Friday, 30 December 2011

Cupcake of the Week - Candy Cane Cupcakes

Ok, I know it's a little late for festive cupcakes, but these are too pretty to leave behind! The recipe was taken from the more recent Hummingbird Bakery book, 'Cake Days'. It uses a vanilla sponge and a two-colour piped frosting with peppermint extract to give that candy cane flavour. However, I struggled with the piping and decided to swirl the two with a fork instead.

The super pretty one you can see in the middle is my Mum's piped one! She is the expert when it comes to making them look pretty - I'm a bit slapdash!


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Snow White - Chanel S/S 2012

The perfect antidote to all the black of this winter's wardrobe: white. Clean, crisp white. And who else to do it better than the eternally chic Chanel?

The collection for this coming season features the usual Chanel staples: wide-sleeved blazers, ruffles, shift dresses. Black does make an entrance, but this is most notable in geometric designs spread across otherwise delicate dresses (above); or in the tiniest detail, on strappy shoes or outlining jacket collars and sleeves (below).

We also see a hint of ice cream pastel shades, reminiscent of the trend back in S/S 10.

It's not my favourite Chanel collection ever... but I do love a little white dress. What are your thoughts?


Images from

Thursday, 22 December 2011

My First Yule Log

As you may have noticed through my posts on this blog, I am not the most technical of bakers. I prefer to chuck it all in the oven, take it out and eat it, fast. But I know that there comes a time when every baker has to step outside that comfort zone, and I was sure that making a yule log would be an example of taking that step.


I should have trusted Nigella from the start. This one, taken from Nigella Lawson's beautiful book 'Feast', was surprisingly easy to prepare (and immensely satisfying to eat). You simply bake a thin, meringue-like chocolate cake, poured out on a baking sheet; then make the frosting; spread it on; roll it up and coat it. You have a chance to get creative with the 'log' look too. The frosting was like no other, and the recipe made gallons of it, so it was enormously thick.

This one I made for my first roast dinner at uni at my friend Gemma's house (which was a divine feast, and many thanks to all involved, might I add). But my parents have now requested I make one for Christmas day! I was so proud of this one that I'm a little nervous of how the next one will turn out. Fingers crossed...


Folding the chocolatey and eggy parts of the cake mixture together...

... the baked cake...

... rolled up with a layer of frosting

Monday, 19 December 2011

Snow-Flecked Rocky Road

I don't often invent recipes. I lack the cheffy confidence and don't like to risk wasting ingredients on a disaster. However, with something as easy as rocky road the opportunities for invention are endless. So, I decided to put my own festive spin on the usual method and cater to what was in my cupboard.

In this one I melted 600g of milk chocolate and added a few drops of peppermint flavouring. Then I folded in marshmallows, mixed nuts and raisins. Finally I refrigerated, chopped into squares and dusted in icing sugar.

Occasionally I add golden syrup to rocky road for a chewy texture, but this does seem to make it thicken very quickly, so if you do, add it in moderation and add the rest of your ingredients quickly before it cools and solidifies.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Cupcake of the Week - Snow Angel Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a play on traditional angel cake, using cochineal (red-pink) food colouring and dusted with icing sugar!

I won't direct you to the recipe, which I found online, because unfortunately it turned out a bit of a disaster. As pretty as they look here, a couple of days later they had turned completely chewy! A huge amount of egg whites were used - maybe that had something to with it?


Whisking the egg whites

Adding the food colouring

Monday, 12 December 2011

Banoffee Pie

My dear friend Daisy and I seem fixated on achieving the perfect banoffee pie, and still are yet to achieve it... but this came close!

The recipe was taken from the book 'Everyday Desserts' (published by Parragon) and was very easy to follow, but our toffee was still a little runny afterwards. I think it's just because we are always in a rush to take it somewhere, and so never get the chance to boil the condensed milk for the recommended time. 
Either that or my standing the tins up in the pan as opposed to lying them sideways wasted us a lot of time...

Anyway, here's Daisy baking away!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

'It' Dresses - on the high street

£7.99, H&M

This week I tried to get a ton of Christmas shopping done in one go - and thankfully, had a pretty successful trip. But that doesn't mean I was blind to all of the beautiful dresses on the high street!

Here are some of my favourites. Velvet certainly seems to be a recurring theme, but there's something controversial about it; it's very 90s. You either love it or you hate it. Personally, I have a real weakness for it - especially when it costs just £7.99 (above)!

I love that deep festive pine colour at Christmas, so the dress from Zara (below) really caught my eye. And delicate lace dresses look beautiful whatever the time of year, so I had to include the bargain from H&M (bottom).

What kind of party dress will you be wearing this season?


£24.99, H&M

£29.99, Zara

£30, Topshop
£14.99, H&M

Monday, 5 December 2011

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies were a million times better than those last cupcake attempts, and yet they were from the same book!

Seriously, these were divine. Easy to make, chewy and chunky at the same time, and produced an immense batch of 39! I took half of them round to my friends' around the corner, and they vanished in one sitting.

