Archive of ‘This way for culture’ category

Foreign Languages and Yoga for Toddlers

winter walk in the sun

Ask my three-year-old son to show you downward dog, and he will, with enviably flexibility, get the pose exactly right. He can also show you some zumba moves, differentiate between a ukulele and a guitar, and recognise greetings in Japanese.

He’s not a genius. He’s just a good listener and – like all three-year-olds – he’s inquisitive and got a memory which doesn’t let him down.

At his former nursery (he left two weeks ago), this natural inquisitiveness was fed with a range of classes. There were Spanish and Japanese lessons. There was yoga and zumba and music and art and sport. The timetable was full.

Milin loved his nursery, and I did too. I didn’t particularly care if he could recognise Van Gogh’s sunflowers or count to ten in Japanese, but I liked that he had fun, came home happy, and seemed stimulated and entertained while he was there three mornings a week.

I initially had a vague sense of unease about the need for ‘lessons’, but trusted these were all done in a relaxed fashion and with an emphasis on fun. Plus, as my husband pointed out, when you’re paying £600 a month to the nursery for three mornings a week, they’re going to have to show you that you’re getting more for your money than shop-bought play doh.

A couple of weeks ago though, Milin finished up at his beloved nursery and we moved him to the state nursery down the road.

The decision was based purely on economics. At the state nursery, Milin’s hours are almost free. Because he qualifies for 15 hours of state-funded nursery, we now pay only £6 a week. We used to pay over £600 a month.

At Milin’s new state nursery, there’s no timetable. The children don’t line-up and toddle off in neat rows to Zumba. They don’t go up to the science room or music studio. They spend their time either inside one big room or outside it – it’s their choice. Inside, there are numerous stations set up which cover all curriculum areas. There’s painting, cars, building blocks, books, a water tray, sand tables etc. Outside, there’s a sand pit, climbing equipment, a mud kitchen, a playhouse, etc. They go wherever they want and play with whatever they want, when they want.

Milin, as far as I can tell, spends every session outside. He come home with a beach in his clothes because he appears to live in the sandpit. Every day. For hours. He loves it. He has settled in quickly and he is happy.

Yet last week, after a few days of Milin apparently spending every morning in the sandpit, I started to wonder whether I’d done the right thing. By moving nurseries, had I somehow stopped Milin from accessing the teachers, lessons and materials that he was learning so much from? By taking Milin out of his old nursery, was I doing him a disservice and preventing him from the opportunities which had seen him thrive?

I talked to my husband about this, and, I think I’ve resolved my feelings.

Milin is three years old. He has an entire lifetime ahead of him in which to live by a timetable. He has at least 15 years ahead of him of sitting in a classroom and following a curriculum.

When I really watch my son, I see that his natural inquisitiveness is sparked by the smallest thing. He doesn’t need a lesson in art history to notice colours and shapes and the scent of flowers. He doesn’t need a music studio to hear the different notes produced by banging a spoon on different saucepans.

Milin is three years old. What do I want for him? I want him to spend as much time as he possibly can having fun. I want him to know what it’s like to laugh and play and enjoy being silly, without doing it within the confines of a schedule or ticksheet.

Milin is three years old. I want his mind to wander, I want his hands to feel how light dry sand is and watch it run through his fingers in a way that a liquid or gas wouldn’t. I want him not to know why it does that, but to notice it, and then to move on to the next game. I want him to make friends because they like running together after a ball, not because they must sit still next to each other. I want him to be a child.

I don’t think either nursery is necessarily better than the other. Milin loved his first nursery, he loves his second. But I’ve made peace with the fact that he’s not going to come home and talk to me in Spanish. It doesn’t mean he won’t do well at school one day. It doesn’t mean he’s missing out. It just means he’s busy doing something else. He’s busy playing. He’s busy being three.

first day at nursery

Natural History Museum – A Family Day Out

Dippy, Natural History Museum Dinosaur

It’s hard to forget the first time you see the Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum. It is a huge, imposing presence that fills the main hall. As a child, I used to love it. My sister and I used to look forward to trips to the London museums with mum, and seeing the huge dinosaur cast – known as Dippy – was always a highlight.

Dippy, Natural History Museum Dinosaur

We took Milin and Jasmin to the museum for the first time this weekend – and they both were just as excited as I know I was the first time I saw the enormous dinosaur model suspended through the room. Jasmin kept pointing at it excitedly and wanting to walk around and around it, while Milin was full of questions. (“What are bones, mummy? What does it eat, mummy? What’s its name, mummy?”)

