Beware The Helpful Toddler

I am trying to be more aware of the needless waste we bring in to the house. And one of the worst offenders is certainly my food shopping. I maintain my defence that it is certainly much easier in big cities where there are the happy marriage of bulk stores and alternative small vendors. Sadly, there does not seem to be enough demand in my little corner to warrant these. So we try and work our way through the produce on offer in the mainstream grocery stores. Buy package free where I can, recyclable packaging where I can’t and bulk buy if these fail. But I do have to contend with a certain amount of plastic; of that there is no doubt.

So in areas where I have leeway, I try and make smart decisions. In the produce section, I pick and choose and challenge myself to cook with what is not wrapped in plastic. It has certainly made for interesting dinners. And in the fruit section too. But then there is the whole balancing act of do you buy organic, plastic-free or local?!?! It’s a minefield if you care too much.

I threw all these concerns out the window and splashed out one day and bought a mango. I love, love, love mango and don’t buy them too often. By the time they get to Ireland, they are force-ripe and usually either rock hard and green or over ripe and putrid. I got lucky and found one on the verge of perfection. In to the basket it went. Then it got forgotten about as we nursed a sick, clingy toddler who had a cold which somehow turned in to an infection that travelled from her nose, through her tear duct and in to her eye. Not a recipe for a happy bunny. By the time I remembered the mango it looked wrinkle and black. I was about to chuck it and kick myself about the waste, when I thought I would give it one last inspection and cut it open. It smelled amazing and looked almost perfect, if a little mushy. How to make this last?

A cake naturally. But I needed one that required no yoghurt or milk as we were all out and I wasn’t hitting the shops anytime soon. I trawled the internet looking for such a recipe and eventually came across this one from Levi Roots. With a few minor adjustments so that I could use up leftovers, we produced a mango and hazelnut cake that has gone down a treat with all concerned. The Little Paddler insisted on helping and sampling everything. She had to check the flour – yucky apparently. The sugar – needed to be checked a lot. I had to weigh out extra eventually. The hazelnuts – fantastic, especially making baby hazelnuts by smashing them with a rolling pin. Health and Safety consultants everywhere, please ignore that last statement. And she had to stir everything – with a spatula or her hands – she wasn’t fussy once the job was done. Nor was she fussy about where she put said hands afterwards.

So, should you and an enthusiastic helper want to try and make it, here’s our slightly butchered recipe.


Mango and Nut Tea Loaf

all you need - minus the toddler's hand (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
all you need – minus the toddler’s hand
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

1 lb melted butter (cooled slightly)
6 oz caster sugar
4 small eggs (2 large ones if you have them)
juice of half lemon
1 lb plain flour
1 tsp bread soda
1 mango peeled, desseded and roughly chopped
4 oz hazelnuts, chopped (or vigorously bashed about by a toddler)

Preheat oven to 190C and grease 2 small loaf tins. (we used a single 1 lb silicone loaf tin and it was too much for the container really.

end product lost all shape and dignity (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
end product lost all shape and dignity
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Whisk together butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.
Then add dry ingredients until well mixed. It starts to come together like a fluid choux pastry and the Little Paddler was fascinated (mostly with trying to get it on her spoon to be fair). I was slightly concerned about the amount of grease I could still see from the butter but it came good in the cooking.

I do it myself mammy - the cry of the helpful toddler (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
I do it myself mammy – the cry of the helpful toddler
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Fold in fruit and nuts.

slightly concerned about the butter  (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
slightly concerned about the butter
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Bake for approximately 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. If you go with a 1 lb loaf tin, I found it needed an additional half an hour.

what's not to love? (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
what’s not to love?
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

2 thoughts on “Beware The Helpful Toddler

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