The season of baking is officially here. With the return of our beloved Bake Off, and the cosy autumnal evenings drawing in, there’s no better time to huddle up in the kitchen wih a cup of tea and a piping hot pie to warm your bones.

P9112834.jpg

Having been a complete pastry-virgin until Bake Off inspired me to bake, this was actually the first so pie I’d ever baked in my life, and I’m so happy it turned out so cute! Though there was a slight disaster towards the end of the bake *read until the end to find out more* but I can whole-heartedly recommend this as one of the easiest, and perfectly autumnal pies to bake this season.

P9112846.jpg

A mix of braeburn apple, blackberries and fresh garden mint, it’s the classic English Country Garden pie, and when baked right, fills any kitchen with a mouthwatering smell to keep you coming back for more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You will need:

1 pre-made roll of shortcrust pastry

1 pre-made roll of puff pastry

10 medium braeburn apples

150g caster or granulated sugar

Two handfuls of blackberries

A handful of mint leaves

1 egg (for washing)

P9112892.jpg

  • A deep pie dish
  • Rolling pin
  • Flour shaker
  • Strainer or colander
  • Pastry brush

Unknown.jpgThe Recipe

  1. Start by peeling and chopping your apples into small chunks, before putting on the hob with once boiled water to simmer.
  2. In parts, add in your sugar and stir continuously until the apple cubes begin to soften, and the sugar takens on syrup-like consistency.
  3. Finely chop your mint, and stir into your filling mix. Add a few handfuls of blackberries and allow to simmer for a short time before removing filling to a cold bowl to cool.
  4. Unroll your pastry (or make it yourself if you’re a lot more flour-fingered than I am!) and knead into a ball until soft and pliable. Sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface and roll into to a large circle of no more than 0.5cm thickness.
  5. Lay your pastry into your pie dish, using your fingers to lightly press it into the corners and bottom of the dish. Your pastry needs to be evenly reaching or folding over the rim of your pastry dish, before taking a sharp knife and cutting off the excess edges.
  6. Once cooled, drain your filling in a colander or sieve, and pat loosely with a paper cloth or tea towel to remove some of the excess moisture.
  7. Pour the filling into your dish, making sure to keep everything within the pastry rim, without spilling down the edges. Spread evenly with a spatula.
  8. Unroll and knead your puff pastry, before rolling out again to a rough circle. Try to make the pastry a little thinner this time, as puff pastry can rise and be difficult to work with if rolled too thick.
  9. Using a sharp knife cut your puff pastry into 1.5cm strips, making sure that the length of them can reach from one side of the pastry dish to the other.
  10. Lay your strips across the top of the pie filling in a lattice pattern, making sure the horizontal and vertical strips cross over each other and are evenly spread apart. It’s important to keep the gaps between the pastry reasonably small to avoid the filling from bubbling out during baking.
  11. Use a fork to crimp down and stick the ends of the strips to the pastry in the dish, forming a lid, before using an egg wash to help achieve a glossy, shiny finish.
  12. Bake at 180° for 40 minutes, checking throughout and testing with a cocktail stick or metal rod to make sure the base of the pie is cooked and that the filling is piping hot before bringing out of the oven.
  13. Leave to cool, and serve!

P9112877.jpgNow for the sad news. After trying just one small slither of my pie, I was desperate to take some photos of it’s majestic pie-ness for my blog, so rushed upstairs to my mini-studio. Mid-way through the shoot, my poorly-balanced photography light suddenly shook and crashed it’s way down onto a nearby table, it’s glass shattering everywhere. Whilst I was miraculously un-hurt, my poor pie suffered the consequences, and we ended up finding small shards of glass snuggled up next to the rosy blackberry and apple filling inside. After a rather miserably mourning period, I had to admit defeat, and it was ‘bye bye pie’ for me.

Key Tips:

Make sure your hands are well floured and cool for lacing up the lattice strips, as I found this incredibly difficult to do with soft, sticky dough.

The pie-dish I’m using in these photos was a gorgeously deep and matte finish from Wilkos, and I highly recommend their baking session for your seasonal bakes!

