Family Support: February Special Days and activities to do whilst in lockdown!

1st _ World Read aloud Day – Read aloud to  a member of your Family.

3rd – Carrot Cake Day

INGREDIENTS

For the carrot cake sponge

  • 3 large eggs
  • 225 g carrots
  • 250 g self-raising flour
  • 200 g brown sugar – I use soft light brown sugar, but this cake also works well with dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 225 ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 150 g raisins
  • water – to soak the raisins

For the cream cheese buttercream

  • 100 g butter – soft at room temperature
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 200 g cream cheese
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the carrot cake

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan.

Line two 20cm round sandwich tins with greaseproof paper or reusauble baking liners.

  • Place the raisins (150g) into a bowl and cover them with water.
  • Coarsely grate the carrot (225g).
  • Whisk together the oil (225ml sunflower or vegetable oil) and brown sugar (200g) until combined.
  • Whisk in the eggs (3 large) until combined. The mixture will lighten in colour and look glossy.
  • Sift in the self-raising flour (250g), bicarbonate of soda (¾ tsp), ground cinnamon (1½ tsp) and ground mixed spice (½ tsp). Fold them into the other ingredients.
  • Drain the raisins and add them and the grated carrot to the cake mixture. Fold them into the other ingredients.
  • Split the cake mixture between the two pre-prepared tins. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread the mixture evenly in the tins.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and leave them to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, before removing the tins and placing the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Make the cream cheese buttercream

  1. Cut the butter (100g) into cubes and beat until soft.
  2. Add the icing sugar (100g) and beat it into the butter until soft and fully combined. I usually add my icing sugar 1 heaped tablespoon at a time to avoid it flying everywhere.
  3. Add the cream cheese and beat it into the other ingredients. I prefer to beat in the cream cheese by hand with a wooden spoon a few tablespoons at a time rather than using an electric mixer as I find it easier to combine it evenly.

Build your cake

  1. Place the bottom layer of your sponge onto your serving dish.
  2. Add half of the cream cheese buttercream and spread it evenly across the cake with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
  3. Add the second sponge.
  4. Spread the remaining buttercream across the top of the cake, again with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. I’ve used the tip of my palette knife to make a swirl starting from the outside edge of the cake and working inwards.

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Bird Feeding Month – It is so important to feed our wildlife throughout the winter especially the birds that come into our gardens.

Why not make a bird feeder and food  for the Birds. Put the finished feeder/food on your window sill or in your back garden where you can see them and watch to see which birds come to feed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AtclnI5ABg – Toilet roll bird feeder

Bird seed Suet

Ingredients

2 cups beef fat or lard

2 cups cornmeal, ground

1 cups peanut butter, chunky

chopped unsalted peanuts, raisins, dried cranberries or birdseed (optional additions)

Directions

1. Render the beef fat or melt the lard. To render the fat, chop it into small pieces. Next, heat and stir the small pieces of fat in a saucepan on low heat, until it liquefies. Lastly, strain the liquid fat several times through fine mesh to remove particles.

2. Now combine the remaining ingredients together with the fat or lard in a saucepan. If needed, turn on low heat to mix well.

3. Arrange the cookie cutters on a baking sheet that is lined with wax or parchment paper. Slide a length of string through the cookie cutter and tie a knot to create a hanger. Note: If you prefer to remove the cookie cutter before hanging the suet cake, then don’t tie the knot in the string yet. Instead, you will tie the string after the suet hardens and you remove the cookie cutter (after step 5).

4. Next, carefully pour the suet mixture inside each of the cookie cutters. Fill each cookie cutter to the brim with suet.

5. Slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator or freezer to cool and harden the suet.

6. Once hardened, securely attach the suet cakes to a tree outside. The types of birds that feed on suet tend to naturally cling to tree bark, so the feeder should be hung close to the trunk. To protect birds from predators, it’s best to suspend the feeder at least five feet above the ground.

7. Your extra suet cakes can remain in the freezer until you’re ready to hang them outside.