How Maui slowed the Sun

We have a range of books on the adventures of ‘Maui’ at Kindergarten. These books are extremely popular with the children, beautifully written and illustrated and the teachers find themselves reading them again and again! One of these books by NZ author Peter Gossage is called ‘How Maui slowed the Sun’ and yesterday I found myself re-reading the book several times throughout the day to different groups of children.

Today we decided to use the book as a provocation for some extended exploration in the form of a large collaborative piece of art.  Using the large illustration of Te Ra (the sun) from the book we began our work. To set a guide for the scale of the mural I outlined the half circle and eyes, but the remaining art was all down to the children.

 “Drawing beside a more experienced peer is helpful for the less experienced – children learn by ‘borrowing’ graphic solutions from each other. And the more experienced drawer gains support from the other’s attention” (Kolbe, 2005)
We began by using a limited range of coloured pastels and referred to the picture as a guide often. We all observed how effective the illustrator was in portraying Te Ra’s expression, as Ryan commented   “so scary” or Jivahn “he’s cross” by using a simple combination of just oranges and yellows.

Co-operation with others is encouraged and enhanced when working on murals.The children take each other’s ideas into account as they plan the mural, offering suggestions and encouragement to each other.

Once we had filled in the work, blending our colours together with  the pastels we added  lines, spirals, drew the teeth and the sun’s rays, then finally moved onto adding more depth to our already stunning mural with some dye – again keeping the colours to yellow and orange.

The mural really invited children to work together and support each other in their task. They discussed and shared their feelings and opinions on Maui, Te Ra and the illustrators art throughout the book.

And here it is – all finished. It is lovely to think this piece of work is a culmination of many children’s ideas, thoughts and perceptions on the character of Te Ra in the story.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, have a look at this video on You Tube, spoken in Te Reo with English subtitles.


A Birthday Cake for Horse Lovers...

Need a cake for a young horse riding fan? This could be the one for you!

It's a sponge cake with buttercream and jam which was then covered in Regal Ice Celebration. The horse and the board are covered in celebration which was coloured with Dark Brown and Chestnut pastes. The mane is Teddy Bear Brown and the reins are M&B Dark Brown.

To make the picket fence around the side I used a fab wood grain effect impression mat (below). Once you've rolled your paste out pop the mat on top and then roll over leaves a great wood grain effect, complete with knots!! You can use the wood grain for all sorts of things from garden sheds to pirate ships! Finally, I used the lower case Tappits set to add the writing. Result, a cute cake that is not too difficult to make.

our little pippi longstocking

as i'm laying in bed, recovering from surgery, this cute little lady walked in! she's been wanting a pippi wig for awhile now and her grammie made her one.

it turned out so good! thanks mom!

The T.V. Dilemma

It all started with Blue's Clues, a harmless childrens show with the most lovable character named Steve and his dog Blue. The show soon became a favorite of mine and Ameeras when she was about 2 years old. I had always been strongly against tv, but thought to myself, "Blues Clues is great, no harm in this show, besides this is the only show I will let my daughter watch." And so it went this way for quite some time, where everymorning Ameera would plop herself on the rocking chair to watch the regularly scheduled Blues Clues show while her father and I got ready for work. After some time Blues Clues seemed to no longer interest her, and so I would let her watch other programs on Nick Jr. that I felt were suitable for her until one day I realized that Ameera was spending significant amounts of time in front of the T.V. I would come home from work and she from school both of us tired and she would ask in her little voice, "Mama can I please watch tv?" "Ok" I would say. Why not? I mean she had just spent the whole day at school being active, a little tv wouldnt hurt her, plus I had to make dinner and finish some household chores. This would keep her busy and out of my way for a little bit to get things done. Finally, at 6pm I would call her down for dinner. "Ameera, come eat!" and her response, "Mama can eat dinner with my TV?.....I would sigh and walk up with her plate and feed her as she continued to watch her show. Well, this was actually better I would tell myself, becasue she is so focused on the TV that she would eat all of her dinner without a fight.

Ameera is a very picky eater and I always have to struggle with her to eat. After dinner, she would take her bath, I would read her two stories and then she would go to sleep. Everyday went just like this one. I often felt guilty, telling myself that I had to stop letting her watch so much tv and that I had to take the tv out of her room. Initially, her room was a guest room that had a tv mounted into the wall, once we converted the guest room into her room I never took the tv out. I would often call my husband complaining about how much tv ameera was watching.

