Banana Choc Chip Muffins.

Who doesn’t love a muffin? Blueberry, Double Chocolate, Toffee, there’s literally a flavour for everyone.

I had a craving for banana. I am sure I have mentioned this before, but I love the taste of banana however I can’t handle the texture of an actual banana (I’m strange like that). So what do you do in that situation? Mash them up and put them in something cakey!

I have never made traditional muffins. They are different to cupcakes, a bit drier and more dense, and I wanted to use the fancy wrappers they came in. So I decided on banana and wondered what I could add in to the mix. Chocolate chips were a given but I also decided to add walnuts too for some extra crunch.

The recipe I used can be found here, it’s very simple and easy to make. The ingredients are basic sponge ingredients with some extra bits like banana, choc chips and walnuts.

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It’s pretty much a put-it-all-in-the-mixer kind of bake which is great on days where you’re rushing or don’t fancy a tough bake!

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The smell of these once baked was simply delicious! The wrappers I picked up were absolutely useless and changed colour which I didn’t like, but oh well.

For my styled images I didn’t really have much inspiration, but this is what I came up with. I’m very obsessed with old things and I got my hands on some new bits recently which I have used in these images. I’ll separately post about them soon!

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Chocolate & Malt Celebration Cake

As Easter is fast approaching and families are planing their big get togethers I thought about what I would make for a big family weekend.  I thought an elaborate celebration cake full of flavours and textures would be apt.

I am a lover of malteasers and wanted to incorporate these in to my Easter celebration cake. I also knew I wanted to make it tall with 4 layers of sponge, with smooth buttercream and drip ganache (super popular these days). In my head I could visualise it straight away. With malteasers being a feature I decided that my 4 layers of sponge would be chocolate and malt flavoured, each layer alternating flavour.

After deciding on what I was baking I found this recipe online which I took some of the recipe from for the malt sponge and the chocolate drizzle. I made a cake with the same building method before which you can visit by clicking here.

So first off, you need to bake the sponges. There are considerably less people at home with me now so a big cake just wouldn’t get eaten, so I used a smaller tin and made smaller sponges. This is also a good idea when making a 4 layer sponge cake because the cake is so tall I don’t think you need the diameter of a usual sponge cake.

First was the malt sponge and I used the recipe in the linked website I mentioned previously. I used Horlicks sachets to bring the malt flavour and I used 1 sachet for the sponge. There’s also natural yogurt in this sponge which I’ve never used in a cake before!

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For the chocolate sponge I used this recipe and it’s just a super straight forward chocolate cake. I did add natural yogurt to this recipe too so the consistency would be the same as the malt sponge.

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Once the cakes had cooled I cut each one in to 2 equal size layers using a cake leveller to make a level cut. Once all layers were cut to the correct widths it was time to build and decorate! I used a basic buttercream recipe to sandwich the layers and coat the cake. This consists of butter, icing sugar, malt powder, vanilla extract and a little bit of milk. I don’t have exact measurements.

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Sandwich the cakes together with the buttercream, making sure the cake is level and in line with the layer underneath for every level. Then you need to create a crumb coat, which is a thing layer of buttercream surrounding the cake which locks in all of the crumbs ready for the final layer of icing.

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Once crumb coated the cake needs to sit in the fridge for an hour to harden up ready for the next layer of buttercream. For this round of buttercream be more generous with the thickness and ensure no part of the cake is not covered. Then, using a cake scraper and using the turn stand to move the cake around, smooth all the edges down, wiping off all excess icing as you go. I keep the scraper steady with my right hand and turn the stand with my left. Again this needs to go in the fridge to harden up for the next stage.

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To make the dark chocolate ganache drips all you need is double cream and dark chocolate in equal moments. Heat the double cream until it starts to steam and mix in to the chocolate, continuously mixing to achieve a shiny thick ganache which could still drip down the side of a cake.

 

The ganache will thicken as time passes so you must be quick to get this used at the right consistency. I used a spoon to set bits of ganache on the edge to drip down the sides of the cake, and then I filled the top of the cake in with the rest. This was by far not the best icing or drip job I’ve ever done, but I think it looks good and the effect is still great!

For the last decorations I used the remaining buttercream to pipe small rosettes around the top of the cake and a put a malteaser in to the centre of each one. I then crushed up a load of malteasers to make a crumble and made a small pile of malteaser in the middle of the cake. I think it looked great! The contrast of the dark and light icing is really striking and  the decorations on the top just bring another dimension and a little bit of detail to the cake.

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As this is a celebration cake I decided that I wanted to take inspiration from the lovely bakery books such as Primrose Bakery and Lola’s Cupcakes. They often set up the photos with nice pops of colour and clean, simple styling. I tried some on my plain window sill and some with some nice coloured card and a gold banner. I adore these photos and they will make great additions to my portfolio!

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I hope you enjoyed this post! Will you be having a big family gathering over Easter? Will you bake anything special?

