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Monday, October 28, 2013

Marshmallow and ginger cake...

I have managed to get so behind with my little blog! I have lots of craft projects to share with you but I just can't seem to find the time at the moment to sit down and write a post! Life feels a good sort of busy though, I have just started to attend some lectures run by my husband's college so much of the time I would usually set aside for blogging is currently spent reading for those instead. So bear with me, things might be a little quieter around here for a while...or, more likely, my house will be neglected so that I can do the much more fun task of blogging instead of, say, the washing up :)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure you didn't click on 'marshmallow and ginger cake' to hear all about my let's talk cake.

I went round to a friend's last week to watch the final of Great British Bake Off. I have a confession, this is the first bake off that I have watched. I am so ridiculously bad at following a series but I finally managed this year! Of course, it would be completely wrong to watch the final without eating cake...right? I had seen this gorgeous recipe in my latest Good Food Magazine which I knew would be perfect for such an occasion :)

My photo really doesn't do it justice, the marshmallow icing in the magazine has been toasted with a blowtorch has sparklers coming out of it - so amazing! I searched for an online version of it but there isn't one on their website so you'll have to make to with the photo of my version!

The only significant changes I made to the recipe was to make the butter icing less gingery by excluding the stem ginger and syrup that they recommended. It resulted in a lightly spiced sponge and icing balanced with the sweetness of the marshmallow icing (which is really meringue not marshmallow)'s a keeper for me!

Toasted Marshmallow and Ginger Cake (from Good Food magazine Nov 2013)

For the cake:
100g butter or margarine
100g soft dark brown sugar
100g black treacle
140g golden syrup
225g plain four
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp salt
125ml whole milk (I used semi-skimmed)
3 medium egg yolks (keep the egg whites for the icing), whisked.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a 2lb loaf tin.

1. Melt the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a saucepan, whisking continually until smooth. This will only take a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Mix the flour, bicarb, ginger, cinnamon and salt together into a bowl. Pour in the warm syrup mixture, milk and the egg yolks, whisking until well combined and smooth.

3. Pour into the tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

4. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then use a sharp knife to slice of the top (to give an even surface) and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the ginger butter icing:
140g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1/2tsp ground ginger
(optional, add 4 balls of stem ginger, finely chopped, and 1tbsp ginger syrup to stay true to the original recipe)

1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and beat until smooth.

For the marshmallow icing:
3 egg whites
175g caster sugar

1. Put the egg whites, sugar, 1tbsp water and a pinch of salt into a heatproof bowl. Place this over a pan of boiling water (keeping the base of the bowl away from the water). Whisk (I suggest an electric whisk to save your wrists!) together over the heat for about 4 minutes or until the meringue reaches the ribbon stage - this is where the whisk will leave a trail that remains visible for at least 3 seconds.
2. Take off the heat and continue to whisk for a further 3 - 4 minutes until the icing has cooled slightly and stiffened.
3. Transfer 1/3 of the icing to a piping bag fitter with a large round nozzle.

To assemble:
Slice the cake into 3 layers (lengthways). Using the widest layer as the base, reassemble the cake spreading the buttercream evenly between the layers.
Next cover the outside of the cake with a layer of marshmallow icing. You can use a palette knife to draw vertical lines up the cake sides.
Take the piping bag and pipe spikes of meringue over the top of the cake.
At this point, if you have a cook's blowtorch, you can lightly toast the meringue - sadly I don't have one of these yet!

It went down a treat :) What did everyone think of the final? I was cheering on Frances so I was happy that she won! They were all so good but her creations were always just so beautiful, and she seemed really down to earth...I guess she proved Paul wrong with the whole boring business of 'style over substance' :)

Happy Monday! Stay safe if the storm reaches you.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

D.I.Y. inspiration - party decor...

Everyone loves a good party right? I never seem to think far enough ahead to plan amazing decor but I have been drooling over these beautiful ideas! So I thought I'd kickstart the weekend by sharing my favourite garlands and wall decor ideas!