It then became worse. She would cry in the morning to watch, and cry after school if I didnt let her watch. She would watch lots of cartoon in the morning while we were still asleep. She would watch at night if we were home not doing anything. It came to the point that often times I noticed the TV would be on in her room but she wasnt watching anymore, she would be playing with her toys. I realized that she became accustomed to having the sound of the tv on in her room. So wether she was watching or not, she wanted it on. Although she was only allowed to watch Nick. Jr., I did feel that she displayed some aggressive behavior and had some behavioral issues, but I didnt connect the two together, i just assumed that this was her personality.

Finally, after continuous complaining to my husband about how tv was ruining her life and how i wanted him to take it out he said, "Why dont you stop complaining and do something about it already! Just unplug it or take the cable box out!".............................Dead Silence.........................................................................

How come I had never thought of that? He was right, why didnt i do something about it? Ameera was at school and I slowly crept up to her room and stood in front of the tv. I took a deep breath and walked closer to it.....i suddenly realized that I was actually afraid to take it away from her! I had become dependant on it as much as she was! What would she do without tv? What would I do? I couldnt believe these feelings I was having, they scared me. It was then that I mustered up the courage and ripped the plugs out of the wall, tore out the cable box and hid it upstairs in my attic. OMG! I did it! I had killed the TV! And it felt so good.....for now. What would Ameera say when she got home? What should I tell her?

I picked her up from school a few hours later, of course the question came, "Mama can I watch tv?"...."Uh Oh....." "Um Ameera no you cant watch tv becasue its not working, its broken." And then the crying started. "But mama can we go to the store and buy a new one, I dont want that broken tv?" she sobbed. I calmly explained to her that we were not goin to buy a new one and that she would have to find something else to keep her busy. "But mama what can i do?" she would ask helplessly. "Well,"  I would say, "You can play with your blocks, puzzles, do arts and crafts, listen to your audio books, color, or play with play dough." After a few days she got the hang of it and would go into the beautiful play room I had made for her and busy herself with numerous activites. In the beginning she wanted me to play with her constantly, so I would show her how to build towns out of blocks, and listen to her audio books with her, make some arts and crafts, etc. And then eventually she stopped needing me. I would also put her brother in with her to play.

It has been 1 month since I took away the tv, and I cant believe how easy it was. Another major change I noticed was the change in her behavior. She became less aggressive, more calm, whined and cried less, ate her dinner at the table, asked to go outside more and in general became more pleasant. The mornings have become easier and less of a struggle as have the evenings when its time for bed. I started to ask myself wether her change in behavior resulted from having taken away the tv. So i did some research and find a million articles that discussed how tv leads to behavioral problems and child agression. Here is just one:

Its been amazing to see the things she chooses to do now over watching tv. And one thing I wanted to say is that I am a very proactive parent, and take my kids to the library all the time, check out books all the time, she listens to tons of audio books and does numerous activities at home as well as rides her bike, I take her to the park often, etc....but the tv was her main source of comfort, and she would always opt to watch before doing any of her other activities or she would opt to watch while doing other activites or just wanted it on to hear it. And as much as i felt i was limiting her tv time, it was never enough. I would get busy with my chores and time would pass unknowingly. This was a major problem. And I am happy to finally say that it is a problem no more!

One thing to note is that after I took away her tv, she became very interested in the computer. So she now has become very good at using the computer, and I let her use specific sites such as She is also allowed to play on sites that teach math skills and science skills that I have researched. And I have found numerous excellent sites that are interactive reading sites, so listen to audio books and islamic songs etc. But the good thing is that the computer has become an activity that she can opt to do for a short period of time and its a tool i use for her to learn from.

The message I want to send is that getting rid of the tv is not as scary as it seems. Try it out and you will be amazed at the transformation in your kids inshaallah.

What Makes Me Unique: My So-Called Cookie Cutter Life put out a call for parent bloggers to write a post about what makes them unique. Here's my post:

You know those old-school, romantic movies where the infectiously cute girl meets and falls in love with an equally cute guy, life tries to separate them but they stick together and eventually get married, buy an adorable house with a white picket fence, have kids and grow old together? That has always been my dream life and minus the white picket fence, I pretty much live that life.

I hear you say "OK, big deal. You live an ordinary, normal life. How exactly does that qualify as unique?" Let me tell you how.