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Shortbread

I have marked all the recipes in my baking books that I want to try. This week was the turn of Lemon Shortbread. The recipe comes from The Great British Bake Off Everyday book.

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Shortbread is easy to make and I have made it before, but the addition of the lemon syrup really got me interested in this recipe!

The first thing to do is to make your lemon syrup. This is simply thin lemon slices covered in caster sugar overnight or for 8 hours at least. It’s a bit like making jam, you let the sugar and the juices come together to make a syrup. I left mine overnight.

The next day I made the shortbread. To make shortbread you beat butter until it is soft and light in colour, then add your sugars, then add your flours, and that’s it! You should have a dough which has a crumbly texture.

Three quarters of the dough needs to be pressed in to a greased tin, and the rest kept to one side for later.

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Next you need to make your lemon filling. To the syrup mixture you add flour and melted butter to make more of a paste, and this goes on top of the shortbread mixture.

With the last bit of shortbread mix beat 1 egg yolk in. Roll this dough out with your hands on to a floured surface, making a sausage shape about 20cm long.

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Cut this in to discs, about a £1 thickness, and place on top of the lemon mixture.

This then goes in the over for about 45 minutes until golden brown! How delicious does that look! Overall, a super easy recipe and the only time consuming part was the syrup which was left overnight. I definitely recommend making these, the sweet shortbread and the sharp lemon syrup are a match made in heaven!

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My inspiration for this styling was Spring itself. The light is getting longer every day and I absolutely love it! Also all of the flowers are starting to bloom. I bought some Gypsophila and kept the colour palette fresh and bright. I hope you like the photos! Can you spot my Grandma’s old recipes making an appearance? They are at least 50 years old!

 

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My first cover?

Unless you follow me on social media you won’t know that I now work with Sewing World Magazine to photograph their projects every month. How cool is that!

Ever since I got in to photography 9 years ago it was a dream and a goal of mine to work with a magazine. I just loved flicking through the pages and looking at the images in print. Well now I get to do that with my own images and it is quite surreal!

Sewing World magazine is available to buy in WHSmiths and some supermarkets and it is available globally. It is the longest running Sewing magazine, and it is honestly so much fun working with them. I love it so much!

So the March 2017 issue is what I started working on, and I received it in the post the other day with my first cover! How insane!

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I honestly love this image so much, and it’s the first of a collection of my covers to come! My work is featured inside too, here’s a couple of snaps…

 

I still can’t quite believe this is my job! It feels like fun every time. Let me know if you see it in the shops!

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Something for Valentine’s Day

In my last post I gave you some Valentine’s inspiration for the big day coming up. I’ve never celebrated Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to make something that I would serve on Valentine’s Day if I was to cook a meal for a partner or friend. And of course, I wouldn’t cook anything I’d just give them a sweet option haha!

I wanted something rich, sweet and indulgent. I decided to make some honeycomb which would then be incorporated in to vanilla ice cream. Here’s how I made them both.

The recipe for the honeycomb is here, and for the ice cream here.

Honeycomb is super simple and relatively easy to make. All you need is caster sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda. You need a deep pan to boil the sugar in and I also used a thermometer which tells me the different boiling points of sugar. You will also need a greased baking tray to set the honeycomb in.

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To make the honeycomb you need to melt together the sugar and golden syrup until you reach the caramel stage. The thermometer I use tells me when I am at that point, otherwise look for when the liquid turns a deep amber colour. Once you reach this point, remove the pan from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. You must be careful when adding the bicarbonate of soda because it reacts with the hot sugar and expands rapidly, this is what causes the bubbles in the honeycomb. Mix it in with a wooden spoon and pour in to the baking tray.

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Leave the honeycomb to set for an hour and then it will be ready to break up in to pieces!

Be warned, you will get a pretty stick pan afterwards…

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The pieces of honeycomb would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s day. Other than what I needed for the ice cream I had some honeycomb spare. I decided to dip them in dark chocolate and let them set. Absolutely delicious!

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I didn’t realise until afterward I dunked the honeycomb in the chocolate that this is in essence the famous Crunchie chocolate bar! But a bit more rustic and homemade.

As I mentioned the honeycomb was indeed made to go in some ice cream. I followed the recipe I linked above. I do not have an ice cream machine so I had to make it the simple way with just 3 ingredients!

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Double cream, condensed milk and vanilla extract. All you do is whip it all together until it’s doubled in size and is a thick consistency. I crunched up some honeycomb and folded this through the ice cream mixture along with some golden syrup. Then I transferred it in to a cake tin, crumbled some more honeycomb on the top and drizzled some more golden syrup!

I left this for a day before having some and it was the perfect ice cream consistency! You can really taste the cream and the vanilla, as well as the slight bitterness and the crunch of the honeycomb. It’s a perfect combination. The ice cream is not too sweet or overpowering, and it’s incredibly moreish.

