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In Bruges

27 Jun

What else could I entitle this post? Have you seen the film!?

This is in the film right?

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You should see the film.

But we saw him in real life!!! :3 He was very cute and very lovely, of course. A nice man took us to see him on a boat 😛

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Cos’ canals are quite prolific in those parts.

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But here’s an interesting fact for you: there’s only 5 boat owners in the whole of Bruges, and they are only allowed 4 boats each! I’d say that was a good rule – preventing canal blockage and all that…

So basically, we went to Bruges and it was delightful 🙂

We ate a lot of food, but of course we ate that before we took pictures of it… For your imagination they included waffles with butter and sugar; steak tartare! (of all things!); rabbit cooked in beer sauce (yum! plus, rabbit is on like, EVERY menu around! Why are we English so anti-rabbit-eating?); banana split (not particularly Belgian but hey – bananas and ice cream are nice partners); raspberry beer and dark chocolate covered oranges… The eating was good.

Here are the non-food-related pictures that I’d like to share with you anyhow 🙂

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Stunning buildings wherever you look. The city is steeped in history and this is obvious from the inscriptions on a lot of the buildings – many of which were built in the 1600s!

They have 21 museums! If I recall correctly… Something like 16 public and 5 private?

We went to the Salvador Dali one. It was disturbing, to say the least. Does anyone else think it’s odd that the work he’s most famous for isn’t his insane rudey works? Because if you saw a collection of what he’s done you’d be like ‘Woah, like 10% of his stuff isn’t creepy and erotic, but that minority percentage is the stuff I’ve always liked him for!’ Well, you might not. Personally I’m a slight bit prudish and the likes of this were a bit much for me.

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Sorry guys, I didn’t even know whether to include that one, haha. But it’s art right? And children were allowed in so…

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Give me a spindly-legged elephant any day. They had miniature ones of these for sale and I SO would have loved one if they weren’t 63 euros :/

Cos’ the city is kind of expensive! But the produce they have available just oozes quality.

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This is soap! Mmhmm 🙂

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And of course the range of chocolate and other confectionery was fairly mind-blowing. I wish we got more pictures of that…

Another interesting discovery was that apparently, it is always Christmas in Bruges. Honestly, I really wish that we’d got pictures of the shop completely decked out in wreaths, full of toy soldiers and snow globes, but all I have to offer you in terms of proof is this:

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You don’t have to tell me this is awful and tasteless, haha. Blame the love. He found it ‘funny’.

We both found this funny:

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Sand-wishes :’) how cute! Cannibal toast!

I will leave you on that note. Goodbye! 🙂

Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake

23 May

Make this!

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I did, for my Dad’s birthday, and it is THE BEST cake I have had in a very long time.

It made my Dad very happy too 😀

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Partly because it contained all of his favourite things (cinnamon, apples, nuts, berries), and partly because the man likes cake.

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This cake has been at the top of my cake-making bucket list for a few years now, and it is a shame that it took me so long to get round to it!

The fruit is the perfect level of sweetness, the crumble is delightfully cinnamony, and the cake batter itself makes the moistest treat you could hope for!

And! Thanks to the layers of crumble throughout the cake, the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom! I found this amazing 🙂

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute pecans for hazelnuts as I (strangely) didn’t have any hazelnuts in. I am excited to make it again with a different mixture of fruit and nuts! Perhaps raspberry and pear crumble cake with chocolate chips in with the crumble? Oooh…

Now, Errol has nothing to do with this fabulous cake other than the fact that he too was meant to be a birthday present. I just had to name this post ‘Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake’ because it sounds like a book I would liked to have read when I was younger…

You may recall a post quite a while ago now where I pondered about what to get the love for his birthday. Safe but boring or slightly risky and amazing? I went with amazing 😀 and this is Errol:

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Right!?

So he’s 28 days premature because stealth-pants went routing around some papers I left out and found an Amazon invoice for a book entitled ‘How to Care for your Pet Tortoise’!!!

…Admittedly I left said papers out for him to shred at work and had no idea I’d left the invoice in with them… But yeah, he managed to figure it out from there and figured it would be better to tell the truth than to act surprised on his birthday.

