There is always hope (and cake)

As I sit and write, the sun is shining and the birds and the bees are flying around the garden.

Did we ever think we would get here? Possibly not. Yes, there were shared hopes and dreams, it’s what brings people together, it’s what makes friends. But actually being here now, in this moment? Do those hopes and dreams, without actually planning anything, shape your future? By seeing a ‘hope’ or a ‘dream’, an outcome to your life in the future, are you sub-consciously following a path you don’t know you are following? Is that destiny? Or have we programmed ourselves to seek that path that leads us inadvertently to where we want to be?

Clearly there are those that plan, that decide where they want to be and that defines them. But at what cost? There are those that can afford to get what they want (where’s the fun in that 😀?) and indeed do. Surely sub-consciously is more fun? Too many questions, too many barriers, ups and downs, too a hope/dream that is sub-consciously led. There are of course many studies into mindfulness, well-being and NLP that go into far more detail. To quote a Talking Heads song lyric (from the track ‘Once in a Lifetime’) – ‘How did I get here?’ I really don’t know. But does it really matter, I’m here now so what’s next!

Some cake,  from which came from somewhere…..

To be made in 2 stages… a brownie base and a hazelnut meringue.

Start either way around, I made the brownie first.

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c, 160c fan and line and grease a round 8”, deep cake tin.

300g milk chocolate (I use Callebaut)

180g butter

230g caster  sugar

3 large

1 teaspoon vanilla

100g gluten free plain flour

1 jar of hazelnut chocolate spread

Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, and the butter together in a glass bowl, over a saucepan of gently simmering hot water. Ensuring no water gets into the bowl. Once melted set aside to cool a little before adding the sugar and then beating in the eggs – one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and then fold in the flour. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to cool before popping in the fridge to set firm and then remove from the tin, but not before it has set firm. Trim any rough edges if required.

To make the hazelnut meringue – grease and line a 8” cake tin and preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c, 165c fan.

2 egg whites

130g caster  sugar

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

75g roasted ground almonds. If you can only get whole nuts – place them on a tray and put into the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and blend/blitz using a food processor.

Whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy and then whisk in the caster sugar  and tablespoon at a time. Ensuring you whisk well between each addition of the sugar. It will become a rich shiny white once all the sugar has been added. Whisk in the wine vinegar and then fold in the ground hazelnuts. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool, then carefully remove from the tin.

To assemble, place the brownie onto your cake stand, spread with chocolate hazelnut spread, you could leave some to drizzle over the finished cake if you wish and top with the hazelnut meringue.

Slice and serve with all your hopes and dreams.

Happy Fathers Day.



Our Cornish Tale

It’s been holiday time for Cake Towers and we’ve been loving our little retreat down in Cornwall.

Over the past few weeks, like most families, life had begun to over take us a little. Knowing that we had a holiday coming up, I guess we just kept going until we knew we would stop. But does it actually stop? Anyone with a family will know that it doesn’t really. Your surroundings may change but the washing still needs doing and little mouths still need feeding. Spending a holiday next to a beach, walking distance as well, does at least have some pay off and a change is as good as a rest.

I may have mentioned before that we are lucky enough to have two weeks of Whit half term at Noah’s school. Which makes going away on the second week, so much easier when it comes to choice, affordability and reduced crowding. We chose again this year to come to Cornwall, the venue of choice some 3 years ago when life got a little stressful to say the least and a week in The Duchy rejuvenated us as a family and bought us all back to what is important – having each other. Not that that time has been repeated, it is just as important to reconnect with each other. Too realise what each of us brings to the family unit – love.

Again we used the same holiday company, Beach Retreats, and no they aren’t perhaps cheap,  we do though get so little time together that the added expense is vastly outweighed. Booking made earlier on in the year we waited and counted down the weeks – especially the final 4 weeks. Bags packed, it was actually a bit of a rush leaving the house, but we didn’t rush the drive the south. Normally one for just getting there, we made 3 stops as for some reason check-in wasn’t until 4.30pm! Luckily there was a National Trust venue en route as well.

Arriving safely to Porth, just outside Newquay, we unloaded and made our way to the nearest Pizza Express – booked on the way down via the old inter web. Safe in the knowledge that we could all eat safely and Noah would enjoy his gluten free pizza.