It looks pretty too! If you were to serve this as dessert for your Valentine’s meal you could easily add something extra to make this even more indulgent. A rich chocolate brownie (see here for the best brownies) would do the trick, or even some sweet strawberries and raspberries.

I really love the images I have taken here. The ice cream ones especially will be a good addition to my portfolio. All I use is that wonderful natural light and my beloved 50mm lens.

What are your Valentine’s day plans? Are you cooking for someone?

 

 

 

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An Afternoon of Lovely Light

Today I decided not to bake but to play with my camera and the props and fabrics I had at home, working on my styling. It’s been a windy and stormy day here in Wales and the light was very dull, but it worked beautifully with the darker props etc I had.

I’d also got some Oranges to photograph too. These images came out really well and I’m excited to use them in my portfolio! What do you think?

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All I have used here is black fabric, a black plate and a plant to shoot through. The rest is all down to natural light. You don’t need much to make a decent photo!

 

 

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St Valentine

Valentine’s Day. Something you either love or hate! To me, it’s an opportunity to remind your loved ones how much you love them. And baking is a lovely personal way to do so.

In preparation for Valentines baking I have looked for inspiration and recipe ideas for us all to look at. Here we go…

 

All images are from Pinterest and there are links attached to each one. How pretty is that cocktail?! And the Valentines Rocky Road looks delicious.

Here are some links to some recipes which caught my eye too…

 

Whether it’s your Mum, Dad, best friend, girlfriend or husband you’re baking for this Valentine’s Day, I’m pretty sure they will appreciate the homemade gesture!

I’ll let you know what I bake for Valentine’s!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Custard Cupcakes

January is a gloomy month, isn’t it? It seems to always be dark and a little miserable. What makes things better though is cake. Cake makes everything better!

To get back in to the swing of things I wanted to make some cupcakes. I remembered making oreo cupcakes before and bashing up the cookies to mix in to the buttercream, it was delicious! So I thought about some other biscuits this would work with. Custard creams came to mind. I then found this recipe online, and decided to try it out.

So the sponge batter is just like a usual vanilla sponge batter but instead you use golden caster sugar rather than caster sugar for that more caramel taste, and you substitute some of your flour for custard powder. The custard powder gives the sponge a good colour as well as giving it a hint of custard flavour.

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As you can see the colour of the cupcakes is quite golden and this is due to the custard powder.

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Next up was the frosting! Of course it was buttercream as it is my absolute favourite and because it holds its shape pretty well, so I know it can hold the custard cream crumbs too.

In my head I didn’t want to pipe the usual swirl and then stick a custard cream biscuit on top. As I previously mentioned I wanted to crush the biscuits up and have them in the buttercream. I didn’t want the cakes to be so obvious.

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The buttercream was your usual butter and icing sugar mix with a few tablespoons of milk added and then some vanilla bean extract too. Once it had all come together in the bowl I added the broken custard creams and mixed those in too.

I tried to pipe this buttercream on to the cakes, but I forgot to think about how big the chunks were and if they would block the piping nozzle! Silly me. I ended up spreading the icing on with a spoon.

For my styled image I wanted to do something dark, because the sunshine we had today was absolutely stunning. The winter sunshine coming through the window cast dark shadows and I wanted to play with the light and dark shadows. Here’s what I got…

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This was my set up!

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I actually really love these images. I suppose they are a bit January; dark and moody.

The cupcakes were yummy and you could definitely taste the custard! An additional detail you could have is a custard core. I think it would work well, but not many people are fond of cold custard!

Baking is great for me right now, it takes my mind of things and keep me busy. I’m sure there will be plenty to blog about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year, New opportunities, New start.

Happy New Year.

I’d like to explain my absence briefly.

At the end of November my 8 year relationship ended and it really hit me hard. I’m moving back to Wales tomorrow to be with my family, so my whole life is changing. I am leaving friends and almost family, leaving my job, my home, and my best friend.

I tried to keep up with being organised and planning shoots and blog posts but sometimes you just can’t do it. I don’t feel bad, because it’s important to put yourself first when necessary, but I am frustrated at myself and the whole situation. I waned to create a great little blog post series for Christmas and New Year but I just didn’t have it in me.

Anyway, as well as feeling heartbroken I am also looking forward to this new start and change. Change is essential for growth, and I’m looking forward to see how I grow in 2017. I am planning to blog every week so lets hope there’s no bumps in the road for a while!

Thanks for reading,

Laura.

 

Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits

Only 10 days to go!

I love to bake Christmas biscuits and give them as gifts at Christmas time. I wrap them up in little cellophane bags and and tie them with cute bows. I wanted to make gingerbread biscuits this year and had a practise run today. I love the warmth of ginger and it’s perfect for this time of year. I used this recipe and it worked pretty well.

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My personal taste would have more ginger in there, it wasn’t strong enough for me!

I want to make some gingerbread reindeers and Christmas trees to go on top of my Christmas cake once it’s iced. I think it will look so pretty!

I’m so busy I am not sure how much festive baking I can do, but I’m going to try!

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