I appreciated that, but of course I was gutted too!!! I had plans to make a huge deal of it on his birthday, presenting the tank to him decorated with balloons and bunting… *sigh*

Still, Errol was received VERY warmly and VERY excitably (is that a word?) so I am super happy that I chose him 😀

Off to the butterfly farm tomorrow and then it’s half term!

Oh I do love this time of year 🙂 🙂 🙂

Decoupage Cows, Panda Cupcakes and Other Nonsense.

30 Apr

The time has finally come, dear readers, to unveil the astonishing piece of art I prepared for Dave’s birthday.

Feast your eyes on this:

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Yes! Gasp you should!

For those of you who are none the wiser about these ‘amoosements’ (one of Dave’s, not mine!), here is an excerpt from my Liebster Award post that hopefully explains the madness succinctly 🙂

So I am very pleased with the result, only I do wish I’d gone for the jeans-style decoupage paper to give the little guy some comfy trews! Dave likes the 70s vibe he’s got going on though, so all is well. I also thought his shoes deserved laces, but… one can go too far…

So yes! The 30th is Dave’s birthday.

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And of course that means cake.

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BUT it is also my babe of a brother’s birthday!!! And that means MORE cake!

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I believe I mentioned how inundated I am with birthdays this month (thank God it is May tomorrow – even if it is a bit ‘say whaaaaat? May already!?’) in my Celebrations of April post… Sorry about all the references to previous posts guys but this whole cownundrum (haaaaaa) has had quite a build up for me 😛

Yes, so as I was saying, a shed-load of birthdays, but I just want to underline the fact that I don’t mean to shadow all of the other special people’s birthdays in favour of Dave’s for any other reason than COWS!!! And LOOK WHAT I MADE!!! Sorry Dave, no offence 😀 cows.

And pandas.

I thought they would please my brother as they are suitably kitsch and all the rest of it. Plus I made one of them a saaaad panda which correlates with one of his most often used quotes 🙂

I would say that they pleased me too, but after laboriously decorating 3 cows and 3 pandas, I defy anyone to get tired of the repetition. Especially when you have a poorly shoulder and… enough moaning. I also made the mistake of stacking the finished articles in a cake tin. MISTAAAAAAAAKE I tell you! The eyes are the hardest parts to do and of course they were all smudged and had to be redone. These cakes are not stackable or easy to travel with. They take patience, love and strong healthy shoulders. But they are adorable :3

It took an awfully long time because the recipe I used did not state how many cakes it was for… So I assumed that if there were going to be enough cakes for two birthdays then I’d have to double the amounts. WRRONG! The mixture was enough for 48 normal-sized cakes. Please bear in mind that the aforementioned recipe was for MINI cupcakes. Mind-blown.

Boredom, by the way, did account for a few of the weirder cakes. I don’t know if you spotted the odd one out on the previous picture? Have another go:

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It’s a dolphin. Yes. Harry Potter also adorned the face of one cupcake, as did farm animals in a hot tub (also featured above) and the love’s artistic impression of himself.

So, moving on to the recipe which I will re-halve so that it is intended to make 24 normal-sized cupcakes 🙂

Serves 24.

Oh! (sorry, so much to fit into this post!) The cake recipe is in cups, the icing isn’t – I hope that isn’t an issue. If it is, I will totally do the honours of converting things for you 😀

For the Cakes:

  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or other non-flavourful oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup hot water

For the Frosting:

  • 400g cream cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Decoration:

First of all, a note on decoration: if you’ve taken a look at the recipe I used, you will see that the cupcakes over on there are super beautiful, perfect and all the rest of it. Trust me, if I thought I could find white sanding sugar, a black edible ink pen and pastel confetti sprinkles without too much bother then I would have. The effect is amazing. I improvised with caster sugar, leftover icing and black designer icing which comes in it’s own decorator bag… not as neat but it did the trick.

