Saturday, 17 February 2018

Pregnancy baking: The best bakes to make in early labour

Don't get me wrong, giving birth to approximately seven and half bags of sugar in one fell push is not exactly a walk in the park. However, in those early stages, when you spend half the time manically googling 'how do I know if I am in labour?' and the other half of the time triple-checking the car is pointing in the correct direction of the hospital, it is rather nice to have something else to occupy an increasingly impatient, restless mind. All the pregnancy books and webpages suggest distraction, such as going for a walk, watching a film but I reckon popping on a pinny could be an alternative.

To reach the dizzy heights of the top of this chart, the bake had to meet three very strict criteria: firstly to be straightforward and simple, secondly to not require any fancy-pants ingredients that may involve schelpping to the supermarket, risking waters breaking in the World Foods aisle and thirdly to be a darn tasty alternative to necking lucazade.

5. Microwave Mug Cake
Should labour turn out to be a movie-style 30 minutes of turning a little red, puffing a few times and then whoosh, out pops your bundle of joy as though the stork does actually exist, then this one is for you. Microwave Mug Cakes had a bit of a thing going on a couple of years ago and there are some rather tasty recipes out there that literally take minutes

4. Welsh Cakes
The process of rubbing the fat into the flour will distract from those twinges/aches/bl**dy agonizing pains plus they last up to a week when stored in a airtight container so a perfect thank you for the midwives or early visitors who want a cuddle with your newborn moppet

3. Flapjacks
Because oats sound healthy and giving of energy to last way into the third stage of labour (there are three stages?! What is this? A particularly lengthy Shakespearean play?). Also fuss-free and pretty foolproof, they are the homely bake you can envisage doing with your baby in a couple of years time (before the reality of sleep deprivation kicks in and you realise the cafe down the road serves perfectly edible versions you can palm off as your own)

2. Chocolate and HoneyComb Peace Cookies
The only reason these have made the list, apart from the fact they are mightily, marvelously delicious biscuits, is the name. In a world of political turmoil and economic uncertainty, I may not guarantee you'll be welcoming your little one into a world of peace and serenity by baking these cookies, but they do make the world taste that bit sweeter.

1. Tiffin (aka Chocolate Refrigerator Cake)
You don't even need to turn the oven on. Plus chocolate is good for the heart, the circulation, is mineral rich and is the ultimate comfort food. But more importantly than all of that, a Finnish study found chocolate in pregnancy keeps the baby happy. And we all want to keep our babies happy, no?

What do you reckon? What have you baked in those early stages of labour?

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Homemade 'Nakd' Bar Bakewell Tart

Ah January, you sanctimonious, tedious, thirty one days you.

Dragging along slower than the Brexit negotiations with it's cold, dull grey skies and worst of all, having joined the January healthy eating bandwagon, biscuit and cake-less.

A few years back I was merrily baking my way through the month, rather smugly disdainful of all those extra gym memberships, slimming club join-ups and dry January bores that a New Year encourages. And yet, two children and considerable overindulgence at Christmas later*, I too (somewhat reluctantly) can be found at the gym at 8am on a Sunday morning, series-recording Tom Kerridge's weight loss programme and grudgingly giving up cake.

Roll on 1st February when I intend to make the biggest chocolate cake EVER. One that even Bruce Bogtrotter would struggle with.

But in the meantime I'm striving to satisfy my sweet tooth through considerable consumption of Nakd bars, fruit and nut wholefood bars that taste pretty darn good. They come in many various flavours- so much so my husband suggested they ought to make a 'Michelin Star Dinner with Paired Wines' version, which would have definitely cheered up his January.

*By the 31st December I was 85% mince pie and 15% purple Quality Street.

Homemade 'Nakd' Bar: Bakewell Tart

143g cashew nuts
200g Medjool dates (stones removed)
65g raisins
0.5tsp almond extract

1. Line a baking tray with clingfilm
2. In a large food processor whizz the cashews until they resemble a super fine powder.
3. Add the dates, raisins and almond and continue to whizz until the ingredients come together in a thick paste
4. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin and press down evenly with the back the spoon to form a large bar approximately 4-5 inches in length
5. Refrigerate for 60 minutes, remove the clingfilm and cut into bars

Baker's notes...

  • A big thank you to the Little Loaf blog for the inspiration to make these at home 
  • They keep for up to five days in the fridge (and taste really nice chilled)

Monday, 15 January 2018

The What Kate Baked...and Baby Guide to Returning to Work after Maternity Leave:

The dream: a glorious morning latte and read of the papers on the way to work. The reality: 'Gagh-we're-late-no-where-to-park-outside-nursery-have-I-remembered-everything-be-nice-to-your-brother' on repeat

To coincide with my return to work (and not just work, a new job at that) this week after a glorious, sleep deprived maternity leave with the second-born apple of my eye, I give you The What Kate Baked...and Baby Guide to Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

1. You will inevitably rock up with some type of baby bodily fluid on your neatly ironed work clothes. A snail-like trail of snot on your shoulder at best, the worst I will leave up to the imagination...

2. You may not have the latest office gossip, know the deli round the corner now does fancy-pants Veganuary Coconut Milk lattes but you do know the local leisure centre's softplay schedule backwards and do a mean Amanda Karmel Hidden Vegetable Sauce*

*NB: the kids always know. Of course they know you've tried to shoehorn about a zillion vegetables into a sauce. They just eat the pasta around it.

3. The week you are due to return to work you child will, of course, come down with chicken pox/forget how to sleep*/contract a perfectly harmless but highly contagious rash that means s/he can't possible go to nursery

* if you've been lucky enough to get one that does sleep in the first place that is.

4. You will have sleepless nights over the fact your sleep deprived baby brain will have forgotten absolutely every single aspect of your job... yet within seconds of walking through the door, it's as though you never gave birth to the light of your life and maternity leave never happened.

5. After dropping off the kids at childcare, you have a mild panic everytime you look in the rearview mirror and your child isn't there ... before you remember where they are. In a similar vein, you listen to your child's nursery rhymes CD the entire route to work before remembering you can now enjoy Radio 2/Clean Bandit's latest offering/a self-improvement mindfulness podcast

6. It slowly comes back to you that tea is supposed to be served hot, toilet trips are generally taken by oneself and biscuits don't need to be shared

But on a slightly less tongue-in-cheek note, for anyone returning to work soon, all the very best of luck, it will be hard, emotional leaving your little one and a bit of a juggle but it'll all be ok. At least that'd what I'm telling myself while I enjoy my last cold tea and singalong of Wheels on the Bus at rhymetime.