So, I found out recently about a competition RangeCookers are promoting and thought I’d give it a go. The prize is a new oven worth, like, £1000, and, considering I’ve recently managed to burn over cleaner into a gross mess on the bottom of the oven, rendering me kind of desperate for a new one, I felt I’d give it a go.
How Hard Can It Be?
The competition is to make cupcakes, and how hard can that be, right? (Check it out here if you want to enter yourself)
Answer: when you’re flying solo and can take your time carefully reading instructions, even I could make a cupcake. When your ingredient list looks a little more like this…
1 x Absent Husband (found playing online bingo at Gamevillage.com for the hundreth time)
1 x 2 Year Old Boy
2 x Young Girls from the Chernobyl disaster fallout area
1 x Laptop with Youtube showing how to make cupcakes
0 x Working Internet connection
Things get that little bit harder!
My Belarusian Helpers
I feel I need to explain about the girls. They are from a tiny village in Belarus that is still suffering the after-effects of the nuclear fall-out from the explosion and subsequent radiation leak at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986.
The radiations is still present in the air they breathe back home, and in their water supply and the ground they grow food in, which means the villagers are generally very ill, and, because there is no tourism in the area, and they can’t produce anything that people want to buy, they are very poor.
There are charities in the UK and elsewhere (www.ccll.org.uk/ho/) that bring children across for a month to provide them with better nutrition that apparently helps boost their immune systems and can add years on to their lives. It’s definitely worth Googling.
These were my two (they went back a week ago):
On to the cupcakes!
I will explain.
My kitchen is small, and the girls come in and say, “Help you?” in their oh-so-cute broken English, and I end up focusing on finding enough simple, none-risk tasks for them to carry out that I forget things. Like, remembering to take the cupcakes out of the oven.
This was just a starter though, really it was just so I could check that the oven works at the correct temperature.
No to be deterred, we went on to batch number 2…
Attempt Number 2
This went better. I found that the girls were actually pretty competent in the kitchen, but I did recall the chairwoman of the Chernobyl charity that brought them over saying they often help out at home, and giving the children tasks around the house helps them to feel more at home within their host family. Having dismally failing to be strict enough with them to ensure they tidied their room regularly, I thought the least I could do now was relinquish some of my baking responsibility and adopt instead the role of supervisor.
The girls did a great job. We went for really girly cakes, with toppings straight from Tesco that I would gladly pay 50p for at a School Fete.
The only problem this time was that poor Katya – bless her – got so excited to show my husband what we’d created, she didn’t see tea towel dropped on the floor and slipped. And so was the end of our second batch. Now I wouldn’t tell the girls this, but I didn’t think that these would win any medals, and probably not a cooker either.
The Belarusian (Welsh) Dragon!
Ignoring the fact that is seemed some Higher Power, or The Universe Itself, was against us successfully making one single batch of cupcakes, we soldiered on the following day.
I’d replenished our dwindled supply of ingredients that morning, and the three of us were resolute in our aims once again. This time, however, we decided to heighten our ambitions, throw out the girly ideas and aspire towards making cupcakes that symbolised the time they’d spent in the UK.
And so, with no tea towels conspiring against us, and a steady eye on the clock, we three heroic bakers created these:
I will take credit for the little Welsh dragon butterflies that grace the top of each cupcake – they were a real find, as I saw the packet sat in the window of one of those little souvenir shops that litter Wales, and so my patriotic idea was born!
To Share, or Not to Share?
The girls were so proud of the cakes I thought it would be a shame to keep them for just our family, so – begrudgingly, as I’m no saint – I suggested we save them and share them at the final concert the children were to perform the following evening at the local community centre.
Because I’m soft (or perhaps because I am powerless before cupcakes – or chocolate, wine, biscuits, cakes and sweets, incidentally) we tried one each that evening. I used Google Translate to tell the girls it was necessary to taste-test them to make sure they weren’t poisoned, much to their amusement.
I know this isn’t cupcake related, but I think this is such a gorgeous picture of the girls at the concert they performed at the day after they’d made the cakes, and I simply couldn’t resist sharing it!
And so, to conclude, quite simply, the Welsh-themed cupcakes were a staggering SUCCESS! Even more importantly to me, so was the girls’ 4 week stay with me and my family, and I wish them all the love and luck I can for their futures.