Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Up-cycling & refurbishing part 2

So the cupboard for the en-suite is complete and now I was on the look out for a shelving unit to go above the sink to match it, so it's back to the British Heart Foundation shop where I spy this eyesore for the bargain price of £10! It's really quite dirty & very dusty (I got the dust free of charge!)

I take it home and it's straight outside into the garden with the screwdriver to remove the fittings & doors and get to work creating a matching 'swan' from this ugly duckling for my now beautiful cupboard. Hubby now has the bug too and has helped me transform this beast by sanding it down for me while I cook the Sunday roast.

A quick masking off after dinner while hubby washes up for me and I have the wax & wire wool are out to enhance the wood. (I love this technique as it polishes as it waxes and leaves a perfectly smooth finish).

Once this is complete its time to mask of the waxed areas ready for the undercoat (hubby kindly takes over this task from me). 2 coats later and it's ready to be left to dry overnight.

Monday night and the Farrow & Ball paint is out again ready to bring this shelving unit to life and to match it up with the transformed cupboard.

Tuesday evening and the hinges are back on, as are the new brass knobs on the little doors and we're done!

I also bought a large, rectangular, pine mirror. That'll be getting the treatment too to make it co-ordinate. I can't wait to decorate my bedroom next as I'll be refurbishing the furniture that I have in there to match the en-suite units and therefore make the rooms flow beautifully together.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Up-cycling & refurbishing

We're decorating our en-suite at the moment and I've been on the hunt for a cupboard to go in there to replace the storage bench we bought about 10 years ago.

Looking around, there's either nothing I like or if I did see something it's either built in or stupidly expensive, so I decided to see if I could transform an ugly duckling from my local charity shop. Luckily we have a large British Heart Foundation furniture & electrical shop in town. Normally it's where we donate our stuff to as it's a charity close to home (dad had a triple heart by-pass). I'd called them to see if they had anything to fit, but sadly the unit the guy on the phone measured was too big, so I decided go in on the off chance of finding a corner unit to fit instead.

No sooner did I walk in the door than I spotted this ugly duckling, but I knew it had potential. I measured it up and had 7cm to spare for where I'd planned to put it, making it a perfect fit. At £40 it was an absolute bargain and just what I wanted, despite what it currently looked like. Nothing like a bit of elbow grease & hard work to make it gorgeous again and I've got plenty of that!

After a quick nip home to swap cars so that I could collect it, and a shocked face from my hubby when he saw it and in was in the house, the tool kit was out and the doors & fittings were off and safely stashed away to be re-fitted when the project was complete.

The decorative up-stand feature at the back was removed and sanded right back down to its raw pine state removing the (offensive & dirty) orange varnish. Already that started to look better. The doors were then sanded down to create a 'key' for which the paint would adhere to. I was desperate for the weekend to arrive so I could take the unit out into the garden to sand down. Thankfully Saturday was warm, dry & perfect for me to get to work on it.

The top was sanded back to pine and then waxed in a dark oak, whilst the unit sides and back were 'keyed'. The doors & unit were then undercoated and painted in Farrow and Ball 'Pointing' Estate Eggshell. With new brass knobs and the fittings replaced it's finished and is now no longer an ugly duckling, but a beautiful new swan!

I can't wait to show you my next project for in there!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

World Baking Day 19th May 2013

Are you ready to join me and 'Bake Brave'?

I've been chosen to be one of 100 Ambassadors for this year's World Baking Day on Sunday 19th May.

Stork are generously sponsoring the event and are giving 100 people all over the UK the chance to host a World Baking Day House Party. Lucky winners will be invited to host an official World Baking Day party and will be sent everything they need for the perfect baking get-together. This will include bunting, balloons, cake decorations and egg timers, not to mention a voucher to redeem for a 500g tub of Stork Margarine; the perfect ingredient to bake your cakes. You'll also be provided with the official recipes to enable you and your guests to 'Bake Brave'.

Hosts and their guests will be invited to bring their baked cakes & delights to the party which you'll then decorate together. What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday; a day filled full of cake, friends and fun!!!

