Monday, 30 March 2009

It's that time of year

No no, not spring (which keeps on coming and going here!) but the time of year when I am swamped under with work for uni. Hence why I haven't updated in over a week. I am off for 3 weeks after this week though for Easter, but most of it will (or should...) be spent finishing off pieces of uni work. My last exam ever is scheduled for the 15th May, then I shall be free!

Since my last update, I have hada tea party in honour of my Grandad's 85th birthday. Of course, I was in charge of all the baking. We had savoury food too, but really we couldn't wait to bring out the cake trolley! I get my sweet tooth from my Mother's side of the family, the Spanish side. We do love our cakes.

scones and cake

shortbreads and brownies

mocha cake

mocha cake

His birthday cake was a lovely mocha cake. The icing was amazing. I love cakes with contrasting icing, it looks so striking when sliced. Because I am too lazy to type up the recipe, I decided to scan it in and you can all see it here. I made it in 2 20cm round cake tins though, because I think it is an unwritten rule that birthday cakes must be round!

I also made my favourite hummingbird bakery brownies, simple scones and shortbread biscuits. Most of the sweet stuff went very quickly, yet there were savoury foods left for a few days! Do you have a sweet tooth or a preference for savouries?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Spring has sprung

Yesterday I had such a lovely day. It started off pretty chilly and dull, but by the time I was off to Uni it was glorious. When I got back, I was in such a good mood, especially after finding out that my sister had a new job after being made redundant! So I decided to take Pepe and Nina out for a walk in the spring sunshine. First day out without a coat too. I couldn't believe it.

me and my dogs

I love this photo, we're all actually looking at the camera! Nina has her tongue sticking out, bless her. I am wearing my old 'vintage' polka dot skirt. (I always feel a bit obnoxious calling things vintage when they're just secondhand really. I don't know how old this is though and it was from a 'vintage' shop, so it'll suffice). I don't wear this skirt enough though, I love it. It's navy blue and goes with most things in my wardrobe. Also, it features a fabulous elasticated waistband so is perfect for eating big meals in!

spring has sprung


spring has sprung

The light was just perfect and the warmth was beautiful. When the weather is lovely like this we take Pepe and Nina on long walks through the fields and park near our house and watch how the season's change. This was it just a month ago.

What is your favourite thing to do in Spring?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I DO do florals

Okay, I take back saying I don't do florals. I do, but I am so so so fussy about them. What I should have said really is that I don't do this season's florals, they're all either too big or not in the right colours for me. Anyway, since this week has been so springlike and glorious, I decided to wear my old ASOS floral tea dress. It's in yellow and blue. Can there be a more springlike colour combination that yellow and blue? I don't think so...but if you know of one do tell me!

showing off my new bag*

So yes, I do do florals, just so long as they go with my colour pallette. I felt very cute in this outfit and felt even cuter when my Modern American Fiction tutor said she liked my shoes and then said 'infact your ensemble's are always a delight to me!'. It made me quite happy that my clothes can cheer someone up! My bag is from Amy's fabulous Etsy shop Tuesday Afternoon Tea. The design is based on one of her papercutting she made for her college course, which I've been eagerly following on her blog. When she said she was going to make bags in this design I was so excited! Of course, I chose red. It's so adorable.

Monday, 16 March 2009

brownies & rocky road

I have been trying out more recipes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook!


Last weekend me and Scott made the brownies. I have been trying to find the perfect brownies recipe. Jamie Oliver's just didn't cut it for me. These though, these are perfect. Maybe they could have been baked for a few more minutes just to firm them up, but it's all personal preference. Gooey or cakey brownies? I take gooey any day! These definitely fulfil all of my gooey chocolatey desires.


200g dark chocolate, chopped
175g butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 170c, Gas Mark 3. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occassionally until thoroughly melted.

2. Remove from the heat. Pour into a larger bowl with the sugar in, and beat together. Add the sifted flour in and stir together. Finally, beat in the eggs until thick and smooth.

3. Pour into a greased and lined baking tray (mine was about 25cmx12cm, but it recommends a 33cmx23cm tray. Mine took longer to cook but were thicker) Bake for about 30-40 minutes (this depends on the size of the tray you're using like I said, just play it by ear). They should be flaky ontop but still soft in the centre. Leave to cool totally before attempting to turn them out, otherwise they will crack and fall apart! Cute into small pieces when cool and enjoy with some good quality vanilla ice cream ontop.

my rocky road

I didn't exactly follow the rocky road recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery, but it did inspire me to try out my own. Their version needed 1.4kg of chocolate, but I only used 500g which made plenty! I also put mars bars, maltesers, rich tea biscuits, dried sour cherries and marshmallows in it. I simply melted the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then stirred in 2 chopped mars bars, 1 bag of maltesers crunched up, a handful of sour cherries, about 5 biscuits crunched up, and a handful or 2 of marshmallows. Then I poured it into a baking tin lined with cling film, sprinkled with some sugar strands and left to set. They were so delicious, I couldn't get enough of them! The multi coloured sprinkles made them extra pretty too. :)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