  • Icing (see above) 
  • Black designer icing
  • Caster sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chocolate buttons
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and prepare a cupcake tray with cupcake cases. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the dry cake ingredients together.
  3. Add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add the hot water, mix and DON’T PANIC! At this stage the concoction in front of you will look like a pool of… well, brown liquid. Have faith! Keep mixing until there is some body to the mixture. It will still seem too fluid, but the cakes turn out gorgeously moist once baked. Just go with it.
  4. Fill the cupcake cases about half way up. They rise A LOT! Then bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  5. While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the icing by mixing the cream cheese with the vanilla until smooth. Then sift in the icing sugar and fold gently to incorporate. This is my brother’s favourite icing 🙂
  6. Prepare a plate of caster sugar and set up all of the other decorating bits in an assembly-line fashion. When the cakes are cool, top them with a heaped teaspoon of the icing, then turn them upside down and gently squish them in the sugar. This will spread the icing evenly over the the cake, so don’t worry too much about perfecting the smoothness of the icing beforehand 🙂
  7. For pandas, use 2 chocolate buttons as eyes and 2 as ears. A chocolate chip for the nose and chocolate sprinkles for the mouth 🙂 then use the handle of a little spoon (or something) to dip in the icing and dab a circle on each eye. Finally, use the black designer icing to draw on the pupils. For cows, it’s pretty much the same except I used 2 chocolate chips as nostrils and I halved chocolate buttons to make cow-like splodges on their faces 🙂 I also chopped up chocolate buttons for their horns.

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Woop!

One last thing before I go.

I am ever, EVER so grateful for this beautiful badge:

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I have neglected wearing too many times. From now on it shall be pinned eternally to… my heart… if not my clothes.

🙂

The Celebrations of April

18 Apr

For a long time I have been in a frustrating funk where cooking is concerned. I’d utterly lost my mojo, motivation and satisfaction.

But! (I hope) this month things are changing, helped along by the multiple birthdays April comes with. My uncle’s, my mom’s, my friend’s, two of my brothers, the love’s step-dad AND his daughter all celebrate their birthday this month! Then come May and June during which the pressure does not reduce much.

So far the uncle, the friend’s and one of the brother’s birthdays have passed and I have made something for two out of three of those occasions. I was adamant that I would make something for my friend but she’s one of those types who plead with you not to make a fuss. Now it’s a very busy time at the moment otherwise I would have done as I pleased despite this, but just mark my words Megan – I will not let this slide 😉

I have used two recipes found online that I have barely altered, and if I made them again I would do exactly the same thing because they are perfect.

The first, which I made for my uncle, is this gorgeous nut brittle. I LOVE nut brittle, but this is the first time I’ve had a go at making it. It all seemed to be going perfectly, but unfortunately I made the mistake (I think) of taking the caramel off the heat too soon. This meant that when I looked in the fridge after leaving it to set overnight, the caramel was slowly oozing it’s way aaaaaall over the place! It was rescued however, by changing the greaseproof paper it was sitting on several times. This got rid of excess sticky stuff to leave nut brittle as it should be. You can use any combination of nuts and seeds that you like, and it has a sumptuous dark chocolate base which is just so necessary! Unfortunately I took no photos 😦 the reason being that at first, I forgot because I have become accustomed to not posting these things, and later because I thought it was ruined… But there are lots of lovely (albeit Christmassy) pictures of the finished article on the link I provided above.

For those of you out there who are caramel experts (which I am definitely not), am I right in thinking my mistake was not boiling the caramel for long enough? Or do you think there is simply too much caramel in ratio to the nuts? It is very sweet so, maybe… Not too sweet for my tastes but maybe some people’s. I’d consider making it with salted nuts actually. Oooh…

Now, I REALLY pushed the boat out for my brother’s birthday! I made a seven-layer rainbow cake which took me an awfully long time – I ended up in the kitchen at 11.30pm exhausted and covered in icing! It was so worth it, but I didn’t reap the full benefits of it there and then as I was so concerned about it having the right effect when it was sliced into.

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IT DID!

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And it was extremely well received!

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At my Grandma’s house…

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Where everyone said it tasted as good as it looks 😀

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There were so many compliments flying around I felt like it was my birthday!

Now I am out of pictures so I guess a little more description would be the way to go… Well, I highly recommend it!

