We really made the most of the sunshine today. As it was our last playgroup session before the schools' summer holidays begin, we all packed up picnics and ate our lunch on the church lawn after the children had run around playing. The local toy library had lent us some big outdoor toys, so they had boats and ball pools and all sorts to play with today, which was great fun. Our picnic was pretty standard; sandwiches, vegetable sticks and small pork pies. I made a plain 'Margherita' pizza yesterday and cut it into squares so that James could eat some of that - a baby eating a sandwich is not the tidiest activity! I also made a quick half-dozen fairy cakes this morning while the boys were having breakfast with their Dad.
Sponge cakes are the one thing I always make using imperial measurements - it's so easy to adjust quantities for what I need. For the standard 12 cakes, I use 4oz each of butter, sugar and self-raising flour, plus 2 eggs. For just 6 cakes today I used 2oz of each, plus 1 egg. If you want more, just increase the ingredients, using 'half' the number of eggs to ounces of the other ingredients. Or, for a large cake, use a 3-egg mixture (i.e. 6oz of the other ingredients) and divide it between two 20cm sandwich tins. I generally flavour the sponge by using vanilla sugar (just chop up a couple of pods and add to a jar of caster sugar, preferably the 'golden' unrefined sort), but sometimes I do orange or lemon flavoured sponge, grating in the zest of one fruit per dozen small cakes. If you want a chocolate sponge, replace a tablespoonful of the flour with the same amount of cocoa powder.
flavourings, if you like
Cream the butter and sugar together, either with a wooden spoon or in an electric mixer. Beat in a spoonful of flour and the beaten egg. Mix in the rest of the flour, then spoon the mixture into paper cake cases (I like flower-printed ones if I can get them), or greased and base-lined sandwich tins. Bake at 180°c for about 15 minutes for cupcakes, 25 minutes for the larger cakes.
To tart the cakes up a bit, today I made a basic buttercream icing with equal quantites of butter and vanilla sugar, spread it thickly over the tops of the cakes, then sprinkled over some hundreds-and-thousands. Gloriously vulgar-looking, don't you think?
This afternoon I spent ages clearing out my car, which is basically a giant handbag on wheels, before loading it up again with all the stuff the boys and I need for a week away. It's made easier now that James is a bit bigger; we can use the small, cheap stroller we bought for use on holidays and the like, which takes up vastly less space than the usual Mamas & Papas one, which is great, but very big even when folded. As an easy supper option tonight, possibly because it was supposed to be his night to cook, Karl went out and got dinner from our favourite Siop Pysgod a Sglodion (Fish and Chip Shop) in Aberaeron. We don't have them very often, but there's really nothing like fish and chips, is there?