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning one of these 100 world Baking Day House Party packs is to visit Come Round by FRIDAY 12th APRIL 2013 and complete the online application form. Remember that there will only be 100 lucky winners, so pop straight over there and apply for your pack. As they say - you've got to be in it to win it! Please remember to read the conditions of application.

Don't forget from 1st May, you can join us at the World Baking Day website where you can take inspiration from some truly amazing bakers & see the 100 recipes we've shared.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Home Made Cake Release

If, like me, you don't like aerosols and definitely do NOT want them near your cakes, then this is a simple to make alternative to greasing & flouring your cake tins.

Simply take equal parts of:

Plain flour
Vegetable Oil
Trex (or other hard white fat)

Blitz these all together and then store them in a Kilner jar.
All you need to do is then brush this onto the inside of your cake tins before filling and baking.
When our cake is cooked, allow it to sit in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.
It's will keep at room temp for a few months; no need to refrigerate.

It's has worked for me EVERY time and even my most intricate giant cupcakes come out of the tin cleanly & perfectly formed.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Cinnamon Muffin Buns

These aren't the prettiest of things to look at, but oh my, the taste is incredible! This was originally an American recipe that I've converted to UK measurements and added my own little tweaky bits to. Hope you like it!

180ml Milk
55g Butter
400g Plain flour
7g Fast acting yeast
50g Granulated sugar
5ml Salt
60ml Water
1 Egg
200g Soft brown sugar
5ml Cinnamon
100g Butter
100g Sultanas

1. Warm the milk & butter together until the butter has just melted, then set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, put 300g of the flour, the yeast, the sugar on top of this and then the salt. It's important to keep the salt and the yeast apart initially as the salt will kill the yeast.
3. Add the water, beaten egg and the milk & butter mixture to the flour and beat until well combined.
4. Add the remaining 100g of flour and mix well together. Once the dough has formed and come together, it's ready to be kneaded.
5. Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil onto your work surface (I like to use oil instead of flour so that the mixture doesn't dry out). Spread the oil out with your hand, this will also stop the dough from sticking to your hand.
6. Tip the dough out onto the oiled surface and knead it well for approx. 5 mins until it's smooth and no longer sticky.
7. Put your dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film.
8. Leave your dough in a warm place to rest and to allow the yeast to start to develop for about 10 mins.
9. Soften your butter and mix together thoroughly with the brown sugar and cinnamon to form a paste.
10. Lightly flour your work surface and gently roll out your dough to a rectangle approx 24 x 30cm.
11. Spread the butter mixture onto the dough, but leave a gap of 1-2 cm all round.
12. Sprinkle the dough surface evenly with your sultanas.
13. Fold over 2-3cm of your dough, starting at the long edge, then roll to the end to form a 30cm long 'sausage'.
14. Cut into 12 equal slices.
15. Grease a 12 hole, deep muffin pan.
15. Place a slice into each of the muffin cups, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 30 mins or until doubled in size.
16.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 20 mins.
17. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes in the tin.
18. Place a sheet of baking parchment onto your cooling rack, then remove the cinnamon muffin buns from the tin & leave to cool.

These are lovely served warm with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Has it really been so long?

I can't believe it's almost a year since I last blogged here!  How tardy is that?  In my defence, I have started a new business from home in my spare (HAHA) time making cakes, which you can see HERE I have changed jobs and now work longer hours with more travelling time, but also have much more of a challenge to my working day.

Due to time constraints I have had to stand down as Secretary for my local Air Cadets and also more recently, after over 6 years service, as a Governor to my children's former Junior School.  I just don't have the time to stretch myself any thinner (metaphorically, not physically; I would always love to be stretched thinner physically!)

My daughter managed to get her first choice of school and started senior school in September at the same time as my son started his 6th form and A Level studies.  Following his 17th birthday in November he is now learning to drive and passed his theory test first time a couple of weeks back.  His driving test is booked, but that date's a secret for now!