My other brother (who has said that since I’ve made this for Liam I have to outdo myself for his birthday) doesn’t like icing, but he claims the ability to eat bowls of this. It is practically the same icing used for Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake. As for outdoing myself… I don’t know what to do guys!!! I’m thinking along the lines of cupcakes, and now that this challenge paid off I’d really like another one… But I really will have to get my thinking cap on.

In other words, it is good. Do it.

Watch this space for more recipes 🙂

The Liebster Award :D

2 Apr

Maybe I should stay away from my blog more often?

Haha, no on the contrary – recent nominations have buoyed me up Scottie and… you may have noticed that I posted a RECIPE of all things recently! Oh yes!

Well, I wouldn’t want to appear all big headed would I? It’s not like I’m basking in the sudden adoration I’m getting from my WordPress followers or anything…

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Sorry, I am totally joking PLEASE don’t take me seriously!

Anyway, I will get on with the show, beginning with a HUGE thank you to Hayley, my wonderful friend. If you need a cookie recipe guys, click on that link back there and you will be in heaven. Now you should take me seriously, I mean does that girl like cookies or does she like cookies!? You get the point.

So, rules to follow when you are nominated…

  1. Upload a picture of the Liebster Award badge onto your blog post (copy it off here – easiest way?).
  2. Post 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions posted by the person who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 11 people of your own choosing.
  5. Post 11 questions of your own choosing to the above people.
  6. Notify your nominees and include links to the their blogs as well as the blog of the person who nominated you! Nominator? Might be a useful word to use in terms of making sentences more concise…

When choosing your nominees, bear in mind that The Liebster Award is intended to recognize up-and-coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers, but I agree with my ‘nominator’ that we shouldn’t be making life too hard for ourselves should we? I’d say bear it in mind but nominate your favourites if you get stuck!

Eleven facts about myself.

1. I actually do have less than 200 followers on this here blog! I don’t know if people can see how many followers I do have… but the majority of those are from my Tumblr blog which I’ve had for much longer. Shameless plug? Okay! It’s over at ahappycollage.tumblr.com 😀

2. I hold a grudge against Rachel Khoo for making me believe that learning to cook Cordon Bleu is attainable for someone who doesn’t have £20-30 thousand just lying around… She embarked on her course with just £500 in her pocket apparently! Pah! Got me all excited thinking I’d be banging out my own cook books any minute now… Not bitter… Really I’m not 😎

3. The happier I am, the more I sing. My favourites are songs I can really belt out like Motown and the odd power ballad 😛 I have to apply huge amounts of self-restraint if I am in public and in a good mood when a great song comes on. For example, looking at the stir-fry vegetables in Asda when Cher starts playing… just keep your head down Anna this will pass!

4. I always thought that I hated soup, but then I made my own and it’s flipping good! Tins of soup… eurgh! Destroying too many soupy opportunities throughout my life.

5. The love’s step-dad has long since being tormenting me with cow-related gifts. It all began with the Colman’s advert for gravy during which the cow shaped gravy boat gets up and dances… I found this wholly wrong as surely the cow wouldn’t be celebrating the fact that he has been made into gravy!? I made the mistake of telling aforementioned step-dad how much it disgusted me and I now own 3 cow shaped gravy boats; a book entitles ‘Beautiful Cows’ and a cow hand puppet amongst copious other gifts that I will one day make a shrine out of and post on here to show you all just how out of hand this has gotten. However, I have spent part of my day adding the final touches to my REVENGE! 😀 I can’t give too much away in case he catches sight of this… but suffice it to say I do not think he will beat this one! It’s for his birthday so… I’ll post it once that’s been and gone (end of April guys, hold your breath!) 😉

6.Talking about the love, I’m having a slight dilemma over what to get him for his birthday. It’s in June, but this is me leaving things late! Do I go for a present that he’ll definitely appreciate but is kinda boring, or do I go for the exciting present that he might accept through gritted teeth? It’s a fantastic idea that I have, but will it be a bit too much? Hmm…

7. I would give my right arm to go to Morocco. But don’t quote me on that, I just really want to go.

8. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m interesting enough for 11 facts about myself… Ooh! How about this, the last restaurant I went to was Wagamama! Here are some pictures:

Oh, I did have pictures but I can’t locate them right now which is irritating. I had the yasai katsu curry. It was delicious.

