Gigs and Macaroons

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What a week! I went up to London on Thursday to see my housemate from university and to go see a gig in Notting Hill. If you haven’t heard of Bear’s Den, then definitely look them up! They’re in the process of releasing their first album, and having heard their songs, I can promise you that it’s going to be such a treat! It was such a lovely venue and so chilled out. The crowd seemed to genuinely love the den and were hanging on to every chord.

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So much love for Bear’s Den last night #tabernacle #bearsden #gignight

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Listen to them here.

On Friday, we went back into central London to have a wander and to have a good old catch up. We started off in Spitalfields market – one of my favourite in London. And of course I couldn’t pass on the chance to pop into a Hummingbird Bakery! I went for the Smoreanne cupcake.

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I’ve actually made these before and can confirm that they are delicious!

We then headed towards Shoreditch. I’ve never been before and had heard that it was a good place to watch the world go by. If I’m honest, we were very underwhelmed. I don’t think it helped that neither of us had any internet and couldn’t figure out where the actual main ‘bit’ of Shoreditch was.

So after waiting for what seemed like forever for a bus, we headed back towards Chelsea and Kings Road. We popped into the Lush Spa to have a mooch, and then made our way towards the Saatchi Gallery. If you’re ever in the Chelsea area then definitely head to this place! It’s 100% free and has a really interesting collection of modern art.

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But on to the important bit – cake! What better way to wrap up a wonderful few days than to indulge in some macaroons? Well, I don’t think there is a better way! I’m still getting excited by the signs that autumn is here! (Even the rain.) So I went for an autumnal feel for these macaroons. Because I am still finding my way with macaroons I went basic. The shells are just vanilla – I didn’t want to mess around with adding more or less liquid or ingredients. But for the filling I used toffee sauce (I know it’s cheating but I was really focussing on getting the shells right before moving on to more complicated things). I blended the toffee sauce with an apple that I had baked with some cinnamon and brown sugar and voila – the filling is good to go!

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Toffee Apple Macaroons

Ingredients

Macaroon

175g Icing sugar

125g Ground almonds

3 Large egg whites*

75g Caster sugar

1-2 tsp Vanilla essence

¼ tsp gel food colouring**

*If you’re organised enough, then I’d suggest separating these eggs the night before and leaving them in the fridge. I’m not sure what it does if I’m honest but all the books tell you to do it!

**Really try to use a gel food colouring. Macaroons are so fussy and just a little too much liquid could ruin it all!

Filling

1 Eating apple

1 tbsp Cinnamon

1stp Light brown sugar

6 tbsp toffee sauce

Method

Filling

1. The night before, peel, chop and core your apple into 1cm square pieces.

2. Spread out on a baking tray and sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 90C (fan) for about an hour. They will have visibly dried out.

3. Pop them in a container and leave them at room temperature overnight.

4. Once you have made your macaroon shells, mix together the apple pieces with the toffee sauce. You may need some cornflower just to thicken up the mix.

Shells

1. Whizz together the almonds and the icing sugar until very fine. Sieve into a bowl and chuck any grainy bits that won’t go through the sieve.

2. In a large, clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites and a small pinch of salt and the food colouring using an electric whisk until you get soft peaks. Add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking in well. Add the flavouring and continue whisking until you have a very stiff, smooth and glossy meringue.

3. Using a silicon spatula or large metal spoon, fold in half of the almond-sugar mix in a figure of eight action. Fold in the rest until just combined – the mixture should be glossy and run off the spoon in thick ribbons. (When my mix was ‘just combined’, it was still quite lumpy and definitely not glossy, so I carried on folding until I got a better texture)

4. Place a silicone macaroon mat onto a baking tray, or if you don’t have one draw equal sized circles onto baking paper with a pencil and line a baking tray with it. Spoon the mix into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm nozzle. Keeping the bag upright, pipe small rounds into your circles, being careful not to go over the edges. Sharply tap the baking tray onto a surface a few times to knock out any rogue air bubbles.

5. Dip your finger in cold water and very gently smooth the tops of the macaroons. Leave them in a cool, dry place for around 20 mins to settle and firm. They *should* form a ‘skin’ and no longer be sticky to the touch. Preheat the oven to 140C (fan). I left my macaroons out for about an hour and nothing happened, so I got bored and popped them in the oven – as far as I could tell there was no problem, so it depends how patient you’re feeling!

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins until the top is crisp and smooth and the base is crisp with a frill around the edge. Mine didn’t need that long in the oven, maybe only 15 mins. Apparently opening the oven door after 15 mins is good though – it lets out any steam and makes the shells crispier!

