Recipe of the Week - Strawberry Cake {Gluten Free & Dairy Free}

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A couple of weeks ago I shared a photo on the Housefulofboys Facebook page of a cake I had made to bring along to a pot-luck supper. I also promised to share the recipe soon, and so here it is at last.

This is essentially just a sort of all in one Victoria Sponge, with some chopped up strawberries added into the mixture and isn't very challenging to make at all, but it looks impressive! The fruit in the cake mixture gives it an extra bit of moistness - if moistness is even a word? If you've ever been concerned about gluten-free cakes being dry then you have no need to worry about that with this one.

{I also use this recipe to make Strawberry Cupcakes. This mix will make about a dozen cupcakes.}

For this cake you will need:

125g strawberries
225g sugar
210g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
25g cornflour
225g dairy free margarine
4 eggs

And for the icing you will need:

100g dairy free margarine
300g icing sugar


~ Blitz the strawberries in a food processor until they are small pieces. Don't overdo it though, you don't want them completely liquidised, but also don't make them too big as you don't want big chunks of strawberry in your cake either!

~ Add the rest of the cake ingredients to a bowl and beat well together with either a handheld or freestanding mixer. Beat it until you have a smooth and creamy looking batter, then add in the chopped strawberries and mix them in.

~ Divide the mixture evenly between two greased and base lined 8 inch sandwich tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for around 20-25 minutes.

~ Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack while you mix the icing together. 

~ For the icing just beat the dairy free margarine and the icing sugar together. To get a really fluffy textured icing, continue beating it for a few more minutes after it has all come together. 

~ Once the cakes are cool, sandwich them together with the icing. If you want to make the cake look fancy then use about 2/3 of the icing for sandwiching it together and then pipe the rest of the icing around the top of the cake, finishing it off with some sliced strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar. I don't always do this though, and it looks (and tastes) just as good with just a dusting of icing sugar on the top. 

Birthday Fun Day

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

At the weekend we celebrated Ally's 8th birthday.

The presents above weren't just from us, but from other family members too!

He didn't want to do anything fancy for his birthday. Just to have his cousin round for a birthday tea and sleepover. We decided it would be best to have his birthday tea and cake on the day before his actual birthday, as on his birthday there was a big family fun day organised by the charity dad works for and we were all helping out at that. I thought that we would all be tired after the fun day and might not be able to enjoy the celebrations so much if we left it until afterwards. It also meant that he would have longer to play with his cousin if we did things that way round, even though the cousins were all coming to the fun day too.

Anyway, Ally agreed with my suggestion, and so on Friday afternoon he and his cousin Matthew spent the afternoon playing together while James and I finished off making the birthday cake, which was a surprise for Ally this year. In previous years he has requested the design (see here and here for his 7th and 6th birthdays) but this year he wanted a surprise. Ally has recently got into Pokemon and a few weeks ago I found the perfect cake on Red Ted Art here.

It was a simple Pokeball shaped cake, nice and easy to decorate, but with the hidden surprise of being filled with little Pokemon figures. I found the figures really cheaply on EBay, about £5 for nearly 50 of them. They were the perfect size to go inside the cake.

Ally's request for his birthday tea was super simple this year too - fish fingers and mashed potatoes! So we had a tray of free from fish fingers, a tray of far cheaper 'normal' ones, and a steak each for me and daddy. I didn't think he would appreciate fish fingers for tea!

Here are most of the boys waiting for the cake to come in. One of many, many out-takes whenever I try and get a good photo of everyone.

And after several more silly photos, and including James in this one too, with the request, 'please can we just take one proper one to send to Granny?'

Here's that simply decorated cake then.

I used my free from Victoria Sponge recipe, but made one and a half times the amount that I usually make (6 eggs, 12oz sugar, free from SR flour and dairy free marg)

Ally loved the cake when he saw it, and was probably wondering why I said he should cut the first slice rather than me. At first he thought it was going to be a rainbow cake inside, but then he was so excited to find Pikachu and his friends inside!

You can find the full instructions of how to assemble and decorate the cake by following the link to Red Ted Art above.

After cake, and once jammies were on, we all snuggled up to watch the movie 'Sing'.

Despite a late night after watching the movie, Ally came through to our room to ask me if it was time to open his presents at 5am the following morning, which is very unlike him as he is always last up in the mornings! I told him that it was far too early, and thankfully he went back to sleep again before coming back through again at about 8am. Much more reasonable.

As he did last year, his main request for a present was Lego Nexo Knights, which he was delighted to get.

After breakfast James made up a Pokemon treasure hunt in the garden. Ally, Fraser and cousin Matthew had to find where all the little figures were hidden in the garden.

We were all delighted to see that the weather carried on the tradition of sunshine on Ally's birthday. He was born on a hot sunny day, and every year since then the sun has shone on his birthday.

At lunchtime we all headed off to Midlothian, to the beautiful Arniston House, where the Family Fun Day was taking place.

The Fun Day was organised by the charity that my husband works for, Safe Families for Children Scotland. They help families in crisis and hope to reduce the number of children who are taken into local authority care. You can read more about the charity and how they help on their own website here.

One of the ways they help families out is by having Volunteer Families help out other families who are facing a crisis. The Fun Day was a way to thank these volunteer families, as well as to give the families they work with the chance for a fun day out together.

There was a bit of a Pirate theme going on, and the main helpers on the day dressed accordingly.

James helped his dad out on car park duty, as well as being the first aider. I was the face painter for the afternoon and the two of them were my first customers!