I was born in Calgary but I grew up in the UK. I lived there for a short time with my parents and my three siblings. When I was eight my parents split. My Dad and my siblings moved back to Calgary while I stayed in the UK with my Mum. When I was eleven I was sent to an all-girls boarding school. At the time I was devastated, but now I'm grateful for that experience and the friendships I made with some fabulous girls.

When I was sixteen I was fed up with my boarding school life so during the Christmas break I managed to convince my Dad that I should move to Calgary. The following summer I packed up my things, said a tearful goodbye to my friends, my Mum and my cat and flew across the ocean. That September I started Grade Eleven in a huge, co-Ed High School (talk about culture shock!).

Miraculously, after several "Oh my God, what have I done" moments, I survived the transition and, like the plot of one of those fantastic movies, I met an amazing and cute boy who became my best friend and would later become my husband and my son's Dad.

Fast-forward seventeen years to the present day. I live in Calgary. I am married to my High School sweetheart. I live in a nice neighborhood in an equally nice house. I have a wonderful little guy who I stay at home with while his Dad goes out to work everyday. I cook, I clean, I grocery shop, I take my son swimming and to Gymboree, I plan creative projects and I make sure that we have quality family time together everyday.

My Fabulous Family!
But you are still scratching your head, thinking what exactly is unique about that, so let me answer your query. The normalcy of my life, given the family I come from (Mum operates a b and b in a Scottish castle, where she lives with her concert organist boyfriend, Dad spends most of his time traveling the world as a substitute doctor, brother lives in San Diego with his wife and two kids, sister lives in London after getting an MFA in art history and other sister owns and operates a make-up school), is a choice and is certainly not the default setting. My uniqueness comes in the form of my desire to give my son a normal, family-centric life. I want my son to have a sibling and I want us to eat dinner together every night, have family movie and game nights, go on family vacations every summer and visit with Grandma and Grandpa as often as we can. I want to give my son the life I craved and never had.

Oh, and my three favorite posts:
So What Do You Do?
Lest We Forget
Secret Spy Day

Uniquely and Creatively yours,
Maya :)


On Rachel's birthday I was struggling with my emotions.  I finally sat down and wrote.  That is my way of processing what I am feeling.  I always feel better after getting words down on paper (or a computer screen).  I decided that the piece I wrote was too melancholy to post on her birthday, so I saved it for today.  Be warned - you may need a hankie, because it is kind of sad...

Birthdays Are Bittersweet

   Today is my Rachel's 4th birthday.  My baby is 4 now.  She, of course, is convinced that she is BIG.  And, like all birthdays, the change from one year to the next is always a little bittersweet.  Last night Rachel and I celebrated her last night of being 3.  She put on her pajamas for the last time as a 3 year old.  She did her last 3 year old tooth brushing.  And I read one last story to my last 3 year old.  We snuggled in her bed and sang Happy-Almost-Birthday-to-You.  And then I went out to the living room and blinked back tears.
   When we were going through adoption training, one of our social workers explained that birthdays are often hard for adopted kids.  That made sense to me.  It would be difficult to know, on an emotional level, that the person who gave birth to you chose not to keep you.  That loss would seem especially huge on the anniversary of your birth.  What the social worker didn't explain is that birthdays can be hard on adoptive parents, too.
   Like many people, I grew uphearing my mother tell my own birth story every year on my birthday.  I listened to her tell how excited she and my dad were to be having their first baby.  How as soon as she saw me she know that I was "exactly what she had always wanted."  Year after year those stories piled up layer upon layer, filling me with the knowledge that I had been loved and wanted from before my very first breath.
   Last night, snuggling with Rachel, I wanted so much to be able to tell her sweet little stories like those.  But I couldn't.  I don't know the name of the woman who bore her.  Or where she lived.  Or if she labored all alone.  Or even if today was really the fourth anniversary of it all or just somewhat close.  I don't know why she chose not to raise her newborn, whether it was because of gender or disability or some other reason entirely.  And, truly, I feel nothing but gratitude toward her for the decisions she made.  But I know, and someday Rachel will know, that the birth of this tiny girl was not "exactly what she had always wanted."  And that leaves a sad spot in my heart.  One that is tender to the touch.
   I think birthdays remind me of what adoption really is - a tangled web of joy and grief, sorrow and blessing.  And in our house, the birthday cake batter may always be salted with tears.
   So today we will celebrate Rachel and all of the joy and laughter she has brought to us.  There will be presents and a pink birthday cake and as many pictures as she will tolerate.  And I will tell her the stories of all of her birthdays so that layer upon layer, she will be filled with the knowledge of how much she was loved and wanted from before we ever saw her face. 
   And tonight I will go outside and look at the moon and tell Rachel's birth mother "xie xie".  Thank you.  Your baby girls is exactly what I have always wanted.  I promise.