7. When they’re ready, take them straight off of the baking tray and on to the side. Leaving them on the baking tray will mean that they continue to cook.

8. When they are completely cool, fill a piping bag with your filling and pipe a small amount onto half the macaroons. Then sandwich together and enjoy!

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Healthy S’more Bars

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Healthy S’more Bars

Believe it or not, these yummy gooey bars aren’t as bad for you as they might sound!

Trade out regular flour for quinoa flour and you’ve got something that’s gluten free but without the nasty, dry, crumbly-ness of using gf flour.

You can get away with using less butter by using hazelnut butter because it does the same job to bind together all the ingredients.

The chia seeds aren’t 100% necessary (they don’t add anything to the taste) but they add a nice crunch and it’s an easy way to get more protein into your diet.

In fact, if you’re struggling to find quinoa flour, hazelnut butter or chia seeds then by all means just use plain flour and omit the rest – it’s entirely your choice!

Recipe

Base

Oats

Quinoa flour

Soft light brown sugar

Unsalted butter (softened)

Hazelnut butter

Chia seeds

Bicarbonate of Soda

Salt

Vanilla essence

 

Filling

Chocolate chips

Mini marshmallows

 

Top

Soft light brown sugar

Unsalted butter (softened)

Oats

Quinoa flour

Chia seeds

Hazelnut butter

Digestive biscuits

Bottom and Middle Layer

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  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (This is because I use a fan oven, otherwise use 170C, GM 3-4). Line a baking pan with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oats, quinoa flour, sugar, bicarb, salt, butter, hazelnut butter, chia seeds and vanilla extract. Stir until you get a crumbly type of. Press this “dough” into the bottom of the baking tray, as if you were making a base for cheesecake.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top and remove from the oven. (The hazelnut butter will make the mix look slightly darker than normal, so be careful not to over bake!
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top to melt.
  5. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top of the chocolate chips.

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Top Layer

  1. Beat together the sugar and unsalted butter until light and creamy. The stir in your oats, broken up digestives and flour. Mix in a spoonful of chia seeds and a tablespoon of hazelnut butter.
  2. Scoop the dough (I used a coffee-measuring-scoop-spoon thing, but an ice-cream scoop would work even better) over the marshmallow layer. The dough doesn’t cover it completely, but will cook together somewhat. Just place the balls of dough evenly over the marshmallows and gently spread out the scoops. Don’t try to fill all of the gaps!
  3. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes (it will still be a bit gooey), then remove and allow to cool. These taste great right out of the oven, but take a good hour to fully set. If you don’t mind messy bars, then dig in!

 

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This recipe makes about 16 slices.

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 Curl up with a good book and a cup of tea and enjoy these as the nights get colder and darker!


Autumn Walks and Apple Crumble Cupcakes

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Autumn Walks and Apple Crumble Cupcakes (and lots of pictures!)

I’m sure I’ve already given it away, but I love Autumn! I love the changing of the season – the colour of the leaves, the colder mornings, Pumpkin Spiced lattes.

Sunday was a gorgeously sunny day so I decided to don the wellies and go for a walk. I’m incredibly lucky to live so close to the countryside and I’m ashamed to say I don’t make the most of it!

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Home from our walk, we set about making a roast dinner, which is where these apple crumble cupcakes come in.

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Yes, these really are as intense as they sound!

I love the idea of taking a pudding and creating a cupcake, but I’m not 100% sure that it pays off with this recipe.

Hummingbird Bakery tells you to make the sponge, stew the apples, create your own custard and prepare the crumble – really quite challenging!

This recipe here looks like a simpler version of what I used. For example, it suggests using custard powder rather than making one from scratch.

Apple Crumble Cupcakes Recipe

I hope you liked the slightly different style of blogging and the photos!

Have a great week x


 

Autumn Favourites

A/W 2014 Favourites

I’m trying something different today!

If you’re in the UK then you know that Autumn is certainly here, and with the change of season I thought it would be a good time to go through all my baking goodies and share my thoughts on what I’m loving at the moment.

Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days

I’m sure it’s no surprise for you that I love this book! Hummingbird is one of my favourite bakeries and I rarely get through a trip to London without visiting one of these shops while I’m there. The recipes are so straight forward and easy to follow meaning that the bakes turn out right (almost) every time. I also love the photography in this book. It’s bold, simple and makes all the cakes look absolutely delicious. What I love most about Cake Days though is the fact that the cakes always taste exactly like they do from the actual bakeries. I’ve had this book for almost three years and it is still the first book I turn to for inspiration.

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Biscoff Spread

Bit of a strange choice, I admit. Do you remember those little caramelised biscuits you got at coffee shops with your drink? Well this spread is the biscuit in a condensed form! I’m going to use my pot of spread to make some Linzer biscuits with a Biscoff filling – perfect for autumn!

