Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns

Easter means only one thing to me, and surprisingly enough, it's not chocolate. After all, I can get that any time of the year. No, Easter means Hot Cross Buns!!

I've only liked them for the past few years, as I didn't actually like dried fruit. It was only until I was randomly craving these yummy buns that I actually started to like them. It taught me to not ignore my cravings for new things/things I didn't normally like, as these cravings normally lead me to loving something new.

I know it's super easy to just go to the supermarket and buy some ready made, but I find that they don't always have a decent amount of flavour, so I decided to make some of my own, with great results :)

Now I got the basics of this recipe from my all time favourite baker, Paul Hollywood. This man is an utter genius when it comes to bread.
Ingredients:
500g Strong White Bread Flour
1x 7g Packet of Fast Action Dried Yeast
75g Caster Sugar
1tsp Salt
1 Egg
75g Sultanas
50g Mixed Cut Peel
300ml Milk
50g Butter
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2tsp Ground Ginger
In my second batch, I also made some Chocolate Hot Cross Buns. I saw some on the M&S advert a few days ago, and decided to have a go at those as well.

Ingredients:
500g Strong White Bread Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
1x 7g Packet of Fast Action Dried Yeast
75g Caster Sugar
1tsp Salt
1 Egg
50g Sultanas
75g Mixed Cut Peel
300ml Milk
50g Butter
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2tsp Ground Ginger
50g Chocolate Chips
Honey for the glaze

Method:
Pour the milk into a saucepan, and bring to the boil, before removing from the heat, and leaving to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a large bowl, and then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
Add the sultanas and mixed peel, then tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Leave the dough to rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
For the cross decoration, mix 3tbsp flour with about five tbsp of water in a small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, mixing together to form a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle, and pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.
As soon as the buns are cooked, brush honey over the top of the buns, and leave to cool.
These are perfect when slightly cooled, and served with butter.
So delicious when the butter starts to melt, my mouth is watering at the thought :)


Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Liebster Award

So I got nominated for a Liebster Award, exciting stuff! 
Thanks so much to Grace from Perpetual Nomming for nominating me, it was so nice to find the comment from her, and it put me in a happy mood for the rest of the day.
From what I can gather, it's just a way for small, up and coming blogs to interact with each other, allowing them to highlight new blogs that they have found to other people.
I like the way it almost creates a community for bloggers :)

So apparently, when you are nominated, you have to do a few things:
Link back to the person who nominated you
Write 11 random facts about yourself
Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
Create 11 questions for the people you nominate (they have to have a blog with less than 200 followers)
List who you nominate for the award, and comment on their blogs to let them know


My 11 Random Facts:
I am currently in my third and final year of university, studying Biochemistry.
I don't like hairy feet, they creep me out. It makes me think of hobbit feet.
I have a habit of shortening my words, for example 'probably' gets shortened down to 'probs'.
I spend way too much time on the interent.
I love listening to thunderstorms (when I'm inside of course).
I can't eat lamb. Every time I try, I end up being sick.
I have never had a boyfriend.
I love to read, it's my idea of a perfect evening.
One of my aims in life is to visit America.
I really don't like to be proven wrong, it tends to make me a bit sullen.
I really regret not learning how to play an instrument when I was younger.

11 Questions set by Grace:
1. What's your favourite childhood food, and why?
It has to be tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It just always reminds me of when I was ill as a child, and my mum would make it for me. Even now when I eat it, it makes me feel all warm inside.

2. What makes and breaks your day?
It sounds stupid, but the weather. Like if it's sunny outside, I'll feel happy and productive, but if it's raining and grey, I just feel really sluggish, and incapable of doing something to my full ability.

3. Name the top three best places you've been to?
First of all has to be the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. I am an utter Harry Potter nerd, so being able to visit the studios was like a dream come true. I think I spent at least 5 hours there looking at everything.
Second, I think is York. It is a beautiful city, full of history, and there are tearooms everywhere, it was heaven!
Thirdly, it has to be Sandbanks. Not necessarily for the place, but for the memories it holds for me. My friends and I spent a week down there after our A-levels, and we managed to burn ourselves so badly, we all looked like lobsters.

4. What's your guilty pleasure?
Rubbish music. The type of music that you hate, but you can't stop listening to it, because it is so catchy. Like One Direction. But not Justin Bieber. Urgh.

5. Favourite go-to comfort food?
Obviously, there's chocolate. But I also love to eat toast. With plenty of butter. Yum.

6. What made you happy this week?
I haven't been able to do a lot this week, due to writing my dissertation. However, I did find out that my uncle and aunt finally adopted a little girl, and they were able to bring her home just a few days ago :)

7. Favourite holiday, and why?
I went to Northern Cyprus (the Turkish side) a few years ago, and it is just lovely there. The people are so friendly, the climate is gorgeous, and the food, it is just the best thing ever. Fish caught straight from the ocean, what's not to love?

8. Goal in life?
My goal is to have my own tearooms, where I can serve all of my homemade cakes.
That feeling I get when I go to a tearoom, I want to be able to give other people that same feeling.

