a blog about an Essex girl living in Swansea, chatting about baking, rowing, other bits and bobs, and some crazy teaching times in India

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Down it Fresher! Oh, sorry, I mean eat up.

Cider? Cake? Cream Cheese? This is definitely a combo descended from heaven. And of course I did not snack the whole time I was baking... I am such a sucker for cream cheese, I eat doorstop slices of toasted bread smothered in it. Fruity cider is also my weakness. It doesn't taste alcoholic! Major problem for the main resident of Lightweight City over here.

Now I've finished my little food dream, I'll tell you about the cakes. They went well the first time, but I had a bit of a buttercream disaster. I tried out a new recipe for my frosting which I totally regret! It was so runny. I could have gone swimming in it. This is where I should have stuck to the tried and tested; but if you don't attempt new things you'll never learn I suppose! I think I’m going to turn the runny buttercream into some sort of tart. I have ready-rolled pastry (such a cheater, but it’s brilliant for quick meals) and double cream in the fridge so I think I’ll create some sort of limey-cheesecake style dessert. Anything with a bit of thick cream on the top can't be bad.

Gloopy buttercream - a little bit too messy.

I think they were well enjoyed by my housemates and friends too. They went pretty quickly! My gal pals have put me on a ban, I am only allowed to make cakes once a week, and I can only give them one each. I think they're concerned I'm trying to fatten them up. But as a student you need all the calories you can get, right? I am already not looking forward to the inevitable living-out-of-my-overdraft lifestyle where I can only afford the basics for food. A loan can only last so long!

Mid-morning treat!

Check out the next post, I'll be uploading the recipe and a couple of pictures.

Big love, xo

So how do you pronounce Cymru?

How do I suddenly go from being desperate for things to do in the summer to busy-busy-busy when I get back to university? This week has been a little bit crazy, what with moving into our (amazing, beautiful, massive, non-student-like... Oh, the list goes on...) house, and then catching up with various people, going to the marina and going out on the water, hitting the gym, going out multiple times to join in with Freshers... and of course the usual drama that comes with my life.

I am so happy to be back in Wales. I'm not over the moon about the arctic weather however. I don't know what I'm going to do come Winter, or mid-autumn for that matter. I'm craving a bit of sun; being able to wear shorts without my legs resembling two blocks of ice would be a dream come true. Anyway. Moving on from my little whinge. 

I don't think I've ever been happier to see a language I can't read plastered all over the road signs of this little country, and the rolling hills and the sheep. Lots of them. I love the Welsh stereotypes. Actually, I just love the British stereotypes in general. I enjoy the idea that as a nation all we do is sit around having afternoon tea, munching on scones smothered in jam and cream, accompanied by the Royals. I would be very happy if that were true.

Freshers has been fun so far. Okay, okay so it's only Tuesday, and I've technically only been to two of the events specified as part of Freshers Week, but I have had a whale of a time. Don't drink Sourz. Also, don't become a lightweight over the summer. It could result in a lot of embarrassment. My friend pretended she was running the Cardiff Half Marathon on Friday night, got halfway to campus, then decided to ask us if she'd even entered. Which, of course, she hadn't. I think I've participated in my fair share of awkward moments already too... Alcohol is a dangerous thing. Unless you use it with food. Then it's obviously completely okay to stick in large quantities (it all burns off in the oven, right?!). Watch my next post, it will be for some cheeky Cider Cupcakes that I made (very tasty, if you were wondering, and definitely worth a go).

Big love, xo

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Recipe Time: Vanilla Cupcakes

So here's my first recipe! It's just the basic cupcake one I normally use, but adjust it depending on what type of cake I am making. Make sure you don't forget they're in the oven... I normally get distracted watching TV or going on Facebook or doing something pointless and realise if I don't get them out sharpish they'll burn!


What You'll Need...
100g caster sugar
100g butter/margarine (when I'm at uni I normally go for good old marg, it's the student-savvy product. But butter definitely creates a better taste)
2 medium eggs (I'd use free range) - beaten together
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of baking powder

I use a fan oven, so whack that up to 180C to preheat. That's 350F or Gas Mark 4. (Definitely just had to look these ones up on Google... I'm not an oven whiz ha!).
Also, fill your baking tray with the cupcake cases. I use silicone ones as it makes it easier to get the cupcakes out, and they provide a good nest for the cakes whilst in the oven. You may have to use muffin cases, because a lot of British 'cupcake' ones aren't quite big enough.