Adding your blackberries too soon will turn your mixture pink, and can overpower the crisp white of the apple, so wait until around 2 minutes to cooling before popping them in the pan.

Stewed apples are a great desert for cold wintery evenings, so make a little extra and freeze for an emergency comfort food after dinner.

ALWAYS BALANCE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY LIGHTS PROPERLY BEFORE SHOOTING FOOD!

P9112834.jpg

I hope you’ve enjoyed this bake, and this post, and I look forward to seeing your autumnal bakes this coming season!

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 17.42.04

 

Tucked away in the sandy streets of Brighton, there sits a bakery. A beautiful, creative and honest-to-god gorgeous bakery, that for one Sunday afternoon, served two weary tourists – desperate for a snack before catching their long train home.P7030467.jpgWhen first planning our trip to Brighton, the Flour Pot Bakery was simply one on a long list of bakeries, restaraunts and cafes I’d heard about, read about and dreamed about through the vlogs and blogs of travellers and Brighton-tubers alike. It was only on our first bus trip through the city where we caught site of the Flour Pot sign, and knew that it would make our to-do list.P7030405.jpgSo on the sunniest day of the weekend, a giant suitcase in tow and our train tickets firmly in hand, we popped into visit our new bakery for a light spot of lunch. Walking inside the  Flour Pot Bakery felt like stumbling across the Pinterest board of your favourite interior designer, with every conceivable trend, style and innovation beautifully displayed for the customers and adventurers dining inside.P7030432.jpgA checkerboard floor (perfectly muffling the distressing rumble of our suitcase wheels), copper piping, rustic washed-wood tables, and thick glass jars surrounded us as we rolled up to the counter to order.P7030468.jpgSelecting items from cutely penned chalkboard menus, I couldn’t help but snap photos of every piece of interior that caught my eye. The dusty rustic loaves, the farmers market crates, the rustling white Flour Pot takeaway bags…everything seemed to fit together in one crisp image of aesthetic dining that I immediately fell in love with.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we recieved our food – toast and a Swedish sticky bun for me, a thick loaved sandwich for my boyfriend – we were so hungry that every bite seemed to disappear before we got the chance to enjoy it. But despite that, I can still wholeheartedly recommend some of my favourite choices of the day: anything from the pastry counter, the sliced gluten free sourdoughs, and a large hazelnut latte to wash it all down with.P7030423.jpgWhilst I sat there, bossily forcing my poor boyfriend to pose for a photo before eating his lunch, I couldn’t help but notice the complete diversity of people popping in for their own Flour Pot experience. Sea-flecked surfers still in their wet suits, fashionable bloggers huddled with cameras and laptops, sunkissed hikers with dogs on leads, mums and dads with pushchairs and prams – it seemed like everyone was welcome, which made us feel so at home in this strange new city.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Flour Pot Bakery has so many locations across Brighton, if you’re considering a visit, no matter where you stay, you won’t be far away. A beautiful hub of rustic food, hot creamy coffee, entirely inviting aesthetic and genuinely friendly people – it might just be the highlight of your visit. P7030450.jpgThank you so much for reading my blog post this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the delights of the Flour Pot Bakery. To check out their website and see for yourself the beautiful baked goods they provide, click here, or to read my last post on the indestructable Rimmel Super Gel, click here

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 17.42.04

So far this Easter I’ve eaten 3 large Easter Eggs, 7 small Easter Eggs, 3 hot cross buns and a roast dinner fit for a family of five. Certainly in my house, Easter is a time to eat. Whether you’ve been munching on your Munchies, chomping on your Creme Eggs, or breaking into your Buttons, I’ve got a recipe to suit even the pickiest of Easter eaters this spring season. This is the first year I’ve made Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Chocolate Lace Decorations, but they’re already a family favourite, and I’m sure to be whipping them up next year!

