So to soothe my conscience that I hadn’t just wasted my money in buying them, I decided the best thing to do would to use them in baking. Of course. Also, you may have gathered from my previous posts that I have a thing about turning drinks into cupcakes – Pina coladas, Cherry cola, Dandelion and burdock, Cosmopolitans and now Irish Coffee cupcakes.

Lots of recipes I looked at had Baileys in as well, which slightly annoys me, because the real ingredients in an Irish Coffee are coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream. No Baileys. I’m sure it would taste delicious with Baileys in as well, but yes, I am slightly pedantic. In the end I didn’t follow one specific recipe, but more improvised with what I knew already.

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Irish Coffee Bear-y Cakes

80g Stork

280g Golden Caster Sugar

240g Self Raising flour

240ml Whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 large eggs

20g instant espresso powder

400ml double cream

75g icing sugar

1tbsp Jameson Irish whiskey (or to taste)

Espresso powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170C. In a large bowl beat together the Stork, flour and sugar using an electric mixer until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Heat the milk gently in a pan (we have no microwave at the Bear’s house, but you could use one) and stir in the espresso powder until fully dissolved. Leave to cool adding the two eggs and vanilla essence to it. Beat the liquids until just combined with a hand whisk.

Add half the milk mixture to the bowl of ‘breadcrumbs’ and beat with the electric mixer on a low spread until combined. Then add the rest of the milk mixture and beat on a low speed again. Use an icecream scoop to measure equal amounts of batter into approximately 16 muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the tops start to turn golden and are springy when you touch them. To test if they are definitely cooked through use a toothpick and insert it into the palest cake. If it comes out clean with no crumbs, it’s cooked! Leave them to cool in the muffin trays- this should stop the cakes shrinking too much and peeling away from the wrappers. If you’re really impatient like me, pop them outside to cool faster.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, beat the double cream and the whiskey in a large bowl until it forms stiff peaks, and then stir in the icing sugar by hand using a spatula. Fill a piping bag with the cream, and once the cakes have cooled, pipe a generous swirl on top of each one. I used this nozzle for these cakes, because I wanted a voluminous look to the cream, and then sprinkled a dusting of espresso powder on top, just to give it some colour.

Obviously, the beauty of these is that you can adjust the strength of the coffee or the booziness of the cream to your individual tastes, although I would be weary of adding too much alcohol to the cream because it would prevent it from whipping so stiffly. And anyone who hasn’t been to Dublin, go!

Mummy Bear x

Girls just wanna have…… cake

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It’s got to the point where I ramble on about cake so much that my grown up friends have become interested in baking too…. either that or their just taking pity and pleasuring me. So last night we banished all boys and there were the four of us larking around in the kitchen. With wine. It could have been a recipe for disaster (we did invent some sort of cranberry toffee by accident) but actually turned into a recipe for Cosmo Bear-y cakes.

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They had zingy lime sponges, glazed with a Cointreau and lime syrup (and a little more Cointreau) and then frosted with a Cranberry and lime infused buttercream. I’m going to attempt to remember the recipe, but please take into consideration Mummy Bear regularly forgets where her phone is and finds it in places like the fridge, or the post box, so some details may be a little on the vague side. I blame the Little Bears. I used to be intelligent. Or at least able to function without coffee.

Cosmo cocktail Bear-y cakes

For the lime sponge:

80g Stork

280g Golden caster sugar

240g self raising flour

240 ml full fat milk

Grated zest of 1 lime

2 large free range eggs

Preheat oven to 170C. Beat together 80g stork, 280g golden caster sugar and 240g self raising flour until they look like fine bread crumbs. We used an electric hand whisk but you could use a normal hand whisk, if you have amazing biceps or feel guilty about eating your body weight in cake.

In a measuring jug, hand whisk together 240 ml full fat milk and 2 large eggs, just until they’re combined properly, you don’t need to make any air bubbles. Slowly pour this into the dry mixture, beating with electric whisk on a low speed until everything is combined and the batter is smooth. Using a spatula mix in the grated lime zest gently until evenly combined.

