Jam Cakes

Today, once more, dissertation stress called for the making of some cakes.  However I fancied something a little different from plain vanilla cupcakes.  My initial desire for chocolate cake was dashed, as no chocolate was to be found in my cupboards.  No lemons either...all I could find was jam.  And so the Jam Cake was born.  I've never attempted this before and I really don't know why I havn't.  The addition of a little raspberry jam turns an ordinary vanilla cupcake into a little afternoon treat that seems to have a jam doughnut as a distant cousin!

Jam Cakes - makes 12
125g Stork margarine
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g self-raising flour
Seeded raspberry jam (enough for a teaspoon for each cake) 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tin with cake cases.
  • Beat together the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl or mug, and add in the vanilla extract.
  • Add a little of the eggs and sift in a little of the flour and mix well until all of the eggs and flour have been added.  
  • Add a teaspoon of cake mixture into each cake case.  Top with a teaspoon of jam, and then cover the jam with another teaspoon of cake mixture
  • Spoon into cases and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and spring back when pushed in the centre. 

I would recommend eating one once they're out of the oven, as they're especially yummy whilst still warm!  I've left mine uniced for now, but they would be lovely with some chocolate buttercream and topped with a fresh raspberry for a more decadent cake!

Etsy Lovin'

I'm a little bit obsessed with Etsy.  If you're not familiar with it (where have you been hiding?!), it's a website where independent sellers can trade their handmade and vintage goods.  As I've already mentioned on the blog, I really do like a bit of vintage!  But I'm also a really big fan of all things crafty.  When I was little I remember loving being sat at the dining table and having paper, glitter and glue everywhere!  As I've grown older, I've had different 'crafty phases'...knitting, crochet, card making, embroidery, painting...however, I'm not particularly good at sticking to one thing so there's now bags of wool, boxes of buttons and unfinished 'projects' spread around at home!  My half-hearted creative endeavours have made me really appreciate individuals who have the determination to turn their hobby into a business, and this is one of the reasons why I love Etsy so much.  Not only do I get to swoon at gorgeous handmade or vintage items, but I get to admire the effort and passion that has gone into selling them.

















This morning I ventured into the world of Etsy Treasuries (in Etsy's on words 'an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery').  I really like the concept of browsing other member's collections and think it makes the online shopping experience fun and exciting.  Inspired by the fantastic weather we've been having recently and the impending chocolate binge next weekend, I decided to create an Easter treasury. It was very simple and easy to do; all you do is find the item URL of up to 16 items, and then you can drag them around and make your 'mosaic' look nice and pretty.  I really enjoyed searching for just the right items to feature...however I fear that this may become another frequent 'Dissertation Distraction' technique!

Right Now I Can't Live Without : L'Oreal Supreme Smooth

My hair had certainly taken a beating over the Winter, what with the cold weather and straightening that I subjected it to.  It was dry and in need of treat, and I was determined to get it looking lovely again in time for Summer.  Enter L'Oreal techni.art Supreme Smooth 

I was first introduced to this product after an old hairdresser used it a few years ago.  My hair looked so much healthier that day so I decided to purchase it after I recently ran out of Sebastian Potion 9.  To my purse's delight, the Supreme Smooth is also a good bit cheaper!

This nutri-smoothing creme for dry hair is exactly what my locks neededI find that a little product goes a long way, and smooth in a large chickpea-ish sized blob into the lengths of my hair after I've towel dried it.  I then blow dry my hair as normal using a large paddle brush.  It also protects against heat damage and leaves my hair feeling soft and looking shiny!  I'm currently trying to grow my hair out after lusting after images of 'mermaid hair' and am trying to go as long as possible without a haircut, thankfully this product also helps to keep pesky split ends looking smooth too!  It would seem that L'Oreal Supreme Smooth can do no wrong!

Sunsets and Strawberries

The past few days have certainly been a good indication that Summer is finally on it's way.  Brighton is at its best in the sunshine, and everyone seems to be happier and friendlier than usual.  On days like this, the last thing I want to be doing is slaving away in the library; at least my walk there is made a little better by the thousands of happy yellow daffodils that have popped up on campus.  

Hot, sunny days always make me want a smoothie.  Today was no different and I ended up making my first smoothie of the year.  I usually throw all sorts of fruits in and hope for the best (peaches, kiwis and raspberries were my particular favourites last year).  Today I had to be a little less adventurous and go with whatever was in the fridge, and this happened to be strawberries.  This is more of a milkshake than a smoothie and SO simple, but also very tasty!  I very much made this up as I went along and didn't pay enough attention to quantities, but below is a rough guide!  I would have also liked to have added ice cream, but I'm still trying to find a nice lactose free one.  Thankfully the yoghurt did a good job of thickening it up.

Strawberry Smoothie/Milkshake
A handful of fresh strawberries, 5 or 6 large-ish ones
A pot of strawberry yoghurt
About a cup of milk
  • Wash, hull and halve the strawberries.
  • Blend all ingredients with a blender and serve immediately!

Easy additions to this one would be some vanilla or blueberries.  I'm really looking forward to making up lots of different fruit combinations over the next few months; I just hope the sun comes back after my dissertation deadline so that I can enjoy it properly!  Some more Summer sunsets like this would be lovely!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cookies

Sorry again for the rubbish phone picture!  They look even yummier than this in real life, I promise!
Recently I've been spending too much time browsing the thousands of recipies on the BBC Good Food website, instead of actually doing any of my dissertaion research!  (Told you I was good at procrastination!)  When I came across these I knew I had to make them, and I'm so glad I did because they're AMAZING!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cookies - from here
100g unsalted butter (I used Stork)
100g crunchy peanut butter
50g demerara sugar
50g caster sugar
1 egg
100g plain flour
50g white chocolate chunks or chips
(On writing this up, I've just realised that I missed out 1/2 tsp of both bicarb and baking powder, however mine were yummy without.)
  • Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and line your tins with baking parchment.
  • Mix together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Beat the egg and add gradually till all combined.
  • Sift in the flour and fold in the chocolate chunks/chips (and bicarb and baking soda if you are using).
  • Place 'blobs' onto the baking tray, leaving room for them to spread.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and bang the tray sharply on the work surface half way through.  (Mine needed a little longer than 10 minutes and I took them out as soon as they started to get a bit of colour).
These are so easy to make and I really like the tip of banging the tray half way through.  Previously I've pushed the cookies down with a fish slice if they've started to rise but this seems to work even better.  The end result is a crispy, chewey, lovely cookie!

We'll Take Manhattan

I've been hiding under a mountain of library books and dissertation notes for the past few weeks, no doubt like every other third year University student at the moment!  I decided it was time to take a break and finally post about We'll Take Manhattan.

The plot follows fledgling model Jean Shrimpton (Karen Gillan) and her relationship with up-and-coming photographer David Bailey (Aneurin Barnard).  For me the stars of the show were both Aneurin Barnard and Helen McCrory who plays Vogue's fashion editor, Lady Clare Rendlesham.  On screen, their relationship is tempestuous at the best of times as Bailey plots to get his edgy and youthful photographs into the popular magazine, much to traditional and glamourous Rendlesham's disgust. 

The programme is full of chic silhouette's; both of early '60s fashion and of New York.  I soon found myself lusting after Rendlesham' wardrobe... and a plate of egg and chips!