And, fair warning, this recipe involves a lot of chocolate – so if you’ve been inundated with more eggs that your tummy can handle, this might be just a handy and decorative way to make use of that excess cocoa!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What you will need:

  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 175g of caster sugar
  • 2.5 grated carrots
  • 150ml sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 lemon zest

For the decoration and icing:

  • 300g of white chocolate
  • 3 different food colouring gels
  • 50g of softened butter
  • 150g of icing sugar
  • 100g of cream cheese

How to make my Easter Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Chocolate Lace Decorations:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White Chocolate Lace Decorations:

  1. On the shiny side of a sheet of baking paper, lightly sketch out the shapes of some simple Easter icons such as eggs, chicks or bunnies. As these are lace designs, it’s better to keep the outlines of the shapes as simple and easy to join as possible, leaving gaps of blank space in the middle.
  2. Melt your white chocolate over a bowl of hot water, stirring regularly, until it has a syrup-like consistency. Once fully melted, separate into three different bowls. (This will work with milk or dark chocolate too, but you won’t be able to achieve the pastel effect)
  3. Add a small drop of food colouring to each bowl, and stir until the white chocolate has changed into a light pastel shade.
  4. Spoon your melted chocolate into three separate icing bags – as quickly as possible to stop your chocolate from cooling and hardening in the bag.
  5. Very carefully, snip the end off of your piping bag, and, after a bit of practice, pipe the outlines of your Easter shapes onto your baking paper. Make sure that you only pipe the lines without filling in the centres, to create the lace effect.
  6. Put your baking sheet somewhere cool to dry, and let your shapes harden. This should take about 30 minutes, so in the meantime you can get on with baking your cupcakes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  1. Sift flour, sugar and ginger into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Crack your two eggs into the mixture, but don’t stir them just yet.
  3. Pour in your sunflower oil, and stir, making sure that it is fully blended with the dry ingredients.
  4. Grate roughly two and half long carrots, and add to your bowl.
  5. Mix until all of the grated carrot, and lemon zest, are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  6. Scoop into 12 cupcake cases, and bake for 25 minutes until the tops have risen and are golden brown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl
  2. Add a small knob of butter and mix until the icing is stiff
  3. Combine with the cream cheese to form a smooth, thick mixture
  4. Pipe in large swirls onto your cupcakes
  5. Decorate with your cooled white chocolate shapes, and serve!

I hope you’ve enjoy my Easter recipe this evening, and that it’s inspired you to find some inventive uses for those uneaten Easter Eggs!

 

Thanks for reading, and to check out my last post on dressing an oversized stripey T-shirt, click here!

X

With only 7 days left to go until Christmas, there’s no better time to head into the kitchen and start baking. Whether you’ve got family parties coming up, relatives popping by or just fancy whipping up something tasty and sweet to get you in the festive spirit, I thought I’d come up with a recipe that can be altered for all members of the family – ‘kids from one to eighty two’.

DSCF4169.jpg

This is a recipe I adapted from a simple vanilla cupcake mix, and built up into something boozy, fun and definitely festive, that’s so easy to make it’s the perfect Christmas party snack.

There’s an alternative option for children listed within the recipe, but for the grown ups there’s a little liquor treat hidden within each cupcake that is guaranteed to liven up any seasonal table!

To make these boozy Baileys cupcakes, you will need:

  • 1 box of Tesco Vanilla Cupcake mix
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 60ml of Baileys Irish Cream
  • 30ml of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 pinch of orange/clementine zest

And to make the goofy little reindeers on top, you will need:

  • 1 pack of the provided cupcake icing sugar
  • 30ml of Baileys Irish Cream
  • 80g of softened butter
  • A handful of pretzel sticks
  • Yoghurt coated almonds, peanuts or raisins
  • Red and Black icing tubes
  • A handful of Malteasers

DSCF4238.jpg

In the simplest terms, if you want to make the non-alcoholic version of these goofy reindeer cupcakes, then avoid the steps involving the Baileys and simply skip ahead to the decoration stage!

