Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Week #10

Well, this post is two dates late. Oops! I really need to improve my blogging frequency and punctuality...

As you can see, the past week consisted mainly of eating and writing essays in the library. I hate coursework so much. Once I hand in History and English next Monday, I have to launch straight into the second piece of History and start revising for mocks, as well as making my English draft actually good. That should be fun. This weekend I have to write about 50 essays, so watch out for some crazy photos on instagram...

I went to the Rock & Rose restaurant in Kew on Friday, and my God the food is good. I had some amazing squid for my starter which filled me up, but I valiantly battled on, finishing my cheeseburger and chips, before being defeated by a white chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake. I managed about 2/3rds of it, which isn't too bad, but not up to my usual standards. On Saturday I went to Pizza East in Shoreditch (told you it was a food weekend - not forgetting the cake I baked - and ate - on Saturday as well), which, if you haven't been/heard of, is amazing. The pizza itself was incredible, but the cinnamon doughnuts which I had for pudding were beyond brilliant. They were bitesized pieces of sugary, doughy amazingness which is making my mouth water as I remember it. I think I must have put on about a stone this weekend (definitely worth it).

In other news, I am absolutely shattered. Something has gone wrong with my sleeping pattern, and I wake up at about 4am every morning. According to a 'motivational' speech I was listening to in the gym, successful people wake up at 3am because it means they get a '5 hour start on the world'. I do not understand how anyone could be successful feeling as sleepy as I do, I'd fall asleep during meetings. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a millionaire. Unless I win the lottery, that would be fab.

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Chocolate Cake with Cookie Dough Frosting and Marshmallow Icing

This... This is possibly one of the nicest cakes I've ever made. Ever. And I've made a lot of cakes.

I've been eyeing up cookie dough brownies, and I was going to bake those this weekend, but I got carried away and distracted all at once and ended up with this creation. It's just a basic chocolate sponge, but with my newest favourite discoveries - cookie dough frosting (that's a thing apparently) and marshmallow icing - mentioned here

I had no idea if the flavours would all work together, but they did, and my God they are fabulous. This is next level stuff. The cookie dough frosting isn't too sickly because it's just the one layer, it has a great texture, and the chocolate chips work perfectly. Although the marshmallow icing is very sugary, it's so light that you don't really notice it. The chocolate cake is just it's reliable, wonderful self.

 Cookie dough brownies are going to have to wait until next weekend, I think. Definitely worth postponing in favour of this beauty. Decorations-wise, I didn't want to coat it in more flavours/sweets/chocolate because I thought it would overpower the mishmash of flavours already present, plus I thought anyone who ate it would be sick from the sugar content. So, I went for the standard sprinkles, heart sprinkley things, and glitter.

^^The light was pretty awful on this, so apologies for the heavy editing to show the colours

The recipe is very simple, I made the cake the afternoon before so I could photograph this in the light of day (a very good idea, well done me).

Chocolate cake:
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 6.5oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC, and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold in.
  5. Divide between the two cake tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.
Cookie Dough Frosting (adapted from here):
  • 115g butter
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 150g flour
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 100g chocolate chips
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour.
  4. Add milk.
  5. Add chocolate chips.
  6. Spread on cooled cake.
Marshmallow icing:

  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, golden syrup and water on a high heat until it reaches soft ball stage.
  2. Beat egg whites until forming soft peaks.
  3. Slowly beat in sugar mixture.
  4. Continue beating until thick and smooth, add in vanilla.
  5. Add food colouring.
  6. Spread on cake.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Week #9

Coursework. Is there anything in this world right now, except for coursework? It would seem not. Apart from essays. Coursework and essays, that is my life for the foreseeable future. I'm also expected to be revising for mocks... Someone is setting their standards a bit high *cough* school *cough*. They also think I should be attending the weekly 'careers' lessons (where we are told about pressing issues to do with our future, such as avoiding joining cults and how to moisturise effectively), but I disagree with the idea that those lessons should be mandatory. Don't tell the school...

I did some baking this week, which I'm impressed with, given the aforementioned quantity of work. I did bake instead of doing the work, but that's beside the point. The next couple of weeks will be less baking/procrastinating and more working/writing essays. At least, that's the aim. What's the bet that this time next week I'll have baked about 5 cakes and written 0 lines of either of my coursework essays?

It's been a quiet week, settling back into the school rhythm. The road is still closed so getting to school takes an extra 15/20 minutes or so, which is very frustrating. I think the fact I'm talking about road closures and being late to school proves how little has happened in my life the past week. I need to get out more.

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Marshmallow Icing

I have experimented. I actually made something new and it worked. This is exciting (for me, at least... You may lead a life which is actually exciting). These cakes were the product of a procrastination session which included baking a recipe for 'the best chocolate cupcakes' from the internet - I'm never trusting it again when it comes to recipes (except for the cookie dough brownie recipe I've been eyeing up for a week or two...) - and flicking through numerous recipe books.

The chocolate cupcakes ended up being the same, standard chocolate cake recipe I've always used (if it ain't broke, don't fix it n all that), but the icing is marshmallow icing from the Primrose Bakery recipe. I am in love. This icing is so cool - not only does it give you a huge sugar rush, but it also tastes like marshmallow fluff and is so light you could eat the whole bowl without a second thought (that totally didn't happen...).

