Bulldozer cake

Bulldozer construction cake

Last week was my littlest apprentice chef’s third birthday. Two of his favourite things in the world are cake and trucks, so his birthday presented the perfect opportunity to roll these things into one!

After Googling all sorts of truck and construction related cakes, I finally decided on a bulldozer cake with a laminated photo of him in the ‘driver’s seat’.

Here’s how to do it…

1. Baking and shaping the cake

Bake two large rectangular cakes. Cut out two long thin rectangles for the main body of the bulldozer cake. Then cut out two (or three, depending on the thickness of your cake) squares for the cabin. Finally, cut out two long triangles for the tracks. Make sure you cut the triangles to the right thickness for whatever you’re using to make the tracks – we used TeeVee Snacks Malt Sticks. If you’re making the cake in advance (which I highly recommend!), wrap it in cling wrap and put it in the freezer. (Just make sure you take it out to thaw before you ice it. I took this one out in the morning and iced it in the evening.)

shapes for bulldozer cake

2. The photo

If you’re planning on putting a photo on the front, it’s a good idea to do this in advance. To set the photo up, get your little dozer driver to pose in some sort of a ‘car’ with a steering wheel. Once you’ve got a photo you’re happy with, black out the background using the paintbrush tool in Photoshop (or another photo editing program). Then you need to cut it to the right size and laminate it. To get the right size and shape, I used a paper template cut to a size that worked for my cabin.

3.Making the fondant details

About a week ahead of the party, I made up the fondant pieces for the cake. I did this early because I wanted them to dry fairly hard so they’d be easier to work with. I also used a hardening agent called tylose powder to make these pieces dry harder.

To make the bucket, I used one of Mr.3’s trucks as a mould and left it overnight. To make sure the fondant didn’t get stuck in the toy, I stuck a strip of baking paper inside the bucket. This also helped to leverage the fondant bucket out when it was dry.

Using the yellow fondant, I also rolled two poles to use as ‘forks’ for the bucket. A little tip here – my first attempt turned out lumpy because I rolled them with my fingers. For the ones pictured below, I used an unopened block of ready-to-roll fondant to get a smoother surface.

Using black ready-to-roll fondant (bought from the supermarket), I created ‘windows’ for the sides and back, and a ‘grate’ for the front. To get the texture for the grate, I made indentations with a bamboo skewer. I also used the black fondant and a ‘3’ mould to create numbers for the sides and back.

Fondant details for bulldozer cake

4. Preparing the board

This part is obviously completely optional, but I used a black and yellow striped ribbon that I made myself by wrapping a yellow ribbon over a black one and sticking it to a chopping board with double-sided tape (I don’t necessarily recommend this – it was really fiddly and a bit of a pain!). I then rolled black fondant over the board so the edges were a bit ‘rugged’.

Preparing the board for bulldozer cake

5. Non-fondant details

Other than the pieces described above, I used the following:

  • brownies for ‘rocks’ (baked ahead, broken up and frozen, then thawed the day before)
  • TeeVee Snack malt sticks for the ‘tracks’
  • witches hat candles that I bought online from The Party Cupboard
  • 3 x licorice discs for the ‘wheels’ on each side (six in total) (I found these at the Sugar Station chain of lolly shops), and strips that I cut up from licorice straps to join the wheels together
  • two upturned raspberry lollies for lights
  • one thick piece of licorice for the smoke funnel
  • yellow buttercream for the icing (I used this recipe, doubled it and added a heap of yellow gel colouring until I got the desired brightness. Ice the pieces before you place them on your board to keep the board free from excess icing).

Adding detail to bulldozer cake

Happy constructing!

Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

Kindness Project

I’m a huge fan of Christmas. And I love the idea of an advent calendar to build the excitement leading up to the Big Day. What I’m not such a fan of, though, is celebrating that lead-up with a chocolate every day.

So this year Mr. 4.5 and I have decided we’re going to celebrate the lead-up to Christmas with an Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. From the 1st to the 24th of December, we’re going to mark each day with one small (or not-so-small) act of kindness. It’s going to be our way of saying ‘thanks’ for what we have, and recognising that Christmas is not just about receiving – it’s about the joy of giving as well. We’re going to call it The Kindness Project.

We’ve bought some little Christmas cards, numbered them with little stickers and stuck them on a piece of green cardboard. Each card will have the act of kindness for that particular day written on it, and each one will be sealed with a little gold dot sticker. Every day, we’ll open a new one and try to do whatever is written inside it.