The Natural History Museum announced this week that Dippy, after 35 years of wowing crowds in the main Hintze Hall, would be replaced by a blue whale skeleton. There’s been a lot of disappointment, and even a movement to #SaveDippy. People are, I guess, attached to fond memories of seeing Dippy for the first time and being really impressed by his size.

But having taken the kids to see Dippy and the other exhibits, I can understand why he’s being moved out of the main hall. He’s not being mothballed, you’ll still be able to see him – but I agree with the reasons behind him being replaced.

Dippy is a model. He’s a fantastic model, yes, of an imposing creature with a brilliant story guaranteed to spark young imaginations. But the blue whale has a story which I believe we must tell our children.  And, crucially, the blue whale still exists. Just.

The  whale is real though – and its skeleton has been at the museum since 1891 when it beached itself after being injured by a whaler. It’s the largest known animal on earth – a majestic, unimaginably powerful creature that still swims in our oceans. Isn’t that worth telling our children about? And, what’s more, isn’t it worth inspiring them to keep that animal in our seas?

Large-scale hunting of whales doesn’t happen anymore, but their meat is still prized and hunted by some nations. It might be done under the guise of ‘scientific research’, but that doesn’t make these creatures any less at risk from extinction. If we are to really be serious about teaching our children lessons in conservation, sustainability and biodiversity – then the whale should take centre stage at the museum.

Milin and Jasmin were amazed by the mammals and loved the whale. I already feel, even though they are young, the stories I can tell them about blue whales are ones which are important for them to hear.

Yes, the intrigue surrounding the dinosaurs no doubt gets children excited about the museum and fired up about natural history – but the story of the blue whale, with its almost being hunted to extinction, with our power to bring it back from the brink – this is a magical story too.

The museum too is about so much more than dinosaurs. And the kids were just as interested in the other exhibits they saw. Here’s some of the highlights….

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To go back to our day… We were so proud of the kids on our outing, because the journey on the tube is almost an hour each way, but we didn’t hear a grumble from either of them. They were too excited. Although we got to the museum when it opened at 10am, it was very busy by 11am. But they loved every minute. Jasmin wore her outdoor shoes for the first time and loved walking around (even though she wouldn’t let go of my hand), and Milin just took it all in.

When I put him to bed at night I told him how proud I was of him for being so good and doing so much walking during a very tiring day. “Thank you mummy” was his reply. My heart melted.

Tube journey, Natural History Museum

The outing encouraged us to get to another museum very soon – particularly while it’s so cold outside. It had taken us a little while to feel brave enough about doing the journey – but I’m glad we did.

Tube journey, Natural History Museum

Now Jasmin is 18 months and Milin has just turned three, days out are a lot easier than they used to be. Although the museums are well served by the tube, there’s escalators and stairs at South Kensington – making the journey impossible for me on my own with both kids.

Between the two of us though, we managed it. Jasmin was in our light folding buggy and so Tony kept her in that on the escalators. You’re not meant to do this but it was the easiest and safest way we could think of making it up them! I held onto Milin, meanwhile, but he still needs a lot of help with escalators.

I guess for a family living in the suburbs of London, it was a pretty ordinary outing for a weekend. But it was also a reminder for us of the lessons we want to teach our children and the values we want to bring them up by. It also encouraged us to get out more and brave the journeys we fear – there’s so much to explore with the kids right on our doorstep, and getting out together and doing it gives us time together we all love.

We made a short video of our trip, enjoy!

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ordinary moments

Beegu at artsdepot – a review of kids theatre

Beegu

Earlier this week, I took Milin and his best friend to see Beegu, a new kids theatre show by dotted line theatre. The show had been co-commissioned by the brilliant North London venue, artsdepot, and so we made our way there on a winter’s afternoon.

I had been a little worried about sitting with a pair of two year olds through a 40 minute show. What if one didn’t like it? What if both played up? I needn’t have worried. They were captivated.

The stage adaptation of Alexis Deacon’s picture book Beegu was, simply, fantastic. The story follows Beegu whose spaceship crashes down on earth. He meets trees and rabbits and seeks out friends. He finds his way to a playground and plays with the school children. It is, in every sense of the word, an intergalactic adventure.

Before the show starts, puppetry is employed by actors to move planets around the theatre. Milin and his bestie had so many questions – mainly, where is the moon. Of course. Milin wanted to know where the astronauts were too.

