Halloween Pumpkin Patch Cake

Friday 31 October 2014

I decided that I wanted to make a cake for Halloween and this is what I came up with, a chocolate orange cake, with a pumpkin patch decoration. This is the first recipe I have ever made up myself, so I thought I would share it with you all!

For the cake you will need:
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 350g Caster Sugar
  • 85g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 Eggs
  • 250ml Milk
  • 125ml Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 250ml Boiling Water

For the Butter Cream Icing you will need:
  • 280g Unsalted Butter
  • 560g Icing Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Milk
  • Orange Food Colouring
  • Orange Extract (to taste)

For the Chocolate Ganache you will need:
  • 150ml Double Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Unsalted Butter
  • 150g Plain Chocolate

For the Pumpkins you will need:
  • Fondant Icing
  • Black Fondant Icing
  • Orange Food Colouring

You will also need:
  • 2 x 20cm Cake Tins 
  • Hand Mixer
  • Baking Paper
  • Bamboo Skewer (optional)

Start by Pre-heating your oven to 180 degrees (fan)

Trace around the base of your cake tin onto some baking paper, then grease both of your tins with butter, placing the baking paper discs in the bottom of the tins.

Combine all of the cake ingredients, excluding the boiling water, and mix together until combined.

Gradually add the boiling water bit by bit, mixing well in between. Don't worry if your mixture seems runny, this is exactly what we want so that we get a moist cake.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, and then place in the oven for 25-35 minutes, you will know they are done once you can insert a knife and pull it out clean. Then leave the cakes to cool slightly, before turning them out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

Once your cakes are cooled you can move on to the Butter Cream, so beat the butter with a hand mixer, until it is smooth. Then add 1/2 of the icing sugar, beating with a hand mixer until it is combined.

Add the other half of the icing sugar, along with the milk, and then beat together until smooth.

Add your colouring and flavouring until you are happy with the colour and the taste.

Sandwich your cake together, placing a layer of the Butter Cream in between the two cakes. Then roughly cover the cake with some of the butter cream, don't worry if this looks rough, as this is only the base for the rest of the butter cream. Let this first layer set in the fridge, and then add your second layer, making sure your cake is as smooth as possible. The let this chill in the fridge.

Whilst your cake is chilling you can move on to the Chocolate Ganache, by placing all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heating over a low heat. Once the chocolate begins to melt, remove from the heat and continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture thickens slightly.

Remove your cake from the fridge and place the Ganache in the centre of the cake, then using a palette knife, gently ease the Ganache over the sides of the cake and let it drip down. Once you are happy with the way this looks, place it back in the fridge to set.

Whilst your cake is setting, colour your white fondant with the food colouring, and make mini pumpkins to go on top of your cake. You can decorate these however you like, I decided to do some with faces, and some plain ones.

All that's left is to place the decorations on your cake just how you like! I also decided to make a fence using some chocolate fudge and fondant for the ropes. I hope you've enjoy my cake, and please let me know in the comments if you give this recipe a go!

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Wishlist Wednesday: Lush Edition

Wednesday 29 October 2014

I know I only posted about Lush the other day, but ever since I attended the Lush Reading Blogger event last week, I just can't get Lush products out of my mind. I've had a sneak look at the website and created a small wishlist for you guys to enjoy.

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My Ultimate Baking Wishlist...

Monday 27 October 2014

Seeing as I have been getting back into baking recently, and you can check out what I have made so far here. I have been scouring the internet looking for the perfect baking tools to assist me in my baking quest!

From top left to bottom right we have:

1. The Andrew James Electric Food Stand Mixer in Black: This is Amazon's most popular stand mixer, I myself am desperate to own a Kitchen aid, however I am aware that their price tag is way out of my reach at the moment. So I'm looking for an alternative, and at £79.99 this looks to be good value for money.

