baking · celebrations · gluten free · low FODMAP · Seasonal

Gluten Free Easter Nest Cakes Recipe (Low FODMAP)

Advertisements

Last year for Easter, my husband was following the low FODMAP diet to try to help us identify his food intolerances beyond just gluten intolerance. The year before, I had baked a delicious chocolate Easter Nest cake from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, but although we had really enjoyed it, clearly it wasn’t going to be suitable for a low FODMAP diet. So I set about adapting the recipe to ensure that everyone could enjoy it – and I also adapted it from a massive Easter cake into smaller individual cakes that would be suitable to bake with a young family. Presenting: my gluten free Easter nest cakes recipe! And if you still want to make one big cake, just double up the quantities and stick it all in one big cake tin…

Gluten Free Easter Nest Cakes Recipe

Ingredients For Your Cakes:

You will need the following ingredients for your gluten free chocolate nest cakes:

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 75g salted butter (butter is low FODMAP but not completely lactose free, so if you need a completely lactose free recipe, then replace with coconut oil (75g) or vegetable oil (55g))
  • 125g dark chocolate (make sure it’s vegan dark chocolate if you need 100% lactose free)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

And for the topping and decoration, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 125ml vegan double cream (Elmlea do a plant based double cream which works perfectly)
  • 70g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 pack chocolate mini eggs or buttons
The finished product

Gluten-Free Easter Nest Cakes: The Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C.

2. Lightly grease the bases of a non-stick muffin or cupcake tray. A silicone cupcake tray is best, as you can easily pop out the cooked cakes. A metal cupcake tray will work too, but prepare yourself for a bit of an adventure getting the cakes out of the tray (however – even if you break them, they will stick back together again if still warm!)

3. Put the 75g butter and the 125g chocolate in a bowl and melt them down together either in a microwave (short bursts of 10 seconds at full power, stirring in-between, until melted) or over a saucepan of hot water.

4. Separate two of the eggs.

Separating the eggs

5. Whisk the two egg whites with a handheld or stand mixer, slowly adding in 50g of the sugar until the mixture forms soft, gleaming peaks.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the two egg yolks with the remaining whole egg (I mean… Not the shell, obviously), the vanilla essence and the remaining 35g sugar.

7. Gently add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and fold it in carefully.

Folding in the chocolate and butter

8. Next, start adding the whisked egg whites and folding them in gently. First, add about one-third of the egg whites, then once that’s all combined, add another third and so on.

9. Pour the mixture in to the cupcake tin, filling each cupcake hole about 3/4 full. Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and cracked but not wobbly when you shake the tray (see the picture, below). Let the cakes cool in the tin on a wire rack, and don’t panic when they sink – that’s what makes the nests!

Fresh from the oven

10. Once the cakes are cool-ish, get them out of the cake tin. Don’t worry if they break – I promise that if you gently squash the separate pieces back together, they will magically re-combine through some incredible cakey voodoo.

11. Melt the 70g dark chocolate and set it aside while you whip the double cream until it’s forming soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and slowly fold in the melted chocolate, but make sure it’s cooled down a fair bit first.

12. Dollop the cream into the sunken centres of your chocolate nest cakes, and add the chocolate eggs or buttons.

13. Enjoy your gluten-free, low-FODMAP chocolate Easter nest cakes!

Om nom Easter yum yums

Top Tips For Your Easter Nest Cakes:

These cakes are sort of like a brownie/meringue hybrid, which means a lot of folding various mixtures into one another. Usually, where whisked egg is involved, the idea is to combine the two mixes completely without knocking too much air out of the egg whites. Not confident on how to do this? Here’s a handy guide on folding in egg whites.

It’s also worth noting that the sugary shell on the outside of the chocolate eggs will melt over time, so if (for example) you’re preparing these the night before for a party the next day, don’t add the eggs until a few hours before you’re ready to serve, if you can.

More recipes for gluten-free chocolatey treats!

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, why not try my favourite gluten-free Rocky Road recipe (no baking required!) or this delicious recipe for coffee-lovers – gluten-free chocolate cappuccino brownies. Yum!

parenting · play · reviews

Review: Jaques of London Toys

Advertisements

This blog post comes courtesy of Jaques of London, who have kindly gifted us some of their toys to try out in exchange for a review!

I hadn’t come across Jaques before, but they specialise in wooden toys and board games. It’s a family-run business, which traces its origin all the way back to 1795 when Thomas Jaques established himself as a “Manufacturer of ivory, hardwoods, bone and Tunbridge Ware” (no, I have no clue what Tunbridge Ware is either). They’re now in the eighth generation of the family business, which is quite the pedigree for a toy brand!

Jaques of London Wooden Toys

Jaques of London: Let’s Play Animal Seesaw

The Let’s Play Animal Seesaw was the first one of the Jacques toys I gave to Little Man. It’s a simple concept: a little wooden seesaw which comes with a set of wooden animals (plus two trees and two wooden cogs) which you can stack on the seesaw and try to get it to balance.

It’s really nicely made, the animals are very cute (on several occasions I have discovered the bunny rabbit from this set hidden in random locations around the house, a sure sign that Little Man loves it!) and even boring grown-ups will catch themselves having fun trying to get the seesaw to balance.

I also thought it was a nice touch that the animals come with a drawstring bag you can store them in. It definitely helps to avoid losing them at the bottom of the toybox!

The Let’s Play Animal Seesaw in action

Jaques of London: Magnetic Crane Truck

Little Man has been obsessed with cranes for a little while and is very interested in trucks and lorries, so when I saw that Jaques do a Magnetic Crane Truck toy, I knew it would be a big hit with him. And I wasn’t wrong!

