Along with the rain, wind and grey skies, November also brings with it the star-studded evening of light entertainment that is BBC’s Children in Need. Last year they launched the theme of “Be a Hero” for the event and my pair decided to dress as their personal heroes of Princess Leia and M’s gastro consultant at GOSH. This year, the dressing up part was a little easier to achieve – G headed off to school in her own wardrobe selection and M wore his “Super Tubie” top as we really couldn’t think of any better superhero for him to represent. You might think that this meant I escaped lightly for this year’s celebrations, but for those of you who know me, or follow me on FB, you will be well aware that my youngest actually had very different ideas about how we should spend the night before the big day itself, and what a long night it turned out to be!
His school decided to hold a “Great Children-in-Need Bake-off” competition as part of their fundraising efforts and naturally M was keen to take part. His first step was to decide what he wanted his cake to look like and eventually settled on cupcakes rather than one big cake as they would be easier to sell as part of the school cake sale after the competition was judged. Instead of decorating a dozen individual cupcakes, M wanted to use them to create Pudsey Bear’s face as best he could. Design done, Wednesday evening saw M whipping up the cake batter with a little supervision from me and the resulting 24 perfectly baked M-friendly cupcakes were left to cool overnight before he tackled the big job of the icing.
One evening to ice to perfection might sound like more than enough time, but when you take into consideration the after-school archery club requiring late pick-up, the long-awaited ‘flu vaccination appointment, the unavoidable homework and the much-needed dinner, you’ll begin to understand why we couldn’t get started until close to 6.30pm. Of course, having baked cakes that he could eat, M was keen to ice with safe icing too, so my first job was to help him make enough coconut oil icing, tinted a rather fetching Pudsey Bear yellow, to cover them all. We had already made a simple cardboard frame in the shape of Pudsey’s head to hold the cupcakes securely and,having fitted 10 cupcakes neatly into place, M got started on the icing.
It was his first attempt with an icing bag and I have to say I was impressed. M handled the bag and nozzle like a pro and did what I’d consider to be a really good job for his very first go. Watching him I could see how much his motor skills have improved since he was first diagnosed with dyspraxia and he actually made a relatively fiddly task seem remarkably easy. Yellow icing piped, next came the task of rolling out and shaping the other colours to make Pudsey’s spotted bandage and facial features. He tweaked and adjusted until he was finally satisfied with the end result and I have to say it was a job well done. Whilst he couldn’t quite eat all of the cakes, he could eat those covered just with the yellow icing – the ears! – and for the first time in a long time, M knew he’d be able to buy a cake at the school cake sale!
Now, for most people that would be a great place to stop; but oh no, not in our slightly mad household. Whilst we’d been browsing cookery books and the internet for ideas for his final cake design, M had spotted some Pudsey Bear cake pops and was keen to see if we could make some of those in a M-friendly version too. Cue some hurried reading on my part accompanied by much scratching of my head as I tried to work out a recipe that didn’t involve chocolate in some shape or form. I couldn’t find a single chocolate-free cake pop recipe, so did the next best thing and came up with my own.
I crumbled 8 cupcakes into a bowl and was delighted to see that the grated apple and pear in the cake mix gave enough moisture to form balls. M cut up some drinking straws as I carefully moulded our cake balls and stuck them to the sticks to create the lollipop shape. My full recipe is here, but let’s just say it took multiple moves between table and freezer as well as some much-needed help from all family members on hand to achieve the final look. The ones M decorated for school were not safe for him to try as we ended up using fondant icing, but we did try a few attempts with the coconut oil icing and I reckon with a few more tries, we might have those sussed.
It turned out to be a later night than planned, but M ended up with 2 entries to the school competition he could be proud of and was delighted that nearly all of his cakes sold at the fundraiser on Friday.