What do you think of Wagamama?

9. I went to see The Croods yesterday and left the cinema with red eyes and a tear-stained face. Such a beautiful film, but I just can’t cope with the sheer amount of love and epic moments in these kind of films! I mean, the trailers choke me up, so by the time the film starts I am welling up and spilling over. It feels like something is squeezing my heart, haha.

10. This is what I bought the love for Easter:

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Amazing right!? Super big surprise and everything! I also bought lots of little things and hid them in impossible places 😀 it was most fun.

11. I filled this out on 2 separate occasions – it’s hard work!

Answers to Hayley’s questions:

1. Favorite workout?

I don’t really work out, but I get cabin fever very quickly and have to go on regular excursions to spend some energy. I don’t drive and don’t want to, so I have to walk or ride my bike everywhere anyway – I cross my fingers that that’s enough! 

2. What was your favorite toy as a kid?

I wasn’t really a toy loving child – I adored books and teddies 🙂 still do to be honest! I remember when I was really young though, I had one of these: 

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But less fancy… I used to love making all the different combinations of bears that I could :3 

3. What do you want to be when you grow up? Yes. You read that right: if money and time and experience were no object, what would you do?

If money, time and experience were no object (RACHEL KHOO!) I would jump at the chance to learn to cook cordon bleu (or just get any kind of decent cookery qualification) and write cookery books/test recipes for the rest of my life. 

4. Favorite type of amusement park ride?

I used to love theme park rides, but I’ve found that the older I get the more wimpy I become… Even so, I love roller-coasters 🙂 

5. Most hilarious elementary school memory?

Oh God, I have so many! Assuming that elementary school is the same as high school? I don’t know, me and my friends just had the most fun behaving like idiots that a.) I can’t pick one and b.) I’m not sure I’d want to share it if I could! Just imagine stupid things like friend A tripping over a huge tree root, friend B laughing and making fun, followed by friend B tripping over the same root and falling flat on her face 😀 good times! 

6. Your favorite food to eat in college… or now. But you have to pick only one! Muahaha.

I’m going to go wiiiiiiiiiiiiith… yoghurt! I couldn’t get enough of it at one point… Muahaha indeed though, that is such a mean and restrictive question!

7. If you could time travel and attend any historical event ever, what would it be?

I’m not sure about an event as such, but I would love to have a sneak peek at what the Ancient Egyptians were getting up to. I’d be some inconspicuous member of the Royal palace and lap it all up!

8. What motivated you to start blogging?

I’d been passionate about food and cooking for a long time but felt a bit too pants to share it with anyone, but I thought it’d be good for my confidence if I gave it a go with the added bonus of being able to find other people with similar interests. It has been so worth it 🙂 

9. You have a totally unscheduled, obligation-free day ahead of you. What do you do with it?

Um… Well right now it’s the Easter holidays… But I do have college obligations… So… It depends if other people were free and things. If the love was free tomorrow and it was gloriously sunny we would go to the zoo and feed some baby animals :3 and they’d be selling gourmet ice cream so obviously we’d have some of that, and we’d buy a massive teddy from the gift shop and it would sit by us on the train home. It’s a shame that tomorrow I actually have 2 doctors appointments and a hair cut followed by (if I can motivate myself) more college work. Pah! 

10. If you had to pick one cause to champion for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Conservation. It makes me incredibly angry when I think about how selfish the human race can be, and how we are destroying the chance of so many different creatures from surviving when they have every right to be here just like we do! So yeah… Good question I might steal that one! 

11. If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be, and why?

One of the Narnia children. I want to go to Narnia. 

11 Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If you won ridiculous amounts on the lottery, what would you do with it?
  2. What are your guilty pleasures?
  3. What are your 3 favourite traits in a person?
  4. What kind of things make you happy?
  5. If you had to pick one cause to champion for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  6. Food heaven and food hell?
  7. If you had children, what would you call them? If you do have children, what are their names and why did you choose them?
  8. If you were granted one wish, the effects of which would last for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
  9. Your favourite book? Sell it to me!
  10. The best dessert you have ever had?
  11. Where in the world would you most like to visit?

