Sunday, 15 December 2013

alistair's birthday party

What a manic magic day we've had! I am pleased to announce that we all survived a house full of 5 year olds unscathed. There was one moment of worry when Charlie, Alistair's friend came running downstairs to say that Ella (another friend) had been attacked by a big black cat and that the cat had scratched her eye out and there was lots of blood. There was no blood. Ella's eye was still in the anatomically correct place. There was no scratch either. In fact, we don't have a big black cat (we do have a small tortoise shell one that was in hiding all day).

We had a great time, at least I did. I secretly love lots of kids in the house, although it would be foolish to admit this on the playground because the stream of kids would be endless. Actually, it sometimes is....

There was a lot to prepare yesterday and this morning. It is a family tradition to make number biscuits for each Birthday. Single figures only that is. I don't faff too much with the icing, it is just slapped on quickly. Kids hoover the biscuits down too fast to pay attention to the icing. I often use multiple colours but didn't have enough icing sugar today.

Annie and I made chocolate marshmallows, another firm favourite.

I prepared a Lebkuchen dough yesterday, which ideally is left to rest for a few days before using it. Lebkuchen is translated as gingerbread but it is not very gingery actually. In fact, the spice mix I use does not contain any ginger at all... Lebkuchen is traditionally baked in Switzerland around Christmas time. This is what is in the spice mix: cinnamon, star anise, aniseed, coriander seeds, cloves, nutmeg. I don't know the ratio of the spices but would probably use equal amounts of all the spices except the cinnamon, of which I would use about 4 times more. I buy the spice mix in Switzerland and keep it in the freezer all year round. Recipe at the end of the post!

By the way, the Lebkuchen house features in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale (the non sanitised original version at least). It is the house that lures the children to the witches abode.
We usually make a Lebkuchen house around Christmas time, or small edible tree ornaments. 

At the beginning of the party, the kids cut out lots of nice shapes: angels, teddy bears, stars, hearts, palm trees, donkeys, cats, cows. One child shaped a free style poo. As you do when you are five. Whilst cutting biscuits, we had competitions who could scream the loudest, whisper the quietest, tell the best joke. The best joke was from Charlie. I can't repeat it here I don't think but Richard and I thought it was hilarious... The kids didn't understand the joke (Charlie didn't either I don't think). It involved strawberries, cream and a doctor.

Sam was in charge of the entertainment. We played party games. Well, just one, pass the parcel. I like to play Iggy Pop for pass the parcel, it makes for a quick round. I also found a good Hokey Pokey song version on YouTube, which we did. I loved it but Sam, my oldest retired to his room in embarrassment. I don't sing in tune and my dancing is not great either. So I am told but I don't care.

The party food was wolfed down in a flash. We tend not to offer too much to avoid wastage. Some hula hoops, chocolate marshmallows and small pizza slices. There is not much point offering fruit and veg, this is Glasgow after all and healthy snacks are eaten in secret. If at all.

After the snacks, we decorated the cooled down Lebkuchen. This was my favourite bit. If you have ever decorated baking with kids you'll know what mess we made... here some examples, made with love and lots of sugar. The kids probably ate half their body weight worth of sugar decorations, too.

A donkey:

An angel:

A palm tree:

A star:

A mixed lot, including some of the mess:

At that point, the little ones were a bit frazzled and we just let them play for a bit. The last and most important part of Alistair's party was of course the cake. Annie made it all by herself, from scratch and almost without any help. She is ten. She had decided to put chocolate buttercream icing in between cake and royal icing, which was a bit tricky but she managed somehow. The cake is a Wii remote control if you haven't recognised it. Alistair's wish I should say. If he was allowed to, he would play the Wii nonstop. He wouldn't eat, sleep or go to the toilet. The Wii turns him into a zombie actually. There are strict limits in the house for this reason. None of the other three have this addictive obsession with the Wii thankfully.

And finally, here is the Birthday boy, Alistair.

I think he had a great time. He was a bit puzzled about the fuss everybody was making. He was a tired little man and went to sleep without further ado.

And here I am, sitting down with a big G&T, enjoying the flames of our trusted gas fire, writing and watching Annie and Richard work on a big puzzle. Bliss. I am happy. Time to start thinking about Christmas now! I hope you are having a lovely evening, too! Cx

Here the Lebkuchen recipe:

Mix 200 g of plain flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, 3 tsp spice mix, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 50 ml of milk and 100 of runny honey. Work it deftly to a soft dough and keep it wrapped in the fridge over night.
Roll the dough out (app 1 cm thick) and cut using large cutters or a knife. The dough is best cut into large fat pieces as it dries out quickly when baked. Bake for 10-15 min at 200 degrees centigrade. It should also be glazed with gum Arabic to give it a nice sheen but a cold milk glaze will give the Lebkuchen some sheen, too.

I made 5 times the amount for a party with 10 children, each child took between 2 and 5 Lebkuchen home. Twice the amount probably gives a good sized house.


  1. Happy birthday Alistair. Love the chocolate marshmallow treats, might have to try those for my daughters party in February!

  2. Sounds like a fantastic party, happy birthday to your little man. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm happy to have found yours as well.

  3. What fun! Do miss having little kids around as my girl now a teen and not so interested in making the gingerbread house we used to do. Just found you - great blog.

  4. Hello! I'm just popping by from Elaina at A little bit country, at her suggestion. It looks as though you had a great birthday party, if a little hectic. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your little chap!! I will be back to read some more of your lovely blog. Happy Christmas. xx

  5. Hi, looks like I'm on my first visit too... glad the party went well. I have all this to look forward to. And having once been a teacher, I can remember baking with five-year-olds. The one enduring memory: little boys smuggling grubby, rolled-up bits of raw pastry out into the playground to eat. Lovely.