So here’s what we’ve come up with so far. It’s not set in stone yet, so I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any other ideas. Some are about food, some aren’t…

  1. Donate a new toy to a charity Christmas Appeal
  2. Donate some food to a charity
  3. Make some Christmas truffles and give them out as gifts to homeless people around the city (and give some money to any buskers we see along the way)
  4. Offer to walk our neighbours’ dogs
  5. Create a book called ‘What I Love About You’ for someone special
  6. Pick some flowers for the kinder teacher
  7. Help Mr. 2 make breakfast for himself
  8. Pot one of our tomato plants from our veggie garden and give it away
  9. Make someone laugh with a Jib Jab card
  10. Surprise someone with cookie mix in a jar
  11. Hold the door open for someone
  12. Draw a picture for someone’s fridge
  13. Write nice messages on the footpath with chalk
  14. Donate a little bit of savings money to a charity
  15. Record a video of Mr. 4.5 dancing (he loves a dance) and send it to someone to brighten up their day
  16. Make some food for Mummy and Daddy to take into work to share with their workmates
  17. Write a thank you note (or maybe even put a Turkey Money Hug in someone’s mail box!)
  18. Make a bookmark for someone who likes to read
  19. Make some food gifts to take into kinder
  20. Make a Christmas decoration for someone
  21. Write a letter and mail it to someone
  22. Make a freezer meal for someone
  23. Water a neighbour’s garden for them
  24. Give a stranger a lucky charm

We might even have a go at making some fortune cookies and putting some uplifting messages in them too! We may not manage to tick off every single one every day, but we’ll do our best to make sure we’ve at least done most of them by the time Santa points his sleigh in our direction. If we find any great recipes along the way, we’ll be sure to share them with you!

Merry Christmas – may the joy of giving be with you too!
Tami & Crackers (Mr. 4.5)

No-act-of-kindness no-matter-how

Around the World in 18 Breakfasts

Earlier this year, my food-loving 4 year-old and I embarked on a virtual culinary tour of the world. Our mission: to get Around the World in 18 Breakfasts.

The idea was that we’d sample traditional morning meals from every corner of the globe and learn a little about the Big Wide World along the way. We bought a map of the world and some toothpick flags. Each week we’d pick a dish, find the relevant flag and put a star sticker on our map.

Eighteen breakfasts, 18 flags and 18 stickers later, our mission is complete. We made a lot of yummy food and a bucketload of mess. We got flour on the walls and egg on the floor. We made the odd dud dish and had to try again. But we had a whole lotta fun in the process.

There was no destination. It was about the journey.

Here is our itinerary, brought to you in pictures (click on the links for the recipes)…

Week 1: Japan – Tamagoyaki


Rolled-up egg – slightly salty, slightly sweet. Who knew omelettes could taste this good?

Week 2: Brazil – Açaí bowl

Acai bowl - fun food for kids

Fruit smoothie in a bowl. Healthy, easy and yummy – the Fun Food trifecta!

Week 3: USA – Warm custard spoon bread

Warm spoon bread - USA - branded

A deep south delicacy – a little bit time-consuming but worth the wait.

Week 4: Mexico – Huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros - Fun Food For Kids

A must-try for anyone who likes their Mexican food.

Week 5: Lebanon – Manakish with labneh

Lebanese breakfasts - manakish zaatar and labneh

Labneh, a yoghurt-based cheese, perfectly complements this tasty flatbread.

Week 6: Indonesia – Nasi goreng

Nasi goreng - breakfast around the world - Indonesia

A good way to use up leftover rice (and get some veggies into the kids’ breakfast)!

Week 7: Sri Lanka – Coconut roti

coconut roti - Sri Lanka

Fresh coconut turns this damper-like roti into something amazing.

Week 8: Switzerland – Bircher muesli

Swiss Bircher muesli recipe

Nutty, fruity goodness in a recipe originally created by a Swiss doctor – how could you go wrong?

Week 9: Ukraine – Syrniki

syrniki cheese fritters

Light, fluffy pillows of melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness topped with berries and sour cream.

Week 10: Spain – Potato and chorizo tortilla

potato and chorizo tortilla

This Spanish tapas favourite doubles as a hearty breakfast.