I’m looking forward to reading the answers for these! 😀

Last but not least, my nominees:

  1. Catastrophic Findings
  2. Pasta Princess and More
  3. Words and Herbs
  4. Cook Every Day
  5. Fancy Food Fancy
  6. I’mma Eat That
  7. Blueberries and Oats
  8. The Home Heart
  9. Unwind Cooking
  10. Home Creations Everyday
  11. Yummy Food Made Easy

Umm… and now that I’ve finished that… Can anyone tell me what’s supposed to happen once you’ve been nominated? Or is that where it ends? Thanks! 😀

 

 

An Award Nomination!

24 Mar

In the midst of feeling rather distant from my blog, I receive something lovely and heart-warming such as this nomination for The Sunshine Award!

I haven’t received anything like this before and so I’m likely to make some mistakes here, but I think that basically what I have to do is answer a few questions and nominate 10 blogs of my own choosing, including links to their blogs in this post. The other rules (I believe) are to link back to the person that nominated you and to let the people you have nominated know that you have nominated them! Wow, have I just made that sound far more complicated than it is? Let’s find out…

1. Who is your favorite philosopher?

I don’t have a favourite philosopher of such, but I love certain quotes which I translate into philosophies for myself… such as “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. I think Rumi said that! 

2. What is your favorite number?

14. I’m very superstitious about the number that comes prior to this… so 14 balances out the bad luck in my mind. It is also the date of my birthday 🙂 

3. What is your favorite animal?

I love lots of animals, but rhinos are my current fascination. 

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter URLs?

I don’t have Twitter at all and barely use Facebook, and I don’t have links to either from this blog.

5. What is your favorite time of day?

About 10am – it’s so bright and fresh – there is still time for lots of opportunities throughout the day!

6. What was your favorite vacation?

I always remember Turkey as being fantastic although I was very young when I visited. Paris was amazing but I’d love to go back and stay for longer.

7. What is your favorite physical activity?

Riding my bike 🙂

8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Tea.

9. What is your favorite flower?

Crocuses. So colourful and usually a symbol of Spring. I say usually because there are crocuses out at the moment but there is also a thick layer of snow…

10. What is your passion?

Food and caring for children. In no particular order.

My nominations for the Sunshine blog award are…

And last but not least, thank you so much for making my day Ankit! Not only did it cheer me up to know that somebody values this little blog of mine, but I also discovered a truly wonderful blog by following your link! 🙂

Battenberg Cake and a Remorseful Explanation

19 Feb

Another long absence of recipes, and I do miss the blogging community! But life has been happening in a very unfortunate way lately, and it seems that the way I’m coping is to bury my head in the sand avoiding as many of my responsibilities as I can get away with… More than I get away with in all honesty – it’s a good job I have understanding college tutors put it that way!

When I started this blog, everything was looking beautifully rosy and I was fit to burst with the need to share that with everyone. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many things I have to be thankful for, but unfortunately the bad seems a lot more prominent than the good at the moment. I won’t go into any detail because it is personal and family related, but I am outlining the current atmosphere alla Anna to ask you most pleasantly, “Please will you bear with me on this one?” I will even share a recipe for Battenberg cake with you? 🙂

This is me anyway (just to show I’m alive – it’s not flattering in the slightest, I look tired and bug-eyed, but then maybe I am bug-eyed and I am probably tired. That is fine by me! The background is cool though I think):

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And this is Martin, because he too is alive and well, although really, I wish he would eat some of my Battenberg. He refuses to eat his lizard food after all! Oh, and the back of the love’s head. Also alive:

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On a more practical note, it has been difficult for me to post as everything I touch seems to break at the moment. The love had lent his camera charger to a friend so I couldn’t upload photos and my laptop decided to develop one tiny little issue that cost me £126 to repair today. So if I really am going to get back in the posting saddle now, you can expect recipes I created before I was conned out of a ridiculous amount of money, or meals including Spam. Just for a while of course 😉

Wouldn’t you know that my phone has been on the blink for weeks now too? “Life doesn’t happen in ones”, as my wise and wonderful friend Hayley once said, “that would be too easy”…