The truck comes in two detachable parts, with a magnetic crane that can swivel, lift and be lowered, plus five colourful blocks with magnets that you can use to load the truck and attach to the crane. Little Man has really enjoyed stacking and unstacking the truck, playing with the magnets, and exploring other items that he can stack in the back of the truck. In fact, the little wooden creatures from the Jaques Animal Seesaw have taken more than one ride around the kitchen in the crane truck! It’s a great toy with lots of different options for creative play.

Little Man playing with the Jaques Magnetic Crane Truck

I really love the fact that Jaques specialise in wooden toys which are more eco-friendly. It’s so easy when you have a toddler to accrue a whole house full of plastic, which is terrible for the environment. We’re always keen to find eco-friendly alternatives and Jaques is a lovely brand with a wide range of wooden toys.

It’s also worth mentioning that the toys are really beautifully presented, I love the boxes they come in, which are gorgeous and tied with a gold-embossed ribbon – see the picture below. If you’re like me and terrible at remembering to gift wrap things, I’d say this makes Jacques toys a great bet for children’s birthday presents!

child development · parenting · sleeping

Do Toddlers Have Sleep Regressions?

Advertisements

When you’re a new parent, you very quickly discover the concept of sleep regressions. This is the concept that babies go through phases where they sleep less well and wake up more often in the night, and that these phases are associated with certain developmental milestones and growth spurts; meaning that there are particular ages when most babies go through a patch of bad sleep. Sleep regression is most associated with the first year or so of a baby’s life. But my experiences with our two year old toddler got me wondering – do toddlers have sleep regressions too? In this blog post, I’ll run through the typical ages for toddler sleep regression, our experience, and how to get through it with your sanity intact!

Do Toddlers Have Sleep Regressions?

Sleep Regression Ages

I’ve written previously about the sleep regression at 8 months (spoiler alert: it’s a doozy). Sleep regressions in babies are commonly said to occur at around 4 months, 8 months and 12 months, although some sources also say they happen at 6 and 10 months as well – at which point they seem so frequent that you have to start wondering whether you’re experiencing a ‘sleep regression’ or just, you know, a baby that’s not great at sleeping.

When I first read about sleep regressions, I only focused on the first twelve months because everything beyond that just seemed so far away. Now Little Man is two-and-a-bit, though, I’ve returned to my reading and found that a lot of sources also list two toddler sleep regressions: one at 14 – 18 months, and one around two years. This definitely fits with our experience over the past year or so!

Toddler Sleep Regression: 18 Months

Around 18 months old, we found that Little Man suddenly went through a real change in how he wanted to go to sleep. Up until then, we had still rocked him to sleep in our arms before putting him in his cot. Then one day, out of the blue… He didn’t want to go to sleep in our arms any more! The slight issue was, he didn’t really know how to go to sleep in his cot either. It took a good few weeks before he consistently got the hang of it, and during that time his bedtimes took soooooo long. It was very frustrating.

According to various sources online, the 18 month toddler sleep regression can be caused by separation anxiety and often manifests as a resistance to bedtime. We didn’t really experience a resistance to bedtime, so much as a shift in Little Man’s needs in how he wanted to get to bed, which I think was to do with the fact that he’d grown bigger and so was less comfortable in our arms. I’m not sure if this is typical for this regression, because Little Man has always been quite small for his age, ever since he arrived three weeks early!

Trains are an essential component of bedtime

Toddler Sleep Regression: 2 Years

We seemed to hit the 2 year old sleep regression a bit early, around the 22 month mark – and the bad news is, it seemed to carry on for about three months or so. Ouch. According to some sources, the two year sleep regression is caused by toddlers’ developing sense of self: they start to develop an awareness that things happen when they’re not there and consequently don’t want to miss out on the fun – a.k.a. a classic case of FOMO. As a result, they start refusing naps and bedtime – and you also then ironically run the risk of them becoming overtired and more difficult to put to sleep.

Little Man has only rarely refused naps, but he had refused bedtime in a big way. When we started trying to leave the room with him in his cot before he’s asleep, we had very mixed results as often (but not always!) he seemed to be drifting off happily enough, only to wake up suddenly and completely about a minute after we left the room.

It’s interesting that the literature says this sleep regression is about fear of missing out, because I’d say in our experience it’s much more about Little Man feeling anxious about being left alone. He struggles much more at bedtime if he’s overtired or feeling a bit under the weather (or teething of course!). And reports from nursery suggest he’s just fine at naptime when there’s lots of other children napping around him (the magic of peer pressure apparently starts at an early age!). He’s usually happy enough to stop playing in the evenings and head upstairs to bed – it’s definitely the ‘being left alone’ part that seems to cause the issue.

I also think that Little Man suffers quite a bit from hypnic jerks – those twitchy muscle movements that make it feel like you’re falling when you’re going to sleep. He’s very twitchy and it would explain the times he randomly starts crying just as it seems that he’s about to really drift off.

How to handle toddler sleep regressions

The bad news is, of course, that I don’t have any magical words of wisdom for other parents going through a toddler sleep regression: all I can offer is sympathy.

All the advice online suggests having a well-established sleep routine; I definitely think that helps, but it’s hardly the solution of the century. All you can do is try to be patient, be consistent and not lose your mind on the days when it feels like you’re spending your whole evening trying to get an obviously tired child to sleep. You can try to work on the separation anxiety and FOMO feelings that might be getting in the way of your toddler settling down to sleep, but there’s not really anything you could do if they’re twitching themselves awake or ending up unsettled due to falling dreams. Even us grown ups sometimes have trouble sleeping and wake up freaked out after a bad dream – I guess it’s not exactly surprising that little ones do too.