Over summer the boys (and I) started watching the Great British Bake Off. If you don't know this show, it's a cooking reality competition of amateur bakers making traditional favourites. They have to do unexpected challenges from a recipe, and something else they've practised before hand ... the usual thing; someone loses every week and looks sad, until there is a winner at the end. But because it is British, and friendly, and polite, and nobody takes themselves too seriously, it was wonderful viewing for all of us.
We liked the diversions into the historical background of a Bath bun (who knew?) and solving the mystery of a tea cake. "That's just a Royale!" said number one son when he eventually figured out what they were making. Damn Australian child, they are properly called Mallowpuffs. So the show has made them both even more interested in baking. Not cooking - no interest in savouries or helping with dinner - just the cake and biscuits end. One day at the coast in January they decided to make ginger bread houses from scratch. I refused to help and went to the bedroom with a book - it took them FOUR HOURS but they made things that were recognisably gingerbread houses; icing and all.
Since then, number two son honed his Green's Moist Vanilla Cake skills and took second prize in the Canberra Show "Under 12 yrs Packet Cake ICING ONLY ON TOP" section. There were 11 entrants so that's not too bad at all for his first try. This wasn't the winner, just one of the (many) trial cakes.
One day after school he came home and asked if he could make a sponge cake with passionfruit icing. Um, OK. I have learned to go up to my sewing room and come down after a sensible length of time (it's often best not to watch what they do to my kitchen).
And last night after tea they decided to do "just a simple chocolate cake". Good to hear. If they are in a good mood they can make a whole cake with only eight to ten outbursts of bickering and a couple of thumps; which is far less fighting than during any other activity ...