It is without a single doubt that I can say, I am not the world’s best baker. Don’t get me wrong, we do baking with the kids and I can make the odd cupcake but I wouldn’t attempt anything too spectacular.
But, when I saw my friend had posted a photo on her Facebook page of a Pigs in Mud Cake saying she’d love it for her birthday I decided to push the boat out a little bit and give it a go.
I have had a great many compliments on it since then so I thought I would share the ‘how to’ with you.
As I’m not a regular food blogger, I’m afraid I didn’t take photos of each stage but it’s mostly straightforward baking so there isn’t much that you would need to see anyway!
There are lots of tutorials online for how to make pigs out of fondant icing. I bought some pink icing at Sainsburys (own brand) rather than colouring my own and simply made it up as I went along! I looked at the photo I was working from and copied.
The only trouble I had was with the tails. For these I rolled out as thin a piece of fondant as I could without it breaking and wrapped it around a piece of spaghetti. Then I set it to one side for 5 minutes to allow it to set before I stuck it to my pigs bottom.
Some tips for working with fondant icing – roll it between your hands to warm it up before starting to model. The warmer it is, the more pliable it will be. To stick the pieces together I used water. You can buy edible glue but not only have I never seen this in a supermarket, I have also found water works just as well so save yourself some pennies!
Underneath the kit kats and ganache is a simple chocolate sandwich cake with buttercream centre. I used 20cm tins and the recipe below is for one half of the sandwich cake so you would need to do this twice. I prefer to do it this way rather than doubling everything up as my upper body strength is abysmal and I would seriously struggle to stir the mixture adequately! Sad, but true.
For the cake :
170g caster sugar
115g self raising flour
3 medium eggs
55g cocoa powder
For the buttercream:
110g butter (room temp)
170g icing sugar
55g cocoa powder
For the ganache:
250ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
Butter two tins (I never bother lining, I usually don’t bother using butter either but as it was a special occasion I went all out!).
Beat all the ingredients together adding a drop of milk if the mixture is too thick. The mixture should drop off a spoon when tapped gently. Place mixture into tin and level out. Repeat (as above)
Bake the two tins side by side at 180C/160C fan oven/Gas 4 for 20-25 mins until your sponge springs back when lightly pressed.
Leave to cool. If you wish to speed the process up you can place the cakes in the fridge for an hour or so. If your cake is not completely cooled then the buttercream will just melt and seep out. This happened to me as I was in a rush and hadn’t waited but luckily as you can’t see the cake underneath the decorations I simply scraped the buttercream off and started again (I did warn you this wasn’t going to be anything professional!)
When the cake has cooled, make up the buttercream and spread on top of one on your cakes. Sandwich the other cake on top. Use the remaining buttercream and spread around the cake. Using two finger kit kats (don’t break them in half) press them lightly onto the buttercream. If your mixture is thick enough they will stick to the buttercream like glue. This is the most important part as if you make your buttercream runny, the kit kats will stick initially but will just gradually slide off the cake.
Make your buttercream. Mix the ingredients altogether adding the milk at the end if necessary. Because this buttercream needs to be thick it does take a while for the ingredients to mix but keep going (or use an electric handwhisk if you have one!)
Once you have stuck kit kats all around your cake, tie a ribbon around to hold them in place whilst the buttercream sets.
Prepare your ganache.
Bring the cream to the boil in a pan and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces. Stir until the chocolate melts. Removed from the heat the mixture will thicken. I had to do this again as I burnt my first lot (you may start to see a pattern emerging….) waiting for the mixture to thicken whilst on the heat.
Leave it to cool for around 15-20 minutes before pouring into the top of the cake. If you panic like me and think it will all seep through the gaps in the kit kats you might want to do a cement job and use some buttercream to fill any slight gaps you may have. My Other Half assured me that if the ganache is the right consistency it won’t leak everywhere but I couldn’t help worrying!
Place your pigs into the ganache and leave overnight to set.
Hey presto, pigs swimming in mud!
I hope that was helpful, as I am a ‘make it up as you go along’ type of baker I find it difficult to put down into words how exactly I bumble along through the process.
Since making the Pigs in Mud I have also made a chocolate drizzled strawberry kit kat cake. For this, instead of ganache I used buttercream, sliced some strawberries and layered them in circles finishing with a whole strawberry in the centre. I melted some milk chocolate and white chocolate and drizzled it over the strawberries in a criss cross pattern.
I kept this cake in the fridge overnight to stop the strawberries turning and was worried about how the sponge would taste cold but nobody seemed to notice!!
Not sure what will be next in my line of kit kat cakes…watch this space!
The Magic Moves Electronic Wand is an interactive light up activity wand from Learning Resources. It has 90 physical commands and 26 random tunes. The idea behind the Magic Moves wand is to encourage creative movement, motor skill development and listening skills.
Both Meg and Eli have enjoyed playing with the Magic Moves Wand although the accent has caused some confusion over what action is required and I’ve had to interpret for them on occasion. It has been funny listening to Meg try to copy the voice though – we get all the actions repeated in her attempt at an American accent!
We’ve had good fun talking through what the animal is, what it looks like and how it might move. I really like this as it means we can take the learning further than the toy. For example, when Meg heard the instruction ‘slide like a lizard’ she then wanted to know what a lizard looks like, where it lives and how it moves etc. Which had all been prompted from the wand. Some of the movements are also quite interesting – climb like a goat being the strangest one!
