24.04

i love cupcakes. i do. but i love cream cheese frosting more. sometimes the cake part is really just a way of eating loads of frosting, in a more legitimate way than just licking it straight off the spatula. anyone else, too?

but these cupcakes? frosting or no frosting, they’re stand-alone amazing. 

they manage to be both light and fluffy, and deliciously dense at the same time. oh and most importantly, since they keep so well overnight, you can whip them up the evening before a party so there’s one less job to do on the day itself! 


the recipe for both the cupcakes and frosting is from the hummingbird bakery cookbook. the quantities as listed in the recipe book only make about eight large cupcakes, so i like to double it for a more sizeable amount ;) 
ingredients-
for the cupcakes
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
280g caster sugar
3tsps baking powder
a decent pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240ml whole milk
2 eggs
half a teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g icing sugar 
190g cold full-fat cream cheese
n.b. the amount of sugar required in this icing is sickening. but that’s what makes it taste like heaven, so just don’t let on to your guests and noone will be any the wiser ;)
1. preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius/ 325 fahrenheit/gas mark 3.
2. put the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixture. give the mixture a stir through with a balloon whisk, to get rid of any lumps. add in the butter, and beat the mixture (with a handheld whisk or freestanding mixer) on a slow speed until it reaches a sandy consistency. 
3. whisk the egg, milk and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl or jug, and slowly about half into the flour and butter mixture. beat to combine, then turn up the speed to get rid of any lingering lumps. 
4. turn the speed down again, and add in the remaining milk mixture. don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure you don’t miss any! continue to beat for about a minute or two longer, until the mixture is light and aerated.
5. spoon the mixture into muffin cases (traditional english cupcake/fairycake cases are too small) until about two thirds full, and bake for about 20-25 minutes. you can test for ‘doneness’ by gently pressing on the top of a cake, and if it bounces back- it’s ready! or, poke a skewer (i use a strand of raw spaghetti!) into one of the cakes, and check to see that it comes out clean. 

6. whilst the cakes are cooling, make up the frosting. cream together the butter and sugar (drape a tea towel over your mixer to catch the sugar dust!) then add in the cold cream cheese in one go. beat until combined, then turn the speed up and continue beating for a good couple of minutes. this makes the frosting lovely and light!
7. pipe, palette knife, or spoon icing on top of each cupcake, and decorate with sprinkles of your choice! i had a little hunt around online for a decent ‘how to’ piping tutorial, but couldn’t find one i liked. i’m by no means an expert, but maybe i should make one? 

links: gold cupcake wrappers from a local kitchen shop, similar available here//gold sprinkles from lakeland//polka dot plate part of cup and saucer set from house of fraser

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Posted in BAKING, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE

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22.04
since next week is my final week of work before that terrifying day named ‘essay submission day’, i wanted to use the weekend to recharge my batteries. so jason and i took things at the most mellow pace :) i didn’t venture farther afield than our nearest town, which for me is always the key feature of a relaxing couple of days. instead of going on exciting adventures, we did a little spring cleaning (ocado order- check! laundry- check! tidy up the garden-check!) i baked a few batches of cupcakes, and then we spent the rest of the time basking in the beautiful weather. 
a couple of days at straightening out the house was just what i needed to feel ready for the coming week. bring it on, monday! 

below: red velvet cupcakes, for saturday afternoon sugar rushes.

below: this man just loves the sunshine. his black fur soaks up the heat. 


below: which path to take? 

below: i like to see the buds unfurling on the trees. 


below: doesn’t it look as though teddy’s laughing at something hilarious jason’s just said in this picture? i love that little face!

below: he’s a water baby, this one.

below: my summertime pickle obsession is back with a vengeance this year, only this time around i’m going to try and not give myself tummy ache from eating too many in a row…

below: is there anything magic than hazy sunlight shining through trees?

below: we took bread up to the lake with us, and fed the ducks. teddy wasn’t sure which he’d rather chase after, the ducks or the bread!

