Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Wishlist

Ok, so I know we are well into winter now and appropriately chilly. I realise I am super late in posting this, and apologies if some of the prices have since changed! But anyway, here's my last-minute Christmas wishlist. 
Hobbs, £89

With cute geek chic owls popping up all over Burberry this season, it's no surprise the printed furry friend jumper has taken off, big-time. Can't help but notice the window displays in Hobbs at the moment; they're doing a great job of bringing Burberry-esque style to the high street. This is my fave as it's so unique - both for the foxes, the design and the cool colours. Just wish I could afford it!

Zara, £69.99

Any loyal followers will know how much I love heavy embellishment, and this jacket is the pinnacle - reflects a rainbow of colours, sparkles all over but looks dead casual thrown over a plain tee and jeans. Never thought I'd see a 'bomber jacket' on my wish list...

ASOS, £25

I love galactic prints, maybe purely for their weirdness... or maybe because I was a big astronomy fan as a child. Either way, they've really taken off this year, and although I'm not a leggings wearer, I would definitely don these under a big woolly jumper.
Topshop, £48

Blue? Check. Lace? Check. Peter Pan collar? Check. Ticks all the boxes for the ultimate on-trend yet versatile dress this winter.
H&M, £12.99
Strictly speaking, this one shouldn't be on my wishlist... because I already bought it! But it must be the only leopard print shirt I've spotted which is totally opaque, and at £12.99, it's a steal. Love animal prints in winter.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Best-Ever Blondies

I think blondies are often forgotten about - the brownie is better known. But this batch proved that the blondie is so underrated.

To make these I used my standard favourite brownie recipe (for 'sticky brownies', from the M&S book 'Blissful Brownies'), omitting the cocoa powder and substituting the dark chocolate for white. I also had some leftover white chocolate in the bar, so I chopped it and chucked it in in chunks.

I am so glad these were a success, as I have been wanting to substitute a good brownie recipe for a blondie one for ages, just to see if it would work. And boy, were these fudgy. Golden, melting, gooey... oh. I invited friends round and they disappeared in no time.

Never underestimate the blondie.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Splashing Out on Sequins - The Gowns You'll Want

ASOS, £220

Sequins, sequins, sequins. I can't get enough of them. The further we get into winter, the heavier and heavier the embellishment seems to be getting, with brands really pushing the boat out to try to create the IT dress - the sell-out that every girl will be wearing to their Christmas do's. 

Now, I have two sequinned dresses in my wardrobe - but both of them are bodycon, and not the most flattering. I'm hoping to feel comfortable in one by my birthday in December, but it's gonna be tough!

Nonetheless, I had to share with you the most incredible embellished dresses - although 'gowns' seems more suitable - I've spotted this week. If you've been saving up, one of these would be the ultimate reward.

Want, want, want!


Miss Selfridge, £85

Phase Eight, £275

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Toffee Apple's

I saved this post for today as it is now officially Halloween! I don't usually celebrate Halloween however this last weekend I met with friends at their house, to dress up, eat and drink a lot in aid of old hallows eve. The 'treat' I bought along were these spooky toffee apples I made, inspired by Emma's candy apples from totally recommend reading this blog - it is amazing!)

I was pretty happy with the results, however I don't think I got the colours quite right for the green apples - less brown and more green would have been nice! I also burnt the green/brown toffee so I think it is about time to buy a sugar thermometer for this sort of thing. The red ones though were yummy and the right colour. Yay!

I loved Emma's idea of using sticks from a tree to make the apples look scarier, this worked so well. I covered the end of the sticks with cling film, and just poked them in a ready made hole in the apples. Perfectly spooky. :)


The scarily decorated living room at my friends! 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Zebra Cake

Since seeing Lorraine Pascale's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Zebra' cake on TV, I had been intrigued at the seemingly simple visual effect and wanted to give it a try myself. I managed to find a recipe based on Lorraine's - you can try it here:

However, if you know me and my baking style, you will know I'm not one for prettying about - I want that cake in the oven and I want to eat it! So I admit, I tried to take a shortcut here by using what looked like the easier option of spooning blobs of mixture into the tray, instead of piping (as advised in this recipe:

Nonetheless, perhaps due to the thickness of my mixture, piping would have been more successful. My blobs were taking ages to spread out and I was hurrying, which made them imperfectly expand over each other and divert in new directions!