Some Interesting Quotes on Educating Muslims

The following Quotes are taken from a book I have been reading called Educating the Muslims of America. It is a compilation of essays written by Muslims on various topics ranging from homeschooling, private schools and public schools to Islamic Media and Muslim Women in college. It was a great read and an eye-opener to say the least to the many issues facing not only Islamic Education in America but to the issues and struggles of parents as well as muslim students who are in alternative schools and public schools.

from an essay entitled Safe Havens or Religous Ghettos?

" ...self definition and identity maintenance pose one of the primary challenges facing Muslim communities in North America...."

"Many Muslim parents fear that the assimilative forces within public schools threaten to de-islamize their children. For example, negative peer pressure, drugs, alcohol use, dating, and violence in schools pose many challenges for Mulsim students attempting to maintain an Islamic Lifestyle and identity while at school."

"Yet Islamic schools, like other independant religious schools are also accused of "ghettozing" students and not providing socialization within a scoiety at large and are considered inadequate arenas for civic engagement in a racially and religously plural society due to their "particularist" orientation."

As you can see there are alot of issues surrounding the education of our children and I believe that every parent should give fair attention. The article links above go hand in hand with these quotes as the families begin to defend their choices for public, islamic and homeschooling.

Identity issues is also playing a strong role in my decision making process. Because while I do not agree that Islamic schools are ghettos, I do feel that they are safe havens and I have actually heard many many friends and family members use the term "bubble" when describing islamic schooling. One friend mentioned to me that once she entered college it was hard for her to associate with members of the opposite sex becasuse she didnt know how to act around them. Another mentioned that she didnt know how to interact with non-muslims until she moved and had to start a new life in a new place. Other incidents include praying, fasting and wearing hijab in the work place.

I feel that if a child is surrounded by diversity then they will be exposed to difficult situations that question their religion but they will learn at an early age how to cope with them and how to respond to non-muslims and this in turn will build their identity and make it strong. Of course the home environment has to be strong Islamically and the parents have to engage in daily discourse to maintain open communications with their children. As you can see there is alot to reflect on when considering schools which leads me to my next topic.

In an essay by Priscilla Martinez called Muslim Homeschooling she says, "Muslim families are considered to be the fastest growing demographic of homeschoolers in the country." Why do Muslim parents choose to take responsibility of educating their children at home?

"Muslim homeschoolers understand that it is their responsibilty to teach their children how to achieve God-consciousness and strengthen their Islamic identity through their own example in every aspect of their lives.This can only be instilled in an environment that fosters God-consciouness, not through the social and educational environments of public school settings."

A friend of mine emailed me the following links from a great site called I had never heard of the site but found it to be a great community of muslim mom bloggers. The following are great articles that explore families who have selected different types of schooling for their children and why:

Imaginative play & fairy Waldorfdoll and girl hair decoration

We made some Fairy Waldorfdoll and girl hair decoration in beautiful color shades last weekend. Each of them is handmade from different types of wool yarn. The wool strands can be styled with the dolls or girls hair or hang down loose. A small soft holder allows easy attachement as well as removal.

Total length approx. 30 cm for dolls and 60 cm for girls.

The girls size is just perfect for dress up play and they are beautiful in combination with play silks.

Childrens and dolls costumes and dress up accessory invite the kind of imaginative fantasy play which is so important for children. Fantasy and role play engage the imagination. Dress ups are nourishing to the senses and and encourage openended imaginative play. My daughter just loves them in all color shades. I just listed some of them in my shop here.

our little guy

it took just under a week to transition our little guy from the foster home he was in, to our home.

this was our first visit in our home with our new little guy. it just happened to be Easter day!

one of the first things we did, was give him a haircut! he looked like the old man from the movie 'Up' with his longer hair.
here's the before shot...


he loves the outdoors!