how did you spend your weekend? 
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Posted in COUNTRY WALKS, SPRING, TEDDY, WEEKEND

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21.04

i’m going to be super-british now (…as though i’m ever anything but!) and talk about the weather! how glorious was the sunshine yesterday?! it felt like the first day of real spring, with a warm sun beating down and cloudless blue skies. jason and i didn’t even grumble when ted woke us up at the crack of dawn, because you just can’t be miserable in the face of a view like the one above, can you? i really do love where we live all year round, but when the acer’s in full bloom and the sunlight’s sparkling on the water i fall in love all over again.

whilst the boys went off to a puppy-training session yesterday morning, i had my first haircut in over two years! i booked it on a whim (does anyone else do that? i don’t think i’ve ever had my haircut not on a whim) and am pleased as punch! last time i had my hair cut i said to the hairdresser ‘i hate my hair, can you do something radical?’ so he lopped off about a foot of hair (no exaggeration!) and i cried for approximately two weeks solid. also, i’m certain that this is the first time ever in my whole life i’ve had a fringe cut in (not that it really shows, in the photo above) and haven’t instantly been itching to clip it up. guess those crazy old dancer ‘i must keep my hair off my face’ tendencies are finally fading!

we even managed to tick off the first ‘to do’ on our summer to do list yesterday, and had a picnic by the pond! i made some red velvet cupcakes, and ma, jason and i took them outside and enjoyed them in the sunshine. even teddy came too! he was on his best behaviour, and only trampled his way through our picnic one and a half times! and that, for a perpetually over-excited eight month old cocker spaniel, is quite the achievement!
yesterday i was listening (and singing along, loudly) to: taylor swift, reading: love taza, eating: porcini mushroom risotto, because jason and i just can’t get enough of the stuff, drinking: strawberry ribena, enjoying: driving my little car with the sunroof open!
how was your saturday? did you get out and enjoy the sunshine? :)

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Posted in A SNAPSHOT, SPRING, TEDDY, WEEKEND

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19.04

1. finishing my 8000word essay! did i mention i’ve been writing an 8000 word essay already? ;) i can’t help going on about it, because it’s undoubtedly the biggest feat i’ve achieved at university to date! i kind of don’t care what mark it gets now (although a solid upper second would be just delightful) because i’m just so proud to have got it finished!

2. finding a sweet new pair of skinny jeans on sale in gap the other day. and now i’m officially on a trouser-buying ban, because i’ve bought four new pairs in the past month. someone stop me…

3. watching teddy paddle his way round the pond on wednesday afternoon. jason gave me strict instructions not to let him go swimming in the pond earlier in the week(we’ve got super grumpy neighbours and jase likes to keep the peace) but when teddy hopped in i couldn’t stop laughing long enough to call him back out! i especially enjoyed watching him scramble out at top speed when he got spooked by one of the koi carp :)

4. limes! i’ve been obsessed with lime recently, i just can’t get enough. i’m planning on having a baking day tomorrow to celebrate having finished writing my essay, so maybe i should give this lime cake another whirl?

5. looking at cocker and springer spaniel puppies online. whilst jason and i have got our hands full with ted right now, we’re both dreaming of expanding our little pack one day :)

6. burning my grapefruit and lime candle. see, i did say i was obsessed with lime!

7. eating my way through all that cheese i bought last week. it’s been pretty great, i can’t tell a lie!

8. finally getting round to watching the tudors! it’s not a patch on our beloved homeland, but we’ve been enjoying watching an episode or two each night to help us switch off.

9. yesterday’s erratic weather. one minute warm sunshine, then galeforce wind, then torrential downpours of rain! i quite like how crazy spring is.

10. blogging. i’ve not had much chance to blog this week because essay writing all day long drains my head completely, and so by the time i sit down in the evening to write a post, i’m clean out of words. but having to take a little step back from the blog for the past few days has made me realise quite how much i love documenting our day-to-day happenings on this little blog of mine :)

tell me, what’s made you happy this week? 

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Posted in 10 THINGS, HAPPINESS

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