Cupcake caterpillar and super-gooey brownies: David Atherton's easy bake recipes for children

David Atherton
·4 min read

Cakey caterpillar

This is my favourite birthday cake – I’ve had it for five different birthdays so far! I think the best way to decorate it is to put sweets on to cocktail sticks and stand two sweetie sticks up on each cake to make a very furry caterpillar. If you want to make the caterpillar even longer, just double the ingredients!

Prep 25 min
Cook 20 min
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 medium egg
60ml vegetable oil
45g caster sugar
50g spinach leaves
½ a ripe banana
½ tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
75g courgette,
finely grated
65g icing sugar
15ml water

Sweets, to decorate

Heat oven to 190C (180C fan)/gas 6. Prepare a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a blender, blend the eggs, oil, sugar, spinach, banana and vanilla until smooth and green.

Mix the flour with the baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in the courgette.

Add the blended ingredients and mix until combined. Divide into paper cases (no more than two-thirds full).

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden, then leave to cool on a rack.

Put the icing sugar in a clean bowl, add the water and mix. Once the cakes have cooled, top with the icing.

Arrange in a long, wriggly line and decorate with sweets.

Super-sweet brownies

If you like chocolate these brownies are for you. They are super-gooey and rich and soft, and the sweet potato adds an extra layer of texture and sweetness. You can use dark or milk chocolate for this recipe and can also add lots of extras such as dried fruit, chocolate chunks or chopped nuts.

Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min
Makes 9

1 large sweet potato
90g butter
120g chocolate
120g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

A pinch table salt

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/gas 7. Bake the sweet potato for 45 minutes, then allow to cool. (You can do this ahead of time.)

Scoop out the sweet potato flesh and mash in a bowl until smooth. (You can use a fork or stick blender to do this.)

Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Turn the oven down to 170C (160C fan)/gas 4.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the saucepan, stirring continuously until smooth.

Pour the chocolate mix over the sweet potato. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix together. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and mix until smooth.

Pour into the tin and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from the tin and cool on a rack, then cut into nine squares.

Valentine upside-down cake

Let your friends and family know that you love them by giving them a big slice of Valentine upside-down cake – it’s as good as a hug! This cake is fun to make because you don’t know what it will look like until you turn it over after baking to reveal the pattern on top. You can use different fruits and make whatever design you like – feel free to experiment.

Prep 20 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 8-10

1 x 220g tin sliced peaches
A handful frozen raspberries
100g soft butter
150g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp runny honey,
plus extra to top
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
150g plain live yoghurt
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 190C (180C fan)/gas 6. Push baking paper into a 20cm loaf tin, then rub with butter.

Arrange the peach slices and raspberries on the baking paper in a heart design.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla until smooth.

Beat in the egg and yoghurt. Gently mix in the plain flour and baking powder until smooth.

Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the fruit in the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer through the middle comes out clean.

Once baked, wait for 10 minutes and then turn the cake over with a plate. Now you can drizzle it all over with honey.

Recipes from My First Cook Book © 2020 David Atherton, illustrated by Rachel Stubbs (Walker Books). To order a copy for £13.04, go to guardianbookshop.com