1. Before you start, make sure you've taken out your butter to soften. It's so much easier this way! Then, pop both the sugar and the butter in a mixing bowl together.
2. This is when you get your whisk on! Ideally, you want a hand blender to cream both the ingredients together. If you don't own one, it's okay, use a wooden spoon to gradually blend both the sugar and butter into a soft mix. You want it to look light and creamy by the time you're done, try and blend it until it becomes a very light yellow. This will help make the cake have that lovely light texture when you eat it!

3. Whilst still using your hand blender, slowly add the egg bit by bit. If it looks like it's about to curdle, don't panic! Just add a tiny bit of flour with the last amount. Then add the vanilla too.
4. You'll be left with a sweet-smelling but unappetising mixture. But it gets better, I promise! This is where you 'fold' in the flour. Get rid of your blender, chuck that in the washing up bowl because you will be needing it no longer! Grab your wooden spoon and start stirring in the flour and the baking powder. Don't do this too vigorously, you don't want to let the air out that you beat in earlier.

5. You'll be left with a nice, thick cake mix. I use two teaspoons to spoon the mixture into the cases, but some people use an ice-cream scoop.
6. Make sure each case is filled to be about three-quarters full, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until a golden colour.

7. Now let them cool off on a wire rack.

There you have it! Tasty vanilla cupcakes, that are simple to bake!

Hope this recipe has been easy to follow and I hope you try it out!

Big love! xo

Row, row, row your (cupcake?) boat

I almost forgot! I also made these cupcakes. I am part of the rowing club at uni, and have been planning to do a SURC (that's Swansea Uni rowing club) cake. This is my first attempt. I like the way I've put together the club's colours.

Big rowing love! xo

Sunday's Kitchen, cupcake style

Today I had a massive baking session. I'll admit I'm quite proud of myself too! I think cooking cheers people up, I really do. It shouldn't be a chore, it should be interesting and fun - looking up new recipes is my idea of having a good time! Okay, okay, I'm a massive loser...

After realising the fridge was missing one of my most vital ingredients, butter, I had to do a mad dash to the local shop to stock up. I hate it when I have a big baking plan to then discover that someone has used up the ingredients I plan to also use - this is the problem living in a family of five with two very hungry brothers, one of which is very keen on being a little chef! 

The cupcakes I made today were strawberry cheesecake and then just plain vanilla, but with a marshmallow-type frosting. I decorated some of those with coloured sugar, and then others I attempted to use fondant decoration. The strawberry cupcakes are inspired by a little cupcake shop I happened upon in Brighton last week. I went in with my friend and I tried a gorgeous raspberry cheesecake cupcake, which genuinely taste as good as it looked, if not better. Yumyumyum. 

So here are the results of today's baking sesh...

 These are the vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. It was first time to try out the frosting, and it is so light and sweet! I will post the recipe soon.

Pretty sugar sprinkles!

 These are my new favourites. I love cake with fresh fruit. These strawberry cheesecake cupcakes have a strawberry jam centre, and are dusted with cheesecake biscuit base as well as pieces of fresh strawberry. 

The view from above.

I love it when it's sunny. Natural light is so good for taking photos; and so the garden is a brilliant place to take photos too... It's not so nice bringing cakes outside when it's a bit nippy!

Anyone fancy a bite? I think my brother is very excited about his cupcake.

Hope you are enjoying the sunny weather... I'm looking forward to kicking back with a glass of lemonade and maybe a cake (or two!)

Big love! xo

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Having a sweet tooth is always a good thing


This is what I love to do... And this is just a little snippet of how I've spent my summer. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be doing this as a job? Then I can spend every day baking! 

Left to right, and top to bottom:
Pineapple and Honeycomb/Pina Colada/Raspberry Creme/Vanilla Creme/Carrot Cake/Biscuit selection: Ginger Nut and Chocolate Digestive.

Next post will be for basic vanilla cupcakes (just like the one in the yellow case!)

Big love! xo

New Beginnings

So I am beginning my blog again! It's coming to the end of a bit of rollercoaster year, and now I'm determined to keep up with all the little things that I know I forget about a lot.

In a week I arrive back in the country that I've come to call home, Wales. Super excited to see lots of faces that I haven't over summer, and to settle into my new home with my friends. It's like a student palace! I'm overexaggerating, but it does have a decent sized kitchen... Which is one of the reasons I'm mega-focused on becoming Queen of Cooking. I have no excuses now!

I mostly bake cake (and lots of it) but I also love cooking dinners and going crazy raiding the kitchen cupboards to create exciting/sometimes disastrous new dishes! So the next few posts will be about all the cakies I have been fattening everyone up with over the summer. Yumyumyum.

Click on my 'About Me' section to learn a little bit more.

Big love! xo