2. Andrew James 'Spare' Bowl for Mixer: Obviously needing this is dependent on me having the food mixer, but as most recipes call for several mixes and icings, I thought it might be handy to have two bowls. That way I don't have to pause in between to wash the bowl up so I can get on with my baking. This one costs £18.99

3. Andrew James Stainless Steel 5 Piece Mixing Bowl Set: I'm currently using some Poundland plastic mixing bowls, and whilst they do the trick, they are cracked (still working though) and they do get scratched a lot by my hand mixer. Having a stainless steel set would mean that I wouldn't have to worry about them cracking, also they come in various sizes, handy for baking. At £19.99 I think this set is definitely worth giving a go!

4. Andrew James Multifunctional Food Processor: I have a cheap Morisson's own food processor that is a constant source of annoyance for me, every single time I want to use it. It doesn't hold enough, and the blade never catches all the mixer. This processor looks neat enough, and comes with an army of attachments, and for £69.99 I think that it's a steal.

5. Andrew James Ice cream maker attachment for Stand Mixer: Another reason to buy the food mixer above, you can buy an ICE CREAM MAKER attachment. That makes me seriously happy as I love ice cream and would love to make my own proper stuff, this dreamy attachment can be yours for £29.99.

6. Masterclass 20cm Square Cake Tin: I've got loads of regular cake tins, but how cool would it be to make square cakes? Masterclass is a good brand of bake ware, and at £10.20, I'd love a couple of these to add to my tin collection!

7. 52pc Stainless Steel Piping Nozzle Set: Just think of all the cake decorating I could do with this set, the thought of it, literally makes me go giddy with excitement. 52pcs for £11.24 is a total bargain!

8. Silicone Rolling Mat: One thing I noticed when making my sausage rolls yesterday was how little fun it was to roll pastry directly onto my work surface, so one of these at £14.99 would really save my life.

9. Baking Beads: I bought some of these AGES ago and they have mysteriously gone walkabouts, so I need more of these in my life before I decided to make a tart, they're only £5.00.

10: Flat Baking Sheets: These would be perfect for when I am baking biscuits, and pastries to ensure they get an even bake, for £5.40 I think a couple of them could mosey on in to my collection, right?

11. Premier Housewares Cake Stand and Dome: How cute is this? I need a pretty serving plate for my cakes and this one is so beautiful. Yes, I don't strictly need this, but I WANT it, and it's only £17.14...

12: Savoy Disposable Piping Bags: Last and by no means least are some piping bags. I'm no stranger to a piping bag, but I'm forever having issues with mixture coming out of the top of them, probably because the ones available in Tesco are far too small. These one are large in size, and a professional quality, so I'm sure they'd be less hassle for only £2.35, right?
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Baking Lately...

Sunday 26 October 2014

Recently my love of baking has be reignited, what with The Great British Bake Off being on TV, and me reading a couple of baking related novels, I couldn't wait to get stuck in. I thought I would share with you a few of the things that I have made over the last few weeks.

First up I made this Chocolate and Vanilla chessboard cake with Caramel feathered icing. This cake was pretty challenging, as I had to pipe rings of each mixture into the tins, and the mixture was quite runny and my piping bags were not working in my favour. When I took the cakes out of the oven, I was sure this cake was going to look ridiculous. Nevertheless I iced it and crossed my fingers, thankfully when I cut into it, it was pretty good, not perfect, but pretty good!

My brother came over to stay last weekend, and we decided that we wanted to bake something together. After thumbing through every single baking book I owned we settled on a recipe from the BBC website for peanut butter brownies, they turned out brilliantly, and they were certainly fun to make. 

These are something I make a lot, as they are so easy and yummy, and they are chocolate covered cake bites. All you do is make a basic cake, pop it in a food processor, mix the crumbs with icing, roll into balls, and cover in chocolate. These were actually made with the left over cake mix from the Chessboard cake. I took these over to my Boyfriend's brothers house when we visited last weekend, and they went down a storm!