For Baileys Buns

DSCF4202.jpg

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 fan, or Gas Mark 5.
  2. After measuring out all of your ingredients, combine your butter and dry cupcake mix in a large bowl until stiff and crumbly.
  3. Add in your egg and milk to form a smooth mixture. DSCF4138.jpg
  4. Pour in the Baileys (adding as much or as little as you like for your preferred taste) and blend.
  5. Then, grate in your clementine zest, nutmeg and ginger for a little touch of festive spice.
  6. Spoon your mixture into 9 medium cupcake cases, or 6 large and 3 mini cupcakes cases to cater for all the family!
  7. Bake for around 15 – 18 minutes until firm and risen. DSCF4196.jpg
  8. Leave to cool for half an hour – this gives you time to start the washing up (or in my case, have a good cup of tea!)

DSCF4204.jpg

To create your reindeer DSCF4236.jpg

  1. Mix together your icing and butter until it forms a stiff buttercream icing
  2. Gradually add in your Baileys to the mixture, blending well after each addition, until the icing has turned a pale brown colour.
  3. Pop into an icing bag, and starting from the middle, pipe a large swirl rising upwards from the top of your cupcake. dscf4210
  4. Snap off two small sticks of pretzel, roughly an inch and a half in size, and pop one in each side of your icing swirl to look like antlers. If your icing is a little soft, use longer lengths of pretzel to stick them into the cupcake instead to hold them in place.DSCF4173.jpg
  5. Using a black icing tube or gel, draw small blobs at the bottom of two oval shaped yoghurt covered nuts or raisins. Stick these between the antlers, as close as you prefer, to make eyes for your reindeer faces.
  6. Finally, cut in half a handful of Malteasers, and use a blob of white icing to create a dot of shine on them, before sticking them beneath the eyes to make a round reindeer nose! DSCF4244.jpg
  7. For one extra special reindeer, spread some red icing over the Malteaser half to make a shiny Rudolf nose!

For cupcakes as unhealthy as they are adorable, these were incredibly easy to make and look so effective as Santa’s loyal helpers. The Baileys works so well in both the icing and the sponge mixture, it’s a boozy mixture you won’t be able to resist, and adds a little mouthful of sweetness to everyones favourite cupcake recipe!

DSCF4248.jpg

I hope everyone is enjoying their own Christmas baking adventures this festive season, and has had a lovely weekend!

X

 

 

‘And I surely like to get my hands on the fella that said Christmas shoppin’s fun’

At this time of year, where store windows light up and snowflakes fall, it can be hard to resist the call of the outdoors. And it’s good, of course, to embrace the High Street – to shop with your hands and not with your laptop. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut Christmas shopping can also be really, really stressful, and with so many eager shoppers out hunting for bargains, it can be a mission to even remain upright in the busier shops. And for the anxious, highly strung and easily shoved among us, these times are some of the most irritating, demoralising and generally un-festive of our entire Christmas holiday. It makes you want to run for the door as fast as you can. PB260319.jpgSo I thought, as part of this year’s Blogmas, I would try and come up with a few simple tips to help you keep calm, and stay sane, when hunting for those precious Christmas pressies!

Take breaks

Whether it’s the pre-shopping coffee, having just spotted the woolly hatted masses heaving through the streets and turned away in a panic, or the mid-way pitstop, to refuel and refresh yourself for the next few hours of chaos. Try to avoid the major chains if you really want somewhere to de-stress and stick to the quainter, smaller foodie spots for some quality brunch time.PB260335.jpg

Plan

If the idea of an uncoordinated mosh-pit shopping experience really doesn’t take your fancy, why not take a couple of hours to sit down and organise your day. What gifts are going where, where are the best sales at, can you get this cheaper online, is this gift really worth the anxiety? There are so many sites and discount sources to help you track the best reductions, there’s no reason to be left floundering this December. PB260316.jpg

Dress to Un-impress

Although we all want to look our best as we strut around the high street, desperate for that festive photo-finish, but in reality, it’s not always the most practical look for shopping. For most people, the basic outfits for Christmas shopping should include:

Gloves. So the sharp straps of all your many shopping bags don’t slice into your fingers.

Comfy jeans/trousers. We all know that Christmas shopping isn’t Christmas shopping without picking up a little treat for ourselves – so why not make it easier on yourself and pick out an outfit that’s easy to take off, you know, just in case something catches your eye.

