A real house. Bricks and Mortar. With the boyfriend.
Good god. And my mother is jumping for joy after effectively kicking be out the nest – charming.
Not only are we buying a house but we are moving an hour and a half away from our friends. and family. and most importantly, the dogs….. But ya know we all have to get on the ladder and to be honest the earlier the better. Right?
It sounds like I hate the place but it’s actually a really pretty, 1 (soon to be 2) bedroom, tiny period cottage in the middle of Midhurst, complete with a courtyard. Sounds idyllic right? Except one rather large change is that “I HAVE TO LIVE WITH A BOY!” (Monica Gellar, 1999)
So naturally I have been pinteresting like crazy, trying to create some sort of vision of what our first home should be. Now I know it needs more than a lick of paint, Nathan (the boyfriend) on the other hand has created a full plan and budget for an attic and kitchen extension, bathroom and kitchen refit, hardwood floors, fitted wardrobes, new doors and windows, and wood burning fireplace (if im lucky) all to be completed by September 2018!
I may now find part of this blog dedicated to DIY, interior design, conflict of tastes and how not to spend your money!
So these are super yummy and so easy to make! I actually cheated and have used the M&S Percy Pigs and friends sweets, as well as the Phizzy Pig Tails. However they were very much a crowd pleaser regardless!
I started by whipping up a normal Victoria sponge recipe:
6oz – Caster Sugar
6oz – Butter
3 Free Range Eggs
6oz – Self Rising Flour
1 pack of Oreos (I LOVE Oreo bottom cupcakes)
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, then add the flour and the eggs.
Place an Oreo in the bottom of each cupcake case
Fill each cupcake case 2/3’s full and bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden on top. Be sure to test they are baked all the way through by inserting a skewer into a cupcake- if it comes out clean they are ready!
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes in their tray, then leave them on a wire rack to cool. Super Simple!
For these cupcakes I used three types of icing:
Butter and icing sugar – For the Sheep and Cows
Coco powder, butter and icing sugar – The mud for the Pigs
Water and icing sugar – The back grounds for the Pigs and Cows
Separate the Percy pigs and friends into animal sections so you can see how many cupcakes you can make of each animal.
I started with the sheep first- Make a batch of butter cream using:
10oz Icing sugar (sieved)
5oz butter (room temperature)
1-2 tablespoons milk
Cream the butter and then add half the icing sugar, and beat until smooth. Then add the second half of the icing sugar and one table-spoon of milk and again beat until smooth.
Fit a small star icing nozzle onto a piping bag and pipe little dots of icing closely together onto the cupcake to create the wool of the sheep. Once you have used enough for all of the sheep set the remaining icing aside as we will be using this again later.
This part is for the background of the Pigs and Cows
250g icing sugar
A few drops lemon juice
A few drops of green and red food colouring
Mix all the ingredients together but don’t add the food colouring
Separate the mixture into two bowls and colour one pink and one green
Distribute these colours on the remaining cupcakes in accordance to the number of Pigs and Cows you have
Mud for the Pigs
2.5 oz icing sugar
2.5 oz coco powder (sieved)
2.5 oz butter
1 tablespoon of Milk
Mix all of the ingredients together and place a nice blob (about the size of a bottle lid) on top of the pink cupcakes
Stick a Phizzy Pig Tail into the back of the cupcake and a Pig face on the front and VOILA Pigs in mud!
Grass for the Sheep and Cows
Add a few drops of green food colouring to the remaining butter cream icing
Fit the grass icing nozzle to an icing bag
Ice little tufts of grass onto the Sheep bodies so they look like they are munching on grass, then place the Sheep faces onto the cupcake
Ice tufts of grass onto the remaining green cupcakes and then place the Cow faces on top.
So as the title suggests I created (and successfully may I add – If I do say so myself) a three-tier, triple layered, Victoria Sponge cake, filled with fresh Strawberries and Mascarpone Icing, decorated with fresh summer fruit and flowers. It was a very very proud moment.
I enlisted my sister and her batty best friend (aka the next generation of AbFab) to help decorate, and thankfully they did not disappoint!
Thankfully I did a test run which wasn’t overly successful. But we did learn a couple of lessons.
Lesson 1: Bake each layer of each cake individually. This results in a higher cake overall, no sinkage and essentially a perfect layer. It may take a little longer, but it also means you don’t have the daunting task of having to cut the cake into three equal layers.
Lesson 2: Brush each layer with sugar syrup – top, bottom and all the way around the edges. No one likes a dry cake, so moist cakes all the way please!