Once the story unfolded, it didn’t matter that neither knew it already. It’s a simple tale and the production is aimed at 3-8 year olds, but both of these nearly-3-year-olds got it completely. They fell in love with the gorgeous Beegu. They were transfixed by the notion of space travel. And, of course, they were enchanted by the moon.

Beegu is a wordless play, with a slow, gentle pace and beautiful song sung by the four actors. There is some audience interaction (both of my chief reviewers were on their feet and clapping their hands at one point), and the puppetry truly is lovely.

Beegu is another shining example of the value of the artsdepot and similar venues as spaces for children to explore, discover, create and dream. We saw We’re Going on A Bear Hunt there last month, and we are back there next week to watch The Gruffalo’s Child. These are both fantastic offerings, but Beegu proved that new shows are worth investing in. If you get a chance, take your little ones.

Beegu

Beegu – illustration (c) Alexis Deacon, 2003, published in the UK by Random House Children’s Publishers

*We were given tickets to Beegu for the purpose of this review. All opinions are true and my own.

 

Mummy Makes Milk – review

When I brought baby Jasmin home from hospital Milin was 18 months old. His entire world changed in a way we hadn’t really been able to prepare him for. We had read him books about babies and told him what to expect – but he was so young that he really had a very limited understanding of what was happening. One book I wish we had read to him was one which has only been recently published. It’s called Mummy Makes Milk.

Mummy Makes Milk

This brilliant book is written by author Helen McGonigal and illustrated by Hilda Kripp-Partridge. It is a little story book for older siblings and explains superbly the basics of breastfeeding. Its simple language and perfect tone make it a wonderful read and the illustrations are original, eye-catching, bright and also realistic. In fact, everything about this book is spot on and makes me want to tell you all to rush out and buy it.

The book is about a little boy called Archie. His mummy comes home from hospital with a new baby – his sister. She starts breastfeeding and Archie inevitably has questions. What follows is a story book which answers those questions. Archie learns the facts about breastfeeding through language which is simple and to the point. This is what his mummy tells him: “Now that Ella has come out of my tummy, I make milk in my breasts to feed her.” It’s fact, it’s honest, it’s everything a child needs to know.

Archie learns that breastmilk is a whole food, that Ella might also have milk in a bottle or a cup, that after a while she will need less feeds and then move onto cows milk, that mammals make milk for their babies, and that regular feeding will help increase supply. He also learns that mummy will spend a lot of time feeding, but she will still be able to do puzzles or sit with Archie or read him stories too. I remember having this conversation with Milin when Jasmin was a few days old – the book would have been perfec then. Plus, it’s all written in language which isn’t patronising or condescending, but is easy to understand and straight forward.

I’m so impressed with this book. I’m not breastfeeding anymore, but it’s something that Milin is still able to learn a lot from – he is two and a half. I love that it is so realistic and I also love the illustrations. It is a book that would work for young school-aged children too. I was asked by plenty of those what I was doing when I was feeding Jasmin, and a book like this would answer all their questions.

I’d highly recommend this for anyone who is planning to breastfeed and has a child already. It will help them understand the answers to some questions they might have. It’s a wonderfully gentle and clever and informative book. Definitely one worth reading to an older-sibling to be before baby comes. Enjoy x

*I was sent a copy of Mummy Makes Milk to review. All opinions are my own.

Birthing in the wild

In the depths of the wild, a woman gives birth. She presses her baby to her chest. Her child clings to her, and, skin-to-skin, searches for her breast. They are both exhausted and both cry. They hold each other. There is nothing else in the world but them. For a moment, anyway, because then the camera crew zooms in for a close up.

Born in the Wild is a new reality television show coming soon to a screen near you. It will follow the births of a few young couples who chose to give up the safety nets we usually surround ourselves with, and give birth in the wild.

I know that filming birth is nothing new. I know there are already very successful television programmes based on this premise. Yet the idea of filming a woman who chooses to give birth outside takes the concept too far.

To give birth in the wild, firstly, is a remarkable choice to make. I can’t understand why anyone would wish to distance themselves away from the expertise of a medical team.I know not all women will need a team such as this during birth – but not all births will run smoothly, and not all will unfold according to a birth plan or book. I I hope the show doesn’t seek to glamorise this choice. While I appreciate that women have birthed outside for thousands of years, I can’t help but think that those in the developed world who no longer need to push out a baby with rocks underfoot , are better off inside. I’m not being prudish, I’m being practical.

