Saturday, 23 April 2011

One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Cupcakes

So I didn't technically make hot cross buns, but that song just popped into my head and who was I to resist? This will be the last post from my current location, for tomorrow I'm heading back into the academic bubble where I hide for around 27 weeks of the year, so farewell Cheltenham for now
Tomorrow also happens to be Easter, so i thought I'd bake something seasonal for once (more on my less appropriately timed baking later)to take with me. Happy Easter! 

Easter cupcakes
Basically a hot cross bun crossed with a simnel cake crossed with a cupcake. These have all the tastes of Easter baking, even including chocolate or marzipan mini eggs (green ones are marzipan filled.) The piping is rather irregular, I started with a very narrow nozzle to do a sort of basket-y nest around the eggs, but that was taking too long and it's so hot at them moment that the icing was just turning too gooey and the strings of piping ran together so I got impatient. I’ll pretend it was for artistic variation…

Yummy little marzipan eggs, thank you Waitrose 

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon orange juice (you could squeeze your own, but I just use a good quality juice like Innocent instead)
150g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
50g grated apple
30g dried pear (or apricots if you prefer)
25g sultanas
25g grated marzipan and 20g cut into small chunks/rolled into little balls

Cream Cheese Icing
125g cream cheese
50g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar (I used natural golden icing sugar here, which gave a nice almond-y colour)
½ tsp vanilla syrup/extract

Pre heat oven to 170 for a fan

Beat the butter and sugar together then add the eggs one at a time and beat between each. Gradually sift the flour and baking powder into the buttery mix, still beating.

Rub the fruits with a little bit of flour so they don’t sink in the oven, then add to the bowl with the spices and grated marzipan and beat again. Then fold in the marzipan chunks so they stay whole.

Fill the cases (again I did a mixture of normal and small, I reckon it would make around 16 just standard sized) and bake for 15 minutes for the little ones, 20mis for the larger ones. Ice when cold. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Considering this blog was partially meant to be a way to share recipes, I have been remarkably quiet on the cake front as of yet. So here's a nice spring-ly simple little cupcake for the gorgeous weather we've been having today. Admittedly they aren't the most beautiful things in the world, I made them in a rush a few weeks ago so didn't have time for pretty photos, but believe me they taste light and sunshiney. Or don't believe me...and try them out for yourself!

These are adapted from the ‘Goodfood Baking’ magazine but I didn’t really have to change them very much (I’d only just started using cream cheese in baking so didn’t want to risk much) I just made them a little bit healthier, and added lovely fresh raspberries in.

 These could be made with any sort of jam (or indeed lemon curd; that idea courtesy of my fellow baking enthusiast and her ‘jar full of sunshine’ curd) The recipe says it makes 12 standard size, but as you can see it did a few more than that so I made a mixture of normal sized ones and mini ones. The normal sized were made to try out some reusable silicone cases that the lovely people from my course bought me at the end of last term. I do like having paper cases for extra decoration sometimes, but these actually worked really well and are brilliant for a simple little cake like this – plus the occasional exploding raspberry can be seen better 

Note the top right hand corner
125g unsalted butter
220g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract*
200g low fat cream cheese
2 eggs
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons raspberry jam
10-12 raspberries (?) it’s up to you how many you put in really, this is just a guesstimate. 

*I frequently use a vanilla syrup which we got from a food fair and I have just managed to track down, so if you live in gloucestershire please do try this out

Preheat oven to 160 for a fan oven
Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract with electric hand whisk until light and fluffy, and then add the cream cheese and beat briefly (try not to over beat, which is quite easy to do with low fat cream cheese, or it’ll go too runny…then again, don’t panic too much if this happens) then add the eggs gradually, beating after each.

Sift flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add this and the milk alternately to the butter mix and beat until it’s all mixed in.

Fold in the jam and raspberries – ideally you don’t want them to break up completely so some cupcakes will have a nice little fruity surprise in them.
Spoon them into muffin cases (use an ice cream scoop for the normal sized ones – sounds odd but it works) and bake for around 30 minutes for the larger ones, 20 minutes for the smaller. 

The rather exciting silicone cases pre-baking

And post-baking...not my most uniformly baked effort

You could ice these with a cream cheese or vanilla icing, or dust them with icing sugar, but I like them pure and simple, so you can see the oozy bits of jam and raspberry. 

And some exciting news, my mother came home from work today having won this nifty little instant camera through some optician-y thing or other. So I may or may not be planning a sneaky commandeering of said camera posthaste. Hopefully more news on that later...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I have to admit, I am ever so slightly concerned about doing this post for fear of doing an injustice…which is extraordinarily silly, because it’s the one thing so far I was certain I wanted to blog about, and then was given the perfect excuse to do so. Last Friday me and three lovely friends went the launch of Olive’s new first floor, and it was just a really beautifully thought out evening. I’d managed to stop myself from going in and seeing the floor before its official launch and so was even more struck by it all.Whoever does the shop design and styling there is a genius, everything is always put together so well so that every item is shown off to its absolute best, nothing’s overtly showy-off but also nothing’s hidden away; all understated, inventive and dangerously tempting.


