Lizzie bites off more than she can chew with her baking blog plan

Who would have thought baking cake could cause such problems? Lizzie didn’t, until actually doing it with daughter Alice spread the ingredients liberally around. But then, she had something else on her mind…

Standing on a chair pushed up against the kitchen worktop, and wearing an apron reaching her ankles, five-year-old Alice had flour in her hair and was doing her best to stir the mixture for a rich fruit cake.

Grandad Ron was snapping away, taking pictures with his iPhone. Biffo the Basset Hound was below the chair, an opportunist waiting for gravity and good fortune to deliver bits of food he could Hoover up.

Lizzie was wondering if this was turning out to be a much worse idea than when she’d suggested it.

Ollie, looking hot and flustered, carried in his wriggling son Jack, on whom he had just put a new set of clothes following a chocolate biscuit-related incident.

“Wow, that was like trying to put an octopus into a string bag,” he said. “There were arms and legs everywhere.”

“Serves you right for not supervising him properly with the biscuit,” said Lizzie. “Anyway, it kept you both out of the way whilst us three got on with my latest blog for Lizzie Banks On It. We’re going to write about a cake recipe and why it’s important to teach children to cook from an early age. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were.”

Lessons with money
“Three, or even four,” Ron corrected her, wiping a blob of cake mixture from his glasses. “Weighing the ingredients has an element of maths teaching, and then there’s the money management thing as well, working out the cost of them.

“Mind you, that could turn out to be interesting. Look too closely and you might find that buying a cake from the shop turns out to be a cheaper option. Not to mention cleaner as well,” he added, as Alice dropped the spoon, which spread a little more cake mixture onto his trousers on its way down to Biffo, who pounced on it with the speed and agility of a terrier.

“I think it’s a good job we were in another room, young man,” Ollie said to his son. “We’ll help clean the cake up once it’s baked and we can eat it.”

Lizzie had been stung by Ron’s remark about the potential cheapness of a shop-bought cake. Bending to rescue the spoon from Biffo, she said sharply: “Life isn’t all about money, you know. What we’re doing here is an enrichment activity. Alice will understand that food doesn’t have to come from shops. In the fullness of time she’ll appreciate the value of the knowledge that’s in her family, and we have a duty to pass that on to her. And to Jack. Don’t do that, Alice…” The last remark was addressed to Alice, who was dipping her finger into the cake mixture.

“I was cleaning the bowl,” the youngster protested.

“But not until we’ve put it into the oven first,” said an exasperated Lizzie, sliding the bowl out of her reach.

Ron restores calm
“Tell you what,” said Ron, picking up his granddaughter and transferring flour and cake mixture to his pullover, “Let’s wipe your fingers and watch mummy put the cake into the tin and in the oven. She might let us add some nuts on the top.”

By the time he’d cleaned Alice up and put her apron to wash, Lizzie had the cake in its tin, and had a small dish of nuts to be added. “I was going to go for the neat ‘Dundee cake’ look, but if Alice is doing it, the finish will be a tad more rustic,” she said.

Nuts applied, and the cake in the oven, Alice ran off to see what her dad and Jack were doing. In the calm that followed, Lizzie turned to Ron. “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier,” she said.

“Don’t worry about it,” said her father-in-law. “I’ve been told off by people who could have won gold medals for telling people off. Seriously though, do you think you might be doing too much? This blogging business, looking after two children and the house, and The Hound of the Bassetvilles there?” He pointed at Biffo, who might have been disappointed at the loss of the cake-covered spoon, but, as they’d noticed many times before, being a Basset Hound meant he always looked disappointed.

“It’s not that, Ron,” she said. “It’s something else. I think I might be pregnant again…”