Log Reindeer, Xmas crafting for the boys


Log reindeer inspired by Better Homes and Gardens. Just cut to size, drill holes and insert twigs. Such a cute threesome on my horse poo mulberry/zuchinni patch. A great father and son bonding exercise. They also suggest a mini version using corks which we have none of, so middle Bowerbird improvised and used some toilet paper rolls.

The Montessori Method

My first thought after I had answered the questions in my previous blog was that I wanted to put Ameera into a Montessori school. Based on some reading and research, the Montessori method is more widely spread than any other modern method of education. The way it generally works is that the classroom is set up to be an environment that will come to be the childs own as they become responsible for its maintenace. It is set up in centers according to subjects and children are allowed to explore the room freely working with whatever interests them. They are allowed to work on a particular project until they tire of it and of course are guided by the teacher but the class is student led. Here is a link to some information on the method iteself. description of the method see the method in action

Why I initially was drawn to this method is because it gives children the freedom to move around all day. They are also able to explore whatever it is that interests them without time limitations and restrictions, yet there would be teacher guidance to assure that they are grasping concepts and ideas. Another aspect I liked was the use of raw and natural materials in the classroom. No artificial, man-made materials. I have a few friends who have their children in Montessori programs and when I questioned them about how they felt about the program. Some key words I heard were: independance, responsibilty, organization, advanced, hands-on, etc. These words they used to refer to the change in their children when compared to others who were not recieving a montessori education.

In my opinion I feel that any type of learning environment were children are able to move freely always works wonders with boys. As a 7th and 8th grade teacher, I have first had experience that most boys aged 1-14 generally have a hard time sitting in seat for extended periods of time being forced to focus on a teacher, book, activity etc that they have no interest in. I have always felt that the traditional school system was actually unhealthy for boys, especially if they have no outlet in which to release there pent up energies which unfortunately is the case with most Islamic Schools. They lack the funding and the resources to provide organized sports teams, practices, coaches etc within the school. I strongly feel that this is something that we need to work on and as a community we should help support for the furture inshaallah.

Anyhow if your interested in this type of schooling I would check The Village School in Waldwick

And some good reading:
Childhood Education by Maria Montessori and
The Child in the Family

This is some information on one option  I am considering.

sister love

Despite having the entire couch to sprawl out on, the girls always choose to sit cuddled together. If  they are watching a TV show, just reading books, or simply lounging on the couch those little girls are always snuggled. I guess you can't deny the fact that they are twins and need that physical contact with each other. I wont lie, as a parent of twins, it makes me happy that they are this way!

happy monday

my little lady was chosen to be student of the week at school. over thanksgiving break, we worked on a poster all about her. i love to see her enthusasium for school! one of the questions on the poster was what do you want to be when you grow up, she said, "a princess." of course, who wouldn't...right?

30 days of giving thanks

i'm thankful for...

having my nasal surgery today...just praying for a speedy recovery and no more headaches!

my husband...he's seriously the best!

my parents being here to help me with the kiddos!

my date with my man last night.

a nice cozy bed to recover in.

Rainbow Cheesecake

Rainbow Cheesecake
My husband StumbledUpon a picture of a rainbow cake one day, and I thought it was so gorgeous that I immediately started thinking of other baked goods that would look good in rainbow colors.  The cheesecake was one of the first things I thought of, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.  
Since then I've seen other pictures of "rainbow cheesecakes," but they don't do justice to the name.  To me, a rainbow needs to be vibrant, not pastel, and I think you can see that this cheesecake fits the bill.  To get this kind of color, I don't think you can use the Cake Mate colors you get at the grocery store.  You're going to have to go to a hobby store like Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, or Michaels and get some real gel paste food color, like the ones pictured below from AmeriColor.  It's worth the trip.  Price-wise, the gel paste doesn't cost too much: $1.75/bottle.  If you mix your own colors, you only need to buy three.  I recommend buying purple though, because I have yet to mix a pretty purple on my own.  
This cheesecake is not only pretty, but it's tasty too.  The picture at the top is my second whole rainbow cheesecake, and I decided to try smoothing out the colors after each addition.  I think I like the bumpy look of my first attempt pictured below.  In that case I just squeezed the color evenly over the bottom layer and left it unsmoothed before adding the next layer.  
I've also made an American flag version of this cheesecake too using this technique, for my brother-in-law's citizenship celebration.  I'll have to make and post that one too, I suppose.

