Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Carroty goodness

To give these carrot cupcakes their full name, one ought to call this post 'Low fat low sugar carrot muffincakes'...but quite frankly that sounds silly. What these are is my attempt to be at least a little bit health conscious in my baking once in a while. And although obviously they aren't as good for you as, say, eating a carrot, they're a lot more fun; just a nice light carroty little cake (which i have taken an uncharactistcally few photos of so apologies!)


Adapted from ‘Muffins, fast and fantastic’ Susan Reimer, this is an even more low sugar offering, with lots of lovely warming spices. I used low fat cream cheese in the icing, which didn’t turn out very well to start with so I did have to add butter. It ended up more pourable than spreadable and I almost gave up on it, but it did firm up slightly in the end and actually tasted lovely with the cakes…lesson to self, don’t panic! I chopped up bits of dried apricot for the tops, but thats just me trying to make them a tad more aesthetically pleasing

10oz self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg
60-90 ml milk
3 tablespoons honey
2 ½ oz caster sugar
12oz carrot, finely grated
1 tsp vanilla syrup
90ml vegetable oil
2 oz sultanas

Cream cheese icing (optional if you want to be even more virtuous)
2oz low fat cream cheese
110g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla syrup
30g unsalted butter

Preheat oven 180 fan over
Sift together flour, bicarb and spices. In a different bowl beat the egg and add the milk, honey, sugar, carrot and vanilla, and then the oil and stir v well (to get all the honey bits that will inevitably settle to the bottom) Pour the carrot mix into the flour mix and stir, adding the sultanas at the last folds. Bake for 20-25 minutes
Icing – stir cream cheese and icing sugar together as briefly as possible, then add butter if necessary and beat until smooth (again as briefly as possible, and omit the butter if you can and want a smooth icing rather than buttercream) add the vanilla last of all, and spread on the cakes once fully cooled 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid

From Nothanger Abbey, Jane Austen 
Sometimes even an English student needs a reminder that she does actually like books. For me this respite from the stress of studying them mostly comes with a reminder of just how beautiful visually works of literature can be, and how lovely bookshops are (especially, needless to say, second hand and independent ones.) For a long time, Moss Books in Cheltenham has been one of my favourite places. It’s a wonderful, haphazard, crazy mound of books masquerading as a shop, and has a particular little corner which I just love. There’s a little stool there, and I have frequently just tucked myself away among the old books that are stored in that one corner, and whiled away far more time than was strictly necessary…[apologies for the fairly poor quality of these photos, by camera was having an off day]


 However, there may be a rival to my affections. A few days ago, taking advantage of a brief respite in workload, we visited the bookshop-café Albion Beatnik in Jericho (the artsy bit of Oxford.) There’s a strong focus on the Beat generation here (hence the name) but also some contemporary stuff, and a substantial second hand section. Basically whatever the owner finds interesting, and all put together in a lovingly well thought out shop, with experimental jazz in the corner putting me very much in mind of the music for Funny Face’s café dance scene. In fact there was an atmosphere of quite genuine intellectual bohemia there (possibly aided by the gorgeously dressed girl studying on one of the tables and a man on a sofa pronouncing Marxist theory.) Plus, and more importantly, it has an impressive array of tea and choice of teacups. And they wrapped our purchases in paper parcels. Only future visits can tell whether this hub of book lover-y with its Prufrock quotes on the door and paper roses can replace my original love for ‘my’ corner of Moss Books, which means I shall have to return to both, inevitably spending more money on their wares. What a pity.

Tiny tiny books...
And just to make this post even longer (and multimedia) a friend showed me this lovely little book related stopmotion video a few weeks ago, which just cries out to be put here;

Sunday, 1 May 2011

I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring, gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness, rare almost as beams,

Craving for Spring, D H Lawrence 

I'm afraid I have been rather a poor, nay nonexistent, writer over the past week. Moved back into my lovely college room last sunday - which seems like an age ago now - and was immediately busy with exams and everything else. So these posts are probably going to be a tad more infrequent, or just shorter, from here on in. But I have managed to get spend time in the glorious spring weather we've mostly been having (with even the odd picnic) and couldn't resist more Spring-y photos

Christ Church Meadows
The University Parks, complete with post-exam students

University Parks, and the object of much Hamper-envy
Also, was very very excited to see Out of the Blue on Britain's Got Talent. I'm not a regular watcher at all, but I am a fan of this hilarious and highly talented acapella group. If you don't know them, or haven't watched it, do.