Cooking with Kids: Unicorn Poop

If you weren’t seduced by the title, you will be by the list of ingredients for these delicious nuggets of sugary goodness.

IMG_0403On our last visit to the library, we were pleased to find out that my daughter’s copy of Hope and Greenwood’s Life is Sweet had finally come in. We’d been watching Sweets Made Simple on iPlayer and as soon as she got the book home she was determined to start churning out pounds of fudge and marshmallows and gummies. I don’t think even the most competent six year old should really be fooling around with sugar thermometers on her own… and on a Sunday morning, I’m not really in the mood either.

So we compromised and made Unicorn Mallow Pops. Except I had no popsicle sticks, so they became Unicorn Poop.

Kids love anything with sparkles and poop, right?

The gold lustre spray is available from Dr Oetker but in no way necessary. Although it can be very handy to have gold spray in the cupboard to make any food look like it was crafted by fairies.

Fairy green beans anyone?IMG_0408

Unicorn Poop

Serves: Well, as many as can clamour in the kitchen to scoff them. They don’t keep very well, so plan on eating them all immediately.


1 bag of microwave popcorn, sweet or salty (we prefer salty)
200g of marshmallows (any colour or shape, you’re melting them)
50g unsalted butter
Gold lustre spray, optional

1) Microwave the popcorn according to the instructions on the bag. You won’t need all of it, so eat a bit.IMG_0404

2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Still on the heat and stirring occasionally, toss in the marshmallows until you have an unctuous sweet gooey mess that is all too tempting to stick your fingers in.IMG_04063) Turn off the heat and stir in the popcorn. Then leave the kitchen for 30 minutes to let it cool.IMG_04074) When the mix is cool enough to handle, form it into small balls. Or huge ones. Or whatever the wee ones fancy. Place on greaseproof paper to set. Spray them with gold spray until they resemble something that has fallen out of the bottom of a mythical creature.


Jam Roly Poly: Because baby it’s cold outside…


Like the rest of Britain, my little corner of the Shire is caked in snow. What better reason to stay indoors, crank up the oven – particularly if your heating is as ineffective as mine – and bake something to keep you warm?

Jam roly poly is one of my top puddings and despite falling out of favour for a few years, is beginning to return to the height of tea time popularity.

Part of the reason many people recoil from this delicious treat is the fact it contains suet. You may not think that your desserts have been lacking in rendered beef fat, but they have. The technical details of what suet is fail to mention the light unctuous flavour of pastries and puddings made with it. If you are currently retching into a bucket reading this, vegetarian suet is available, although it never seems as rich to me and yields a slightly stodgier result.

It’s worth mentioning that jam roly poly hails from a time when food was scarce and every calorie counted… in the opposite way to how it does now. This is not something you want to eat every day, but building all those snowmen is going to take fuel.

I can only offer one serving suggestion for this:


Judge, lest not ye be judged…

Jam Roly Poly 
Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes


250g self raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
150g suet (veggie if you must)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup raspberry jam
An egg, beaten

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcium. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the caster sugar. Plonk in the suet and just enough water to create a soft, but not too sticky dough.

2) Pop your dough onto a floured work surface and try to shape it roughly into a rectangle. Aim for 8 x 12 and about 1cm thick. Place it landscape in front of you. Now for the nerve wracking bit.

3) Zap your jam in the microwave for 30 seconds and grab a pastry brush. Generously paint your flat poly with jam, leaving a 1cm border around the edge. When you’re done, fold the jamless border in on to itself, to encase the lovely jammy centre.

4) Take a deep breath (or a swig of wine), and begin rolling the roly poly up like a giant swissroll. Move steadily, trying to keep straight but keeping it tight. Tightness is paramount. Transfer to a greased baking sheet as elegantly as you can manage.

ImageYes, it’s winning no beauty contests, and somewhat resembling my pale, cellulitey thigh after eating too much of it.

5) Generously cover your roly poly with beaten egg to make it a little prettier, then whack it in the oven for 40 minutes. You should probably spend that time doing push ups.

6) Remove from the oven and allow to cool very briefly, before slicing generously, covering in custard and thoroughly enjoying.

A word of warning… you must roll this tightly. If you don’t, it might just lose its lovely Swiss roll shape and become a bit rounder…

ImageStill delicious. And we’re snowed in, so nobody is going to be round to see it.

Cooking the clippings: Simple Cinnamon Cake

Some days I really love my job. Those days are often Mondays, when I get a large pile of Sunday newspapers plonked in front of me, and I’m expected to peruse them all page by page with a cup of tea in hand.Fresh from the oven, endangered!

This process usually leaves me with a pile of clippings that I have ripped out – articles to read later, fashion pages to drool over and pretend I can afford the contents of… and recipes. So many recipes. I have decided to make a concerted effort to actually begin cooking some of these recipes and showcasing them here on the blog.

Our first candidate was actually not actually a newspaper clipping, but a recipe hastily shoved in my pocket while shopping at Sainsbury’s. I think I found it by the butter. It languished in my coat for a few months and has now been baked repeatedly. I give you the simple cinnamon cake.

Not impressed? Read on. The cinnamon cake will not win any beauty contests. But it is the ideal cake to sit unassumingly in a tin over the winter months to be produced with a flourish when guests arrive and deserve more than a slightly crumbly biscuit.

I have only made a single modification to the original recipe – dispensing of mace, because I don’t like it or keep it in the house. I’ve been meaning to scale up the recipe to two sandwich tins and fill it with apple pie filling (don’t judge) and cinnamon buttercream… but for now, enjoy it in its unadorned delightful state.

Simple cinnamon cake
Serves: 8
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes


180g caster sugar
100g butter
2 medium eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
200ml milk
Cinnamon sugar to make the top all pretty (or use cinnamon and sugar if you prefer!)

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a 20cm non-stick cake pan. Or whip out the cake release spray that all sane women have.

2) Cream the sugar and butter together until pale and creamy.

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time. Put some welly into it!

4) Fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk, making sure everything is combined. Scrape down the bowl a couple of time for good measure. Nobody’s watching.

5) Pour into your prepared cake tin and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes, by which time your house will smell like a bakery and the delicious cake will be coming away from the sides of the tin. Pop it out and sprinkle generously with a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon sugar before returning it to the oven for five minutes to glaze.

6) Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. Best eaten within 48 hours and stored in an airtight tin. A slightly stale cake can be revived by a blast in the microwave and a generous coating of custard… but what can’t?