I love cake, but ... it’s complicated: I’m lactose intolerant and can’t digest eggs very well either.

Consequently I never buy cake, I bake it from scratch, and I’ve always done so when baking with my children, too – not for us those handy instant-cupcakes-in-a-box mixes, because Mummy eats more cake than anyone else in the house, so if Mummy couldn’t eat them, they’d probably go to waste, right?

In a fit of optimism in the last school holidays I decided that it would a sterling idea to keep Freddie occupied AND sneak some extra vegetables into his diet by baking carrot cupcakes with him.

I know, inspired, yes? Because, of course, if you involve your child in the preparation of food, they will be absolutely itching to taste what they’ve made.

Freddie has a habit of ‘casting’ objects he doesn’t want, or that randomly offend him on some subliminal level, so I always gather all the necessary ingredients and equipment together before inviting him into the kitchen, to reduce the chances of him lobbing something breakable across the room as soon as I turn away to search for the baking powder I could have sworn I bought last week.

Here’s the recipe we used:

Dairy-and-Egg-Free Carrot Cupcakes

(probably not one of your 5-a-day)


1/3 cup oat milk (OK, use soya milk if you must, but not rice milk -- that’s basically cloudy water)

½ tsp cider vinegar

2/3 cup self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2/3 cup light soft brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup finely grated carrots (I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you want to involve your child in the peeling and grating. It depends how much you mind having bits of finger in your cakes. Not recommended if you’re baking for vegetarians)

¼ cup, or two tiny snack boxes, of raisins

Very finely grated rind of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Let your child line the muffin tin with cake cases. The ones you forgot to get out of the cupboard at the beginning.

Rummage around in search of them while your child opens the fridge, finds a punnet of cherry tomatoes and, being the sort who likes to conduct practical experiments to discover what happens to different objects when dropped from a height, throws them one by one onto the floor shouting ‘splat’.

Leave the mess till later.

Start again with the cake cases, which don’t sit properly in the tin. Reassure your child they’ll be fine once they’re full of cake mix.

Slide it out of the way across the table to make room for the mixing bowl, then watch as your child slides it back again, and off the edge of the table with a crash.

Pick it up and plonk it in the nearest convenient space.

Now place the mixing bowl in front of your child, but DON'T LET GO.

Forget any received wisdom about sifting dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet in another, and gently folding them together – just bung them all into one big bowl at once and whisk it up until it looks like cake mixture.

Now let your child fling spoonfuls of the mixture in the approximate direction of the cake cases (when I say approximate, I mean it will land somewhere in the same room).

Throw the tin onto the middle shelf of the oven.

While the cakes are cooking, try to engage your child in helping you wash the dishes. Wonder why you didn’t realise that throwing soap bubbles at the windows would be far more entertaining than washing pots.

Distract your darling offspring with the iPad, or similar, to keep them out of mischief while you clear up by yourself.

Remember to check the cakes.

If they are golden brown and springy to the touch, they’re done; if they’re black, they’re b******d.

Once completely cold, immediately eat two forgetting that you are on a diet.

Gently coax your little angel to try one of the lovely cakes they’ve made, and cry inwardly as they poke one, say ‘errgh, yucky’, and flick it away in disgust as though it’s dog muck.

Spend the rest of the day scraping tomato pips off the carpet. 

Happy Baking!

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