Giving birth under an open sky is not the ultimate expression of freedom. It is not the ultimate natural act. For the woman who chooses to do it with a film crew around her, it is exhibitionism. A series such as this is not made for its educational value. It is made for ratings.

One day, a child will watch their entrance into this world and watch the film already viewed by thousands of people. That child never had a say in how or where they would be born. They never had a say in whether or not the crew would zoom in on their arching back as they protested at the real world. They never had a say in whether or not there would be a close up of their screaming face, their eyes scrunched tight and their mouth open wide, as they sought their mother’s breast.

Giving birth in the wild is not the ultimate expression of nature. It is attention-seeking and, from the television production company, it is cheap entertainment. It is, for the woman who chooses to do this, a patronising, elitist nod down to the woman who doesn’t.

I hope that the women and their babies filmed for this show are at least afforded respect and dignity. I hope the women feel empowered and strong, rather than that the act of giving birth has been cheapened to a form of entertainment. I hope the amazing connection between a mother and the natural world is something that is not obscured by wide angles and dramatic music.

Birth, ultimately is not a form of entertainment. It is the most precious gift.

If this show ever makes it on to our screens, perhaps we will be moved to act for the thousands of women who each year really are dying to give birth in hospital.

 

 

Moonlight, and other bedtime favourites

Milin adores books. He loves to sit in the lap of anyone who will read to him. It can be a new story, or a story he has heard a hundred times before. He will sit there and taken in every word. He will join in, sometimes, with the words he knows. He will ask questions, point out drawings that interest him, and exclaim loudly when he gets excited by his favourite part. If you ask him, he will tell you a story and read you one of his favourite books. It’s one of the cutest things ever.

We read to Milin throughout the day, and he always reads a few books at night – usually with his daddy – before getting into bed. If I’m doing bedtime, however, I always choose Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon as a last book and let Milin choose a couple of others from his rather amazingly stocked bookshelf. His dad usually lets him choose that night’s books all by himself.

Favourite bedtime books

Milin loves all of his books, but he goes through phases with his favourites and will ask for certain books repeatedly for nights on end. One of his best books at the moment is Jan Ormerod’s picture book, Moonlight. Milin has been asking his dad for this repeatedly recently, and we think he loves it because it is such a simple story that is easy to relate to. Tony calls the child in the book Kate, for it was our very dear friend Kate who gifted this book to Milin, and he knows that. He thinks it really is a book about Kate going to bed. (So sweet.) ‘Kate’ follows a similar night-time routine to Milin too, so it makes sense that he can relate to the story.

It’s a beautiful book and if you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it for bedtime. Kate (like Milin), has dinner with her parents before going for a bath and getting into bed. Kate gets up, however, frightened. Her parents are there though to sit with her, and eventually, late at night, after sleeping in their arms, she goes back to bed. There are no words – part of the beauty is that we make these up and so really have to engage with the story in front of us. It’s a lovely little tale about family, about security, about night-time and routine, and about love.

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Although it’s hardly the time of year to be relating to it, Milin is also really enjoying Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman at the moment. I bought this for him just before Christmas because it is a story I loved as a child, and Milin too has become captivated by it. He often tells me the story of the Snow Dog as well – again, the characters are so real to him. He is still saddened by the disappearance of the snowman at the end of the book, and talking about the snow dog cheers him up.

Milin’s grandma bought him Marion Billet’s Little Land last summer and this is another firm favourite. He loves spotting familiar objects in the illustrations and again I think it’s because the book is about everyday things and activities that he relates to it so well.

A tale hardly based in reality but still nevertheless a hit, is The Gruffalo. Milin is simply obsessed by Julia Donaldson’s story in the deep dark wood. He has a mouse and Gruffalo toy. He can watch the animation repeatedly and never bore of it, he can recite much of the story too. We’re fans of Room on the Broom animation in this house too, and I have just recently bought Milin the book so we are expecting to be asked for it lots at bedtime.

I love books which really encourage Milin to be creative and use his imagination. Watching him read these books and try to make sense of them is amazing. It’s also a way of watching him grow as he comes to understand them more and more. At the moment, for example, he loves Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. I love the gentle rhythm to this and the fantastical element – and so does Milin. Other types of books which appeal are those that warm the heart. Tracey Corderoy’s Just Right for Two is currently making us smile and it certainly fits into that category. Who couldn’t love the little dog and mouse who teach us so much about friendship.

These are just some of Milin’s current bedtime favourites. There will be others next month, I’m sure.