Hard-soled shoes. There’s nothing worse than sore, blistered feet when trawling the shops. Pick out a pair that you know can keep you upright for the day, without wearing down to the ground in the process. PB260309.jpgA big, non-slip bag. The one thing that always manages to irritate me when out shopping is my handbag. It constantly seems to slip from shoulder and come crashing down onto my wrist, right at the crucial point of paying, collecting or trying to leave a high-brow store. Find one that’s big enough to store some of your smaller trinkets in, but with a solid enough strap to actually stay upon your person.

And no hats. Hats will get knocked off, fall to the floor, slip over your eyes and inevitably mess up that hair-do you spent most of the morning trying to perfect. They might look adorable, but in reality, they’re not exactly an essential when doing the festive shop. PB260305.jpg

Happy Thoughts

When caught in the depths of Christmas Shopping Hell, one of the last things you’ll want to do is conjure up ‘happy thoughts’. You’re stressed, you’re sweaty, you’re tired and you kind of hate everyone you love for making you buy them Christmas presents. But honestly, so is everyone else. Everyone else is just trying to make the same journey you are, they all want the same perfect present, and they all want to show just how much they love someone with a gift. Yes people might shove you, and bother you, and barge into your in their hurry, but it’s Christmas. It’s a time to forgive and forget and be happy in the knowledge that when the big day comes, everyone will have everything they wanted and there’ll be nothing but smiles in the house. PB260294.jpgAnd if these tips still haven’t swayed you, here’s a list of big superstores to avoid instead, if the Christmas shopping does eventually get too much.

  • Harrods
  • John Lewis
  • Debenhams
  • M&S
  • Tesco
  • Asda
  • The Range
  • B&M
  • Argos

If you decide to go into any of these shops, then God Speed and good luck to you my brave friend. PB260334.jpgThank you so much for reading, I hope you’re all enjoying Blogmas as much as I am…and here’s to hoping the Boxing Day Sales aren’t half as bad! Cheers!

X

The GBBO model of social media management.

Unless you live with your head firmly under a rock and your television set unplugged and facing the wall, you’ll have heard of, seen, and become addicted to, the Great British Bake Off.

The programme, which began in 2010, has recently returned in style and after amassing some of the highest viewing figures on the BBC this year, has been granted its own emoji on Twitter, and a following of over 1.5m across all social media platforms.

14383478_10208903204351432_1067323427_n

And yes, it can of course be argued that Bake Off has become so popular because of its content – its British niche, its diverse contestants, its kitsch homely branding and pastel painted rolling pins; but it is, at its most basic description, a cooking competition.

So what is it exactly that makes this foodie show stand out from the crowd? Longer running shows such as Master Chef, or Saturday Kitchen have never laid claim to cutesy emojis, or prime time viewing slots. And when the show first began, it scarcely scratched through the surface of a tea-time talk topic.

But now it’s online. And in the last five years, the Twitter profiles, Instagram Accounts and Facebook pages for the Great British Bake Off have actually lapped the viewing figures for the show itself.14349072_10208903204311431_900475502_n

So how have they done it, and how can you use it to help boost your business’s social media footprint in this digital age?

From the biggest televised baking programme to the smallest of puppy grooming parlours, every business should have a consistent social media campaign – to attract and inform, entertain and retain the interest of your consumers.

The digital marvels behind the GBBO Twitter account have got these four goals down to a T. They keep a consistent voice, schedule, content structure and media use in every Tweet they post, building up a relationship of familiarity and reliability with their audience that is clearly paying off pretty well for them.

With a system of at least one Tweet a day, reminding their followers of the upcoming programme or sharing their highlights of the previous one, and then a session of live Tweets as the episode airs for users to join in with and reply to, their social media timelines can almost be as entertaining as the programme itself.

But even if you’re not a business with a major weekly event to Tweet or post about, there are still plenty of useful tips you can pick up from the Bake Off social media accounts.

