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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. 

Toddler trouble.

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The Bears and I have been absent for a while. There is a very good reason for this, and it comes in the shape of a not-so-small two year old. I tried baking with him.

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It ended in a state of sugar induced hyperactivity, a broken measuring jug and very very little sleep. Oh yes, and a cake which looked like I had assembled it, run over it with the car, and then tried to fix it up again.

Image(It’s a Maple Syrup and Pecan layer cake with marscapone frosting, from Delia’s gorgeous new book. It did taste fantastic, but not fantastic enough to warrant only two hours sleep.)

And then I tried baking without him. This time the cakes were at least edible looking. And tasted exactly as they should:

 Image(These are Turkish Delight Bear-y Cakes: Chocolate cake, topped with a rose flavoured buttercream and dark chocolate sprinkles. Recipe may follow. Should the Toddler ever sleep.)

However, my living room wall no longer looked like it should:

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Neither did Daddy Bear’s computer screen. Or the sofa. And so, we stopped baking.

That completes my absence letter.

We hope to be back soon!

Mummy Bear x

Getting our bake on

So I have rather neglected my kitchen as of late, (Daddy Bear even cooked the whole Christmas Dinner!) but yesterday Baby Bear decided to have a sudden unexpected mid day nap, and Big Bear asked to do some cooking.

However Daddy Bear heard my attempts to persuade Big Bear to bake some candy cane bear-y cakes (we have a candy cane surplus as no one likes mint in the Bear house!) and interjected saying that perhaps we should make something which was at least edible. Hmph. But Daddy Bear is always right.

Which is how we came about making Amaretti biscuits. Mainly because they are very quick and easy, so Big Bear wouldn’t lose interest half way through, but also because ages ago Daddy bear thought he was baking them, but ended up with Biscotti instead. True story.

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We didn’t have any Amaretto liquor in the Bear house however, because Daddy Bear is now on the wagon, so Big Bear and I had to create an alcohol free version.

Ingredients:

125g ground almonds

1 cup caster sugar

2 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp almond flavouring

1.Pre heat the oven to 180C. Measure all ingredient into one bowl, then beat with an electric mixer for five minutes until it is a smooth paste. Let the mixture sit for another five minutes on the side.

2.Sprinkle plain flour over two baking trays. Put a small round nozzle into a piping bag, and fill the bag with the mixture. Pipe small circles, about the size of a ten pence piece, 2 cm apart onto the baking trays.

3.Put the trays into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turning if needed. Take them out and leave to cool before transferring into an air tight container.

4.Go to bedroom and play Lego Lord of the Rings for the duration of Baby Bear’s nap time.

(Last stage is optional)

Mummy Bear x

Boo!

Boo!

As mentioned before, The Bears aren’t huge Halloween fans…. but we can’t resist a bit of pumpkin carving. Especially if it has a Mario theme!

Mummy Bear x

Pooping rainbows

Daddy Bear is very anti facebook and deems it’s only purpose is as an institution for procrastination and self indulgence. Well fair enough you may think, but this is coming from the guy who has had, at one point, 9gag as his default home page. 9gag, which was invented solely for the purpose of procrastination.

So when he saw that I was making rainbow cookies, his response was a little like this:

And then proceeded to tell me that actually, they weren’t rainbow cookies, but Unicorn Poop. Apparently, according to 9gag Unicorns poop rainbows. Who knew? He then proceeded to show me some completely pointless Nyan Cat. No, I didn’t get it. But then, he doesn’t understand why I was secretly praying that JK Rowling’s new book was actually ‘Harry Potter: The Epilogue’ in disguise. I digress, back to pooping unicorns:

I made the cookies following some super assembly instructions for Jen’s Just Desserts, (check out her page for really cute and fresh ideas for baking, but beware, you’ll blink and it will be midnight!)  and used my own recipe for the sugar cookie dough.

Ingredients:

225g unsalted butter

225 g caster sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

480g plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Food colouring in Wilton Sky Blue, Sugarflair Mint Green, Home2Bke Yellow, Home2Bake Red

Multi coloured sprinkles

Cream butter sugar and salt for 2 minutes using an electric beater, then add in the egg, egg yolk and extract and beat again until combined. Add in the flour and baking powder and mix again, using your hands to prevent a flour cloud, until an evenly mixed dough forms.

Split the dough into 4 equal parts, and then colour each part using a different gel colour. You can use any colours you like, I just used the ones listed above because they are what I had to hand, with the highest contrast.

Wrap each ball of coloured dough in cling film, and then refrigerate for at least and hour. Once chilled and firm, remove from the fridge, and unwrap the cling film. Pull off a marble sized lump of each colour and roll them into small balls, then push the 4 balls into each other so they resemble a hacky sack.

Use the palm of your hand against the board to roll the ball into a sausage shape, and then wind the sausage shape into my current favourite spiral pattern. Gently roll the edge of the spiral in sugar sprinkles or non pareils, and then pop onto a baking tray. My Cookies didn’t stick to the tray, so there’s no need to worry about lining your baking tray (woohoo!).

Pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 C of until they are firm to touch on top. Remove from oven, leave for a minute and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Daddy Bear and Big Bear both think that these are awesome, clearly for different reasons. Or maybe Daddy Bear just never grew up. Baby Bear is also a fan, although I haven’t met a biscuit yet that he won’t eat, so that’s not really a fair assessment on the taste!

Mummy Bear x

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.

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Baby bear has been having a love/hate relationship with blackberries – or ‘grapes’ as he insists on calling them. He is incredibly excited that he can find food on branches outside, and does not discriminate between any colour of berry at all. He will even try the odd leaf, smile at me and say ‘mmmmmmmmmm’. What he is much less keen on are the thorns, and no matter how many times he gets prickled, the expression is still the same; a sort of ‘Huh?! What the hell just happened to my hand?’ type face. But his enthusiasm combined with the beautiful field beside the Bears house, means we now have a huge glut of blackberries, and have been making blackberry jam a plenty.

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Some of the jam was experimented with in Apple bear-y cakes with a blackberry jam filling and a custard buttercream frosting. Honestly, they were like Autumn in a mouthful! And gone so quickly I didn’t even get a chance to grab the camera, which I feel speaks volumes about their deliciousness!

The rest of the jam is in jars in my fridge, and has presented the perfect opportunity for some experimental bread baking. I wanted to make something which had an autumnal feel to it (Silly, I know, as this encompasses the whole genre of bread really!) but what I settled on were Wholemeal rolls with poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, golden linseed,  chopped walnuts, raisins and dried apple –  a type of Autumn muesli breakfast roll. Which as it turns out is perfect for    filling with butter and spreading with blackberry jam!

I used Allinson Premium wholemeal very strong bread flour, and followed the recipe on the back, adding in handfuls of the seeds, nuts and dried fruit once the dough had been mixed. I split the dough into five pieces, rolled each segment into a long sausage, then tied it in a knot and tucked the ends underneath. Leave it to rise for 40 minutes and then brush with an egg wash before popping in the oven et voilà, as soon as they look golden on top and have a hollow knock on the base, they’re ready to be devoured by hungry Bears!

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I’ve just seen Nigel Slater make a blackberry sauce to go with roast pork, now there’s an idea for the next basketful of berries. Provided Baby Bear stops eating all the unripe red ones on the bushes first!

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

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