Bird's Custard Powder

I love custard.  It is probably in my top ten list of foods that make me think of home. However, I am not thinking of egg custard here.  Oh no.  My one true love in the custard stakes is Bird’s Custard Powder custard.  The one where you have to add your own sugar and milk so you can make it as thin or as thick as you like.

That said, it’s not just the taste of the custard that I love.  It’s the package design, that glorious egg yellow, blue and red – primary colours used frequently in the 1930’s. It’s the fact that Alfred Bird created it for his wife because she was allergic to eggs.  It’s the association of cold nights and warm puddings, and in our house, prunes.

We used to play a game whose elements comprised having a bowl of custard and ‘prunes from the tin’ divided between us all.  The idea was to eat the prunes and count how many stones you had thusly:- tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, richman, poorman, beggarman, thief.  Depending how many stones you had left in your dish would dictate the profession of who you would eventually marry.

It all seemed a very normal part of childhood.  I never once questioned whether the stones were ‘rigged’, the ethics of the game, or indeed why on earth it would be so exciting to play.  But it was for almost all of us around the table.  My grandfather, who lived with us at the time, was probably the one who instigated the game, but I recall usually completely discounting him as not really eligible to play, despite him having various ladies regularly call on the telephone.

Sometimes it was Olive, other times, Alice.  Impressively though, if he didn’t want to speak to them he would declare he could no longer hear what they were saying and place the handset onto the receiver without giving whoever it was on the other end, a chance to speak up.  A personality trait I adored.  It still makes me smile to this day.

So you see custard is not just about the taste, the texture, the accompanying crumble, pie, tart or trifle elements.  Custard, for me, is a warm cosy feeling of togetherness.

Which is exactly what you need on a cold autumn day.


Minion Made

photo (91)

Today it is our beautiful Freya’s 18th birthday and so, alongside a gift, the wee boy and I decided to make her some cake.

We have gone through many ideas for cake, starting from the (Danish?) Princess Cake we saw on the Great British Bake Off, to fairy cakes, muffins, a bar of chocolate, and many, many more.

You will never guess what the wee boy has plumped for…  A box of cake mix from the supermarket of Despicable Me (yes, the film) Minion Made cupcakes.  The one where you just add 1 egg and water.

I am, unsurprisingly, slightly crestfallen that he has opted for this mode of baking as I secretly believe he has been swayed by the packaging (haven’t we all at some point?).  However, it is his choice, and she is his Freya, so I keep my mouth shut and go along with it.

Firstly, we have to open the package marked ‘cake mix’ and add 1 medium sized egg, 60ml water, and whisk until smooth and creamy.  We duly do this, and end up with a very runny mixture, without lumps.

We are supposed to carefully share the cupcake mixture between the 6 (yes, only 6) cupcake cases.  There is hardly anything in them, and it has not been shared equally, but in they go, and we wait.

Twenty minutes later, we open the oven and discover that they have sort of risen and do spring back, with a little too much vigour if I’m honest, so we take them out and pop them onto a baking tray.  At which point they shrink back into their cases as though related to violets.

It is now that we open package number 2.  Icing mix.

We are greeted by a white floury substance which turns the most magnificent yellow when water is added.  Actually, I quite like the transformation as it reminds me of Birds Custard Powder.

Anyway, the icing is then added to the bun and a rice paper set of eyes and general swizzles are placed on top.


They will not be the most edible cupcakes in the world, and the icing has been ‘quality controlled’ when already put on the cake, but they have been made with love, coupled with an absolute belief by a 4 year old, that Freya will think they’re fab.

What more can you ask for?