The only suggestion for improvement would be chocolate chunks, which the recipe called for, but I didn't happen to have. Next time for sure!


Friday, 2 December 2011

Cupcake of the Week - Peaches & Cream

... and possibly my first cupcake failure!

This time I attempted something a bit different - a cupcake which had canned peaches in the bottom, and vanilla frosting on top, with a sprinkle of brown sugar. It was yet another recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, so far proven failsafe, so I expected greatness... but alas, I was met with disaster!

For some reason the sponge didn't really rise, so there was a very small, very soggy amount in each one. Then the frosting seemed too wet so I added extra icing sugar, only to find that it became lumpy and unattractive. What a shambles!

Unfortunately their yummy flavour didn't make up for their lack of beauty, and they lingered in the fridge for a while, eventually meeting a fate worse than consumption - the bin.

Better luck next time I guess! Please share with me your cupcake disasters so I feel a little better!


Sunday, 27 November 2011

A well-dressed man

Do you ever see a man walking down the street and think, 'wow, that is a well-dressed man'? Well my friends, I am lucky enough to know one. Here is my beautiful housemate and friend Eliot in a selection of my favourites from his wardrobe. His style is fun and young, an assortment of comic book t-shirts and skinny jeans, but there is a classic coolness there; dark chunky knits and high-quality textures.

 In particular I love the John Lewis leather aviator jacket (above), Topman shirt and Kurt Geiger boots (below).

I invite you to share with us the most fashionable men you know, and give them the fashion credentials they deserve!


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Heavy embellishment, tiny price

With sparkles and jewels taking the high street by storm, many of us have found ourselves staring at sequin-covered tops and shorts lustfully, knowing we could never afford the huge price on the label. Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule of embellished = expensive!

I was delighted to see a notification of a new evening collection for TRF at Zara in my inbox today. Browsing through the lookbook, I spotted a pair of incredible sparkle-covered shorts (above), expecting to see a price tag of over £70 at least. But - alas! - I was astounded to find that they are just £25.99! No wonder when I tried to get a closer look, I found that they were already sold out. Hopefully they'll stock up fast!

Now, the other sequinned bargain I discovered a little while ago was, admittedly, a one-off chance purchase. But it just goes to show that car boot sales and charity shops are definitely worth a look through. The sequin-covered, 80s-style top below cost me a tiny - believe it or not - £1.50. It looks great tucked into high-waisted trousers for nights out on the town.

I would love to see your bejewelled bargains!


Monday, 21 November 2011

Double chocolate mint cake

So I actually managed to squeeze an hour of baking into this week - hurrah! I don’t usually tend to create chocolately treats as I’m more of a fruity (!) type of girl but one of my close friends had invited me round and she loves chocolate treats more than anything. The result, this huge gooey mint chocolate cake. I loved the idea for the presentation of this cake; mint sticks scattered on top in a carefully placed but messy looking fashion with the arty chocolate sauce spilling onto the plate. However I was worried how minty the cake would actually taste, as it only had these mint sticks on top and smaller sticks in the actual cake. However it turned out nice and minty which was what I had hoped for. If I had had more time I would have concentrated more on the decorating but I was pleased with the speedy result. All that’s left to think about now is when I can fit my hourly baking slot in this week?


The ingredients

Yummy chopped mint sticks

Adding the sticks to the mixture

Greg's photography skills (of me baking the cake!)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Cupcake of the Week - Nutella Cupcakes

When I spotted the recipe for these in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, I knew I would have to make them. Nutella-filled chocolate sponge with creamy Nutella frosting... *sigh*. Anyone who knows me well knows Nutella is my true weakness. I have been known to sit with a spoon and gradually consume the jar.

These were a little fiddly to make, as the middle had to be hollowed out to be filled with Nutella. The recipe actually stated that a blob should be placed in the hollow at the top, but I wanted mine to have Nutella centres, so once I had filled them I placed their little cake 'lids' back on and pushed them down. Not so attractive... until the mounds of frosting had been piled on.

These were not around for long at all, and I found them to work best out of the fridge, as the Nutella middles became a little too firm otherwise.

They are up there with the best!!


Mixing the batter

Swirling Nutella into the frosting mix

Filling the centres and re-attaching the cake 'lids'

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Birthday Rocky Road

As a yummy alternative to cake, I thought I would repeat an idea I had last year and make my dear friend Daisy rocky road for her birthday instead. I started off by baking blobs of cookie dough in a tub (from Tesco) ad breaking them up. I then melted 800g of milk chocolate gradually, before stirring in about 100g mini marshmallows, a few handfuls of raisins and the cookie chunks. I poured into a brownie tray lined with cling film and refrigerated. Lastly, I drizzled 200g white chocolate over top and refrigerated once more.

It went down pretty well at the party - just a shame I tripped on my way round, the tin went flying and the rocky road spilled onto the pavement! It was fine with a brush down...

Charlotte :P