Sunday, 27 October 2013


Today is mostly about coffee and dissertation planning - although my cat clearly thinks that my notes are better used for sleeping on. That, or she's just trying to get my attention.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Great Bristol Bake Off!

What happens when you take a group of over-excited girls, a table heaving with cake, and a highly anticipated Great British Bake Off Final? A sugar fuelled evening of tea drinking, screaming, crying and hurling abuse at the TV, that's what. At least that's what happened this week when we threw our own Bake Off party to see off the final episode of the series with an icing-sugar-dusted bang.

Entries included cupcakes, shortbread, a very dubious attempt at macaroons, banoffee pie, homemade marshmallows and rocky road, and the joint winning entries: a lemon and raspberry cheesecake and my Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake!

If you want to make the (ahem, *joint*) winning entry then you can find below the Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake recipe that I used. It's actually the first carrot cake I've ever made so I haven't yet decided if it's the recipe I'll refer back to in future - it was deliciously moist and the spices just right, but it does make an enormous three tier cream-cheese-covered monster, so perhaps next time I'll opt for a more low key affair. On this occasion though, this carroty brute was a champion among cakes.

Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake

For the cake

300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract 
300g carrots, grated
Zest of half an orange (not in the original recipe, but my little addition!)
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate

For the icing
600g icing sugar 
100g butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold

Preheat the oven to 170C. 
Prepare 3 x 20cm cake tins with loose bottoms by greasing then lining the bottoms with greaseproof paper.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed (don’t worry if it looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, orange zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand. Pour into the prepared cake tins and smooth over. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes (mine actually took 35 minutes) until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment again until well mixed. Add the cream cheese, then beat again until well mixed. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy but stop when you reach this point; if you over beat it the mixture will turn runny.
When the cakes are cold, spread about one-quarter of the cream cheese icing over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the icing over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides. Decorate with walnut pieces and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon. 

So it looks like I'll have to start trying out some more carrot cake recipes...purely in the name of research, of course. Any recommendations?

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Today we made some Autumnal inspired art - and I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, me or Little P.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Crumbs Supper Club

On Monday evening, I went along to Crumbs Magazine's Supper Club as part of the Great Bath Feast celebrations that are happening throughout the city this October. Komedia on Westgate Street proved to be the ideal venue - after a glass of Prosecco and a chat at the bar, myself and the other guests made our way through to the the main auditorium to take our seats at the beautifully laid table, in the grand surroundings of the old cinema. 

The chef had put together his take on a classically French menu, using locally sourced ingredients in order to show the best of what our area has to offer. We also had the choice of either Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon to match the food, and our glasses were duly topped up throughout the evening (although I was still suffering from the weekend, so went easier on the wine than perhaps I usually would have!) 

Starter: Chicken liver parfait with pickled beetroot and Bath Bakery bread - and a very generous amount of decent butter, which is always well received in my book.

Main course: the chef's take on Beef Bourguignon, served with a rather wonderful celeriac and mustard mash.

Dessert: Pear Tarte Tatin, using locally sourced pears cooked in a warming spice infusion of cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and a touch of ginger.

After enjoying our meal and feeling full, satisfied and a little sleepy, we made our way to the balcony above where we watched the cult 'foodie film' Babette's Feast and finished our wine. 
  It was great to meet some more of the Crumbs team, and a deliciously indulgent way to spend a rainy Monday evening. I will try to attend some more Great Bath Feast events before the month is through, so stay tuned...

Monday, 14 October 2013


I'm going to be honest with you now - I've been feeling a little uninspired in my kitchen lately. Mostly it's because my days have gotten busier, my workload a great deal heavier, and I've had my head stuck in books of the non-cooking variety. In need of a little inspiration boost, I treated myself to Nigel  Slater's new book 'Eat'- his fresh ideas, enticing recipes and effortless approach has given me the motivation that I needed to get back into kitchen. First up? I think perhaps the Vietnamese Prawn Baguettes...but the Chicken Skin Popcorn also gets me very excited indeed, and could prove to be the ideal study partner. Good work Nige. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Sometimes - and especially when you're hungover - you just need a massive Sunday roast, and a catch up with an old friend. Love Sundays. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Autumn Weekends

I realise that I seem to be blogging mostly about my weekends lately...perhaps it's because the weeks have become so busy again. But I will try to work on that, I promise. In the meantime, here's a little of what we got up to at the weekend in the beautiful sunny Autumn weather: late breakfasts; watching the hot air balloons and collecting conkers in the park; a country walk; an enormous Sunday roast; apple and blackberry crumble with blackberries from our garden; watching the new series of Homeland.


But for now, it's back to a new week and I have a lot of work to do..*sigh*. 


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