On your marks, get set, bake {English Breakfast Muffins}

English Breakfast Muffins

On your marks
Get set
Bake!

When the latest series of The Great British Bake Off started last week I set myself the (probably wildly over ambitious) task of baking along, and the challenge of making something inspired by each week’s theme.

This week was BREAD WEEK – and the episode showcased lots of sticky dough, amazing and “unusual” flavours, squashed muffins and the odd failure to rise…..

On Your Marks, Get Set, Bake - English Breakfast Muffins

For their technical challenge the contestants were asked to bake English Breakfast Muffins, and I decided to give them a go too.

The Great British Bake off Everyday

 

The recipe I used can be found in
The Great British Bake Off Everyday,
or on the BBC website.

 

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LIFE is a Party…..

Life is a Party. Dress like it.

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Today I am 40!

Given the build up, somewhat unsurprisingly the world has not stopped turning….

So, I am taking Lilly Pulitzer’s advice to heart.  I will be popping on one of my favourite dresses and an impractical pair of shoes, and plan to thoroughly enjoy the day.

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Greengage Jam

Greengage Jam

During my recent stay with my parents, my Mum and I made Greengage Jam.

Actually my Mum’s intention had not been to make jam, as she had bought the greengages with crumble in mind.  But I snaffled them so we went without dessert that evening and instead had jam on our toast for breakfast the next day!

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For this Greengage Jam recipe you will need:

900g greengages
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100ml cold water
900g caster sugar
15g butter

Makes approximately 1kg of jam.

  • Begin by washing the greengages, then remove the stalks, cut in half and de-stone.
  • Put the prepared fruit in a large saucepan (a preserving pan is ideal if you have one) and add the lemon juice and water.
  • Bring to the boil, whilst stirring continuously.
  • Lower the heat and simmer gently until the fruit has softened.  This will take approximately 40 minutes.
  • Keeping the heat low, add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Add the butter.
  • Increase the heat and bring to the boil, again stirring continuously.
  • Allow to jam to boil rapidly until it reaches setting point (this should take between 20 and 30 minutes).  To test place a small amount on a saucer in the fridge to cool for a couple of minutes, if ready it will wrinkle when gently pushed with your finger.
  • Once the jam has reached setting point remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before pouring into sterilised jars.

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

For my birthday my husband and children picked out and bought this painting for me.

And, I love it!

It was delivered yesterday during one of the heaviest downpours we have seen in weeks and left (by the lackadaisical delivery company) on the doorstep.  Luckily we arrived home before the rain had found its way through the packaging.

Generally I am a huge advocate of not opening presents or cards before the actual day, and the more bows (pink preferably) and layers of tissue and gift wrap used the better.  However, when faced with a sizeable cardboard carton emblazoned with the name of a gallery where I have spent a considerable amount of time gazing fondly at pictures and paintings, I was simply unable to wait.

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On your marks, get set, bake {Coffee Cake}

On your marks, get set, bake - Coffee Cake

The fourth series of the Great British Bake Off started this week.  And, I am now unashamedly glued to the television waiting and watching to see who will be crowned star baker and who will be sent home each week until the King or Queen of baking is picked in the final week.

Over excited as I am by the return of the Bake Off, I thought why not try and bake along, and have challenged myself to make something inspired by each week’s theme.  Whether my initial enthusiasm will continue and I will keep up remains to be seen, but here goes:

On your marks
Get set
Bake!

Since this week was declared CAKE WEEK I made a Coffee Sandwich Cake.

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Coffee Cake

For this Coffee Sandwich Cake recipe you will need:

225g self-raising flour (sifted)
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon baking powder
225g caster sugar
225g butter (softened)
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons milk
150ml double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon strong black coffee

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) / Gas Mark 4 and grease and line two (20cm) loose bottomed round cake tins.
  • Measure the flour, instant coffee, baking powder, sugar, butter and eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat until all ingredients are well combined.  I always use my Kitchen Aid, but you could mix by hand.
  • Add the milk and mix again until combined.
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and lightly browned.
  • Remove from the oven.  When the cakes have cooled slightly remove them from their tins and leave on a wire rack to completely cool before filling.

To make the filling:

  • Whip the double cream until thick.
  • Add the icing sugar and black coffee and whip again.
  • Sandwich the cakes together with the cream filling and top with a dusting of icing sugar and a sprinkling of grated chocolate.

Just a week to go

Birthday Balloons

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After initially being in denial, I will now admit that I am counting down the days.  I am however resisting the urge to invest in a glittery backless sequinned top as I did for my 30th Birthday party.  A top which I thought marvellous and quite the thing on that one occasion, but could never quite bring myself to wear again – I think some years later it left my wardrobe to find a very happy home in my 16 year old babysitter’s.