9. Is there anything you need/eat everyday to keep you sane?
Has to be tea. I drink at least three cups of the stuff every day, even in the height of summer. I swear it has magical properties, especially on us Brits ;). Why else would it be so calming when we're stressed.

10. Did your college degree help with your job?
As I've not yet graduated, I can't really say yet. But I like to imagine that my degree has given me a new confidence in myself, and independence, to be able to do a job competently.

11. What's your most amazing thing/day/memory of your life?
I think it has to be the day when our A-level results were released. I was so desperate to go to my current university, that when I found out I got in, I cried with relief. And then I saw my friends, and found out that we all got into our top choices. It was just an amazing day.

My Questions:
1. What is your favourite book?
2. What is your earliest memory?
3. What can you not live without?
4. What was the best holiday you've been on?
5. What country do you most want to visit?
6. What is your proudest achievement so far?
7. Why did you start blogging?
8. Who do you most look up to?
9. Do you have any hobbies?
10. If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
11. If you were given £100, what would you spend it on?

And Finally, My Nominees:

Feel free to leave me a comment when you've posted your answers, I'd love to read them :)

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Follow Me on Bloglovin'

You've probably heard about Google Reader by now, but incase you haven't, it's basically shutting down on July 1st. 

I admit, I didn't know anything about Google Reader, because from the very beginning I've been using Bloglovin'. It was, and still is, very easy to use, and a lot of bloggers do use it for people to follow their blogs, myself included. It even allows me to organise my blogs into separate groups, so that I can easily sort through all the blogs I follow.

But anyway, if anyone does use Google Reader to follow me, please do feel free to follow me on bloglovin instead.
Either use the link below, or click on the heart icon in the side bar :)


Thanks guys :)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

White Chocolate and Baileys Cheesecake

Before you say anything, yes, I'm still on the diet. 
However, there is nothing wrong with having the occasional day off, as long as you don't do it too frequently.

I don't really have a valid excuse for doing a cheesecake. I mean we weren't celebrating anyones birthday, and it wasn't a special occasion.
It was just because I was craving something sweet and naughty, something that would just hit the spot.

And this cheesecake did just that.
It was rich, but in a good way, and it wasn't too sweet, meaning you could eat a normal sized slice, and not feel sick from it. 
And the alcohol? Well let's just say it was a bit like the icing on the cake *wink wink*.
Ingredients:
250g Digestive Biscuits (crushed)
100g Butter (melted)
300g Cream Cheese
250g Mascarpone
300g White Chocolate (melted)
150ml Double Cream
Splash of Baileys

Method:
First of all, line a loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment. I used a 23cm tin this time.
Mash up the biscuits to form a fine crumb. You can do this by either blending the biscuits, or by putting the biscuits into a plastic food bag, and bashing it with a rolling pin.
Put the crumbs into a bowl, and add the melted butter, mixing together.
Tip the crumbs into the tin, and press down firmly, creating an even layer.
Put the tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or by putting a glass bowl over a pan of hot water.
While letting the chocolate cool, in another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and mascarpone.
Then add the double cream, and whisk until the mixture is firm.
Then add the melted chocolate, and the baileys, and whisk again.
Take the base out of the fridge, and spoon the topping onto the base, smoothing the mixture out from the edge inwards. Once all the mixture has been added, smooth the top with a spatula.
Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Serve up a generous slice, maybe with some raspberries.
In my opinion, this is the closest to perfection you can get.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Guacamole

So carrying on with the healthy theme, I've decided to make my own healthy snacks. While I was looking for ideas, I found out that avocados are really good for you; they help lower cholesterol, they're a great source of vitamin E and full of antioxidants, and they contain monounsaturated fats (the healthy fat).

So with all this in mind, I bought myself a couple of avocados, and I've been adding it a few of my dishes. I mostly add it to my salads, but I've also added it to stir fry in the past.
I'm embarrassed to admit it took me about a week or so of eating these dishes to remember that avocados are the main ingredient in guacamole. Why is it embarrassing? Well guacamole is one of favourite dips, along with houmous (obviously), so realising I could make some guacamole was one of those 'slap to the head' moments.

I'm an idiot sometimes... actually, make that most of the time.
Ingredients:
1 Avocado
1/2 Onion
1 Beef Tomato
1/4 Chilli
1/4 Yellow Bell Pepper
2tsp Lime Juice
Pinch of Salt

Method:
To prepare the avocado, cut the avocado length-ways around the seed. Twist the two halves in opposite directions, and pull the halves apart. Remove the seed from the other half. Peel the avocado skin off by hand (research has found that the highest concentration of antioxidants is found in the flesh right next to the peel i.e the dark green part).
Slice the avocado into small pieces and place in a bowl, and mash until you form a pulp.
Finely chop up the onion, chilli, tomato and pepper, and add to the avocado. Mix together.
Add the lime juice and salt to suit your taste.
Serve with celery, cucumber, or, if you're not on a diet, some tortilla chips.