The Primrose Bakery has consistently gone up in my estimations, and my little taste-testers (aka friends) certainly approved of the icing. So did my dad, but that's not exactly a surprise. I wasn't sure that the icing would work with chocolate cake, but I was surprised by the end result - chocolate cake doesn't always need chocolate icing, it would seem. Next time I make this, I'm definitely covering a whole cake with it. It's fab! I'm not going to re-write their recipe (just buy the book it's fab) but if you're super stingy you can find it on multiple internet sites after a quick google.

Monday, 13 January 2014

China 2013

I wrote a post about visiting Beijing back in November, with the promise I would write about Souzhou and Shanghai at a later date. That never happened, because, as we have established, I am awful at sticking to blogging goals. It's a shame really, because I took some (if I say so myself) brilliant photos. Maybe I'll share them another time (or, most likely, I won't). Unless you're someone I know, in which case I've probably treated you to about 5 slideshows of them already.

Anyway, please enjoy this video I made for the upcoming school assembly about the trip. I also have to talk about meeting a women's group in Shanghai in front of the whole school in said assembly, which is quite unfortunate because I've spent 6 and a half years avoiding any participation in assembly (and the past two years or so boycotting assembly itself, much to the displeasure of my form tutor).

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Week #8

In the words of Britney Spears, 'Oops, I did it again'. No, I didn't play with your heart, but I did completely fail to post this week. I baked! I photographed! But I failed. The light was non-existent (yeah, light, it's all your fault) so the photos turned out quite poorly. I also went back to school, which meant running round the house procrastinating instead of doing holiday work for a couple of days, and then waking up before the sunrise and blindly pulling on the nearest jumper, so that cut down my available blogging time. 

My main annoyance about school is the breakfast-lag. This is a term I coined just now, referring to the fact that I have breakfast around 7am, then school starts at 9am, before a break at 11.30am. How am I meant to get through 4 and a half hours without food?! I swear, this is some sort of evil plot to slim me down (it isn't working - take that society). My tummy always rumbles halfway through the first lesson, it's quite embarrassing, especially when everyone's silently analysing Slyvia Plath (that's another thing - how can anyone read Sylvia Plath without wanting to exclaim 'I have lived like a foot/For thirty years ' at the top of their voice? - see this video for inspiration. If you ever want to annoy anyone, just learn the first two stanzas and quote them incessantly. Ask my mum, she's been getting quite frustrated that my response to everything is 'You do not do, you do not do/Any more...').

In other news, everything's flooded. Well, not everything, the flood is far from our house, but it is exciting. We don't get much excitement where I live, so a flood = a big day out. At least, my dad and I took a walk down to the river to see the flooding. It was all across the road, and pretty deep in some areas. 

Fingers crossed I will actually post something this coming week, I will probably spend most of my time face-down on the kitchen table spouting Sylvia Plath quotes interspersed with Peter Andre's 'Mysterious Girl' as my brain melts due to the sudden surge of coursework and note making and revision which will be forced upon me, but I'll try to take a break from that to bake something/photograph something/ramble about something.

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Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Week #7

It hasn't been a big week on instagram (or life) this week, so my photo offerings are a bit below par. After inundating instagram with daily baking photos, I've had a bit of a week off. 

New Year's Eve was a bit of a let down for me, I had a lot of fun with friends but it definitely didn't live up to expectation! Maybe the next one will be better... However, on 2nd January I got a call from my slightly intoxicated friend in the evening (who was with me on New Years) inviting out with them, so I made that my unofficial New Years celebration! It was a lot more fun.

At my dad's work, someone got him a box of 32 Mars Bar Duos for Secret Santa. He's not up to the task of eating all of them, leaving us with a load of Mars Bars. I've been googling things to bake with Mars Bars, but there doesn't seem to be a huge range of options. I think some experimentation may have to take place tomorrow. A year and a half ago I actually made a giant Mars Bar, which you can see here (that was a good day).

I go back to school on Thursday, commencing my final two terms of school ever! Scary stuff. The next three days will be full of me frantically trying to finish all the holiday work I haven't started yet, I can't wait...

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The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Abigail at Not Just A Curl nominated me for this award, thank you, Abigail!

"The Versatile Blogger Award is an award given to you from your blogger peers, for writing quality posts that have somehow touched them, having good quality photographs, and the uniqueness of the subjects covered. The award is to honour the bloggers who bring something special to your life."

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are..
  • Display the award certificate.
  • Announce your win and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Present deserving bloggers with the award.
  • Link your nominees in this post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So now I need to think of some interesting things about me. Here goes:
  1. I used to have 3 pet chickens (named Babs, Bunty and Ginger after the icon Chicken Run characters).
  2. My idol is Leslie Knope from 'Parks and Recreation' - she may be fictional but she is one of the best characters on tv, thank you Amy Poehler.
  3. The two places in the world that I want to visit more than anywhere else are California and Japan. I've wanted to go to California for about 5 years now, and after going to China in October I am dying to see what life is like in Japan!
  4. I was born in Belgium. This is a fact that bouncers seem to love picking up on when I'm going out, their first question is always 'Oh, Belgium?'. Sadly I moved to England when I was 2&1/2 so I can't remember it, but hopefully I'm going to visit Brussels in Summer!
  5. I can't whistle or click my fingers. Very frustrating.
  6. There's a scar under my bottom lip and I have no idea what it's from. Same with a scar on one of my little fingers. My mum is equally clueless, which makes it quite a mystery.
  7. I've been playing the drums for the past 4 years or so. When I leave school in June, I think one of the things I'll miss the most are my percussion lessons, my teacher is basically my therapist. It will be very sad.