Divide the mix between 14 muffin sized cases or about 22 fairy cake size cases (At this point it is useful to have an ice cream scoop. I wouldn’t really recommend using a 7.5 ml measuring spoon because it takes forever and batter seems to escape all over the work top. But that could just be my inability to transport liquids from one pot to another.)

Bake in the centre of the pre heated oven until the spring back when touched. I think this took about 20 minutes, but to be honest Mummy Bear was distracted by Dominos pizza at this point so the time could vary, don’t take it verbatim and then blame me for burnt cakes. Remove from the oven and leave them in the muffin trays to cool. If you’re impatient like Mummy Bear, and it’s not raining outside (or, you have a porch) pop them outside to cool faster.

For the Cointreau and lime glaze:

5 tbsps of Cointreau

3 tbsps of caster sugar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Put the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring frequently until a runny syrup forms. Use toothpick, strand of dried spaghetti of even a fork to prick holes in the surface of the lime cakes, and then glaze the cakes with the syrup using a pastry brush (or a spoon!). Remove the cakes from the muffin tray and place on a cooling rack.

For the Cranberry and lime infused buttercream:

100ml Cranberry Juice

Juice of 1 lime

3 tbsps of caster sugar

120g unsalted butter softened

700g (approx) icing sugar

2 tbsps Cointreau

1 tbsp vodka

1/4 tsp salt

Wilton Rose gel colouring

Wilton Red gel colouring

Combine the Cranberry juice, 1/2 of the lime juice and the caster sugar in a pan and bring to the boil stirring frequently. Boil for 10 mins or until a thin syrup forms. Don’t heat for too long, otherwise when you combine the syrup with the butter an amazing cranberry toffee will form. Which is delicious, but it isn’t buttercream.

Meanwhile in a bowl beat the butter with and electric whisk until creamed. Add 1/2 the icing sugar, all of the Cointreau, vodka and the other 1/2 of the lime juice and beat with fork until combined. You could use an electric whisk for this, but the icing sugar will form a cloud in the kitchen and you might become hyper just by breathing. Also, it could result in the untimely demise of your electric mixer. Mummy Bear learnt the hard way.

When the cranberry syrup has cooled, add 4 tbsp of it to the icing in the bowl, and then add in the remaining icing sugar. Combine with a fork initially, and then beat with an electric whisk for several minutes until smooth. Use a tooth pick (or a kebab stick) to add in a generous and equal amounts of the Wilton gel colours to achieve the cerise pink colour of a Cosmopolitan. Taste the frosting and add in the salt and more Cointreau/lime if you need it.

We used an Ateco 846 nozzle for the piping in the photo above, but a similar effect can be achieved with the Wilton 1M or the Wilton 2D, and then it was garnished with a lime wedge and a cocktail umbrella.

There were other bakes, and some more disasters (although nothing quite along the lines of the accidental cranberry toffee) so look out for some more posts later. And if you got to the end of the very very long winded description you deserve a medal for perseverance. Or at least some cake!

Mummy Bear x

If you like Piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain….

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If you like Piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain....

I might as well put my hands up and confess – I have a thing at the moment about turning drinks into Bear-y cakes. Cola, Cherry Cola, Malibu and Lime, Irish Coffee… These were my take on piña colada flavoured cakes made for sister’s 21st birthday, I’d been wanting to do them for a while and not just because I have large bottle of coconut rum taking up valuable new cake stand space in the kitchen. I had been waiting for the right occasion though, due to my normal target market for cake having the combined age of 6 years.

They were really easy to do – it’s a traditional vanilla sponge, but instead of vanilla flavouring I used 1 tsp of pineapple essence. I then made a coconut rum buttercream (110g unsalted butter, 500g icing sugar, 2.5 tbsp coconut rum, 2 tsp milk) piped it on using a large round nozzle and sprinkled with dessicated coconut.

They were decorated with a glace cherry and cocktail umbrella, only for me to realise that having done that, they didn’t fit in the cake box to take to my sister. I also then turned my back for two seconds to answer the phone and found Baby Bear using the full cake box as a maraca….

You win some, you lose some!
Mummy Bear x

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