Lesson 3: Don’t add Vanilla Essence to the Mascarpone icing, or over whip. This results in curdled icing, and you have to try to rescue it! Emphasis on the try. Instead just add two table spoons of icing sugar to a pot of 250g of Mascarpone cheese and stir through.
Lesson 4: A rather obvious one but don’t snack on the Strawberries that you are using for the filling and decoration of your cake. I ran out and the cake ended up looking some Raspberry and Blueberry chess board theme – not what we were going for.
Lesson 5: Do “borrow” flowers from the florist at the venue, to ensure the cake is in keeping with the colour scheme. I used 3 big roses for the top of the cake and finished it off with lots of different flowers from the arrangements.
Lesson 6: Do use doweling and cake boards for stacking the cake. Once each layer was iced and stacked, I placed it onto its cake board and inserted the dowels and cut them to the correct height. Each layer was then wrapped in clingfilm and placed in the freezer overnight. Freezing the cake overnight helps with the delivery as it minimizes the risk of the cake collapsing in the car (this has happened to me before). It then defrosts on the way to the venue where the cakes are then stacked and decorated.
Lesson 7: Make sure each cake board is the correct size for each tin, except for the bottom board. The bottom board should be big enough for decorating the base of the cake.
My tin sizes were 15cm, 20cm and 28cm
I used a Mary Berry recipe and increased the quantities for each tin size. The measurements below were used for the 15cm tin.
8oz caster sugar
6oz self rising flour
2 tsp of baking powder
Grease the tins and line the base with baking paper
Combine the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder. Then add the eggs one at a time
Divide the mixture evenly between 3
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and firm
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and brush with sugar syrup
Once the cake is cool, it is now ready to ice, freeze and decorate… Good Luck!
Oh look I’m back again! Maybe I should just cut my losses and admit that this is just going to be a once every couple of months thing …. So what’s my excuse this time? Well I’m not too sure. I’ve been a bit busy, mainly thinking about all the things I should be doing instead of actually doing them – saving money, going to the gym or doing my washing. Instead I’ve been doing what most twenty somethings enjoy doing which is getting drunk, eating my weight in carbs, complaining about work and the state of my bank balance.
On another note I have actually been super busy with Slinky my 16.3” potential eventer. He had been going so beautifully in his dressage and show jumping lessons and we decided to take him to the Munstead Hunter Trial as his first outing. Now slinky loves cross-country and after a few tantrums in the warmup we were off, surprisingly at a nice steady pace. Now this steady pace didn’t last, not only did he get faster but he also got stronger. None the less he flew round the course. You can’t knock his enthusiasm!
A week later and after investing in some breaks (a Cheltenham gag) we were off to Aston UA at 4.00 AM (the mother was not impressed). After a fairly relaxed but busy dressage warm up, it was time to put him to the test; let’s put it this way, nothing (bar the free walk on a long reign) went to plan, in fact we bunny hopped side wards and left the arena 3 times. I believe mortified would be the word. Fortunately, the judge appeared to take pity on me and I wasn’t eliminated, however the jumping didn’t go much better. We decided to throw all our toys out the pram in the warm up and as his brain exploded for the 20000th time that morning, I thought it was time to head home and admit defeat. Needless to say I don’t really like horses right now, but ya know you can’t have it all! – Looking back maybe an ODE was a bit optimistic this early on, but it looks like I’ll have to take him down a notch until he has learnt how to behave at events.
Twiglet my dachshund puppy has also been very badly behaved recently. Not only has she learnt that if she rams the bedroom doors enough to get in, but she will empty your bin, steal your socks and sniff out any snacks you may be hiding. Now my mum had a big bar of dark chocolate hidden in a bag in her bedroom (emphasis on the had), but this wasn’t enough to stop the pig, and it turns out that she really really likes chocolate. She even left little chocolaty footprints in her path. One vet bill later and we have a very sad puppy, feeling very sorry for herself, after being made to throw up her afternoon snack.
Any way! Following on from my last post, I actually made the lemon and raspberry macaroons (surprising I know) and they were amazing. The lemon trumped the raspberry (mainly because the lemon cream tasted like it was sent from god). I could literally eat it all day. It would actually make a super tasty filling as a two-layer lemon cake. If you really like lemon cake that is. – I do.
The macaroon shells actually turned out pretty well with only a couple of cracks (which I hid at the bottom of the pile). Have I finally cracked the Aga? Maybe. I’d say we now a 60% – 40% success rate, and it’s all down to placing the cooling tray at the top of the hot oven, with one tray of macaron shells just below to get the correct temperature.
