Mondaying

Right now I am mostly…

Reading : My reading has taken a backseat to something this month, though I can’t think what that something could be! I am going to struggle for a decent total this month, which will put me behind, yet again! But I got a great book from the library on Saturday, and I’m making good progress with it. It’s called Watching the English by Kate Fox, and it’s really fascinating!

Learning : One of my 31 Before 31 items is to learn German, and I had been using the Duolingo app and doing really well (completing all the levels on there will count as a win for me). But then I decided to give the French lessons a whirl, and I’m finding that a lot more interesting!

Listening : All Bon Jovi, all the time, pretty much.

Being : Brave! In recent years I have come to realise that my fear of animals is one that I can easily get over, if I spend time with more nice animals. This weekend my friend Hannah was housesitting, and there was a dog and three cats there. I surprised myself by how much enjoyed spending a bit of time with these pets!

Baking : Another birthday cake, this time for my dad. It was a bit of a rush job, so I ended up just making a basic victoria sponge and then getting a little bit inventive with the icing. When I say inventive, I mean cutting a six and a seven template out, and using sprinkles to make the numbers. My dad couldn’t even tell that his age was on the cake.

Watching : I watched Titanic in 3D on Saturday, on the first 3D television I’ve ever used. It was fun, but I’m not the biggest fan of 3D. It doesn’t add anything to the overall experience of a film, for me. We watched Life of Pi too, but I think we did something wrong because that wasn’t in 3D at all. Probably for the best, because who wants to see a 3D whale? In case you are wondering, that’s Kate Winslet in my wine glass there.

Mondaying

Right now, I am mostly…

Reading : I am on a bit of a Young Adult kick at the moment. Summer just seems the right sort of time to read books about teenage girls falling in love. Especially if they are set at the beach (I got a lot of inspiration from this post by Kerri-Ann at Hello Giggles).

Watching : I am never able to let too long elapse without reverting back to what I know and love the best. So right now, as I write this, I’m watching Season 2 of The West Wing.

Laughing : At my dad. Today I got a phone call from him to say that he was stuck in a tree in the front garden, and could I come and move the ladder back into position so he could get down. I put it on Facebook (naturally), and my siblings were all a) jealous they missed it and b) hoping that I had taken a photo (I hadn’t).

Baking : Today I baked a belated birthday cake for my friend John, with Anna and Jen’s help. John is Jen’s other half, but she’s not much of a baker, so Anna and I provided moral support. As I said on Instagram, it wasn’t the most sophisticated cake ever, but it was tasty, and John (quite the cake aficionado, and a professional chef) ate three slices. Also, for some reason, I promised cake to my book group to celebrate a few birthdays since we last met. I’ve now got to come up with something to make!

  

Playing : With my nieces. They came to see my dad for Father’s Day and I haven’t seen them for ages, so I took the opportunity to snap some photos. The best way to get them to pose with me is to say “Let’s pull funny faces.” Otherwise they protest.

30 Before 30 ~ Cakes ~ Jelly Bean Buns

It’s becoming a bit of a race to the finish to get my ten cakes baked in time for my deadline. Frankly, it’s a little bit pathetic that I can’t manage to bake ten measly cakes in twelve months without taking it to the wire, but that’s me all over, I’m afraid. Deadlines are not my friend.

Anyway, last week I created a new cake! I had seen a recipe for Jelly Bean cakes a while ago, in a recipe book in my kitchen. I then bought some jelly beans, and left them in my friend Hannah’s car for about three weeks. Instead of buying some more jelly beans, I kept waiting for Hannah to return them to me, and no matter how many times we saw each other in the interim, we both kept forgetting. But I finally got them back, and then I realised that I had lost the book with the recipe in. Seriously, it has vanished. Rather than give up, I decided to create a new recipe. Kind of. I used the recipe I have for rock cakes, and simply switched the fruit for jelly beans. And it worked! They taste good, and are so simple to make!

As ever, I’d like to apologise for the quality of photos in this post. I say it every single time, but food photography is hard. Especially when you have to use your phone because your camera battery is dead and you are being super lazy about charging it.

Jelly Bean Buns

Ingredients:
225g/8oz self-raising flour
125g/4oz firm butter or margarine
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons milk
75g/3oz caster sugar
Jelly Beans

A note on the ingredients: I used two small packets of jelly beans, but in hindsight would probably use a lot less. One pack is probably sufficient, but really it’s up to you how many you want per bun. You may also want to reduce the amount of sugar used considering that you are adding sweets to the recipe instead of the fruit that is given in the original Rock Bun recipe.

Put flour and butter into a bowl. Rub in margarine using fingers.

Add sugar and jelly beans.

Mix to a stiff consistency with beaten egg and milk.

Place rough balls of mixture onto baking tray. Be aware that the mixture will spread so keep a sizable gap between the balls (bigger than I left!).

Bake in a hot oven (220C/Gas Mark 7) for 12 to 15 minutes until firm and slightly golden.

They really are rather delicious, though only if you like jelly beans, I should imagine. They melt into the cake but are still chewy, which I think makes for an interesting texture! Let me know if you try them!

10 new cakes – eight down – two to go!

30 Before 30 – Cakes

You’ll be pleased to know that I have managed another cake! The last one I made was in April, and seeing I was supposed to be doing one a month, I am running a bit behind! But I’m still aiming for a total of ten before my birthday, and I’m up to four now!

Cadbury’s Chocolate Cake

I sent out an appeal on Twitter for a simple cake recipe, and my friend Kristy (currently living in Australia, the lucky monkey), answered me with a recipe for Cadbury’s Chocolate Cake. She said it was yummy, so I decided to make it!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of Cadbury Bournville Cocoa (blended with 1 cup of water)
150g butter
1/2 tspn bicarbonate soda
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups of self raising flour

(There are plenty of online conversion charts for cups to grams if you need one)

Place cocoa, water, butter sugar and bicarbonate in a large saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the butter melts.

Bring to the boil then remove from heat and leave to cool.

When cool, add eggs and vanilla essence and beat well with electric hand mixer.
Gradually add in the flour and mix gently.

Pour into greased and lined pan and bake at 160c for 60 mins

Icing ingredients
1 cup icing sugar
1tblspn butter, melted
1 tblspn cocoa
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
Boiling water

Icing method
Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.
Add melted butter and stir well.
Add vanilla essence and a few drops of boiling water to make a smooth pouring consistency.
Pour over the cooled cake.
Finish off with chocolate sprinkles!

Firstly, apologies for the photography – I’m sure I’ve apologised for this before, but I’m not the best food photographer! Also, as you may be able to tell, the cake doesn’t look as wonderful as it might, owing mainly to the icing dripping down and pooling round the bottom! However, it tasted yummy! I decided to make a sandwich cake, and put some of the icing in the middle, and I forwent the sprinkles, simply because I didn’t have any!

If I make it again, I’ll try to make sure the icing isn’t quite so runny, so that I don’t have the pooling problem!

Four down – six to go!