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Breville Hand Mixer

It may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but I love the colour on this! It’s a gorgeous mint green/pistachio colour. It has five speeds and is really light weight, so it is super easy to use. It also has a flat heel meaning that you can rest it on the base without the worry that it will topple over and throw cake batter all over your kitchen!

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Cath Kidston Pinny

I was given these two tea towels for Christmas last year, and while I’ve been away at university I’m ashamed to say that they have sat at the bottom of a box in my bedroom. But I’ve now rescued them and decided to be a bit crafty with them. I have always wanted a pinny, even if they aren’t the most practical things in the world. So I stitched on a length of ribbon to each side to create my very own, ‘bespoke’ apron! These just look so cute and make me feel like baking something fabulous as soon as I put them on!

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Pinterest

I have to own up, I am now addicted to Pinterest! I think it’s just a great place to get inspiration, not only for bakes and recipes but for all things in your life!

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Banana and Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts(ish)

I’ve recently discovered Pinterest and I am now ever so slightly addicted. Now, I’ve seen all those ‘pinterest fail’ pictures that circulate the internet, so I entered with a certain level of scepticism. That said, I saw these and I thought to myself, how hard can these be? And the answer is, they are surprisingly easy. The only problem I had was not owning a donut tray or being able to fashion some kind of donut-hole-creator out of tin foil. So in the end, these are more like Banana and Chocolate Chip cupcakes. I think they would look great as donuts though!

*I’m afraid in all the excitement I didn’t take any photos this time, but rest assured they looked great!*

Ingredients

  • 2 Bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/2 dark chocolate chips and 1/2 milk chocolate chips)

Topping (Optional)

  • 1/4 cup Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Mix together the mashed banana, sugar and greek yoghurt until incorporated.
  3. Add the melted coconut oil, eggs and vanilla extract and mix.
  4. Next, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the batter and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix!
  5. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop the batter into a sandwich bag and seal shut. Using scissors snip the bottom corner of one side of the sandwich bag to create your homemade piping bag.
  7. Grease your doughnut baking pan and pipe 3/4 full the batter into each doughnut mould.
  8. Paint melted butter on top of each doughnut before dipping the doughnuts in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to allow them to stick.
  9. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool before eating.

Here’s the original recipe if you’re interested!


 

Mocha cupcakes

As the weather has started to turn a bit chillier here, I felt it was time to bake something looking forwards to the cooler months. I’ve been slightly addicted to iced mochas this summer, so Mocha cupcakes seemed like the right transition from hot to cold.

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As usual, this is a Hummingbird recipe that I’ve tweaked slightly to suit my own tastes and my oven etc.

Recipe:

240ml milk

15g hot chocolate powder

5g instant espresso powder

80g unsalted butter, softened

280g caster sugar

240g plain flower

1tbsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

2 large eggs

For the icing:

50ml milk

30g hot chocolate powder

500g icing sugar

160g unsalted butter

Chocolate to decorate

 

  • Preheat the oven to 190C and line a muffin tin with cases.
  • Start off by warming the milk up. Remove from the heat and stir in the hot chocolate and espresso powders until they are fully dissolved. Set this aside while you make the rest of the sponge.
  • Blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter together until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. The softer the butter the easier this will be.
  • Break the eggs into a jug with the milk mixture and whisk by hand. Then stir ¾ of the liquid into the flour mix and combine with an electric hand mix until you have a thick, smooth batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, pour in the remaining milk mixture and combine on a high speed until you have a really velvety batter.
  • Divide the mix between your cases. Don’t fill them up too far or they won’t be as fluffy! Two thirds full is plenty.
  • Bake in the oven for 18-20 mins or until they are risen and springy to the touch. Let your cakes cool completely before icing.
  • To make the icing, warm the milk and stir in the hot chocolate powder. Then blend the icing sugar and butter together to create a fine, sandy mix. Add the hot chocolate and mix until you have a fluffy frosting.
  • Decorate your cakes as you wish! Hummingbird suggest heart shaped chocolates, but I just went for chocolate shavings.

 


 

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes

With the end of third year comes a drive to put an end to the library diet and try something new. So I decided to try these chocolate cupcakes from the Healthy Chef. I’ll leave the link down below if you want to check out her website.