An old friend of my husband's is a magician, and he kept the kids entertained all afternoon with his tricks.

Also inside the empty building above was a band playing some lovely live music.

And sitting just outside it, enjoying the warm sunshine all afternoon, were me and the face paints - which actually began to melt in the sunshine! Ally chose to be his favourite super hero, Captain America.

I was thankful that my sister in law was able to jump in and help me with the face painting as it proved very popular. The only time we got a break was during the main magic show below.

There were also some parachute games for the children, a BBQ for everyone, and then to finish off there was a visit from an animal encounters experience. I didn't see any of the animals or get any photos as I was busy painting faces the whole time, but the boys all loved seeing all the animals and told me all about it. Ally had a snake around his neck, as did Calum! There were also lizards, insects, a tarantula, a chicken, a rabbit and a tortoise. 

It was a great afternoon. Every single one of the children there behaved impeccably and Ally declared it the best birthday ever.

I just hope he doesn't think that every birthday has to include a Fun Day from now on!


Friday, 2 June 2017

May was one of those months that was over almost as soon as it started - it flew by!

I was recently reading some old posts on my blog and loved reading about all the things that we had been up to, and seeing all the pictures, and so have resolved to get back to setting aside time to blog more regularly like I used to do. After all, this blog is as much for me to remember life as it is now as anything else.

So I'll start off my resolution by a round up of some of what was happening in our house in May.

May started off with Ally (7) suffering from chickenpox. He had quite a bad dose of it and spent several days feeling rather miserable. He had so many sore spots that he couldn't lie comfortably for a couple of days. His back was sore, his sides were too, and his legs were completely covered from top to toe.

After about 4 or 5 days he began to feel better. We were still housebound as he was still contagious, and so that he didn't get too bored with cabin fever I had bought him a colour in your own castle that kept him busy for a little while.

May was a great month weather-wise, and once Ally was on the mend even more he ventured out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine. Here he is with his collage he made of Shelley the tortoise from Blue Peter.

The lovely May weather had us outside in the garden lots, which also meant a few trips to the garden centre. Fraser (3) likes this little tractor ride there. And it's only 20p for a go on it too!

All of this being outdoors in the sunshine helped raise my daily step counts a fair bit.

Ally's chickenpox was finally no longer contagious just in time for us to host our first BBQ of the year on the first weekend in May, and the weather was just perfect for it.

We had a BBQ the following day as well. Ice cream and oysters in the sunshine.

May is the month of Scottish exams, and James has been off school all month on study leave while he sits his Highers. He had his Music and English exams in the first two weeks of May, and then no exams for nearly three weeks until this week when he had his Art exam and finally his Gaelic exam tomorrow. This was him reading a story to his littlest brother and littlest cousin a couple of weeks ago.

Fraser and I had spent a lovely afternoon at the museum one day. He was so excited to see the animals, and especially to see his favourite animal, a giraffe. Can you see how adoringly he is looking up at it?

We went up to the next level so that he could see the giraffe's tongue sticking out properly!

We also found out that Fraser weighs the same as a Koala.

David (11) and the rest of his class had their photo in the local newspaper last week, in the supplement containing the photos of all of the Primary 7 classes across the city.

James sometimes took a break from his studies to accompany Fraser and I to Sainsbury's, much to Fraser's delight.

Last week David and his class were away for 4 days at Primary 7 camp. He absolutely loved the chance to do some canoeing, mountain biking, forest walking and gorge walking. He says that he didn't miss us too much, but that on the last night he was beginning to miss us. He came back from camp last Friday and the first thing he did was give Ally and Fraser the little teddies he had bought them with his pocket money. He might be the most strong willed of all the boys, but he has a heart of gold.

May saw me testing out a crochet pattern for someone, and making this adorable little fox for Ally, who loves foxes.

The lovely weather hit a peak at the end of last week, with the temperatures here almost reaching 30C! I do hope that this wasn't the best of our summer over already!

Such hot weather meant the paddling pool had to come out.

There was a spot of crocodile wrestling going on in there!

And it got so hot that by Friday afternoon I joined them in the pool to cool down. There is no photographic evidence of that though, but it was such good fun!

I absolutely love a sunny weekend morning when I can enjoy a leisurely breakfast outside on the patio. Porridge and berries is my breakfast of choice these days. Along with a cup of hot water - I haven't touched tea since I went off it when I was expecting Fraser!

 May was the month when Ally ~FINALLY~ cracked cycling a bike without stabilisers. His older brothers had all mastered it by around the age of 5, but he is a much more cautious and anxious child than any of them are.

Still, he's learned it now and there's no stopping him. 

He wanted to go for his first proper cycle at the weekend - up until then he had only cycled around the garden - and so I went along with them for a cycle through the village.

I made sure we chose a route that was flat, with no big hills to put him off, and that we didn't go too far. He thought that 4k sounded impressive enough!

We stopped off by the playing fields for a run around/sit down amongst the daisies.

And finally, May ended with Calum's S3 parent's evening, which went very well. It took place after shinty training and so David was able to go along and join in with the high school boys. He's looking forward to being able to go along to high school shinty every week after the summer when he joins the older two boys at high school. 

He, Calum and dad were put in a team together and ran rings around everybody else. At least that's what they told me anyway! I was too busy watching Fraser and Ally pretend that the picnic bench we were sitting on was a spaceship to notice all the goals that were allegedly scored.

Here's hoping for an equally warm, dry and active June.