That is I think the difference between eating last time we came here and now. Noah at – 4 we pretty much ate in last time we were here, now of course, Noah being 7, eating out becomes a little easier. Or should be.

At 7, Noah is great to be around when he wants to play. Over the course of the holiday we’ve spent most of it on the beach, which at Porth is fantastic. It might not be one of the biggest in North Cornwall, surfing is frowned on due to the lack of space, but by-heck we can have some fun – body boarding and building sand castles, digging deep holes and even trying to stop the tide coming in by building sand walls! Once the sea is out it’ll take you a good few minutes to get to the surf, it’s a long walk with a tired Noah.

And time stands still (ignoring the fact that the tide comes and goes). As Noah zips around the beach screaming at the sea al la King Canute, telling it to stop, whilst he runs back and forth ensuring the incoming tide doesn’t touch his toes – until that is he trips and falls in! 😀😀 . It’s a joy to watch. Then it’s back to the retreat, literally a 2 minutes walk once you’re off the beach, showered to remove the sand and then off to bed or output again for our next visit.

Our current retreat has 3 bedrooms, one en suite and a separate bathroom for the other 2 rooms, Noah and his sister Iona, were able to have a room each. Downstairs we have a utility room, another toilet, kitchen with a breakfast bar and a lounge/diner complete with a wood burner for the colder months, TV and plenty of seating. Parking is just around the corner and as the retreat actually sleeps 6, there are currently 2 parking slots allocated. On arrival Cornish milk is in the fridge and there is Cornish tea, coffee and biscuits (not gluten free) waiting to be opened. There is the obligatory welcome folder and visitors book all with helpful, local information mainly on where to eat.

Which is still a bone of contention for us. Cornwall is full of local produce, Cornwall is, I think, proud of this and rightly so, there are many local suppliers wanting your trade. There is even a Waitrose in Truro with a rather large portion of the store taken up by ‘The Cornish Shop’ sellling all things ‘Cornwall’. There are many fantastic artisan producers selling very bespoke food products (Padstow has a rather large proportion of Cornish fudge shops and is very well represented by a certain Rick Stein – plus  ‘Chough Bakery’ selling gluten free for 2018 – but it was closed when we got there). But when it comes to actual meals for children with coeliac disease, it becomes a little harder to find or even to find someone helpful. We have ended up sticking to what we know – a National pizza chain restaurant. Have we tried? Yes. Did we go out much? Probably not as much as we’d like. The feeling of being let down (on behalf of Noah) is just not worth it. Not knowing sometimes, is very hard to bear. It becomes difficult to enjoy your meal, when all Noah can have (or is willing to eat) is chips. After a while, this just gets disheartening, you begin to wonder what must be going through Noah’s mind.

We tried eating at The Heron, in a tiny village called Malpas, near Truro. Noah’s mum had just been stand up paddle boarding (well recommended) along the river Fal and it looked like a very nice place to eat. It was in fact lovely, but Noah just had chips and a hand-made burger that looked like a rather small, flat meatball. We couldn’t find a gluten free Cornish Pasty in St Ives. Oh do not get me started on St Ives! A terrible place. One cash machine (with a fee which I refuse to pay) no one seems to take contactless, its cash only or £5 minimum spend with a card! And if you’re like me (and the Queen) I do not carry cash. A very short-sighted bunch of traders, in what is a very popular place, one that we couldn’t wait to get out of! That is until we found the cafe at the top of the hill, by the car park (the one with the leisure centre in).  Brewhouse. Great service, gluten free dishes available, but Noah just wanted a drink, plus they’ll accept card payment.

We looked through the pile of places to eat locally in the retreat folder and had a look online at their menus, not really helpful when it comes to children and gluten free and when we tried contacting one to ask what they could provide for a child who couldn’t eat gluten……we are still waiting for a response after 6 days (Lusty Glaze). We are not ones to make a fuss, we are not ones to assume we are owed anything from the world because Noah has coeliac disease, but some understanding (through training) would be nice from operators. Which is why, for our final night,  we are going ….where?

Cornwall you are lovely, we could live here. But would it be spoilt if we did? Would we take our for granted? You have given us even more fond memories, ones we will remember for some time to come. We will be back soon.

Just in case you were wondering – #JamFirst 😀😀