I actually only finished this cake this morning, as it's for my nan's birthday today. It's a coffee and walnut cake, which is her favourite, and the recipe is by the one and only Mary Berry, and you can check that out here. This cake was pretty straightforward, apart from my layers didn't rise enough, so I had to make a sneaky third one, but I won't be telling my nan that the recipe didn't work out as it should have! The icing on this cake is amazing, with a very subtle coffee flavour. I'm taking this over to her later, so I can't wait to see if she likes it!

This recipe caught my eye when I was catching up with the GBBO Masterclass Episode Three yesterday morning and I just knew I had to give it a go. These are Paul Hollywood's Mini Sausage Plaits, or as he called them on the programme, 'Either a posh sausage roll, or a poor man's wellington'. This was probably one of the most difficult recipe's I have ever undertaken, considering the four different components, and having to make a shortcrust puff pastry, which I have never done before. These were also only made today (well I made the pastry yesterday), and they turned out much better then I expected, and the taste is like nothing I've ever eaten. I can't wait to see my families faces later when they tuck into these!

Let me know in the comments what your favourite is of all my bakes, and also let me know what your favourite GBBO recipe was from this season, and I might give it a go!

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Lush Halloween and Christmas 2014

Saturday 25 October 2014

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend the Lush Reading Halloween and Christmas Blogger Event, you can check out their Twitter here. I had been invited to an event last year but couldn't attend due to my car accident, so I was glad to finally make it to one. As you can see above we were spoiled with some lovely sparkling apple cider in glasses with raspberries. There was also sparkling lemon water, cranberry juice, and a lightly spiced tea on offer. As well as biscuits and chocolates!

We spent some time going through all of the Halloween and Christmas products, and I am in love with each and every one of them. I'm so glad that Lush releases Halloween products, as I find at this time of year Halloween often get's overshadowed by Christmas, and Halloween is my favourite time of year!

I was surprised by the sheer amount of products that we went through, this is only a small handful that I managed to capture pictures of. I realise most of these are bath bombs/melts, but those are my favourite Lush products, hence why I took a lot of photos of them. I really don't think there was a single product there that I saw and didn't like the smell of, another reason why I love Lush.

After passing all the products around and smelling them, we were all absolutely covered in glitter, but there was even more glitter to come!

We were also introduced to the Christmas Edition of Lush's Fun, which is a snowman building kit! It's carrot scented, and comes with all the colours you need to make your own little snowman. We were split into teams and given an allotted amount of time (the running time of 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman' from Frozen), and we had to make our own little snowman. I think ours look's slightly sinister...

We were also lucky enough to get hands on, and make TWO Lush products. The Cinders Bath Bomb, which features popping candy, and the Butterbear which has cocoa butter to nourish your skin! I have to admit it was pretty fascinating getting to see how the products are made, and it's exciting to know that I will be using something that I have made!

I honestly love all of the products that we saw and smelt, but there were definitely a few stand outs for me, and trust me it was hard to pick.

First up had to be the Northern Lights bath bomb. This one is similar to the Sparkler bath bomb and is baton shaped. It creates this amazing display of blue, purple and pink, and it smells really good. As the name suggests it's inspired by the Aurora Borealis. I couldn't resist picking one of these up after the event, and I'm saving it for a special occasion. 

This little guy is The Christmas Hedgehog, and who could really resist the cuteness. He is a bubble bar and he is too adorable. To be honest I never really thought of Hedgehogs as being Christmassy, but I certainly do now!

This one actually took me by surprise, as I am not a fan of soap, which is why when I go to Lush I normally just walk past it. I won't be doing that any more, this soap has changed my mind. This is Yog Nog, a vegan take on a classic Egg Nog, although I'm not entirely 100% on what Egg Nog smells like, this soap smells like heaven. I don't know how to describe the scent, it's a touch of cinnamon and creamy goodness that screams Christmas to me. I honestly have not stopped thinking about this soap since leaving the event on Wednesday, I have to have it.

