Blossom seems to be everywhere at the moment, signalling that this long winter has finally given way to spring. I took these photos in Birmingham botanics when visiting my sister last weekend, which were full of spring colour but we still needed to be wrapped up in our coats to keep warm!
We went to a family party the other day, one of those where everyone brings more food than they can eat and you leave about two stone heavier having stuffed yourself with sausage rolls and sandwiches and crispy cakes. My contribution was cupcakes (of course) and never content to make things easy for myself I made two flavours that I had never made before: chocolate liqueur and orange blossom. These orangey ones were especially lovely: delicate and sugary and just different enough to be exciting.
Orange cupcakes with orange blossom buttercream (from the Primrose Bakery book)
1. In a large mixing bowl cream 110g soft unsalted butter and 225g caster sugar until pale and smooth, which can take 3-5 mins using an electric hand mixer. This is where my stand mixer comes in very handy! One at a time, add 2 large eggs, mixing well after each one.
2. In another bowl combine 150g self-raising flour and 125 plain flour. Measure 90ml semi-skimmed milk into a jug. Add one third of the flours to the butter mixture and beat well. Pour in half of the milk and beat again. Add another third of flour, then the rest of the milk and 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, then the rest of the flour and grated zest of 1 orange, beating after each addition.
3. Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake at 180 C/gas mark 4 for about 25 mins until golden brown. Cool in the tin for 10 mins then place on a wire rack.
4. To make the icing, beat 115g soft unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice and 250g icing sugar until smooth. Again, a stand mixer is very handy here as this can take a few minutes! Gradually add another 250g icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add 1-2 tsp orange blossom water and beat again before bringing cupcake and icing together in a glorious marriage of sugary orangeness.
I’ve moved! Here are some instagram snaps from the last week: lots of boxes, first night champagne in the kitchen, lovely chairs in the living room and wonderful wallpaper in the bedroom. Most of the flat is not yet suitable for public viewing (boxes, boxes everywhere!) but the list of things we love about the place is growing by the day. It’s not just the wallpaper and the big windows, but also the floors, the light, the bath, the dishwasher, the space, the view, the area and the bright yellow front door!
I am moving this weekend so will probably be surrounded by boxes and vans and stairs and aching limbs by the time you read this, but last weekend was very different! We had a walk in the gardens of Hopetoun House on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, spotted some lovely views and a prominent politician and imagined what it would be like to live in such a lovely place and have random people wandering around your gardens and peering in your windows all day long. Our new home is gorgeous but I’m quite glad it’s not a tourist attraction!
It was my boyfriend’s mother’s birthday this weekend so of course I made a cake. As a side note, boys are useless: when I asked him what flavours she liked he had no clue, in spite of living with her for the past twenty something years! I figured chocolate is always a safe bet so turned to Nigella’s chocolate cake hall of fame, the best named chapter in any recipe book ever. I thought the chocolate Malteser cake was a pretty safe bet as it looks celebratory and he assured me that she loves Maltesers. She certainly didn’t complain, so maybe he does know her well after all!
Chocolate Malteser Cake (recipe from Feast)
1. Whisk together 150g soft light brown sugar, 100g caster sugar and 3 eggs until light and frothy.
2. Heat 175ml milk, 15g butter and 2 tablespoons Horlicks in a small pan until the butter melts, and it is hot but not boiling. Beat in to the sugar and egg mixture.
3. Fold in 175g plain flour, 25g sieved cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda. I found this needed a bit of stirring rather than just folding in and my cakes were still nice and light so I wouldn’t worry too much about it!
4. Divide the mixture between 2 greased and base lined 20cm sandwich tins and bake at 170 c / gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
5. For the icing, put 250g icing sugar, 1 tsp cocoa and 45g Horlicks into a food processor and blitz to remove lumps. Add 125g soft unsalted butter and a little boiling water and blitz until smooth. This is really yummy, so try not to eat it all straight from the bowl.
6. Once the cakes are cool sandwich them with buttercream and cover the top. Decorate with as many Maltesers and sparkly stars as you like.
I recently got my first ever iPhone which is super exciting, mainly because I am now on instagram! Here is a sample of the pictures I’ve posted over the past few weeks, clockwise from top left: brunch at Gardener’s Cottage (this was fab, and I can’t wait to go back for dinner), bunting in my bedroom window, Edinburgh castle from a wet bus window, and a lovely picnic lunch. Follow me here, if you like.
I spent Easter weekend in a cottage in the country surrounded by sisters and nieces (two of each) with a brother-in-law thrown in for good measure. When we booked the lovely Rylea cottage complete with farmhouse sink, log fire and lovely garden we had visions of the girls happily playing outside, hiding eggs all around the flower beds, and generally having a jolly time in the spring sunshine. Of course when the time came we were very grateful for the log burning stove as the snow was piled up outside, and the closest we got to playing in the garden was a half hearted attempt at building a snowman before heading back to the fireside to warm up! Of course we had a fabulous time regardless, with lots of chick hunts, rabbit mask making, story times and cups of hot chocolate.