For my cupcakes I used:

150g ground almonds
21 g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cold pressed coconut oil
60 ml milk
2 tablespoons honey

cupcaes

1.)   Preheat the oven to 180 C

2.)   Mix together the ground almonds, cocoa powder and baking powder

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3.)   Add the eggs, vanilla extract, coconut oil (stick it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to melt), milk and honey to the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter

4.)   Spoon into a lined cupcake tin

5.)   Bake for 25 minutes until they’re cooked through

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These cupcakes lack the sweetness of a ‘normal’ cupcake, so I served these with strawberries and some fruit sugar but you can eat them with ice cream, icing or whatever else takes your fantasy.

 

The Healthy Chef: http://www.thehealthychef.com/


 

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

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In between writing essays and wondering what an earth I’m going to get up to when I graduate (so much fun…) I decided to try my hand at making Hot Cross buns. These scrummy spiced buns are the epitome of all Easter treats to me. Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without them.  I actually picked this recipe out of a recent copy Good Housekeeping that my Mum left lying around. They taste great and look adorable, although I think they could do with another handful of fruit just to make them really pop! The great thing about these buns is that, like most of my favourite things in life, you can customize them. If you have a hankering for chocolate and wouldn’t dare giving it up for Lent, then throw some chocolate chips into the mix. Add mixed peel, apples, oranges – all sorts! – into the dough.

So without further ado, here’s how to make Hot Cross buns

 

INGREDIENTS

450g white bread flour

75g caster sugar

7g pack of dried fast-action yeast

300ml full-fat milk

75g butter, melted

1 egg

50g sultanas

Pinch of ground cinnamon

FOR THE TOPPING

50g plain flour

2tbsp sugar

 

1.)    Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.

-          I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but, make sure you keep the salt and yeast separate at this point! Don’t let them mix because the salt will deactivate the yeast and your bake will not be very happy at all!

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2.)    Beat the egg and heat the milk in a saucepan over a gentle heat, and then add to the flour along with the melted butter and the egg.

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3.)    Mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth and elastic dough – if you’re using an electric mixer, you should stop mixing once you hear a slapping noise –

-          The mix was very very wet at this point! But not to panic, wetter really is better when it comes to dough.

4.)    Tip your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until your dough is very smooth and stretchy.

-          Lightly flour your hands whilst kneading as this will help stop the dough from sticking to you too much. Another handy tip is to work quickly – the faster you move the dough the less it sticks to the surface.

5.)    When the dough is ready pop it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with Clingfilm. Place it somewhere warm and leave to rise for 1-2 hrs. The dough should be ready once it has doubled in size.

6.)    Push the heel of your hand into the centre of the dough and pour in your fruit and cinnamon. Then knead the dough until the spices and fruit are evenly distributed.

-          I would recommend kneading the dough in the bowl. It’s easier to get the fruit and the dough to stick together if you push it against the side of the bowl.

7.)    Once you’re happy with the dough, cover it again and leave it to rise for 1-1 ½ hours. Pre-heat the oven to 200*C (This is on a fan oven, you may have to adjust according to your own oven)

8.)    It’s now time to shape your buns! Divide your mix into around 12 pieces and shape into balls. Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving plenty of space between each bun as they will spread in the oven. Set the buns to one side whilst you make the topping.

9.)    Mix 50g of plain flour with enough water to make a thick paste that can be piped or spooned. Add more water or flour as needed. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and then go crazy! – or not – Pipe those beautiful crosses onto each bun.

-          Tip on how to fill a piping bag – Rest your piping bag in a pint glass or whatever tall receptacle you have to hand (I used an empty kitchen roll tube resting in a tall bit of Tupperware because I don’t actually own a pint glass. Terrible student, I know) and spoon your pipable mixture in. Anything that comes out of the nozzle will be caught in the bottom of the glass so less mess!

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10.)Bake your buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  Because of the sugar in the dough they will colour quickly, so I recommend keeping a beady eye on them.

11.)Once they’re done, take them out of the oven and place them on a wire cooling rack.

-          Don’t get rid of the greaseproof paper you lined the trays with just yet! Put them underneath the cooling rack. When you come to glaze the buns it will catch all of the syrup that runs off and so makes tiding up SO much easier!

12.)While the buns are cooling, heat some sugar with some water in a pan over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Brush the buns all over so they look all glossy and gorgeous.

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13.)Eat these up warm and just enjoy those little bundles of Easter-yness!


Jaffa Cakes

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This Saturday my housemate and I decided to have a go at baking something new. We wanted something easy, cheap, and most importantly tasty. We turned to Sorted Food for ideas and stumbled across the perfect recipe: Jaffa Cakes!

With only 6 ingredients this is a great student recipe

An orange

Dark Chocolate

Plain flour

2 eggs

Caster sugar

Orange Jelly

http://sortedfood.com/#!/jaffacakes/

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These jaffa cakes were quick and easy to make, and really tasty. Definitely one to try out!