Still - it was a yummy cake, and that's all that matters, right? The effect, while not perfectly zebra, was pretty on the inside - but as it was shared out at my friend Emma's birthday, I didn't manage to get a snap! To be honest, I'm just glad it was popular.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Philadelphia Brownies

Chocolate flavoured Philadelphia spread has been a much talked-about phenomenon this year, and I had been meaning to try it for a while. So when I stumbled across a recipe for Philadelphia Brownies in Nigella Lawson's 'How to Be a Domestic Goddess', I just knew it was the perfect excuse! I have to say, I'm a fan - tastes very mildly chocolatey, almost like a milkshake.

The original recipe uses standard Philadelphia, giving a sharp, savoury edge to the rich chocolatey brownies - but the chocolate Philadelphia, blobbed on top of half the mixture, then topped with the rest, gave each one a melting middle. Absolutely divine. Easy enough for a snack but equally wonderful for a posh dessert, these were not around for long, and I would make them again in a heartbeat.

And if I could, I would eat them every day.

These need to be made!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

White Chocolate Decadence Cake... with Butterflies

September is always a busy time for baking I find - so many of my friends celebrate their birthdays in that month! So, as you can see, I am posting this a little late. This one I made for my dear friend Lindie's 21st on September 19th.

The recipe was taken from Nigella's 'Kitchen' (described there as 'Devil's Food Cake'), but as I wanted something a little more flowery and cute, I swapped dark frosting for white chocolate. This did bring its own trouble; the mixture of melted chocolate and brown sugar created an unappealing colour, on top of which, it just wouldn't set! But after various tastings (couldn't help it!) and setting periods in the fridge, it formed a close consistency which filled and topped the cakes evenly.

I decorated with tiny sugar butterflies!

The cake was rich and moist and disappeared pretty fast. Rarely does Nigella let me down.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Vintage Apple Crates

Recently it was my four year anniversary with my boyfriend Greg. Greg, being lovely as he is :), bought me these vintage French apple crates. (I got him a very complex drill!) I originally saw these in an interior design magazine, and have kept lots of cut out images of them ever since. As my book/dvd collection was growing my old bookcase was not only running out of room, but falling apart with the weight. So in come these beautiful rustic apple crates. I love the versatility of these crates; they can be used for storage inside or out, used separately or stacked. I decided to stack them artistically against the wall, in replacement for my old bookcase. They are definitely now the stand out feature in my bed room and I really love them! Are there any amazing interior design finds you have discovered recently?


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Four-layer Banoffee Cake

What cake do you make for the girl who loves banoffee?


For my dear friend Daisy's birthday - who you may have spotted on here last year, making a banoffee pie with me! - I hoped to make a cake which resembled the pie, but also to avoid making it taste just like a banana loaf. I stumbled across a recipe on ITV Food which looked perfect for the job. You can find it here:

The main difference was that I chose to use my favourite Marks & Spencer Salted Caramel Sauce, which, when not heated up, has more of a spread-like consistency - perfect for sandwiching cakes together. I also simply used layers of whipped double cream instead of banana cream, choosing to decorate the cake with the cream and slices of banana, banoffee-pie.

Give it a try!


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Pineapple & Coconut Cupcakes

On my recent trip to Ghana I was amazed to discover an unlikely baking gem I had never come across in UK stores before - pineapple extract! Oh, the strange and wonderful things I could make with such an unusual flavour. So, what to do with a bagful of dessicated coconut and a bottle of pineapple extract? Make these little babies of course!

The recipe was, as I'm sure you will expect, taken from the original Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. However, I replaced the pineapple chunks with a few drops of pineapple flavouring. 

I was left with half a tub of coconut milk, which I used to make the most delicious smoothie... but that's another story!

Make these for a subtly tropical treat.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Chocolate, Mint & Coconut Hearts

Every so often, you come across a recipe for something super sweet, something perhaps you wouldn't usually eat (ooh! I rhyme), but would make a great snack to share with friends. The recipe for these came from the book 'Cookie Jar', published by Love Food, in which the recipes are gathered in a ring binder and the cover is decorated with a textured gingham print, plus cut-out gift labels are included - adorable!

The recipe was originally for 'Choco Mint Stars', but hey - I only had heart or flower cutters. I was curious to know whether the dessicated coconut in the recipe was just there to add texture, as it had no mention in the name... but alas! The refreshing mint and delicate coconut were both not only prominent, but complimentary. And the decorating was fun!

These made a great little dessert after a takeaway and movie with friends last weekend.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wedding Invitations

As well as my previously posted wedding cupcakes, I was recently given the honour of creating both my step-sisters and my boyfriend’s mother’s wedding invitations. Above is the final design they both chose, I made them using pearly white card, and ribbon that matched their chosen colour schemes - one fuchsia and the other a deep burgundy. I enjoyed getting back in touch with my artistic side, and hope to create a portfolio soon out of all my wedding based creations!