1. Beautiful scalloped fans and bunting from Oh Hello Friend.
2. A really fun and colourful honeycomb garland by Oh Happy Day.
3. A Christmas themed 'Joy' fan banner by Somewhere Splendid
4. This gorgeous flower wall by Lovely Indeed
5. A really fun but simple idea of scattered balloons featured on Confessions of a Wisconsin Housewife

Do you have a favourite? I can't decide!
Have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

D.I.Y. Plaited turquoise and wooden bead necklace...

I want to share my latest 'plaited necklace' with you today (I'm definitely in a plaiting phase of jewellery making!)...I love wooden beads with waxed thread but sometimes they need a little colour to really bring the piece to life (if a necklace can come to life?). And I actually had some end caps that were the perfect size for this d.i.y. - unlike the gold beaded necklace!

I love making step by step photos for projects but sometimes I just want to sit down, play and create as I go...especially when it comes to jewellery making. That's my excuse for the lack of photos anyway!

So here goes...

What you need: 
Waxed thread, large wooden beads (an odd number will look best), smaller beads, wire, end caps x2, jump rings x2, chain (optional), clasp, scissors, wire cutter, flat nosed pliers and strong glue/heat gun.

1) Cut 6 equal lengths of thread (double the desired length of the necklace should give you plenty of leeway)

2) Tie the 6 lengths together and separate into pairs. Holding the thread flat between your fingers plait the thread together. Once you've plaited to your desired length secure it with a knot.

3) Feed three pieces of the thread through a wooden bead and tie a knot. Repeat until all your beads are fed onto the necklace (don't tie a knot after the last bead.)

4) Take the remaining 3 pieces of thread and start to plait. Once you have completed a couple of plaits feed a smaller bead onto one of the pieces of thread. Continue to plait 2 to 3 more times before adding another bead...and continue. Feeding the beads onto the same piece of thread will give the most even finish.

5) Tie both the plaited thread and the wooden bead strand together in knot. Continue to plait the threads together as per step 2. Tie a knot once the length is equal to the first plait.

6) Chances are your knots won't fit into the end caps. Take the wire and wrap it tightly around one end of the necklace, just below the knot. Trim the wire with the wire cutters and cut just above the wire. Next add the glue into the inside of the end cap and push the end of the necklace into the end cap, hiding the wire. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the other end of the necklace. Leave until the glue has set.

7) Next use the pliers to add a jump ring to each end cap, and the clasp to one of the jump rings and chain to the other (if you want adjustable length).

And there you have yourself a new necklace!

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Knitting progress...

I'm almost 3 weeks into my latest attempt at knitting and I think the main thing to note is that I am still at it...which is about 20 days and 23 hours longer than I've lasted when I've previously tried to learn! The scarf has now become a doll's blanket for my niece since I've somehow managed to make it ridiculously wide! It's not perfect but I'm pleased with it so far - thankfully I don't think my niece will mind a slightly holey blanket!

I'm pretty very slow and things have been pretty hectic the last week so I haven't been able to spend so much time on it. But Andrew's out tonight so I'm going to sit myself down to get knitting and catch up on last night's Great British Bake Off. Have a great evening!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A new look for a new season...

I have been itching to change this little space of mine for a while now. When I did my last redesign it was the first foray I had in the world of design and html. I was pretty excited by the fact I wasn't bound by the blogger layout that I think I went a little crazy with all the links!

I wanted to simplify the space and make it more personal. I've been thinking a lot over the last year as to how I want to use my blog. There's a lot of information out there on the internet on 'growing your readership', 'attracting sponsors' etc etc. It's easy to feel like that should be your aim and your mark of success. But I didn't start blogging with that goal, and when I put pressure on myself to produce a 'professional' looking blog, I don't particularly enjoy it.

What I do enjoy is how blogging has enabled me to meet so many like-minded people and how it has motivated me to return to my passion for crafting.
It is nearly two years since I started writing here, and in these last two years I have made more things than I had in the last 10...and I love that!

I hope you like the new look :)

Credits: If you need to map an image then I so recommend you try out . It made life so much easier for me (I used it for my social media icons and my navigation bar). Also, I used the font Niteclub.
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