Sunday, 28 December 2014

festive showstopper


 This Christmas I was given the task of baking an alternative Christmas cake. Aside from my parents, very few of us actually like Christmas pudding or cake and I wanted to bring something equally as festive, but that I'd like to eat. After browsing some of my favourite food blogs, I settled on this gingerbread cake with cinnamon frosting by Lucy from Supergolden Bakes

I wont go into the how to, as you can see that all here, but I can confirm how simple this bake is! It feels like a GBBO 'showstopper', but doesn't require a huge amount of baking skill or specialist equipment. 

This would also make a gorgeous New Years Eve celebration cake, and uses up lots of those festive baking ingredients you may have lying around - treacle, ginger, cinnamon, oranges, cream etc. The recipe says to use a stand mixer but I don't have one (sob) and just used an electric handheld mixer which worked perfectly. The things I would do for a Kitchen Aid...

So, what do you think?

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

honeycomb holiday


With a mere five days to go 'til the big day (Christmas, that is...) I wanted to share with you the last instalment of foodie gifts. Like the other offerings I've shared with you - festive fridge cake and bronzed brownies - this is super simple to make and takes even less time than fridge cake. You can knock these up and decorate them in about an hour, good to go!

You will need
200g caster sugar
5 tablespoons golden syrup
3.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Start by weighing out your sugar in a saucepan, and then stirring in the golden syrup until it's as mixed together as it can be. Then pop onto a low-medium heat. The sugar mixture will start to melt, then bubble, turning a gorgeous golden colour. The tip is not to stir once it's on the heat - just shake the pan around a little to move things around if you need to. Then, take it off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda, nice and quickly. Pour onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, trying to pour out evenly so you don't have to smooth it down etc. The less you fiddle around with it, the more comb-like it will be! Leave to set (on the side or in the fridge depending on how long you have) for 15 minutes or so, until rock hard. 

Using your hands, break into pieces - I like uneven sizes for that homemade rustic feel! You can now leave them as they are, or dunk them into dark chocolate for that extra-indulgent treat. I like to further dunk mine into chopped roasted hazelnuts before popping into the fridge to set. 

And there you go - the perfect gift for Christmas! 

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

lysting


The teacher in me finds great pleasure and satisfaction in writing lists. Be it the fairly boring 'to do' list, or the significantly more exciting 'to buy' list... to the incredibly dangerous 'I wish' list. Lyst covers it all - a site which allows you to create wishlists with brands from high end to highstreet, all in one place. I'm one of those people who in reality isn't particularly good at putting outfits together, and love tools like these for getting inspiration and styling tips. 


Lyst is super easy to navigate – once you find a lust-worthy item (it won’t take long, promise!) you are just the click of a button away from adding it to any one of your lists. Be it winter warmers, gift ideas, holiday garms or something for the fella. It really is so simple and user-friendly, no faffing around with complicated boards or images here! As I say, I love the idea of making mood boards - I could easily kill hours looking through and creating looks. 



My winter weather lyst is made up of soft knits, buttery soft leather and flashes of caramel tones. The Gucci bag just makes me swoon. And those boots! Insert smitten face here. The good news is your lysts can be as expansive or as selective as you like. This above is more of a specific outfit, but you can really go to town with huge great lysts. I can foresee this being entirely addictive... and damaging for the 'house buying' fund. 

On a slight aside - what are we thinking about long cardigans? Are they making a comeback? 

collaborative post


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Thursday, 11 December 2014

sleigh bells


Another super easy festive gift idea, folks. I've blogged about my famous-with-friends fridge cake before... today however, its been Christmas-ified. That's right, in a few easy steps this incredibly easy and tasty recipe can be tweaked to be the perfect Christmas gift. I promise you, you'll become everyone's new best friend once they've tried these!

I followed my regular fridge cake recipe, but substituted half the 4oz of raisins for dried cranberries, threw in some white chocolate chips, and finished with my favourite Christmas sprinkling of bronze crunch. I saw in Sainsburys orange flavoured dried cranberries (in the baking aisle) which would work really well! 

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

nadolig llawen


Last weekend I jumped in my car and hopped it up the M4 to Cardiff. It'd been a while. I lived in Cardiff for four years in total - three when I was doing my undergrad (way back in 2006, where I met Rich... feeling old!) and then another year when I was doing my teacher training. When I lived there I held a lot of love for the city, but boy was I blown away on this visit! Cardiff has always had a great buzz, and in my time there a huge Topshop was built (every girl's dream), loads of new restaurants popped up and when I returned for my teacher training the new St David's 2 shopping centre had just opened. Having thought that alone was rather lovely, I was shocked to return this time to find a whole load of amazing shops, restaurants and bars had infiltrated the city. Think Burger and Lobster, Cosy Club, Wahaca... as well as some really amazing looking burger and BBQ joints. Cardiff, you've made it into the 21st century! 

I visited with a couple of my pals from my teacher training days, and we stayed in the Maldron hotel. Great location and affordable rooms, it was perfect. Obviously we were wooed by St Davids 2 and spent a few too many hours in and out of the shops, as well as stopping for food and drinks every couple of hours. We also visited Winter Wonderland which was pretty... crap. Yeh, it never was great, but this year it really did seem to be naff-tastic. The German Christmas market in town was much nicer, with bratwursts and mulled wine on every corner. Dreamy!

This little trip back to the Welsh capital has made me really miss my student days, and long for the ability to live somewhere so central but at an affordable price. I always forget how reasonable the cost of living is in Wales... it really does show how ridiculously overpriced Surrey (amongst others) is. You never know, maybe we'll make the move back one day...

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

bronzed brownies


On Friday afternoon I returned from work to commence an afternoon of festive baking. Bliss! I love baking at this time of year either for drinks party nibbles, indulgent sweet treats or for foodie Christmas gifts. 

Next weekend I'm going to a friend's house for a girlie evening of nibbles, prosecco and festive cheer - I can't wait! Each of us has been given something to provide food-wise, and naturally I signed up for pudding. I wanted to make something that could be made in advance and frozen, and that can be eaten warm or cold. I plumped for these best-ever brownies, and tweaked them to make them that little bit more festive adding chopped nuts, chunks of Terry's chocolate orange and a sprinkling of gold dust. Waitrose is always my first point of call for extra special baking ingredients, and at Christmas it never disappoints. I love these bronze crunch sprinkles for adding a bit of festive glitz - the good news is they keep their golden shine even after baking. I sprinkled them over the top of the uncooked brownie mixture before baking for about 40 minutes. 

Sundays are perfect for baking - good luck! 

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