Chocolate beetroot cake

A little while back I saw a facebook status about a beetroot cake and I was instantly intrigued… it’s been on the back of my mind for a while, and I finally got around to trying one. I looked for a few recipes online and decided on this one by Nigel Slater on the BBC website.

It was the kind of cake that took quite a few dishes, but it was worth the effort. I made it for our playgroup this week.

I mean seriously, combining dark chocolate and beetroot, two of my favourite things?????? So cool. The beetroot makes it quite earthy, and so moist.




This recipe is taken directly from the the BBC website:


  • 200g/7oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g/9oz cooked and peeled beetroot (I boiled 2 – I have no idea how much they weighed)
  • 200g/7oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 4 tbsp hot espresso
  • 135g/5oz plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 5 free-range eggs, separated
  • 190g/6½oz golden caster sugar (I substituted this with brown sugar)
  • crème fraîche or double cream, to serve

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm/8in cake tin with a little butter and line the bottom of the tin with a disc of baking parchment.
  2. Blend the beetroot in a food processor to a rough purée.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of hot water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water), then pour in the hot coffee.
  4. Stir in the butter in small pieces and leave to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together in a bowl and set aside.
  6. Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks in a bowl until frothy. Stir the eggs into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the beetroot.
  7. Whisk the egg whites until still peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold in the sugar.
  8. Fold the sugar and egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and cocoa mixture.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in the tin, then serve with crème fraîche or double cream.

Playgroup sewing

Following Isabelle’s awesome tag toy sewing project for our playgroup, I thought I’d find some other simple tutorials that we can complete despite a short period of time, one sewing machine among many Mums and, of course, a lot of attention-grabbing children!

I had already made Adella this polka dot headband from this tutorial. And then I helped the other ladies make some for their gorgeous little ones. We also made baby ties from this tutorial. But I don’t have any photos of them on our models… yet.

Here is our fashion parade:






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(Thanks to Kate for some of the photos! And thanks little ones for being such cute models!)

Baby-led Weaning Journey – 9-10ish months

An update on our BLW journey… the little one continues to eat like a horse. She likes to wow people by showing them how many bananas and strawberries she can eat.

New foods we have tried and loved in the last two months:

  • blueberries (I cut them in half – not sure whether that was necessary or not, I just followed my instinct)
  • shepherd’s pie
  • chickpea curry with rice (this disappeared SUPER fast)
  • french toast (made with homemade bread, lovely eggs and homemade organic soy milk)
  • lasagne
  • yoghurt


French toast



Things Mummy has learnt in the last two months:

  • Gerber baby snacks are FULL of sugar. Happy Baby ones aren’t. Go Happy Baby!
  • Homemade bread crusts can be super crunchy on little gums. Ouch.
  • Buying an extra washable cover for the high chair was super smart.
  • IKEA bibs (the smock kind) rock my world.

The most amazing thing that happened in our BLW world was that the first time I gave Adella yoghurt I spoon fed her (first time for spoon feeding) and the second time, she fed herself. She picked up the idea of dipping a spoon into the yoghurt and putting it into her mouth second time around! So incredible to watch.

She is also so careful with new foods – it’s really cute to watch. Anything new will be brought slowly up to her lips and she’ll press it against her lips and decide whether or not it has potential. And it pretty much always gets eaten, it just sometimes takes a little time and consideration…

Click here to read about our 6-9 month BLW journey.

Womad pants

How else to describe them? If I was taking her to Womad, these would be the pants she would wear! And she even has her maraca  on standby.

I followed this tutorial, though I wasn’t particularly precise… I just kept testing them along the way. The tie to do them up is quite long, so if I feel energised, I’ll unpick that part and shorten them a bit. But for now, I’ll make do with a double bow.

The elastic ankles are great for someone who is just learning to crawl.




For those of you living in Beijing, the fabric was bought at the Dongsi fabric market. Details here and here. There’s a lady upstairs, in the corner, who has all sorts of Yunnan-style fabrics.

Summery tiered ruffled dress

It finally got warm in Beijing yesterday. We went out last night and it was shirt and cardigan weather… bliss!! It’s been a long winter. And to celebrate, I finished this little dress today. The pattern and tutorial was from here, and it is a perfect size for my little tubby ten-month-old. I did adjust the width of the panels to match her height. I like how it’s quite long, and it’s a lovely wide circle of fabric at the bottom. It swirls out beautifully when she sits down.

I’d been dying to try out combining different fabric prints, as I’ve always been very conservative in fabric choice. I’m not saying that this is outrageous, but it’s the most mixing I’ve done!! And I’m pretty happy with the result.






For those of you living in Beijing, the fabric was bought at the Dongsi fabric market. Details here and here.

My Women’s Day Gift

Last month, my school generously gave all the female teachers a gift – a photo shoot. To celebrate the empowerment of our gender, they slathered us in make-up, so we no longer looked like ourselves and then put on a mix of Chinese medieval and outrageously western costumes. Awesome.

This was an optional gift, but I couldn’t resist. I’ve always wanted to do a Chinese photo shoot. It’s one of those things that just has to be done. Today at school we were able to choose the photos that we’d like to keep… after I finally convinced the photographer that I didn’t want to spend 1900 kuai on a photo album that was full of terrible photos and chinglish, I settled on the five silliest photos as a momento.

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I just could do a serious face for this one. The hat was so bloody heavy and it was being held by bobby pins to my hair. Not pleasant. I could only giggle. 

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Oh, yes. I am beautiful. Check out my hair net thing. And the slit on my dress!!! WOWSER! So high!! 

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Why didn’t I get married in this?? Biggest dress I’ve ever worn.

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The part that took the longest about this pose was my fingers. Look at that craftsmanship. And bear in mind that the directions were in all in Chinese.

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This one is my favourite. It’s totally a wedding ring commercial. At the time, I was so scared about what they were doing to my hair. And rightly so. Terrible.

Polka dots and pretty pinafores!

I’ve been really getting my ‘sew’ on in the last couple of weeks.

I made another skirt (this time for my own daughter!) from this awesome skirt pattern. If you’re interested, you can see the others that I made here.

With the leftover fabric, I thought it would be so nice to have a little headband. I mostly followed this tutorial. We’re going to make these in playgroup soon!




Ok, I know that’s quite a few pictures… but just call me a proud mummy.

Another fantastic tutorial I found was for this pinafore. I love it. It’s so easy to throw over leggings and a plain onesie to brighten up this little girl! I took Adella back to the fabric market the other day, wearing the blue pinafore, and showed the lady from whom I’d bought the material. She loved it!


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For those of you living in Beijing, the blue fabric, as well as both linings was bought at the Dongsi fabric market. Details here and here. I much prefer this one over Muxiyuan – to save both time and stress. It is, of course, much smaller, but they have a great range of things.

The owl fabric was bought from this taobao shop. They also have a great range of oilcloth (my next project).

Thankyou again to all the clever people out there who provide me with cool projects, patterns and tutorials from the interweb!!