  1. Humour (Or a voice that suits your branding). For any of us who have had that age old argument over ‘it wasn’t what you said, it’s the way you said it’, the concept of conscious inflection is a familiar one, and one that really can make a big difference to how to interact with consumers. The voice behind the Bake Off Twitter account is one of enthusiasm and warmth, and the mad appreciation for the inane baking show that has taken over the UK – it compliments the tone of the show, and creates a secondary screen for Bake Off to be enjoyed upon. But if you’re a business with a more serious or professional branding, then a regular stream of topical facts or personal updates could work in your favour. Adopting a persona to humanise your branding is a simple route to establishing a relationship with your consumers, one that allows them to see you as more than just the machine they Google you on. 14389036_10208903837367257_212607065_n(Source: Twitter @greatbritishbakeoff)
  2. Creative Media. The mediums of photography, videography, and graphic design are some of social medias most hidden gems. A Tweet with an image is more likely to catch an eye than one without, whilst a video story on Instagram is more likely to entertain than a still picture. Get creative with your photography – attaching a cosy pic of your morning coffee to the first Tweet of the day is going to be make for a much more aesthetically pleasing timeline for consumers to enjoy that a simple, unfiltered line of text. Create an official and unique aesthetic for your business, whether it be exposed and polished, matte and low lit, or graphic and colourful, and use this format across every image, graphic and video you use to transmit your brand. GBBO has already bagsied the British-in-the-springtime pastel palette, with their flo-fauna flags and sugary sweet crockery, so take the time to find your own palette to suit the business you want the public to see.14360441_10208903967090500_1514023501_o(Source: Instagram @britishbakeoff)
  3. Verification. Ah that little blue tick that walks the line between official and officially faked. With that tick, it doesn’t matter what your account does, says, and how many times you use the #mondaymotivation, your Twitter account is authentic, and has been deemed useful and safe for the public to view. This tick can encourage consumers to engage with your profile, as they will know that it is trustworthy, and can also, by simple visual approval, make your account seem more important and professional. And now that Twitter has opened up an application process for the tick, if you’re a valid business or public brand, every account can be submitted for verification! To get your own Blue Tick, or to find out more about the Verification, a Twitter blogger has written a helpful little guide to talk you through the process. Good luck! cupcakes-de-twitter(Source: yourpieceofcake.com)
  4. Keywords. Every Tweet you share, every Instagram you post, every Facebook status you write will contain keywords. These are essentially the words that search engines and topic lists will pick up on to help bring your relevant content to the top of the search results page. If your business blogs, include as many keywords that can be linked to your niche as possible for example; ‘bake off’ ‘bake’ ‘gbbo’ ‘great british’ ‘baking’ ‘berry’ ‘hollywood’ are all keywords used, linked to, and easily identifiable with the Great British Bake Off. These are words that, should you type them into any search engine, social media search box, or SEO site, will connect you to the closest relevant name or topic. And to make sure that your brand, business or blog is at the top of that results list, narrow down your keywords, and tuck them into every corner of your site, social media, and digital space possible. Image names, URL slugs, hashtags, alt text options, snippets…The more a keyword is repeated, the higher it climbs that results page. 14348763_10208904168815543_1225656685_n
  5. Management. Your social media response time is something that genuinely does make a real difference in how consumers will view your brand. And whilst an account as large and popular as @britishbakeoff might not necessarily get the chance to reply or retweet every message and mention they get, they certainly make an effort to include their viewers in their social media profiles .Whether it’s a comical response, a share, a like or a follow, their accounts are ones of engagement and they have the power to make the consumer feel connected and en-par with their favourite show. So whether you employ someone to run your social media, use your own existing staff members, or simply do it yourself, making time to boost your social media profiles can definitely pay off in attracting new clients and users!

So before the Great British Bake Off descends up into BBC heaven and becomes a stripped bare Channel 4 nightmare, why not take the chance to make the most of the GBBO social media model, and build up your own business footprint around it?

With The Great British Bake Off back on the box and keeping us company during these short, hot and sticky evenings, it’s been impossible to avoid catching baking-fever. The supermarkets are stocking up on sugar, the muffin trays of Lakeland are flourishing in full form, and even Twitter has been going crazy over the tiny tent emojis released in a bout of gingham-decked giddiness.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd although I must admit that baking hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list over the past few months, the return of the show has, of course, reignited my passion for it, and upon being invited to a ‘Bake Off Screening Party’, I couldn’t help but dig out my old favourite mixing bowl and getting stuck in!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a recipe inspired by the lovely Paula Pia from her ‘Spelt Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream’ post, but with a few slight substitutions!