Week 11: China – Pork and prawn dumplings

Pork and prawn dumplings

These don’t feature in YUM-cha for nothing!

Week 12: Thailand – Coconut sticky rice with mango

mango coconut sticky rice

Coconut milk and mangoes – a match made in heaven.

Week 13: Canada – Pancakes with maple syrup and bacon

Canadian pancakes

An interesting flavour combo – and a huge hit with the kids!

Week 14: Peru – Quinoa porridge

Quinoa porridge

Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and honey make this a sweet, spicy variation on traditional porridge.

Week 15: Sweden – Swedish fruit loaf

Swedish fruit loaf

Fruity with a touch of sour, this healthy loaf uses no sugar or butter.

Week 16: Jamaica – Fried bananas

Fried bananas

Not exactly Heart Foundation tick-worthy, but definitely yummy!

Week 17: South Africa – Mealie bread

South African Mealie bread

Real chunks of corn give this bread lots of texture and taste.

Week 18: Finland – Korvapuusti (cinnamon rolls)

korvapuusti - cinnamon rolls

A fitting finale – there were definitely no leftovers…

Come and join us on the journey!
Our Around the World in 18 Breakfasts adventure may be over but there’s plenty more to come. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest to be part of the fun!

Around the World in 18 Breakfasts: Finland


Week 18: Korvapuusti (Finnish cinnamon rolls)
Well, we did it – 18 breakfasts from all around the world! What a finale these irresistible cinnamon rolls were! (A little trivia side note – these things are called korvapuusti in Finnish, which literally translates as ‘slapped ears’…) I was a little intimidated before we started but they turned out to be really easy. And the nice thing is, there were no fancy ingredients, so I didn’t even have to do a special shop. We had everything we needed right here in our kitchen. Waiting for the dough to rise made the process a little bit time consuming but there is not a whole lot of hands-on preparation time – in any case, they were so delicious that they were well worth the wait! We’ll put our hands up for slapped ears any day! 🙂

Finland map with logo

What you will need:
(Makes about 10 rolls)

For the dough

  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 7g dry yeast
  • 60g white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 80g soft butter or margarine
  • 1 small egg
  • baking paper
  • large baking tray
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush

For the filling

  • 75g soft butter or margarine
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sprinkling of raw sugar

1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup lukewarm milk.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cardamom and flour.
3. Add butter to flour mixture in small knobs and work it through the mix.
4. Add lightly beaten egg to milk and yeast and slowly add to dry ingredients, mixing through with a wooden spoon.
5. Lightly knead the dough until it’s well mixed. The dough should be dry enough not to stick to your hands. If it’s too sticky, add flour until it reaches the right consistency.
6. Cover the dough with a piece of cling wrap and sit in a warm place for 30-60 mins (until dough doubles in size). In the meantime, mix together the ingredients for the cinnamon butter filling and preheat the oven to 180°C.

7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of baking paper and roll it out into a rectangle, roughly 5mm thick.
8. Spread a layer of cinnamon butter over the dough and roll it up into a log, starting from the long edge.
9. Cut the dough into small ‘wedges’ and place them a few centimetres apart on the baking paper-lined tray.
10. To get the right shape, make an indentation down the middle of each one by pressing down firmly with your finger.
11. Brush each roll with some egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.
12. Place the rolls in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy while still fresh!

Bonus tip: Leftover cinnamon butter is amazing on toast!

making korvapuusti 2
Join us on our journey!
This was the finale of our ‘Around the World in 18 Breakfasts’ journey but there’ll be plenty more foodie adventures to come. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest to be part of our adventures. 

Around the World in 18 Breakfasts: South Africa

South African Mealie bread

Week 17: Mealie bread (South African corn bread)
This dense, moist and and tasty take on corn bread can be served as a meal on its own or as a side dish. Unlike American-style corn bread, it has actual chunks of corn (you can blend them up really small or leave them more chunky, depending on your preference). Its slightly sweet flavour would go well with plain butter, honey or jam, or as a side dish to a savoury meal. As we made this on Father’s Day, we served it up as a part of a ‘big breakfast’ of fried mushrooms, bacon and baked beans (with one slice of the cornbread cut into a love heart shape!). We pretty much followed this recipe from Global Table Adventure, with the exception that we used tinned instead of frozen corn kernels.

