Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sticky Toffee Cake

All of a sudden, the kids have started to want to do things at the weekends - structured activity type stuff. Pink is going to a little stage school thing which she loves, and Blue has sailing and sometimes kayaking too. 

This is all very irregular. It's bad enough that our Monday and Wednesday evenings are tied up in a whirl of orchestras, brownies, scouts and more kayaking, involving incredibly complicated after school arrangements.

Of course it's not bad that they want to do these things - it's all good stuff - but I always swore I wouldn't be the harassed mother in the car, ferrying her children from activity to activity, and certainly not the tiger mother filling up every spare minute of her children's time, but somehow, driven by the children, this has happened. Not the tiger mother bit - this is all stuff the kids want to do - but definitely the harassed mother bit. And especially on the Mondays and Wednesdays I mentioned. I won't go in to the intricacies of it all, but sometimes it makes my head hurt.

They did stuff before we moved, although it was all in the village, so no need to get in the car, and only during the week - never on a weekend - and if they had wanted to do things on the weekend? Well we'd have just said no. But somehow, all of a sudden, since we've moved, it's crept into the weekend - by stealth - and here we are now...

To be honest, the children wanting to do things on the weekend that don't accord with what we want to do makes life a little awkward. There's an element of confining ourselves to barracks - fitting in around them a little when previously we have pretty much made them fit in with us and our plans. 

On the other hand it was inevitable that they would grow up and start vocalising a desire to do "other things"- I'm just not sure I was expecting it to happen so early. But may be I'm kidding myself that it's 'early' for this to happen. Blue is not far off 11. He no longer goes to bed, Gina Ford-like, at 7 p.m. In fact neither of them do. They are 'up'. And about. When the Husband and I want to collapse in a big heap, Pink is playing her recorder; when I finally finish work which should have been done 'after the kids had gone to bed' except they don't go to bed early enough now, Blue is inevitably sprawled on the sofa watching Top Gear on BBC 3. It's a new phase, clearly - one that we'll have to get used to as we did all the others. Although this one is unlikely to end any time soon (unless we cast them out into the street) and the continued presence on my screen of Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May is unlikely to ever be something I'm going to get used to.

Anyway the flip side of being at home at the weekend to accommodate all their activities is that there is a bit more time to be more relaxed and recover from the week. To get the washing done, do a bit of sorting out - to bake a cake, leisurely fashion, Radio 4 on in the background...

If you find yourself similarly with time on your hands, I recommend this cake. One of the better ones I've made recently, although don't leave the icing too long before spreading it over the cake - otherwise you will end up doing what I did, gently reheating it, then finding that it split, so I added some icing sugar to it, a bit of sour cream and then desperately beat it in to get it finished before heading off to pick a child up from an activity... I haven't included that part in the recipe.

Sticky Toffee Cake

1 teabag - flavour of choice - I used my fave, lapsang
200g prunes, finely chopped
125g unsalted butter at room temp
200g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
3 large eggs
250g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

110g unsalted butter
397g tin condensed milk

Butter and flour a 20cm springform cake tin & pre-heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)

Make up the tea bag to 250mls with boiling water, then soak the chopped prunes in the tea for at least 10 minutes.

Cream together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, then beat in the syrup.

Beat in the eggs one at a time (add a little flour if the mixture looks like it is splitting) then mix in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then finally beat in the tea-soaked prunes and any remaining tea.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, then bake for around 55 minutes or until a skewer/cake tester comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin before unmolding and icing.

To make up the icing, melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan, then pour in the condensed milk. Stirring vigorously (or whisking) all the time, bring the mixture up to the boil and bubble for 5-10 minutes till it thickens and turns a golden brown colour.

Pour the thickened icing into a bowl and press some greaseproof or clingfilm over the top so that it doesn't form a skin as it cools.

Once the cake is cold and icing is warm (rather than napalm hot) spread the icing over the cake and leave to cool.

Make a cup of tea and enjoy...

If you can wait that long


  1. Kids eh? Who'd have em? Lovely cake. Pudding cakes rock !!

    1. Yeah - I do wonder sometimes, The dog's a lot less trouble...

  2. I know what you're going through! Bedtime in our house has been pushed back to 9 (unofficially) and weekends are just homework/parties/activities. Boooo. Roll on University! Cake is lush though x

    1. Uni can't come too soon, I say - although Pink has already expressed her intention 'never to leave home, Mummy'. We'll see about that!

  3. Oh yum. Very, very yum. Prunes are always good (although plenty of people seem to disagree). Lapsang's an unexpected choice - I don't think I've had a cup of that for many a long year. (I want one now, of course). I know that there are many satisfactions and joys in being a parent but Top Gear?!?? That's a bit much, surely. I'd need to go to support group meetings and eat cake at hourly intervals.

    1. The cake is very yum - and has kept well I'm pleased to say. I love a cup of lapsang - I drink it black in the mornings to get me going. Top Gear has been a definite downside of parenting - and it seems to always be on BBC3...

  4. RJ this looks fab. I've managed to avoid the overkill on activities but they do have a habit of creeping in... Still, every cloud...

  5. Oh my goodness... Is there any left?? :)


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