A 2nd Birthday Tea Party with Recipes from ‘Learn to Bake’ by Linda Collister

Another year has flown and my little girl’s 2nd birthday arrived in a jiffy.  We had a quiet but special day.  

I took my daughter to Piglets as usual and everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.  I’m not sure she realised everyone was singing to her but she clapped along happily!  In the afternoon, my parents and sister came over for a birthday tea party and to watch her open her presents…

A while back I received The Great British Bake Off ‘Learn to Bake’ cookery book by Linda Collister to review on Bishopston Mum.  I decided that I would choose two from its eighty cake, pudding, biscuit and pastry recipes for our birthday tea party for my review.  One recipe for the main course and one for the birthday cake!

‘Learn to Bake’ is designed to be uncomplicated and easy to follow.  Mary Berry writes the forward in the book and explains how this book is ideal for baking beginners.  She writes ‘Mums and dads – if you’ve never baked before, this is the perfect opportunity to join in’.

I deliberated what to cook for the tea party’s main meal.  I looked at the Chicken and Sweetcorn Pie recipe and considered making the veggie alternative of Fish Pie recommended in the book for my non-meat eating sister.  However, although it looked delicious, I decided that for a proper, hands-on review, I should go the whole hog and cook from scratch rather than making a recipe using puff pastry.

My daughter is also a stupendously fussy eater so I decided to opt for the Deep-Dish Pizza recipe as pizza is a favourite of hers!  This recipe also involves cooking completely from scratch so meant I would have to make my own pizza base, something I have never done before.

I stuck to this recipe to the letter apart from substituting the sausage for tuna for my sister.  The book sticks to its word in being simple and easy to follow. Every step of the recipe was broken down into steps. 

Pizza prior to the tuna topping and baking

The end result

This was a lengthy recipe and I’m afraid my pizza didn’t look as good as the one in the book.  However, I had good feedback from the tea party guests and everyone had second helpings.  My husband said that it was tastier than shop-bought pizzas and was also more filling.  And my daughter simply said ‘nice’ after her first bite and remained quiet until she had finished, a sure sign of success!

For the birthday cake, I opted for the Sticky Confetti Cake recipe.  It looked fun and colourful and I also liked the idea of having sweeties actually in the cake mixture. 
This recipe was really simple to follow.  I was able to be a bit creative and decorate the cake so it was fit for the special birthday girl.  

 Starting to ice the cake
Finished and ready to be presented to the birthday girl!

Learn to Bake explains all baking jargon used in some other cookery books.  For example, part of the preparation of my pizza base dough required I needed to leave it to ‘prove’ for an hour.  The book explained what this term actually meant and the best conditions for this to occur, i.e. leaving dough under cling film for an hour on the worktop as these are the best conditions for the yeast to work as well as possible and produce bubbles of gas.
The Sticky Confetti Cake recipe required me to do the ‘fingertip test’ when I first got the cake out of the oven.  Again, this was explained, i.e. gently pressing the centre of the cake with your fingertip: if the cake is ready the cake will spring back but if it needs slightly longer, your fingertip will leave a slight dent.

I enjoyed making these simple recipes and decorating the Sticky Confetti Birthday Cake was particularly exciting!

But making the birthday cake was only a small part of the fun.  First there was the scraping the remains of the cake mixture out of the bowl…

Then there was the look on the birthday girl’s face as her cake arrived…

And the blowing out of the candles…

And then of course was the eating of the birthday cake!  The cake was a success and did not last long.

It was a special 2nd birthday tea party, made extra special by the people who came along to it and the home-cooked recipes from ‘Learn to Bake’ 🙂 

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