Sth Africa banner

What you will need:

  • 1 x 420g tin of corn kernels
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar (this could be omitted for a more savoury loaf)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • loaf tin
  • blender

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin.
2. Blend the corn, starting with one cup and then adding the remainder so that some of the kernels remain whole.
3. Lightly whisk eggs, add butter and then add in the corn.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
5. Combine the corn mixture with the dry ingredients and mix through.
6. Place mixture in loaf tin and bake for 30-35 mins.
7. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool slightly.
8. Serve plain with butter, or as desired.

making mealie bread
Join us on our journey!
Next week will be the finale of our ‘Around the World in 18 Breakfasts’ journey but there’ll be plenty more foodie adventures to come. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest to be part of our adventures. Next stop: Finland!

Around the World in 18 Breakfasts: Jamaica

Fried bananas

Week 16: Fried bananas
This week’s creation – Jamaican fried bananas – wouldn’t exactly win the Heart Foundation’s tick of approval but it definitely got the thumbs up from Crackers and our little guest chefs. If you get the oil temperature just right, the banana goes all soft and oozy in the middle and the batter turns a lovely golden brown (it took us a few batches to find the balance). Mmmmm…

Jamaica ATW banner

What you will need:

  • 3 bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • water (if needed, to create a cake batter-like consistency)
  • oil for frying (you will need 2cm of oil in the frypan plus you may need to top it up after a few batches)
  • paper towel
  • icing sugar, to decorate

1. Cut up bananas into 1-2cm pieces.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add egg, while stirring. Mixture should be the consistency of cake batter – if it’s too thick, add water until it reaches the right consistency. Add banana and mix to coat.
3. Heat oil in frying pan. Test the temperature with a little bit of the batter – if it sizzles, it’s ready.
4. Using a spoon, lift out the pieces of battered banana and place them into the oil in batches. Drain excess oil off using paper towel and top with sifted icing sugar.

making fried bananas

Join us on our journey!
This is the 16th of our ‘Around the World’ breakfasts. Each week we’ll be making something from a different country as part of our ‘Around the World in 18 Breakfasts’ series. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest to be part of the journey. Next stop: South Africa!

Around the World in 18 Breakfasts: Sweden

Swedish fruit loaf

Week 15: Swedish fruit loaf
Sometimes our Around the World journey involves compromises. (I’m all for keeping things authentic but not quite to the point of travelling halfway round the world for the sake of a fruit loaf…) So, although we were missing a couple of key ingredients for this Swedish fruit loaf, I’m pleased to report that the compromise did not extend to the flavour (well, at least not that we were aware of!). The things we were missing were filmjölk (a dairy product made from soured milk, which we replaced with a combination of milk and natural yoghurt) and lingonberries (which we replaced with dried cranberries). The result was a very more-ish loaf with a slightly sweet, slightly sour flavour. There is no butter or sugar (the sweetness comes solely from the fruit) so it’s pretty healthy, and the best part is there’s no waiting for any yeast to rise so it’s relatively quick. If you like your fruit loaf on the sweet side, this stuff goes brilliantly with a smear of raspberry jam. You can find the recipe we based it on here. Below is our version, modified with locally available ingredients.

ATW banner Sweden

What you will need:

  • 40g rolled oats
  • 50g spelt flakes
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 400ml filmjölk (the original recipe suggested substituting with natural yogurt or buttermilk – we used yoghurt but found we also had to add about 130ml of milk to get a moist enough consistency)
  • 50g dried cranberries, soaked in water overnight (if you can get your hands on them, the original recipe called for 60g lingonberries, fresh or frozen)
  • 65g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1–2 tbsp pumpkin seeds for decoration
  • baking paper
  • 1.5-litre loaf tin
  • butter for greasing tin, and serving (optional)
  • raspberry jam, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease the loaf tin and line with baking paper.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients.
3. Add the yoghurt and milk and mix together. This should give you a dense batter (we could stand our wooden spoon up in it). Fold in the cranberries and nuts.
4. Pour the mix into the tin and top with pumpkin seeds.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a metal skewer comes out clean from the centre. Leave to cool on wire racks. Eat while still warm or toast when cold.

Making Swedish fruit loaf

Join us on our journey!
This is the 15th of our ‘Around the World’ breakfasts. Each week we’ll be making something from a different country as part of our ‘Around the World in 18 Breakfasts’ series. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest to be part of the journey. Next stop: Jamaica!