Jasmin, who is nearly nine months, isn’t in such a firm bedtime routine with books yet as she is so tired once evening time comes around. We read to her, instead, throughout the day. I love reading her Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I often make sure she is sitting with me for story time with Milin. It’s such a special time, having my little ones on my lap and reading with them, and I feel like it’s such a gift for us all that we can have this time together.

Our favourite books might be different next month, but I know we’ll always love these moments together, lost in a story.

 

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We went on a bear hunt

There are a few books Milin never tires of us reading to him. Among them is the wonderful We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, this simple story has captured his imagination. He loves hearing us recite its simple repetitive words, and he joins in too with many of them.

This week, we turned one of our favourite walks into a bear hunt of our own. As in the book, it was a beautiful day and we weren’t scared – although Milin did carry a stick along with him just incase we found our bear.

 

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Just like the family in the book, we swished our way through the grass and squelched our way through mud.

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My mum came along with us, and she helped Milin cross the brook so we didn’t have to swish swash our way through it.

photo-598The wind blew blossom in our faces, almost like a snowstorm but not quite, and Jasmin snuggled against me in the front pack while loving every second of our adventure.

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We went on a bear hunt, and we weren’t scared. Although Milin looked slightly worried when I suggested we might find a bear soon. And he definitely didn’t let go of that stick.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Kids first golf club putter giveaway and review

Milin is only two, but I have no doubt that he will be a keen golfer when he is older. He already loves everything he knows about the sport and has amazed me with his co-ordination. He is incredibly close to my father who is a keen golfer, and I’m sure it won’t be long before the two of them are on the green together. My dad can’t wait to take Milin out there and teach him what to do – and Milin can’t wait to get there.

When they do head out, they will be taking Milin’s new US Kids Golf first club putter. He was sent this beautiful putter from Little Big Sports to review, and I also have one to give away to a lucky reader. I’m delighted to be doing this giveaway – because this golf club would be a lovely and very special present for any child.

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As soon as we opened the package containing the putter, Milin’s eyes lit up. He could see straight away that this was the real thing. It was beautifully packaged in a presentation box and came with three golf balls, also from US Kids Golf – the leading brand in this field. The parcel came from Little Big Sports who I’m excited to be working with on this giveaway. The company believes in providing kids with the best sports equipment that is out there. Katie, the business owner, is passionate about children playing and enjoying sport and believes they should have quality equipment designed specifically for their age. Her attitude – that sporting activity should be part of family life – is one our family whole-heartedly agrees with!

With the weather being dry and warmer recently, our own levels of sporting activity have naturally stepped up a bit. Milin has been out a lot with my dad in the garden. He’s been inspecting dad’s golf clubs and balls and I know he can’t wait to have a go at golf himself. As soon as he saw the putter – he couldn’t wait to get outside and start practising.

The US Kids golf putter is a beautiful gift for a child. At 18 inches long it is perfect for children under three, and its good quality shows. For any child (or parent) passionate about their golf, this is the putter you need. Forget the cheap plastic toys – this is what you want.

Milin will learn to play golf with a real putter on the putting green. I really believe this is the best way to learn – and with this beautiful putter that is what he will be able to do. It’s a high quality item that lets kids know you’re taking them and their sport seriously.

Milin has been having great fun trying out his putter in the garden with his dad and with my dad. We’ve been building up his confidence in using it and I think he is now ready for the putting green after only a couple of short weeks. I’m going to let my dad take him for some true grandfather-son bonding time. They will both love it, I know.

Watching Milin practise using the putter with my dad or with my husband makes me so happy. They all get so much pleasure out of sharing their enjoyment for the sport, and seeing Milin’s skills develop in such a short space of time has been amazing.

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For a chance to win a golf putter just leave a comment below saying why you would like to win and whether you would like pink or blue. The winner will also receive a set of three golf balls. One entry per person, open to UK residents aged 16 and over, and the competition closes at midnight on April 20. Good luck!

*I was sent the golf putter for the purpose of this review. All images and opinions are my own.

 

 

Culture, race, and the beauty of tolerance

With their Indian mother and white father, my children stand out at the gurdwara. They look different, and although they don’t know it yet, I wonder what impact this will have on their lives. As I see them alongside little boys with turbans and young girls in traditional dress, I wonder when they will notice the differences that are skin deep. With their mixed parentage, when will they know who they are? With their mixed parentage, when will I know who they are?