Now, for the cakes –

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– it really is worth making 2 because it is not much more effort than making 1, and making 1 is quite a lot of effort! 😛 Well worth it though, as it tastes just perfect, just like ‘the real thing’, and it is always so fulfilling to create something that you normally only ever buy processed. Did I mention you can freeze one of the cakes for up to a month as well? So there really isn’t much to complain about 🙂

What I like to do is prepare the batter for each cake in a separate mixing bowl, just so I can relax while the first cake is in the oven. I wouldn’t bake them both at the same time to avoid uneven cooking and all that. In any case I only have one appropriate tin. So that’s why I’ve put 2 times all of the ingredients, rather than write the list out twice. I would like to make one thing VERY clear: Almond extract goes in the PLAIN cake, NOT in the PINK cake. PINK food colouring goes in the PINK cake, NOT almond extract. You would think this was straightforward, but if you’re anything like me…

If you follow my bossy rules you will find that the process of actually making the cakes is easier than you could imagine! The difficult part (for me at least) lies in assembling the damn thing, but that is because I am a caggy-handed monster who tends to balls things up when it comes to making them look neat and beautiful (have you seen my gingerbread house!?). I am sure you will be much more adept than me 🙂 

Makes 2 Cakes, Each Cuts Into 10 Slices

  • 2 x 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 2 x 175g golden caster sugar
  • 2 x 140g self-raising flour
  • 2 x 50g ground almonds
  • 2 x 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 x 3 eggs
  • 2 x 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (for the PLAIN sponge mixture!!)
  • 1/2 tsp pink food colouring (for the PINK sponge mixture!!) – you may need more or less depending on the intensity of the paste. Don’t attempt to use red thinking it will pass off as pink. It really doesn’t, and again you may think this is common sense. But if you’re anything like me…

To Assemble

  • 200g apricot jam
  • 1 x 500g block marzipan (white or golden)
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Firstly, line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180°c. 
  2. Literally plonk 1 times the first 7 ingredients each into 2 mixing bowls, adding the almond extract to 1 and the pink colouring to the other. Mix it aaaaall up until it is nice and smooth!
  3. Scrape one bowl of mixture into the tin, spreading it out to the corners, and bake for 25-30 minutes while you lazily scroll through Tumblr (I’m not speaking from experience of course)… The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  4. Re-line the tin and proceed as above with the second cake! While this one is baking, I would prepare the jam and the marzipan. Heat the jam in  a saucepan until runny, then sieve. Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan as thinly and as oblong-y as you can, remembering that you need to be able to cover 2 rectangular cakes with it. This is easier said than done, so you can, if you like, buy 2 blocks of marzipan to save on stress. This does cause an awful lot of waste though, and once battered about on a work surface and dotted with specks of icing sugar, there isn’t really a lot to use the leftover marzipan for! It is a shame to chuck away such celestial almondness… Moving on, I find it best to lift the marzipan up off the work surface from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  5. Assuming that both of your cakes are now cool, slice a sliver of cake off three sides of the square, purely for neatness. Then substantially trim the remaining un-trimmed side of each, creating 2 rectangular Battenberg-sized cakes. Roughly measure the height of the cakes, then use a ruler to cut 4 slices the same width as the height on each cake. So you’ll have 4 pink and 4 plain long rectangles, with equal hight and width. Again, this can be very wasteful, but people tend to be more willing to eat scraps of cake than scraps of mauled marzipan.
  6. Brush the marzipan with the apricot jam. Lay one pink and one almond slice next to each other at one end of the marzipan, leaving about 5cm clear marzipan at the end. Brush jam in between the slices to stick them together. Brush more jam on top of the sponges, then lay a pink slice on top of the almond slice, and an almond slice on top of the pink slice. You know what you want, a checkerboard pattern! Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes, then lift it up over the cake, smoothing it as you go. Crimp the edges with your fingers and thumb, or use the prongs of a fork. Repeat with the remaining cake!

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As mentioned previously, the cake can be frozen for up to a month. Otherwise, keep them in airtight containers/covered in cling-film for 3-4 days.

This has got me thinking of all sorts of exciting flavour combinations you could use! I keep thinking lavender and something… Maybe lemon? It will have to be done.

And may I leave you with a stunning but entirely unrelated picture of flowers courtesy of the love?

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