Finally to top the night off we got given a goody bag with a couple of random products from the Halloween/Christmas collection, which I will be doing a video about shortly so watch this space!

I just want to say a massive thank you Lush Reading for putting on an awesome night and making us ladies all feel welcome, I can't wait to see you all at the next event. Let me know in the comments which Lush Christmas product you are dying to try!
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OBC #24: The Sibling Tag

Friday 24 October 2014

Last week I actually filmed a video with my brother, Markus, however didn't manage to edit it and get it up in time for my Friday video. So I thought I would share it with you all this week!

Let me know in the comments if you have any siblings, and whether or not you get on?
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OBC #23: Costumes From the Past...

Thursday 23 October 2014

For as long as I can remember, I have loved dressing up, from Halloween every year when I was a kid, and World Book Day when we got to dress up at school. Unfortunately I don't have any photos to hand of my costumes from when I was younger, so I had to settle for the ones I could find on Facebook.

This is from my 17th Birthday Party when I dressed up as a Greek Goddess. I don't think the party had a theme, other than 'wear a costume' so we ended up with a weird mix of characters...

This one was taken on our last day of Sixth-form before exams. Me and two of my best friends decided to go as Pumapards (Puma cross Leopards). It was a seriously fun day, despite it being pretty hot wearing that fur coat!

Can we all just ignore the pout? This was from the first year of Uni for the 'Back to School' party. Hence the shirt, tie, and pigtails.

Again from the first year of Uni, which is why there is a serious amount of alcohol on the tabl in front of me. This was a very last minute costume as I wasn't actually going to go out, but my flatmates persuaded me. A friend did my hair and make up, and luckily I had a black dress, so I was a vampire.

I don't know why I look so confused in this picture, but this was from my 19th Birthday, whilse I was at Uni. I asked everyone to come as something beginning with 'A' and so I went as Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

This is by far my favourite of all the costumes I have ever worn. This was my 20th Birthday and I asked everyone to dress up as characters from 'My Little Pony' and I went as Fluttershy. I even got recognised by a few people whilst I was out!

This is from a friends birthday party, and we could dress up as whatever we wanted, but I wanted to go as a female video game character. With limited choices I settled on Amy Rose from Sonic. Which turned out to be quit an effective costume.

This one makes me giggle every time I see it. Back when I was the Social Sec of a society at uni, I ran a night where I asked boys to dress up as famous female singers and girls to dress up as famous boy singers. I forced my friends to dress up as JLS, and we even used their condom boxes as pendants... Wow I was cool back then...

I wore this to a horror film festival, and it was based off of a film that I had watched the day before, and loved so much, that I decided I had to pay respect to it. In case you are wondering what film it was, it was this one.

This is probably the most recent picture I have of me in a costume, and it's from a few Halloween's ago. A friend of mine hosted a Halloween themed murder mystery and I got the role of the wicked witch, in case you hadn't already guessed...

I've really enjoyed taking a look through all my old costumes today, it's really reminded me of how much I love dressing up, and how I may have to start going to a few more costume parties!
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OBC #22: A New Beginning...

Wednesday 22 October 2014

I know, I know, I haven't exactly been keeping up with this blog challenge the past week or so, I'm really sorry about that. I'm hoping to finish it strong by writing a post every day until the end of the month, starting today.

Today's prompt was supposed to be a 'Wordless Wednesday', however as I didn't have any pictures prepared I thought I could talk to you about something else.

On November 3rd I will be starting a job in a place where I have always wanted to work. Whilst I will be contracting, and not necessarily working for the company, I am still super excited about it. It's only a four month contract with a few of progressing, either in the company I will be working at, or within the company who is contracting me there. I am happy to say that the job I am undertaking, is NOT in sales. I breathed a massive sigh of relief when they offered me the job, because I have been dying to get out of sales for a long, long time. Unfortunately for me, I appear to have the perfect CV for sales, but now I will be getting some Admin experience under my belt, which will hopefully start to move me towards where I want to be.