One of the most important things to me when buying a toy is the longevity of its ‘played with’ life. If the kids are excited about it for the five minutes it’s fresh out of the packet but then forget about it after that then to me, that is not a good investment of my money. The electronic wand sits at at the in between stage. When one of them gets it out then it is played with frantically for a couple of days, then it is returned to its box for a week or so. I don’t mind this as I know if I got it out for them they would enjoy engaging in the actions with me which is what it’s all about; getting children to have fun being active and so it’s a perfect rainy day toy.
Meg and Eli can burn off some energy even if we can’t go outside for long periods of time and it also challenges them to use their bodies in different ways; they have to make interesting shapes, try new sounds and think about what they are doing.
We also like the random element of ‘dance’ and ‘freeze’ intermittently placed within the movement commands. Eli gets so excited when it’s time to freeze that we often repeat this even when there isn’t a ‘freeze’ command!
We have enjoyed playing with this toy and have had it for several months now. It still holds Meg and Eli’s interest and although the recommended age is 3-7, I have found Eli very capable of copying the actions. He obviously needs guidance in what it is he needs to do but this is also fun as it means that parents have to get involved too.
The Magic Moves Electronic Wand is available from Learning Resources for £17.94
Disclaimer: we were sent the magic moves toy for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
I was struggling for a post this week as nothing had really lent itself well enough to be written down and repeated. Then on the way home from nursery on Tuesday, Meg decided to start asking about babies.
Not just simple, easy to answer questions about babies but things like
“where do they come from?”
“why is it just mummies who can have babies, that’s not very fair on the daddies.” (haha!)
“what happens to the baby when you go in the shower?”
After mumbling my way through a few answers I was subjected to a story of how Meg will have a baby in a few years when she’s big enough and make a friend for Eli, because she’s kind. This friend will be a little girl and she will call her Rosie. Meg isn’t going to have any boys you see because boys are a bit smelly.
And then also Mummy isn’t making any more friends for her and Eli so she will do it instead(!!) – I think I will be having a chat with her Daddy later!
I was beginning to worry and started to hope that it was the end of the conversation but then she started down a whole new track of what we can and can’t eat whilst we’re pregnant.
First, she wanted to know why we can’t drink coffee when we’re pregnant. That one is thanks to an episode of Peppa Pig where Mrs Rabbit is pregnant. So I began to explain that there are foods that are good for us and foods that aren’t so good.
Meg nodded knowledgeably and said “but you know Mummy, you can’t eat carrots even though they are good for you because it might poke the baby in the eye…”
It was a very good thing she delivered that cracker whilst we were sat at some traffic lights!!
I have to start this post with a massive EEK! Tomorrow is the day we find out which school Meg will be going to. In less than 24 hours we will be able to log on with thousands of other parents and hold our breath as we discover whether we got the school of our choice.
Having not put our catchment school down we know there is a possibility that it could all go very wrong for us and Meg could end up placeless. From my limited understanding she could then be allocated a place in a school anywhere in the county although I imagine the reality of this is quite rare.
A few months ago if you had asked me about Meg starting school in September I would have pulled a face and said that she was just too young, she was still my baby! But now…all of a sudden she has shot up, she’s lost the rounded look to her face and instead of my toddler a little girl has appeared in her place. My mum runs an after school club and there is a little girl there who started school last year. Suddenly she doesn’t look so much older than Meg. Without a doubt she is starting to reach that place where she is totally ready to start school, and she’s still got 4 months left to go!
I think finding out which school Meg will be going to will make it more real. We’ve talked with her about starting school but haven’t been able to offer any specifics. From tomorrow we’ll be able to talk about the name, the colour of the uniform, if anyone else we know has got into the same school etc etc – it makes the whole experience much more tangible. Which is a good thing…I think!
I don’t know what we will do if we don’t get our school of choice, that is a conversation for tomorrow morning but for all the other parents out there finding out today and tomorrow where their children will be going to school, especially if it’s the first time: good luck!
Last Sunday we managed to persuade my Other Half to pause the football at half time (it might have been Eli’s head constantly popping up into view, or Meg saying “I don’t like football” non stop or even my loud and continual sighing but either way it worked!) and we headed up to our local woods.
Spending some time outside makes such a difference to the way you feel. I was starting to get cabin fever by the late afternoon but a couple of hours outdoors made it all good again. Not even the stress of Alfie escaping and almost getting flattened by a car could put a dampener on things!
The kids love the woods and we decided to make it extra fun on Sunday by giving them a bucket and encouraging them to fill it with things we could later use at home. We did have to try and monitor it somewhat as we ended up with a whole host of pine cones and some mouldy looking twigs, but in the end we got a good variety.
It also gave my Other Half a good opportunity to do some ‘teaching’, this week we all got to learn what bark is. I’m not sure Eli was interested but Meg took great delight in telling us all repeatedly as we walked round!
Eli’s favourite bit was when we reached the field on the edge of the woods. It was brilliant watching the kids eyes widen at the sight of so much open space and then they just took off running.
We spent some time wearing Alfie out and Eli loved throwing a stick for him. He particularly enjoyed holding onto the stick until Alfie was bouncing around with anticipation and then blowing a raspberry as he threw it. Oh to be in the mind of a toddler!!
We finished our walk with a
little long rest on a fallen log we found. Meg decided to convert it into a train and insisted we all get on board. Eli preferred just reclining and observing what was going on.
Later on in the week we rescued what was left in our bucket (who knew that dogs were such fans of pine cones?!?) and Meg had some fun sticking and making a little collage.