Saturday, 30 January 2010

Carrot cake

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I've been making carrot cake for a long time now. I never used to like it until I met Scott, and he told me it was his favourite cake. I think it was the thought of carrots in cake that just made me feel a bit funny. I've also become a huge fan of cinnamon and spiced cakes as I've got older, making carrot cake even more appealing. So I've made plenty of carrot cakes in the past 3 years and I've tried many different recipes. For a while, Rachel Allen's recipe was a strong favourite (using an orange buttercream instead of her cream cheese icing). Then, of course, I tried the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and have never turned back. It is so easy. It was Scott's birthday on Tuesday and when asked what cake he wanted, he replied 'carrot cake'. No surprises there! I used the hummingbird recipe, including their recipe for cream cheese frosting, but added a bit of orange zest upon Scott's request.

Ingredients

300gs soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra whole to decorate


Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 170c

Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split) slowly add the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.

Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand, until they are evenly dispersed.

Pour the mixture into 2 or 3 prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (for 3 cake tins) or about 30-40 minutes for 2 cake tins (or until golden brown and sponge bounces back)

Leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out.

ICING

600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter at room temp.
250g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed. continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

Ice the cake with the frosting and decorate with the whole walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.



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^this is from when I did it using 2 cake tins


I actually recommend just using 2 cake tins after trying it both ways. The cooking times are slightly longer and you need to be careful the outside of the cake does not burn, but it is a lot easier for icing and layering. For Scott's birthday, the cake came out a bit wonky! It added character but for a more professional finish I would either get dowel rods to support the layers, or just do 2 layers.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Floral dress

new dress!

Another floral dress! I actually counted up how many I have now and it amounts to 8. However, I have no floral skirts whatsoever which is quite odd. But I have a huge amount of polka dot skirts. Also, I only ever buy stripes on t-shirts. This makes for quite an uncoordinated wardrobe and I am not brave enough to mix patterns.

The dress is from New Look, which actually has a rather nice selection these days, despite it's slightly chavvy image. They're also doing 20% student discount at the moment which was a nice surprise, making this dress only £20. It was certainly worth getting into an argument with a woman over queueing over!

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I wore it with this new necklace from Topshop that says I love tea on it. I can't stop pretending to sip it and stir it. Why are things so much nicer in miniature?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

What's in my bag?

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I have returned to Uni now and the difference between my work placement and Uni is huge. I really can't wait to enter the world of work. I found it quite hard having to concentrate from 10-4. I don't think I deal well with just being talked to for hours. I got my results back from last semester though and I have improved as the year has gone on so this motivates me to try to do well this semester. I decided to get an early night on Sunday night and pack my bag (an old Sunday evening routine for as long as I can remember/have been in education). The above is what I packed in my bag for my first day back at Uni.
  • Yellow leather gloves - because Liverpool can be very cold.
  • Celia Birtwell flask for coffee.
  • Red pocket moleskine diary for writing in my homework and assignments.
  • A clockwork orange - essential to have a book for the train journey.
  • New notepad!
  • House & car keys.
  • Cath Kidston pencil case
  • Cath Kidston purse
  • Miss Dior Cherie L'eau perfume
  • Vaseline rosy lips & bodyshop lipbalm
  • Hairbrush
  • Cath Kidston rail card holder.
  • USB stick
  • Phone
What are your essentials for work or Uni? I also realised that I really need to pack tissues in my bag after the coffee dripping down the flask and getting other things in my bag a mess! And also headache tablets, because I am so prone to them, especially when trying to concentrate for so long.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

I know I keep apologising for not posting, but whilst I am on placement, I am working full time in a local library and when I come home, I often don't want to carry on staring at a screen when I've been doing that all day too. So, my poor little blog has been slightly neglected. This is my last week on my placement though, so by next week things might get back to normal. It has made me think that when I do enter the real world of work, I may have to close the blog. That probably won't be a for a while yet though, so do not fear!

In between my placement, I have still been doing project 365 which is going really well. You can see it on my flickr here. (Feel free to add me on flickr, I update that quite regularly). On Sunday, for my 365 photo, I took a photo of myself all ready to go out to watch Scott's friends band support OKGo. They were superb. I used my new bag from Asos, that is wonderful and mustardy and such soft leather. I love it. I really want a proper doctor's bag now.



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outfit - 17th January

Dress - New Look
Shoes - Jones
Coat - Topshop Petite
Scarf - Cath Kidston
Bag - Asos

Lately I have been wearing a uniform of black and grey with splashes of red, but I feel that once the spring arrives, I'll have to dig out the floral patterns to celebrate the occasion.

How is everyone anyhow? How is 2010 treating you so far?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

My desk

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my desk


more of my desk

essay and cake


For some reason I appear to have an infatuation with taking photos at my desk. I guess it's because I spend quite a lot of time there - between writing essays and blogging. On my desk there is nearly always a mug (got to have a cup of tea to keep me going!). Occasionally there are cakes and treats. I always like candles on my desk to make my room seem super cosy when I watch DVDs or iPlayer from my bed. I've also become fond of using my wall above the desk as a make-shift notice board. I keep my calendars, family photos, post it notes, old ticket stubs and pretty photos on my wall. This has grown quite a bit in the past few months hmmm. Some say it's cluttered but I like it. I'm a cancerian so I am a hoarder, and a sentimental hoarder at that, so it comforts me in some way.

What's on your desk? Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Snow!

I'm sure everyone is probably sick of snow photos now, but today was the first proper snow day we had in the north-west here, as the snow before Christmas never really stuck. Today we had about 6 inches all together! I had started my work placement, but got sent home early as the libraries all shut early and I'm off tomorrow too. I took advantage of the afternoon off and took the dogs out in the snow (they really love it).

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Snow day

Snow day

Snow day

I wore my new red wellies from Father Christmas and my trusty earmuffs to brave the cold. All afternoon is snowed really heavily. I enjoyed the snow for today but I hope it melts away soon - driving was so horrible - my car skidded and then stalled just as I was turning into my street! Scary! Luckily I escaped any bad accidents but I know others haven't been as lucky.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

365:2010

Happy new year! I wonder what 2010 will bring everyone. I've decided to take part in project 365 in order to document my year - I kind of wanted to do it from my 21st birthday, but then I forgot about it. New Years are always a good time to start a new project though. I will try to do a weekly round-up here, or you can add me on flickr to follow my progress.

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2/365

Here are my first 2 days. On New Year's day, we had family round for a big roast dinner which is our tradition. I made carrot cake and it was very, very popular! No leftovers at all. Yesterday I went for tapas with Scott, then we went to the Playhouse to watch the 39 Steps, it was very good.

Is anyone else going to take part in 365? Good luck if you are! I hope I manage to keep up with it!

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