If you would like the recipes, just shout 🙂
*This post was written a month or so ago and has just been “remembered”. Slinky is now on box rest and sporting neon coloured bandages, from being kicked in the field. I would now choose a bad dressage test, over box rest any day. *big sad face*
And so, after starting this blog about 6 months ago and one lonely post later, it has become apparent that I am useless at blogging. However here we are again, during a fairly dull afternoon at work, and having completed my workload for the day by 11am, I now need something to occupy myself. If this even makes it onto the blog I will be super surprised!
My original plan for starting this blog was to document my ‘journey’ on attempting to bake my way through the Ladurée patisserie book. I’ll admit I only made it to the second recipe (chocolate macaroons) when it all went wrong, my macaroons were large, cracked and I had lost my enthusiasm after the first hour. I even attempted to document the process by writing notes which I believe went something like this:
I’m so enthusiastic, I love baking, I’m going to be the next Mary Berry and go on a patisserie course in Paris and win bake off
This is not going as well as I had planned and is taking much longer than expected – oh well we cannot give up now!
This sucks, why are the shells cracking, this isn’t worth it. I hate my life (downs another glass of wine) – I will title this blog post (that will never be published) “The Good, The Bad, The Burnt and The Ugly”.
However, this weekend is mother’s day and my mum loves macaroons- more than wine, Clarins and Jo Malone candles. I’m also already poor (yes 3 days after payday) and macaroons are looking like the cheaper option here…. I know I will regret this.
After almost successfully making almond macaroons and cocking up the chocolate I feel I have potentially (and hopefully) learnt from all my previous mistakes and am feeling optimistic! –I’m going to regret this but right now I don’t care.
OK so I have been a BAD blogger! After planning on posting at least once a week it has been two weeks since my first post… after feeling rather guilty about this here we finally here we are!
These chocolate Oreo cupcakes are fairly easy to make, super yummy and look pretty good too….Also the icing tastes just like Fluff! I stored any leftover icing in a jar and ate it with chocolate digestive biscuits – an ideal hangover/munchies cure (it’s also quite tasty by itself)!
Ingredients for the Chocolate Cupcakes:
115g- good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
85g- unsalted butter (at room temperature)
175g- soft brown sugar
2 large eggs – separate the yolks from the whites (free range and organic please)
185g- plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
250ml semi skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet of Oreo biscuits
Ingredients for the MarshMallow Icing:
120g granulated sugar
80g golden sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
You will need:
an electric mixer (if you’re lazy like me)
a 12 hole muffin tray
a piping bag
jumbo star piping tip
Melt the chocolate either in a bowl over simmering water … or in the microwave for 1 minute the stir and again for another minute
Cream together the butter and sugar, when smooth slowly add the egg yolks (I am far to lazy to do this by hand, so I use my grandmas 30-year-old Kenwood mixer which I “borrowed” a few years ago)
Add the melted chocolate to the mixture and mix well
Sift the baking powder, bicarb and flour into a separate bowl
When measuring the milk in to a jug add the vanilla extract and mix
Gradually and alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the sugar, butter and chocolate mixture, beating well throughout the process
In a clean bowl using a clean whisk, which the remaining egg whites until they form stiff peaks – tip: add a little cider vinegar to some kitchen roll and wipe around the bowl and whisk)
Carefully fold the egg whites into the main mixture
Add one Oreo to the base of each muffin case
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases on top of the Oreo and bake for 20-25 minutes at 190C/ Gas mark 5/ the middle shelf of the top oven of an Aga
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then let each cupcake cool on a wire rack
Put the sugar, golden syrup and water into a saucepan, cook on a high heat until it reaches the “soft ball stage” (this is where bubbles start to stick together and would drop off a spoon in a smooth slow stream) when the mixture reaches this stage remove from the heat- this should take about 2 minutes
Whisk the egg whites until they start to form soft peaks
Switch the mixer to a slower speed then slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites
Increase the speed until the mixture becomes thick and glossy, towards the end add the vanilla extract
Spoon the mixture into the piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (I used a jumbo star tip) and pipe the mixture onto the cooled cupcakes
Break each Oreo into thirds or quarters to put on top of each cupcake for decoration … and Voilá!
As my first blog post and I feel that a necessary Hello and “welcome to my blog” is in order…
So Hello and Welcome to Stripes and Sausages!
I am a newbie to this blogging business and I haven’t written in over a year so please be kind 🙂 However I like taking photos and documenting the things I do, make and manage to achieve (or not).
The name Stripes and Sausages was originally relating to my beautiful Sausage dog Olive. However since the name popped into my head, she has given us three beautiful puppies, and so now we have Olive and Co.
I am going to try to post something once a week – what about? Well I love food,baking, style and travel, so I’m sure my posts will involve a little bit of them and the adventures of Olive & Co.
Please feel free to follow my shenanigans and enjoy!