Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Does anyone else not have enough to do all day? How about making a fairtrade cake?

Before I tell you how Nigella saved me (she is truly a Goddess – Nigella, how could I ever have doubted you, succumbed to the enticements offered by other bakers etc  etc), indulge me while I rant.

Do you have enough to do every day? I thought I did. I have a husband (love him to bits), 2 children (ditto) a dog (depends on my mood, how muddy he is and whether he’s injured himself recently), and 5 chickens (not sure you could ever love chickens to bits, although I feel quite fond of them when they are laying nicely like they are at the moment). I work 6 hours a day and around that I fit getting up making tea (cups of, for revival purposes) lunchboxes, miscellaneous homework (spelling, reading, tables and those really special projects that we all love – anyone want to see my – woops – sorry – Blue’s - sarcophagus??) getting to school, walking said dog, general housework (sometimes) cooking (no chore there most of the time)ironing, hospital appointments (a seeming never ending stream at the moment) ballet, cubs, rainbows, trumpet lessons, football, choir and EVERYTHING ELSE. I know I am not alone, and I am not trying to sound put upon, or particularly special (I don’t even have to travel to work, which is something at least), but I am trying to make the point that we mothers, working or not, have a HUGE amount to fit in to our day.
So I’d just personally like to thank the school for marking Fairtrade Fortnight with, among other things, a ‘Fairtrade cake competition’ (at least one of the ingredients must be Fairtrade’ – you don’t say). Not only must at least one of the ingredients be Fairtrade, but it must, if possible, have a ‘fairtrade’ theme. Not asking much, are they? Perhaps I – sorry did I say ‘I’ – of course it’s the children’s competition – should be fashioning sugar paste workers to sit upon a cake styled as a cocoa plantation. Or perhaps a Fairtrade banana cake made in the shape of a Fairtrade banana. Err I don’t think so.
Perhaps I am getting too worked up about this. After all, nothing I like better than a good bake – but I want to bake what I want to bake. Not what someone else tells me I should be baking. I hate being preached to, for a start. I mean, I buy Fairtrade where it’s available anyway, but you’d think I’d never heard of it the way the children keep lecturing me. This is almost as irritating as the regular instruction I get on how we must save the planet, only to go upstairs to find the lights on, the tap dripping and then have to engage in a ‘discussion’ about why we walk to school and don’t take the car. Grrr.

As if that’s not enough, with both Blue and Pink keen to take part, we have to come up with 2 offerings for Friday morning. And the cakes won’t be sold or auctioned off at the end of it – they will come home, thus scuppering any need for me to indulge in my own baking of choice over the weekend. Oh no. We will be awash.

Blue is going to make his own version of Rocky Road – and that’s fine. It’s a simple matter of melting some choc and butter and adding some bits, before leaving in the fridge. We can do it tomorrow evening while Pink’s at Rainbows. Just after the trip to the dentist.

“What kind of a cake do you want to make?” I ask Pink “Chocolate and Banana Loaf?” I add hopefully, viewing the over-ripe fruit sitting in the fruit bowl. “I was thinking a Fairtrade chocolate cake” she said. “Brownies?” I asked. “No, cake. With icing.” After a quick rifle, I came up with a Tana Ramsay one. “But Mummy, it says it’s a boys birthday cake”. She raised her eyebrows and shook her head with the air of someone much older than nearly 6. More scratching around – nothing really grabbing me, then I remembered. Not in Domestic Goddess, but in Feast, is Nigella’s ‘Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake’. A dead easy, whizz-it-up-in-the-food- processor –then-slap-on-a-bucket-of-icing cake. Saved. I even craftily managed to engineer it so that while Pink helped me with the weighing out (thus making me feel like I was helping with her maths at the same time), tea was ready at exactly the time that I had to actually make the cake and get it in the tins so, unfortunately, she couldn’t help me, and then the bowl was available for licking for pudding. Genius (I did give them stewed apple and yoghurt as well – not just cake mix).

So there we go. 2 discs of chocolate sponge ready to be iced tomorrow (memo to self, remember that Nigella's recipe produces about twice the icing any sane (or even vaguley insane) person could ever need for this cake) and Rocky Road plan. I know, I know that I could just have said “No we’re not going to do it and you can’t enter the competition”, but as is always the way with children, I would just have felt horribly guilty, fuelled by the inevitable looks on their faces if I’d said that. Now I just wish 2 things. Firstly, that one of them wins (don’t think I don’t care about the outcome just because I didn’t want to enter it), , secondly, that the teachers who have to judge are so sick of fair-trade chocolate that they’ll think again. Maybe next year, the kids could just draw a poster or something. What do you reckon?

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