So today, I thought I would share with you some of the things I noticed whilst searching for jobs recently:

1) There are a billion jobs in sales and recruitment. These jobs come across as being highly competitive, when in reality the Sales sector probably has the highest turn around of staff than any other sector.

2) There are quite a lot of jobs in construction available, and not the ones you would immediately think of either.

3) This time of year there are a tonne of retail jobs available. This is because they hire their seasonal staff, and more often than not they keep these staff on once the holiday season has ended.

4) Recruiters will hassle you if you have your CV up on Reed.co.uk. The amount of calls I get a week from recruiters, just because my CV is up on the Reed website is ridiculous. If you are looking for work, then that is a brilliant place to put your CV up. Not only can you browse available jobs, but 9/10 times you get recruiters doing all the hard work for you and calling you up with vacancies.

If you are looking to change jobs, then start now. Sometimes it can be a slow process, and then other times you may have the perfect role for you land right in your lap. It's all about putting yourself out there and giving it a go.
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OBC #18: Places I Want to Travel to...

Saturday 18 October 2014

There are quite a few places that I am desperate to travel to, and I'm hoping I'll get to see at least a couple of them in my life time...

Venice is very high on my to do list, I just think it's such a romantic place. I'm hoping that I'll get to go to Venice next year, but we'll see if it's on the cards...

I've been to Vegas before, but we only spent a few days there, and at the time I was under the legal age for gambling etc. So I'd like to return so I can see everything that I want to see, and actually maybe win some money in Vegas!

Australia was never on my 'to travel' list, until a couple of people I knew were talking about their time travelling out there, and it just sounds amazing. I'm not sure if I'll ever make it there, but we'll have to wait and see.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with Ancient Egyptian history, and I have always been desperate to see the pyramids. I'm hoping one day I'll get to go on a cruise down the nile, and see all the things I have always wanted to.

So those are the main four places on my travel list, I don't know how many of them I'll actually get to do, but I pray that I get to see them all one day. 

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OBC #16: Thankful Thursday #2

Thursday 16 October 2014

I'm going to keep this Thankful Thursday short as there is one major thing that I am thankful for this week. On Monday I celebrated the one year anniversary of my relationship with Tim! Only the second time I have ever reached this milestone in a relationship so it was pretty special to me.

Unfortunately Tim had to go to work that morning, but he left my card on my dressing table for when I woke up, and I have to say what he wrote in it brought a little tear to my eye...

Thankfully he only had to work a half day so he arrived home within plenty of time for us to have lunch together. Shortly after he got home the doorbell rang, to which he said, 'Can you get that?'. This immediately set off alarm bells in my head because Tim is always the first one to answer the door. I opened the door to be greeted by a sweet surprise.

Roses are obviously my favourite flower, and Tim managed to get me a bouquet of 12 roses. Although this was the first time I received roses from Tim, he actually ordered me a bouquet on Valentines Day only to have them refunded without explanation and never delivered. Alongside the roses was this beautiful card, which again made me tear up...

Seriously how sweet is this card? Although he was a pretty sweet guy when I met him so I'm not entirely sure how I've made him better!

On top of my flowers, Tim also got me a gift, which he was hesitant to give me, as he wasn't sure I would like it.

Of course as soon as I opened it I fell in love, he got me this beautiful heart shaped locket, and I can't wait to put a picture of us together inside of it! 

After spending our afternoon cuddling and talking about our favourite memories of when we first started going out, Tim was insistent that we go out for dinner. Despite the fact it was pouring with rain outside, he managed to convince me. He whisked me off to a local steak house and we had a lovely meal, accompanied by a large glass of wine!

All in all it was an amazing day, and a brilliant way to celebrate our love for each other, I hope to be sitting here at the same time next year, writing about our second year anniversary...

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