28 October 2011

Bake off 6: Halloween Cupcakes

So, today we're getting into the Halloween mood, and with a request to Bring and Bake goodies I thought I'd try my hand at some Halloween Cupcakes... I found a fairly straight forward recipe on the BBC Food website and managed to make them look fairly presentable and pretty tastey!

Halloween Cupcakes
Preparation time - less than 30mins Cooking time - 30mins

Makes 12 in cup cake cases

  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tbsp milk
For the cream icing:
  • 50g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Light)
  • 25g butter
  • 125g icing sugar - sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
For the chocolate icing:
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (Green & Blacks)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cup cake cases.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl.  Add the sugar and butter and beat the mixture together until well combined - it works even better if you use your hands.
  3. Whisk in the egg and milk until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Divide the mixture between the paper case and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch and the skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside on a wire wrack to cool.
  5. For the cream cheese icing I used Philadelphia Light, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until well combined.  Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla essence.
  6. Spoon the icing on the cupcakes using a teaspoon, leaving a small border around the edge.
  7. For the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of water to form a smooth, thick icing.  Tip: if its too runny - add more icing sugar.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a fine nozzle or alternatively spoon the mixture into the corner of a sandwich bag and snip off the corner to form a small hole.
  9. Carefully pipe 2 or 3 circles onto each cupcake with a dot in the middle.  Run a toothpick/cocktail stick from the centre to the edge of the cake through each circle of icing at 2cm intervals to create a cobweb effect.
  10. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the icing to harden or pop in the fridge.
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25 October 2011

Jonty's Cubbing Debut

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Jonty likes to make an entrance and an exit in this case.

It was probably quite a brave idea of mine to take a green 5 year old out cubbing, but when it's on your door step in the village you can't really say no?!

So, bleary eyed at 7.30 after a mini photoshoot with dad outside the house we set off to the Cattistock meet in Bradford Peverell.

Bleary eyed we go on our merry way
8am was the meet or in this case 7.50 as huntsman Will Bryer decided to crack on, which meant we were late... Off we trotted to catch up the small party, however, Jonty decided that going backwards was the new going forwards and the sound of the hunt was all a little bit confusing. 

Cattistock Hunt

After a bit of nannying from the hunt secretary and her horse, some emergency polos he relaxed and enjoyed watching the world go by... Until some of the world went by in a flash which sent him into a little spin..

After some more standing around, nannying from a friend and her well behaved horse, a couple of canters, chatting, log jumping and a good gallop (yes, we now know what 5th gear is!) he settled down. Which was a good note to leave on. However, my exit was quite memorable, as I dismounted to move a fallen gate out of the way, Jonty stood on my foot and decided to hop over the gate, pass me and cantered on his merry way. Thankfully jumping iron bar gates out of the next field weren't on today's agenda!
Jonty looking rather pleased with himself
Overall I was pleased with Jonty and I think he's quite pleased with himself.

Until next time...

24 October 2011

Ben Howard in Bournemouth

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Mid October was the turn of Ben Howard at the Old Firestation in Bournemouth. I was over giddy about this gig for a number of reasons. Firstly, finally getting to watch the uber talented Ben Howard showcasing his debut album for Every Kingdom, becoming a student again for one night in Bournemouth’s Student Union, and my first proper gig with the boy.

Sadly, the Old Firestation was jam packed with students – funny that and the gig was a sale out, good for Ben, not so good for me, especially when two plonkers stood in front of us after the warm up act Michael Cassidy. We then had to endure 45 minutes of some jazz music trash, I wouldn’t have minded if it was live or if there was an array of tunes. Oh no, the same song (or so it seemed) was played on a continuous loop. In the end we decided to escape the crush of students and head to for bar, just in time for Ben to start – typical!

Anyhow, once I had got over my mini strop, and remembered I was 30 and not 18, I relaxed and enjoyed the lyrical genius that is Ben Howard. We didn’t have a great view, but with his voice it didn’t really matter. Favourite songs included: The Fear, Keep your head up and The Wolves.

Ben Howard
Gig rating = 3.5* – sadly the students and jazz loop knocked the rating down by 1 star. Hopefully, we’ll get to see Ben again next year at a festi.

16 October 2011

Wombats do Westlands

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When I bought tickets for my friend Helen and I back in the summer to watch the Wombats in Yeovil, I had no idea that it would be one of the hottest days of the year and hottest in October on record, making it for the hottest gig in the world – well in Somerset that night!

We rocked up at the Westlands Leisure Complex fashionably late after a few wrong turns to catch the second support act Morning Parade. Who I must say were pretty darn good, so much so I started to panic that I had downloaded the wrong Wombats album! The crowd in Westlands were already going a bit mental in the mosh pit, I wondered what would they do when the Scouse trio took to stage!

The Wombats didn’t disappoint, playing tune after tune from both their two albums ‘A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation’ and their current album ‘This Morning Glitch’ they put on a stomping performance. Even if you weren’t a hard core Wombats fan you’d still recognise their popular, catchy songs from Moving to New York, Backfire at the Disco off the first album to Tokyo and Last Night I Dreamt from the latest album. The boys finished off the gig with their most popular song Lets Dance to Joy Division, ending probably the hottest gig I’ve ever been to.

The Wombats

Gig rating = 4* – high energy performance, with lots of dance ability and good view of the band. Heat & flying pints of water was the only let down!

08 October 2011

Bake Off 5: Banana Cake

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Now the Great British Bake Off has ended, I don't feel embarrassed to blog my recipes again.

So, here's a really simple one which basically involves using up over ripe bananas!

  • 4oz butter
  • 6oz sugar (granulated/caster/mix in some demerara)
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas
  1. Heat the oven to 180C
  2. Grease a loaf tin
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs in a separate bowl
  5. Mix together the two yellow sludges
  6. Mix in the flour
  7. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake for 40mins then lower the temperature to 150C and cook for a further 30mins.
And voila! I wonder if Mary Berry would approve?

Mmmm, yummy banana cake

And the verdict: Well the boys & me demolished the whole cake at work in one day.

Talking Great British Bake Off, my fave was Holly Bell who's website & recipes I love http://www.recipesfromanormalmum.com/ You can also follow her on Twitter @hollybellmummy