You will need:

  • 150g butter
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Buttercream icing

 1. Cream together your butter and ground almonds until they form a textured paste.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2. Pour in 4 tablespoons of agave nectar and mix.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Break in 2 medium free range eggs, stirring between each addition.

4. Sift and fold in the flour and baking powder before adding in the drops of vanilla essence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Divide mixture evenly between 12 cupcake cases.P8242565.jpg6. Bake for around 15 minutes at 185c  until risen and golden brown, and the surface begins to crack.

7. When baked and cooled, use a 6 point star nozzle to ice in pastel buttercream and enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

P8252612.jpgThese cupcakes, though not the bake I set out to create, actually worked out really well considering it was such an unfamiliar recipe! I’ve only ever used agave nectar once before and as a substitute for sugar – taste wise, it adds an almost syrupy richer flavour to the sponge, but consistency wise, it can actually make your batter a lot wetter than caster sugar would so make sure to blend it with a dry ingredient – such as desiccated coconut or ground almonds – to give your cupcakes some structure.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey taste delicious, and look adorable, and will go rather well with both your favourite Bake Off episode, and a nice cup of tea.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope you’re enjoying the Great British Bake Off as much as I am, and are having a lovely sunny week!

Thanks for reading!

X

 

I never wanted to be one of those bloggers that became lazy with their posts. Who returned and re-returned to old posts and archived posts because they ran out of ideas and inspiration. And whilst I have, by no means, run out of ideas for this blog, I have definitely run out of time and days in the week to regularly upload a new one. So I thought, for this week, I’d upload a Throwback Thursday Post from this time last year when I was attempting to complete a Bake Along Bake Off in time with GGBO. And as the show itself is making its grand return next Wednesday, it felt seasonally appropriate to bring this one back as my favourite bake of them all.

For this week I attempted to bake a simplified version of the Triple Baked Cheesecake Stack from the Showstopper Challenge; baking instead a single vanilla cheesecake with a twist!
Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.25.19
Following the theme created by Tamal and Ian’s cheesecakes, I chose to add a combination of fruit and herb flavours to my bake, using two overlapping recipes – one from Mary Berry herself, (here), and one from the french baking site L’atelier des Chefs (here) – by adding a colourful top layer of crushed raspberries and finely chopped mint leaves to my cheesecake.
The base of the cheesecake was probably the easiest part of this bake, however, as I tend to find with a few of Mary’s recipes, the amount of ingredients specified is never quite enough to create a good sized bake, and I usually end up doubling up the ingredients just to fill my cake tin. But eventually I was able to create a solid layer of biscuit base, and though my filling did take me rather a long time to whip up (the lack of an electric whisk or food mixer did cause a few problems when trying to turn gloopy egg whites into beautifully frothy peaks) my cream cheese mix was ready.
To add in my raspberry and mint layer, I simply measured out about 1/5 of the mixture and poured in a blend of finely chopped mint leaves and crushed raspberries until it was pink, and spread it onto, before popping it in the oven to bake.
Unlike a vanilla cheesecake, which would have formed a golden brown skin in the oven whilst baking, a coloured mix simply goes a little darker and spongier when cooking, which I didn’t realise for quite some time whilst baking. However, the safety net for any cheesecake bake is that even if the bake doesn’t quite set them solid, a good chill in the fridge will always hold them together, creating that creme brulee-ish ‘wobble’ so beautifully performed by Sandy in this week’s episode.
Finally, to decorate, I simply blended together the leftover raspberries and mint leaves, added a sprinkle of caster sugar to sweeten it slightly, and ran the glaze across the chilled cheesecake in a checkerboard formation with a skewer. Then I simply bundled together all the berries in my fridge, added a couple of whole mint leaves, and chilled again!
cheesecake-3.png
I am honestly so happy with the way this turned out, and the raspberry and mint flavours compliment each other so perfectly, it’s a beautiful summer dessert! Perfect to use up all those leftover berries before they go out of season in the Autumn months! Bake Rating: 10/10!
Thank you so much for reading! Will, of course, be back as soon as I can be with a fresh new beauty post, but for now have a lovely week!
 X

This must seem like the most contradictory blog post in the world. I spent the entirety of my last post gushing about the indulgences of Easter, how chocolate is essential, how sugar is a necessity, how you need sweetness to celebrate the season. And, yes, Easter is the time of year for hot cross buns 3 times a day and chocolate for breakfast and creme egg everything for most people.