I've demonstrated for Letraset with their Promarkers at a few Hobbycraft stores and continue to love these amazing pens.  I have more YouTube video tutorials in the wings waiting to be filmed and uploaded, so for all those who also love their Promarkers, please watch this space for further information.

Anyway, it's Mothers' Day in the UK a time when we realise how lucky we are for the gift of life given to us by our mums.  I wish to be the mother to my children that my mother was and continues to be to my siblings and myself.

I will try and be back soon!


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Kenwood Major Pasta Maker Attachment

I’m a lover of my Kenwood Major Titanium mixer. I have a few attachments that go with it; namely the glass blender jug, the food processor, the mincer and the food mill. I was lucky recently to be invited to a PR event for the launch of the new Kenwood Chef by Clarion Communications. They’ve launched a new retro look Chef in three new colour combinations; white with either ASTRO BLUE, CALYPSO ORANGE, PINTO GREEN. Aren’t these just fab & funky?
I (cheekily) asked to borrow a pasta maker for my own Kenwood Major Titanium to try out, which Clarion Communications (PR Company for Kenwood World) very kindly arranged to have sent to me.
After it arrived, I was itching for the weekend & my chill out time in the kitchen to arrive.
Inside the box you will find a multi-lingual leaflet detailing a diagram of the pasta maker and a recipe for making your pasta. The pasta maker comes with 6 ‘screens’ which allow different shapes to be extruded:
Large macaroni
These are easily fitted and secured with a locking nut in front of an internal screw, which moves your pasta dough through the machine from where you drop it into the hopper to the screen at the front.
Eager to try this out, I made some pasta & formed it into spaghetti.
I then bought a very thick slice of ham to make a Milanese sauce to go with it.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Carrot Cake with lime & walnuts with an orange & mascarpone frosting

It’s is a cake recipe that I’ve made many a time, but tonight I decided to make it with a bit of a twist on the method & a couple of the ingredients, (just because I can & I wanted to see how it turned out). It’s a belated (3week late) birthday cake for my hubby, who I might add thought it tasted devine (as did the kids).
200ml Farringtons Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
250g Light soft brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
150g Carrots, grated
10ml (2tbs) Lime juice
100g Walnuts, chopped, plus a few halves for decoration
250g Self Raising flour
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) Bicarbonate of Soda
5ml (1tsp) Baking powder
5ml (1tsp) Ground Cinnamon
5ml (1tsp) Ground Nutmeg
250g Mascarpone cheese
200g Philadelphia cheese
150g Icing sugar
1 Orange, zested
1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
2. Grease & line the base of 2 x 20cm (8″) round tins.
3. Whisk the oil sugar & egg yolks together until smooth.
4. Add the grated carrot, lime juice & chopped walnuts. Mix thoroughly.
5. Sieve the flour, bi-carbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon & nutmeg together.
6. Fold the flour mix into the oil & egg mix until thoroughly combined.
7. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
8. GENTLY fold the egg whites into the flour & oil mixture, being careful not to knock the air out of it.
9. Divide between your two tins.
10. Place on the centre shelf of your oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean & the cake has started to come away from the sides of the tin.
11. Leave to cool in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
12. Whisk together the mascarpone cheese, Philadelphia cheese, icing sugar and orange zest until thoroughly combined.
13. When the cakes are cool sandwich together with 1/3 of the frosting.
14. Smooth the remaining 2/3 of the frosting over the top & sides of the cake.
15. Decorate with halved walnuts as desired.
16. Keep cool due to the cheese frosting.
By separating the eggs and folding in the whisked egg whites, it will give you a lighter, larger variation on a normal carrot cake.
The Farrington cold pressed rapeseed oil is produced locally to me in Northamptonshire & adds the most amazing taste, as well as being healthy (NOTE: I was not sponsored by, or provided with a sample of Farrington Cold Pressed Oil. The opinion stated is purely my own and is totally unbiased towards them).
The lime juice can be changed to lemon juice if you wish.
Walnuts are optional, both in the cake and also as decoration.


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