Rainbow Cheesecake

Prepare one day in advance and refrigerate overnight for best results.
Preheat oven to 350°F.

  • 1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
Mix together and put in bottom of a 9" spring form pan that's been lined on the bottom with a parchment circle. *I like to crush my graham crackers in a zip top bag.  I use a rolling pin to crush them.  Then I mix the sugar into the crumbs in the bag and then the melted butter.  I squish it all around with my hands and pour it into the pan.  Saves washing one more bowl.
If you don't have a plastic roasting bag to use for this, you will want to cover the bottom of the pan with 2-3 layers of heavy duty foil to keep the water out from the water bath you will use during baking.

  •   4 8oz. cream cheeses @ room temperature
  •   4 eggs @ room temperature
  •   2 tsp. vanilla
  •   1 cup sugar
  •   1/2 cup cream
  •   1/2 cup sour cream
  •    blue, yellow, red, and purple gel food coloring

  •  8 oz. sour cream
  •  2 T sugar
  •  1/2 tsp. vanilla 
Mix together while cheesecake bakes.

Making the Cheesecake:

Cream cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.  Stir in cream until incorporated.

Set six unzipped sandwich sized zip top baggies in six small cups.  Place a 1/2 cup of batter into each baggie.  Pour the remaining batter into a gallon sized zip top baggie—this will remain white.

AmeriColor makes GREAT gel food color.
Batter colors mixed & ready to go

Three layers down; 9 to go.
Mix batter with food coloring to produce one baggie each for the following colors: blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and purple.  Start with two or three drops of color and gently squish around with your hand.  Add more food coloring if necessary.  Zip tops when done mixing colors in.

Start with the baggie of plain white batter.  Cut about 1/4 inch off one of the corners of the baggie and “pipe” in enough to just cover the crust in the bottom of the pan.  Carefully set bag aside with the cut tip pointing upward and the "top" tightly zipped.   Next, cut 1/4 inch off the green, and pipe squiggled lines all over the top of the white batter.  Try to cover the white as much as possible, but know that there will still be some white patches left.  Pipe on a layer of white, and this time, try to cover as much of the green as possible while still making sure there's enough white for all the other layers. Then pipe with blue, and so on, alternating colors with the white until you’ve used all the colors in the rainbow pattern.  Hopefully you’ll have enough white left for a final layer of white on top.

Place the pan in a large plastic roasting bag (like the ones used for turkeys), and then place that in a large roasting pan and pour in very hot water to reach half way up the pan sides, being careful not to splash water onto cheesecake.

Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until center is set.  Remove from oven and pour sour cream topping mixture on top and smooth out.  Return cheesecake to oven for another 5-10 minutes.

As soon as you take pan out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to release the cheesecake from the sides.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate overnight.
Rainbow Cheesecake my first try.  This was made in a 9" pan.

Orange & Cranberry Torte

After some consideration and a good search through the recipes in Delicious magazine I decided that I would make this Orange & Cranberry Torte to email in for their Winter Bakes feature. The recipe is by Eric Lanlard and the brief for the entry was any wintery bake... their favourite pictures will be featured in the magazine...although tasty I'm not sure this one will make the cut as it's a bit... well...errr...brown! It definitely won't be winning any style awards but it did taste good with a dob of cream!!

  • 350g almonds
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 8 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 400ml sunflower oil
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 200g dried cranberries plus a handful to decorate
  • 3 cloves
Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Butter and line a 23cm springform cake tin. Measure out the ground almonds, 300g of caster sugar, 2 tsp of cinnamon and the baking powder in to a large bowl.

Make a well and add the sunflower oil and eggs before mixing. Then add in the zests and dried cranberries. I used my new microplane grater (below) for finely zesting and it worked a treat! Once combined bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour. However, beware mine took a look longer... probably about an extra 20 minutes.

With about 5 minutes to go, gently heat the citrus juices in a saucepan with the remaining sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Dissolve the sugar and then simmer and cook for 3 minutes. When the cake is done remove it from the oven and pierce it with a skewer. Then pour the citrus syrup over the top. It then cools in the tin for an hour before turning out. Finally, decorate with a handful of dried cranberries and serve with pouring cream. Result... a tasty winter bake!

* Adapted from Eric Lanlard's Orange and Cranberry Torte recipe on the Delicious Magazine website.