But for me, having spent the past three months of the year trying to cut down on my unhealthy snacking, and my easy-heart-attack-worthy meals, when I decided to try my hand at a little Easter baking, I thought I’d choose a recipe a little more healthy than your standard cookie!There’s a trend amongst food bloggers at moment for ‘Skinny Cookies’ or ‘Skinny Baking’, and I am absolutely obsessed with it. Biscuits and cakes that still taste yummy, but aren’t going to reappear in your thighs two days later? How could I resist? And after scrolling through recipe after recipe of coconut flour cake pops, agave nectar cupcakes and cacao powder brownies, the healthy baker in me just couldn’t help herself from trying out a little Skinny Easter recipe of her own!

As explored in my previously dorky Easter-obsessed post, I’ve fallen hard for the Spring season this year, and in terms of baking, this is one of my favourite themes to incorporate into decorating my bakes! It’s my chance to break out the pastels, the sunny yellows and sugar pinks and soft mint greens, and swirl them into something seasonally adorable!These particular cookies were perhaps a little bit more fiddly than your typical butter biscuits, but honestly, I am so so happy with the end result! Not only do they look particularly tempting as a quick Easter treat, but they’re also relatively guilt-free to graze on, and for someone as perpetually hungry as I, that’s definitely a bonus! This recipe was actually inspired by the adorable looking Vegan Valentines Day Cookie Pops spotted on Wallflower Kitchen, so I hope I’ve done her proud with my own attempt!

You Will Need:

– 350g Plain Spelt Flour

– 10tbsp Agave Nectar

– 65g Dairy Free/Soy Butter

– 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

– 1 shot/15g Chia Seeds

– Unrefined Icing Sugar

– Food Colourings and Decorations

1. Sift together the spelt flour and the chia seeds, before combining gradually with the butter, vanilla extract and agave nectar.

2. Blend together the ingredients until it forms a relatively soft and malleable dough, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

*Spelt flour is a lot drier than regular grain flour so if you find your dough is too stiff, or crumbles easily, then gradually add small amounts of butter to it until it begins to stick together, and forms a soft, whole dough ball.

3. After 30 minutes, using a sprinkling of left over spelt flour, roll out your dough until it is no thicker than a £1 coin, and begin to cut out your biscuit shapes.

4. Bake for around 15 minutes, Gas Mark 5, until the biscuits are stiff enough to be lifted without bending. As there is no sugar in the dough, they won’t darken or brown unless burned, and will harden whilst cooling, so try to avoid leaving them in the oven for too long.

5. Whilst your cookies are cooling, mix up your icing, before diving it into smaller bowls to be coloured separately. To stick to a true Easter theme, use different piping bags or coloured icing to create an Easter Egg pattern on your biscuits, trailing wavy lines or chevron designs across the surface, and alternating between the different pastel shades.

For a truly Easter-style touch, use a little woven basket or rustic wooden surface to display your biscuits on, surrounded by only the cutest of Easter decorations you can find! It adds a little rustic Easter Bunny twist to your cookies, and makes them all the more tempting for passing Easter guests to nibble on!There are so many healthy alternatives in this recipe, from the natural sugars in the agave nectar, to the low cal wheat substitutes in the spelt flour, and the fiber-supplements in the chia seeds! There are so many nutritional benefits in healthy baking, and it only takes a quick google search to find out which standard baking ingredients can be swapped for some skinnier substitutes! 
If you’re looking for something quick, simple, and low-cal to bake this Easter, then I would definitely recommend giving it a try!

Thank you so much for reading, and Happy Easter Baking!

X