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After nearly crying in despair at the price of my Sainsbury’s online shop last month, I decided to venture to Asda. Now mostly I hate Asda as a shopping experience but our new one isn’t too bad. And, while I love internet shopping, the lure of the reduced section is enough to make me brave the horror of real life shopping with kids. And Asda’s reduced section is huge, even early in the day.

Seeing as Asda’s prices aren’t as eye watering as Sainsbury’s, I decided, as a break from the norm, to buy a Peppa Pig cake making set. Normally I never buy these things as the instructions are usually “add one egg, oil and water” and I realise I have basically just paid for flour and sugar (plus humectant, E646, and other yummy stabilisers) at 5 times the price. But I thought the Peppa Pig one might amuse the kids for about 10 minutes, and the lack of weighing and measuring required stops me having to be a complete control freak. Look, I know I’m supposed to be educating them, but really I just want them to be quiet for 10 minutes.

So yesterday afternoon we had Betty’s special friend round, let’s call him Arthur, on account of him being dressed as a knight yesterday. You know, King Arthur and his Knights? I’m sure there is some kind of story there… I digress. Now Arthur isn’t Betty’s special friend in the “I love you” sense, more in the “I want to be you” sense. Betty is very much a tomboy (urgh, hate that word), she wants to be a boy (in the “I want to be a fairy, I want to be a Fireman sense” so temporary, I think). First time she went to Arthur’s house she came back dressed top to toe in Arthur’s clothes. Each time she goes there we seem to amass more and more of Arthur’s wardrobe, until one day I’m sure Arthur’s mum is going to go into his bedroom and find Betty in his bed pretending to be him and Arthur locked away, tied up in the shed, banging on the door where no one can here him… That is a scary, but very real possibility.

Peppa Pig Cupcakes

So…yes, Peppa Pig cakes! Yes, the kids were delighted to do a bit of baking. The mix comes in a packet to which you add an egg and a few tablespoons of water, which creates a pale running mixture, not unlike wallpaper paste, from which according to the box we will get 12 cup cakes. Now, I don’t want to get into the debate of cup cakes vs fairy cakes, suffice to say, what we made were not cup cakes. This is a cupcake:

Cupcake made by RubyRan on Flickr

I wasn’t convinced that we would get 12 cakes of any description out of the mix. But with judicious use of a spatula and 2 tiny spoonfuls of slop per cake we managed to at least cover the bottom of each cake case (provided in the box).

Peppa Pig Cupcake mix

Just enough mixture to fill 12 cases (ok, I took this photo before the kids had finished)…

Mixing bowl for Peppa Pig cupcakes

…but barely enough left over to lick the bowl – do the producers not understand the point of cake making at ALL?

Into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Now my oven is usually pretty aggressive but even after the the full 15 minutes these cakes looked pretty anaemic, but they were done at least. But they weren’t exactly filled with cup cakey goodness.

Peppa Pig Cupcakes 3

Again, these are NOT cupcakes

Fortunately, the Lilliputian nature of these cakes meant they cooled pretty quickly, so the whining about whether or not they were ready to ice was minimal. The “muddy” puddle icing required just a couple of teaspoons of water. Now, I’m not sure how long it took the food photographers (or digital editors) to create the muddy puddle on the picture, but it took the kids just minutes to create the mini swamps on their cakes and add the fondant toppers printed with grainy images of Peppa of George (though George has never worn a yellow outfit – I know, I have watched EVERY EPISODE – but maybe the blue colouring is slightly more rabid attack-inducing than the yellow).

Finished Peppa Pig Cupcakes

These are Arthur’s muddy swamp cakes

Now for the taste test. Iris refused to eat one, so I tried hers. It was vile. Super sweet with the extra tang of raising agents (that will be the Glucono Delta Lactone then). Betty ate three (well, not at once, but throughout the day). The two older kids enjoyed them at least. I warned DH off them, but to be honest he’s not at fussy as I am. He once proclaimed that he preferred Dolmio to my homemade sauce)…he only made that mistake once though).

So overall pros and cons?

Pro: Easy for the kids to make with minimal parental control freakery
Con: Taste pretty grim (although this could be seen as a pro if you are on a diet and don’t want to be tempted)

Con: Stingy on the mixture means you can barely eek out enough mixture to fill all the cases
Pro: You can let the kids eat 3 cakes and therefore have less hanging round the house going stale

Pro: Keeps the kids entertained for about half an hour in total. Makes you feel like a Good Parent for embarking on wholesome and interactive activities
Con: You have to make up a ridiculous lie as to why you don’t want to eat one of their lovely creations. I suggest “Eating your favourite cartoon character would make mummy sad”, or just take one and throw it in the bin when they are not looking.

So, looking on the side of the box there is an address where you can send your feedback to Victoria Foods who make this product. I think I will send them this review. There is also a competition to send them the picture of your cakes and possibly win a prize. Hmm, if I send them the pictures along with this review Betty is unlikely to win, right? Well, if the (unspecified) is anything like the crap that they keep putting on the Peppa Pig comics it would be no loss. You have to enter the competition by post anyway by the looks of it, so that’s going to happen. [NOTE: You can actually email the competition entry but it only says so in the small print bizarrely]

I should point out that I have not been paid or incentivised in any way for this review. I stupidly bought the thing with my own pennies (£1 at Asda). I’d like to say that I’d I’ve learned my lesson and won’t buy these hideous cake mixes again, knowing that I can whip up delicious cakes in the same time for half the price. But with a long wet summer looming and two bored kids, I can’t promise that I won’t be seduced by an easy way to keep them occupied for half an hour, and satiating their desire for all things character related at the same time. It’s cheaper than the Peppa Pig comic at least.

Which I will probably buy anyway.

I can get nearly an hour’s peace out of a comic.