Currently Loving

pumpkin

Pumpkins are at the top of my list this week.  I’ve roasted my own for pumpkin puree, how to coming soon, and made two recipes with it already.  They tasted great but I’m having a little trouble getting the textures right.  Oh well, more taste testing required!  Here are some people who are already nailing their pumpkin recipes:

Love coming across new (to me) blogs that are bursting with recipes and photos that are so inspiring.  Kitchen Treaty is a beautiful looking blog and these fluffy pumpkin pancakes are a must make!

My favourite coffee shop drink is the seasonal PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Latte) from Starbucks.  I have to hold myself back from wasting too much money on them.  This homemade chai version is a great new take on it.

Interactive desserts would be perfect for a fun festive party!

There are so many beautiful pumpkin decorating techniques out there!  Melted crayons, no carve, sparkly!  So many ideas!

…and lastly is my favourite pumpkin recipe from my blog.  Pumpkin, chocolate and almond is a killer combination!

And in non-pumpkin news:

Really enjoyed this Ina Garten article.  Mostly because I love her and her idyllic East Hampton life but I like her take on keeping things simple in the kitchen.

My favourite blogger has a new cookbook out, called Homemade Decadence!  Joys blog is what first uncovered the whole world of food blogs to me and I haven’t looked back.  If this second book is anything like her first it will be jam packed full of delicious, must-make recipes.

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Spiced Apple Cupcakes

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It’s well and truly autumn now. Great news for me as it’s by far my favourite season.  I adore the colour of the leaves at this time or year, and in a much more shallow way, I love my autumn wardrobe.  You get to wear scarves and hats, yet not freeze your butt off.  It’s cool enough for cosy winter coats and the nights are not too dark.

It’s also an opportunity to change up the ingredients in my baking.  Spices play a heavy roll.  Using dark brown sugars and treacle always seems like the right move.  Pumpkins a plenty!  Apples and pears also feature heavily.  These cupcakes incorporate most of the above with a hint of spice and chunks of caramelised apple throughout.

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These spiced apple cupcakes encapsulate the season in a bite.  They are simple to make and don’t have the fuss or over-the-top sweetness of buttercream icing. They are light and moist with a cinnamon crunch on top thanks to the generous sprinkling of sugar atop the sliced apples.  This recipe would work equally well with pears and is a great way to use up any that you find that just won’t ripen up in your fruit bowl.  (more…)

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Malted Banana Bread

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About a month or so ago I was contacted by the publisher Phaidon who asked if I would like a copy of one of their new books to try out, review and, if I liked it, blog about it.  Now, everyone likes free stuff and I love cookbooks so of course I accepted gratefully.  With that eager response I totally forgot all about it until a mysterious heavy package arrived at home a couple of weeks ago.  It was addressed to me but I was sure I hadn’t ordered anything lately…had I?  

So I opened it with a slight tad of suspicion only to be delightfully surprised with the promised new book ‘What to Bake and How to Bake it’ by Jane Hornby.  And it really is delightful.  Even before I had delved in to its pages the eye-catching illustrated front cover held great promise.  The inside didn’t disappoint either.  This really is a ‘how-to’ of baking.  The book has a blog feel to it as all of the ingredients and steps to each recipe are photographed meticulously.  Each recipe is delivered in the same simplistic format which would be very easy for the novice baker to follow.

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 The cover is gorgeous, bright and the interesting design would certainly make you pick it up for  a flick through in a book shop but if you are after evocative or arty food photographs then that’s not what this book is about.  I think that’s ok though, because this book is meant to be a tool to teach which in my opinion is successfully does.

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Currently Loving

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This week I turned 29.  Happy birthday to me and yay!  But also…OMG I will be 30 in less than a year?!?  How the heck did that happen?  So, to mark the final year of our twenties my friends and I decided to make a list of things we wanted to achieve before we hit the big 3-0.  As we are not overly original we decided to go with thirty things to do before we turn thirty.  The lists are to contain large and small things.  From life changing goals all the way down to a reading list.  It’s good to have goals, they’ll keep us focused for the next year, and everyone knows I love a list!

One item I’ve started to check of my list is getting back in to art.  I used to draw all the time but about half way through university I stopped and never went back to it.  Perhaps it was because my university course was all about drawing so it stopped being fun, or because I was at an art school my skills were way below everyone elses, or simply because my course was pretty hardcore and I had no free time, especially not to draw some more.  I’m excited to get back in to it though.  I’ve bought a starter water colour set and have begun experimenting with colours and technique.  ‘Get more creative’ is number 17 on the list.  I’ll keep you posted over the next year about some of the other items!  I’ve thought about publishing it on here so that I can’t back out…maybe I will.  I have a whole year to decide.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite things from the web this week:

You had me at salty peanut sugar….I mean come on!

Humble brag….pretty proud of this ombre rose cake I made this week.

Planning a pumpkin recipe for my next Highland News baking column..this pumpkin honey butter is excellent inspiration.

I discovered this blog recently and it’s a totaly gem.  Gorgeous photos and tons of recipes to chose from.  Love the sound of this autumnal plum and marzipan crumble galette.

More pumpkin inspiration!  And combined with French toast…uh-mazing.

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Pink & ‘Blue’ Cookies for Epilepsy Action

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I was recently contacted by Epilepsy Action asking if I would contribute a recipe for their National Tea and Cake Break 2014 which takes place on 19th October.  The theme is pink and blue, which is the colours of the charity and the idea is that people hold a fundraising get together for people to enjoy lots of tea and cake!

“National Tea and Cake Break brings bakers and brew-lovers together all over the country. There are all sorts of ways to get involved, from a cup of tea and a cupcake in your kitchen, to an office tea party or school bake sale.”

The Tea and Cake Break is not only to raise awareness of the illness and the charity, but specifically it is to let people know about their support groups…

“Epilepsy Action’s network of coffee and chat groups can provide a life line to people who might be feeling isolated because of the condition. Coffee and chat groups give people affected by epilepsy an opportunity to come together and share their experiences.”

There are more details on their website, which you can find by clicking here.

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At first I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make, blue is not an easy colour to create without food dye and I thought just colouring my buttecream was a bit of a cop out.  So instead I cheated a little.  Technically these cookies are pink and purple, but they are made with blueberries so that totally counts! (more…)

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