A few months ago, I posted a 40 things to do by 40 list – if you didn’t manage to read this, should you want to you can do so here.

40 things to do by 40

With our relocation this summer, tackling this list has unsurprisingly not been my primary focus.  It does occur to me however that I have completed (some more recently than others) a number of the items I listed.

I can or I have:

Learnt to speak a foreign language and used it.

Told someone the story of my life sparing no details (and  yes, probably more than once!)

Own a room with a view

Changed my hairstyle totally – from long to short and blonde or red….. (I do prefer blonde though).

Have ten immaculately French-manicured fingernails.

Ridden a camel into the desert.

Dived off the side of a yacht into the turquoise Aegean.

Been serenaded from beneath my bedroom window.

Made a complete and utter fool of yourself (again, probably more than once!).

Left home.

Spent a whole day curled up on my bed reading a great novel.

Bought my own house and spent time decorating it exactly as I want.

Walked along a seaside pier in the middle of winter eating hot, salty french fries straight from the bag (strictly speaking not a pier, but I think a beach counts).

Been to a fabulous ball.

Some of the remaining items on the list I have written off, as they just don’t appeal enough (eating jellied eels – quite frankly, yuk!).

And, there are of course others which I am parking for later.  I will remove the 40th deadline on these items, and set them an open-ended target, because I simply feel they are too good to miss.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.
Abraham Lincoln

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Castles, Giants and Princesses

St Michael's Mount

Crossing the cobbled causeway to visit the beautiful craggy castle at St Michael’s Mount is just a little like stepping into a real live fairytale.

The island comes complete with a myth about a giant who according to legend once lived on the Mount and terrorized the local villagers with his pillaging and thunderous snores.   Adding truth to the tale is his small stony heart (allegedly still beating) which can be found halfway up the castle path.

Giants heart

But fairytales, myths and legends aside who could resist seeing if the slipper might fit:

“Whomsoever this glass slipper fits is the girl I shall marry”
{Prince Charming, Cinderella}

On the quay is a real royal footprint inlaid with gold, where Queen Victoria placed her dainty slipper when she visited the island long ago.

Queen Victoria's visit

Does the slipper fit?

However, looking at my foot in comparison, it seems quite clear that I was never intended to be a princess!

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Full English at Fifteen

Fifteen - Watergate Bay

We kicked off our Sunday morning with a Full English breakfast at Fifteen.

Fifteen - Full English

Scrumptious sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and stunning views.

Fifteen - sunny Sunday view

Followed by an amble along the cliff tops above Bedruthan Steps.

Bedruthan Steps

Luckily my ballet pumps were up to the job and I didn’t tumble!

Bedruthan Steps - clff path warning

And topped the day off with a sunny afternoon at the beach;

Beach afternoon

For is a day on holiday really complete unless you feel the sand between your toes
and splash in the waves?

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Pasties at Porthcurnick

The Hidden Hut

The Times somewhat stole our idea to head to the Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick for lunch on Thursday when they listed this beach café amongst their best places to eat by the sea in that morning’s paper.

Delicious pasty on the beach

However, with pasties that good I absolutely have to agree with their recommendation.

Porthcurnick beach in the sunshine

Rather than eat on the headland overlooking the beach we carried our delicious lunch down onto the sand.

Pednvadan Point

In a vain effort to walk off our extremely large pasty lunch we mooched along the coastal path; complete not just with stunning sea views, but also a proper manned coast watch hut proudly flying the Union Jack.

Coast Watch

I like to think they were busy keeping a watchful eye out for swashbuckling pirates, smugglers and buccaneers!

Tide Times

Before the tide came in and we were forced to abandon our beautiful spot of beach (nothing short of the fear of being washed away would have persuaded the children to pack up and head for home), we ambled up the hill again to visit the Hut for a delicious round of ice creams.

Ice creams

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Lazy day at the beach

Holiday - beaches and blow-up boats

I am feeling extremely spoilt (and lucky) as the children and I have packed up and headed back down to Cornwall for the second time this summer in as many months.

Sand between my toes

And, what’s more the English weather continues to be glorious.

Sandcastles and boats

Yesterday we spent a lovely lazy day on the beach – soaking up the sun and splashing in the sea.  The water was so tempting that even I was tempted to swim, and with my wetsuit on even avoided turning my customary seaside shade of blue!

Seaweed on the shore

I do wonder though if I took the concept of a “lazy day” on the sand too far, given that my children spent a large part of their day laughing at what they termed my “beach pyjamas”.

Paddling in the rock pools

My sartorial faux-pas aside, it was the most wonderful day.

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