10 amazing apple recipes

Homegrown apples - perfect for autumn bakes

A couple of weeks ago I shared my recipe for Apple Sticky Toffee Pudding – it was so delicious and easy to make that I’m sure I’ll be baking it again soon. I still have a freezer full of apples though and I needed some inspiration to make something other than crumble! So I asked some of my fellow bloggers to share some of their favourite apple recipes and they came up with such a variety of different things I wanted to bring them all together in one post. Read more

One year on – a Halloween reunion

When I was pregnant I signed us up for an NCT antenatal class. The classes were really useful, and enjoyable but the best thing about them has to have been meeting five other couples who were all having babies around the same time as us. We’ve all kept in touch since the babies were born although recently, with us all back at work, we haven’t managed to get together as often as we’d like. This weekend though one of the couples invited us all to their house for a bit of a Halloween themed reunion. We did the same thing this time last year so it was great to see the babies one year on! It was a shame that a two of the babies (and their parents) couldn’t make it this year but it was lovely to catch up with everyone else.

I couldn’t resist Toby up as a pumpkin again – how cute does he look one year on from his first Halloween?!

Little pumpkin

The other babies looked awesome too – we had a mini Dracula, a pirate and Superman! They all had lots of fun playing in a ball pool and with lots of the generous host’s toys while us mums and dads had a chance for a chat. I was actually amazed at how long Toby kept his costume on, and the hood up, without complaining. He must have realised how cute he looked!

Halloween ball pit

All that playing did mean Toby got a bit hot so we went for a quick change of outfit. This Ghostbusters t-shirt is so cool! And teamed with his Slugs & Snails ghost tights I reckon he looks a proper little dude. I think he might be wearing this outfit again on Friday when he can dress up for nursery (I don’t think he’d be too pleased with dressing up as a pumpkin all day!).

Ghostbusters

We all had a really lovely afternoon, even if we did have to keep chasing Toby to try and stop him wrecking the house! It was certainly noticeable how tall he is compared to the other babies – there were loads of things on tables and sideboards that Toby could reach that the others couldn’t. Luckily, if you turn him upside down, he quite likes being caught…

Upside down

We don’t tend to go in for Halloween much (in fact until we had Toby I pretty much ignored it all together) but it was fun to dress him up to see our friends. And I enjoyed making some pumpkin biscuits to take along too. Maybe when Toby gets a bit older we might even take him trick or treating one year.

Halloween biscuits

**Disclosure: Toby’s pumpkin outfit and Ghostbusters t-shirt, and my top were kindly provided by George at Asda

Halloween Cupcake Recipe

Halloween Cupcake recipeI love to bake but I tend not to unless it is for some sort of event where I can give away most of what I’ve made – otherwise me and the Mr just end up eating the lot ourselves! Halloween isn’t a holiday I’ve ever really gone in for before but it seems I might have to in future with a wee one in the family. So this weekend when we were meeting up with the other babies (and parents) from our antenatal class I took the chance to make some Halloween cupcakes and I thought I’d share my easy cupcake recipe with you.

I’ve got a couple of basic sponge cake recipes that I use but I can never remember them off the top of my head so when I came across this foolproof recipe on Esther Walker’s blog I thought I’d give it a try. (On a side note; Esther is the wife of Giles Coren and I find her blog, Recipe Rifle, which includes not only recipes but also tales of her life with Giles and their two kids, absolutely hilarious. If you haven’t read it then you should).

The cupcake recipe

All you have to do to get the recipe to make either an 7 inch sandwich cake or about 12-14 cupcakes is weigh 2 eggs (I cracked them into a bowl and weighed them but Esther has said in a comment to her original post that you can weigh them in the shells). Whatever your eggs weigh is then the weight you use of butter (I did use butter this time but usually use Stork for baking), caster sugar and self-raising flour. I also added a teaspoon of baking powder and, because I wanted chocolate cakes, about 2 tablespoons of cocoa.

Esther says to ‘make the cakes in the normal way’ – so cream together butter and sugar, add the eggs then fold in the flour. I use a big bowl and an electric hand mixer – whisk the butter and sugar together then just chuck everything else in and give it a good mix. This seems to work fine. I’ve also made sponges just by throwing all the ingredients into a food processor and mixing well. All these methods seem to work so just take your pick really!

I then spooned the mixture into paper cases in a muffin tin (I actually used old-fashioned bun cases rather than the larger cupcake cases – do you remember when we just used to have buns?!). I put about 2 heaped teaspoons of mixture into each case and this made me 14 nicely domed cakes. I put them in the oven at 180 degrees (fan oven) and they took about 16 minutes to cook but I checked them every couple of minutes after they’d been in for 10 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the top starts to crack and they bounce back when pressed gently on top. If you’re making a sandwich cake it will start to come away from the sides of the tin when it’s done and if you really want to be sure a wooden skewer (a cocktail or kebab stick will do) will come out clean when stuck in the centre.

Once out of the oven try and get your cakes out of the tins and onto a cooling rack of some description as soon as you can. Then the important bit, which I have fallen foul of many times in my eagerness for a cake I can eat as soon as possible, is to wait for the cakes to cool completely before attempting any kind of decoration. If you don’t you’ll just end up with your icing or buttercream or whatever melting and sliding off the cake. Another tip is not to put cakes in paper cases into any sort of storage container (particularly plastic) before they are completely cold otherwise the paper cases will detach themselves from the cakes which doesn’t look very attractive.

I also followed Esther’s rather vague recipe for buttercream as this is something I’ve struggled to get right in the past. She recommends using half a packet of butter (125g) and then just adding sieved icing sugar until it is the taste and consistency is what you are looking for. I did find that to get it sugary enough, and not tasting of butter I had to use rather a lot of icing sugar. This in turn made it too stiff so I added a splash of milk to loosen it. I also added about half a teaspoon of vanilla extract just for a bit of taste. As far as colouring the butter cream goes I really wanted bright orange – I used Dr Oetker’s gel food colouring but a whole tube only gave me a very pale hint of orange. I then used a silicone piping bag with a star nozzle. I’m not very good at piping but as Esther says, it’s easier than it looks. Just start at the outside and work your way to the middle. I did cheat a bit with the last bit of decoration and just bought some Halloween wafer things from Tesco! I will add that after I’d put a generous amount of buttercream on each of my 14 cakes there was still quite a lot left, even after copious licking of the spoon! If was was making this again I’d maybe only use 100g of butter and I think there would still be plenty.

So there you go. A bit waffley for a recipe but sometimes I think it helps to have things explained in detail. Next time I write up a recipe I’ll try and take some photos as I go along as I know that can help if you aren’t entirely sure what you are doing.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Babies