I don't do florals


Yesterday I realised I just don't do florals. I admire them from afar, even lust after them, but then when I think about it logically, they just don't go with my wardrobe. I must prefer hearts, polka dots and stripes. After dragging Scott into h&m in a last ditch attempt to find some that would go in my wardrobe, I bought this vest top. I had been eyeing up this dress from topshop, but didn't really think it was worth £40 when it just looks like a vest tucked into a skirt. So I got this vest which was £5.99, and paired it with my AA skirt, which was £22. I got my own version of the dress for £28 and the best thing is that I can wear the vest with other things! I wore it with a blue skirt last night which also looked great, very nautical. It makes me want it to be summer already!

I spent yesterday in Manchester with Scott and had further evidence that it always rains in Manchester, or at least whenever I visit. Manchester is so big and daunting compared to Liverpool, but it does have some good shops that Liverpool lacks, such as Selfridges. I could spend forever in Selfridges, window shopping, especially in the food hall. Sadly, it's all out of my budget.

peveril of the peak

arthur kay


Thursday, 12 March 2009

British Cream Tea

How adorable are these felt creations?! I stumbled across British Cream Tea on Etsy by using the search local feature to find shops based in Liverpool and discovered this little gem. Upon further exploration, I discovered that she also has a shop on Folksy (The UK version of Etsy) and a little blog too. The sticks of rock can be personalised with a name and date, the perfect gift for anniversaries, birthdays, christenings, graduations...anything really! The birthday fairy cake is also really adorable. I love that she focuses on really English things, she even has a felt bacon butty, sausage roll and bourbon biscuits! I think some of the fairy cakes would look adorable on a cake stand for when I've not been baking.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

heart print tights

Yes, I am still drowning under a pile of uni work and have also been working quite a bit this work to earn extra money for Paris. I worked from 9am til 3.30pm and didn't get the chance to sit down once! I had to eat my lunch standing up, inbetween washing dishes! And I also have 400 pages of The Invisible Man left to read by Tuesday and work on my dissertation to do.

I ordered these tights off asos last weekend and they arrived on Wednesday. I love them, I had been eyeing them up since they came in on the website in January! Now I almost don't want the weather to get hotter because I will have to go barelegged!

My plan for this weekend in uni work, cooking tea for Scott tonight and relaxing, in work again tomorrow, then more uni work! Not very fun. What are your plans?

Monday, 2 March 2009

Chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes

chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes

So, last tuesday a delivery van pulled up outside our house. 'Are you expecting anything Helen?!' shouted my Dad. I replied. Yet it was a mystery package for me. I was quite perplexed. What had I ordered off Amazon?! It was the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook! I had it on pre-order yet it isn't due out until the 13th March, so I was still confused as to why I got it 3 weeks early. Oh well, I wasn't complaining.

I started to look through it, there were so many recipes I wanted to try! I've never visited the Hummingbird Bakery, but I so want to. The north of England is deprived of cute bakeries like that, although we do have Betty's in Yorkshire which is amazing. Cupcakes are only just catching on in England, maybe they will slowly spread northwards. (It is actually my not-so-secret life ambition to open my own bakery in Liverpool one day...maybe)

chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes

Anyway, back to the cakes! The most important thing! They were so delicious. I love Nutella, incase you all didn't know. These cupcakes have a dollop of nutella in the middle which really made them for me. The cake was also delicious and soft.

These photos are also an opportunity for me to show off my amazingly beautiful tea set that my Mum bought me the other day. It was only £2.50! It has 4 cups, 6 saucers, 6 side plates and 1 serving plate. I'm guessing 2 cups went missing/got smashed, which is sad, but still, you can't complain for £2.50! Plus it was from the Cancer Research shop so it's all for a good cause. It makes me want to have a tea party. Anyway, onwards to the recipe!


100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g butter, at room temp.
120ml milk (the recipe said whole milk, but I just used semi and they turned out okay!)
1 egg
120g nutella
chopped hazelnuts to decorate


1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/170c/325f

2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and mix together. You can use an electric hand whisk for this. It should be a slightly sandy/grainy texture

3. Pour the milk into the mixture and mix. Then add the egg and beat until it's all incorporated.

4. Spoon the mixture into cupcakes cases in a muffin tin, filling to about halfway or 2/3 full. They rise quite a bit. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

5. Leave to cool completely, then cut out a little circle in the cupcake. Pop the loose piece of cake out, insert a dollop of nutella, then put the cake piece back ontop so you have a filled cupcake.

For the icing

250g icing sugar
80g butter, at room temp
25 ml milk
80g nutella

Mix all the above ingredients together until incorporated and continue mixing for about 5 minutes. The more mixing, the fluffier the icing! Use a palette knife to ice the cupcakes, then sprinkle with a bit of chopped hazelnut. Enjoy! (I did, as you can see!)

all gone!


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