When I decided to marry my husband, a white New Zealander, I understood that I would be bringing an outsider into the culture I had grown up immersed in. Being a British Indian had meant, as a child, learning to navigate British life from a different starting point to many of my school friends.

The difference was about more than my parents speaking another language and us all going to the gurdwara on a Sunday. There was the religious, cultural and political history I learnt at Sunday school. There was the value system and moral code I had grown up with. There was the observance of customs, traditions and religious rituals. None of this made me any less British, but it did make me feel a ‘different’ kind of British to many of my friends. I was not only British. There was more.

My husband was introduced to all of this before our wedding. With remarkable ease, he observed, accepted and joined in with traditional customs. He learnt of a new religion and culture, and his family to some extent did the same. He was welcomed into my family with open arms. Once in our midst, he accepted us as we had accepted him. For acceptance, I learnt then, is a reciprocal process.

I know, however, that the apparent ease with which he has entered this new world doesn’t tell the whole story. I know he feels ‘different’ as the only white man at the gurdwara. I know he feels that he stands out with nowhere to hide at large religious events. I know this because I feel the same when the roles are reversed.

I have loved being welcomed into my husband’s family. With their wide-open New Zealand arms, they treat me as one of them. But I have felt that pang that our histories are different. I have felt that ache that their Sunday mornings were not spent as mine were. I have felt that separateness that comes with knowing the stories our families have told for generations are worlds apart.

My children will grow up in a place neither my husband nor I know. It is a place positioned between two cultures. I’m not sure yet whether they will go to Sunday school as I did. I’m not sure yet whether they will struggle over the Punjabi alphabet as I did. Yet I need them to understand who their mother is and where I have come from. For this, it feels inevitable that they must know the religious and cultural and history of my people in our own language.

They must, also, know the same of their father. They must know the stories of his people. They must know the history of the culture he was born into. They must know about the times, places, circumstances and events that shaped his family and upbringing and country.

Our children will grow up forging their own stories. Yet for them to know who they are, they must know who their parents are and where we have come from. From this knowledge, they can know themselves.

Our children will make their path in a world new to my husband and I. It is a world where they will know acceptance from the outset, because theirs will be a privileged position straddling two worlds. Yet while they will know acceptance, they will also know its opposite edge. It is this side that I fear – although I hope they will never to experience its bitterness. Instead, I hope they will grow up knowing the beauty of tolerance in a world where skin-deep differences don’t matter. And it is also my hope, that just by being themselves, they will teach this beauty to others.

 

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My favourite decadent chocolate cake

I have a favourite recipe and, unsurprisingly, it’s for chocolate cake. It’s the recipe which never lets me down, which always results in a delicious treat, and which I usually have all the ingredients knocking around for. It’s a recipe which people always ask for, a cake which people always want a second helping of, and a cake which takes next to no time to make. Sounds perfect? It is.

I made this cake for the millionth time last week for my birthday. I know I probably shouldn’t have been making my own cake, but I figured no-one else would have much time and at least this way I’d get a cake I really enjoyed eating. It’s also a cake which always goes down well in our house because it is gluten free. (A very close family member has coeliacs.) The cake is also usually easy to make with nut free ingredients, and I was also catering for a family a member with a severe nut allergy. It’s definitely not dairy free, however, and there’s no way round this. I’ve been dairy free for about four months now – but I decided that on my birthday I could have a teeny slice of cake as a one-off. It would be rude not to, after all. I did indulge – and I wasn’t disappointed.

But, don’t take my word for how good this cake is. It is, after all, a cake that really deserves to be shared. The recipe was passed on to me by a friend a few years ago, and so, for you today, here’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. Go make it, go share it, go eat it … Enjoy X

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Ingredients:

125g butter
200g dark chocolate
1 cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
4 large eggs
1/3 cup of cream
Another 150g chocolate

Recipe:

Grease (and line if necessary) a 20cm round springform tin.
In a saucepan large enough for all the ingredients, melt the butter and 200g of dark chocolate.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of castor sugar and 1 tablespoon of cocoa.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Stir in the eggs and pour the mixture into the cake tin. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Bake on gas mark 6 for 50 minutes until cake is firm at edge.
Leave to stand for 30 minutes before icing with ganache.

For the ganache:

Bring 1/3 cup of cream almost to the boil. Stir through the 150g of chocolate. Remove from heat and spread over cake.
Add garnish or decorations as wanted before the ganache sets.

And that’s it, super easy, super delicious, and a decadent treat that guarantees complements every time. Yum!

cake1

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The Reading Residence

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