  And Friday night was no exception to that. There were the usual nibbles and drinks but all done as classily as could be expected, with a little quirk (especially loved the absolutely giant balloons.) 

note the unfortunately hidden boxes

And on top of that the staff have the perfect balance of looking amazing, being subtly present and really genuine in their interest; rather than overbearing which always makes me nervous! There was a best dressed competition, which was thoroughly deserved by the gorgeous winner (there was a photographer there so hopefully I’ll find a link to someone who covered the event a tad better than me.) But everybody there was upsettingly well dressed, and it one of those very frequent times when I wished I was more confident and so could have spoken to and photographed people, it was such a gold mine of outfit inspiration. Alas, such is my social awkwardness that cunningly people-less photos will have to do. 

And of course, I couldn’t go and not finally buy something from there, especially with the discount (It’s not massively expensive and so worth it, but shopping guilt is rife with me) so am now the proud owner of these gorgeous deep red shorts – which one day I’ll be brave enough to team with a silk shirt and bow tie or ribbon. Sigh. 

This cream cotton dress was also gorgeous, it has a little lace collar on it and was the perfect length, but i had to leave it unfortunately. Maybe another day. Plus i really should have turned the shorts round.

 And speaking of who is a gentlemen, as I was yesterday, Olive are starting to stock Mr Natty’s products ever so soon, which although I do not have a flowing moustache or beard I am still tempted by. May have to buy them ironically for my smooth-faced male friends just for the vintage style packaging and ‘tally-ho’ attitude

Sunday, 17 April 2011

I am a gentleman!

Changing, The Airborne Toxic Event

Just a quick one for now, a fairly recent video from one of my favourites right now...Airborne Toxic Event. They do some really good acoustic versions of their songs which will no doubt crop up later, but although this song is a new find for me i love the slightly sepia filming and want to be in whatever bar they're playing in. And more music videos should have random dance sequences from immensely cool looking black men in them. Fact. 

Plus whoever she is, I highly appreciated the woman at 1:29. 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

A day without laughter is a day wasted

Happy Birthday Chaplin! I had got myself muddled and thought this was yesterday, however thankfully not...and I did honestly try to find a good poem about ol'Charlie, but alas that wasn't so successful (there is one he apparently wrote, but it is debated whether it's genuine, so I thought I'd play it safe) anyway, today would be his 122nd many happy returns. I confess, I have not seen nearly as much Chaplin as I would like, which is a constant sorrow to me; all my limited knowledge comes from a few snippets and this lovely exhibition at London Film Museum I saw last summer. But that was enough to convince myself he was a suprisingly attractive genius and I have often promised myself to watch more when I have time! The Moveum is actually an amazing place, so there may well be a post on it if I go back with more space on my camera

And right after we'd finished the Moveum, there was a Chaplin-imitation street performer along the river just to complete the theme. I was a bit dubious to start with, but he was actually very good and more subtle than i'd expected (plus the small audience boy he picked out turned out to be comedy gold) though unfortunately my poor old camera had had enough by then, so this is slightly stolen from my friend Tom, who is a far better photographer anyway 

The only Chaplin I've really seen is an early little film-ette called 'Floorwalker', courtesy of my tutor. This is before some of the real Little Tramp greats, but I'm sure will stick with me as my first real exposure to Chaplin and is well worth a look at. This beautiful little dance sequence is quite simply wonderful...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Spring is like a perhaps hand (which comes carefully out of Nowhere)

Spring is like a perhaps hand, e e cummings 

I'm afraid this blog is going to be a bit higgeldy piggeldy chronology-wise for a while. I have quite a backlog of ideas to get through, as well as new things to talk about - which is my own fault for putting off starting to write in the first place, so my apologies for that. 

Spring did indeed come carefully, but rather suddenly, out of Nowhere last weekend in a lovely burst of sunshine (although it now appears to have crept back into Nowhere.)And that feeling of spring finally springing and the world being new and sunny and beautiful was what finally prompted me to start something new too with Blackberry Horse. Unfortunately I was trying to make use of the summery energy to further my vacation essay efforts, but did take the odd break to go on a bit of a hunt for the new's hoping that wasn't all the easter sunshine we're going to get!

Back to the present, and I'm steadily getting more excited about the launch party for the first floor of my all new favourite shop Olive tonight, which will most definitely require its own post, so watch this space!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

And how should i begin?

First post, and how should i begin? Hello the much as I would love to be a Victorian heroine and address all and sundry as ‘reader’ I think that would be a little odd (although probably fitting, considering how wide my readership will actually be. Not that that’s a bad thing, this shall merely be an exclusive effort) so until we are better acquainted, ‘the internet’ shall have to do…or ‘you lot.’ So, you lot, here you are, here I am, I expect we should introduce  ourselves. I’m Amy, a 19 year old English student, which is huge amounts of fun, trying to find more inventive ways of using my barely-there spare time. Which has lead to much Procrastibaking, and now, Procrastiblogging…I’ve never really had a scrapbook or a diary, but I like to record things that interest me, and now I want to share them, because the world is a pretty silly place really and more people should be aware of this fact. So this little outlet shall henceforth be filled with things that I find, or places I go, people I know, foods I bake, stuff I make. So that’s me…you?