Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Baking // 2014 GBBO Challenge - Week 8 - Advanced Dough

Oohh quater finals! After missing last week's challenge in favour of making my boyfriend a (pretty awesome) pizza cake, I was raring to go tackling this week's Enriched Dough challenges.
Signature Bake: Enriched sweet fruit loaves
Technical Challenge: Povitica
Showstopper Challenge: Doughnuts

I absolutely love working with dough and get such a thrill seeing how much it rises during a prove (it's the #LittleThings in life eh?!) However, as I mentioned in this week's InstaLIFE post, I have had a bit of a busy week and was away in Cambridge all weekend. Keen to tackle doughnuts, but without much time or a microwave to help speed things up a la Nancy, I decided to make No Prove Ring Doughnuts!


I came across this recipe on Little Paper Swans blog (which by the way is an absolutely gorgeous lifestyle blog with tons of lovely recipes you should definitely check out!) I was instantly drawn in by the fact that it is such a quick and simple recipe. I had all of ingredients in my cupboards already and could just get going with them.


I was really pleased with how my doughnuts turned out. I was a tad worried they'd be quite flat and dense due to the lack of proving, but they puffed and fluffed up nicely while frying.


The frying was definitely the trickiest part of making the doughnuts as you had to get the oil just right. The recipe states heating it to 180c but I had to guesstimate as I don't have a cooking thermometer (top of my wish list now!) My first couple of doughnuts were ruined by using too hot oil - they went too dark on the outside too quickly and didn't cook in the middle. However after turning down the heat, they cooked nicely and had a lovely light, airy texture inside.



As I don't have a deep fat fryer, I shallow fried my doughnuts using my new Green Earth Frying Panby Ozeri. The Green Earth Frying Pan is one of the world's first frying pans to be completely free of toxins - instead it uses a pure ceramic coating to make it non-stick.  I wanted to use a non-stick pan to make sure none of the dough got stuck to the bottom of the pan as I was shallow not deep frying. I liked the idea of using this toxin free pan for making doughnuts as they soak up so much oil and I didn't want any toxins (which can be released whilst using other non-stick pans) to be absorbed whilst cooking. Just sugar and spice and all things nice in my doughnuts :D  AND look how pretty it is - such a gorgeous colour!



My doughnuts tasted really nice and I experimented with rolling them in plain sugar and also cinnamon sugar which were both lovely. One thing to note though is they should definitely be served and enjoyed straight away, as I saved some for the next day and the sugar had absorbed into the dough over night :( They still tasted scrummy but definitely didn't look as pretty!



** 500g plain flour
** 1 teaspoon baking powder
** 75g butter
** 75g caster sugar
** 250ml milk
** 1 egg
** sunflower oil to fry
(P.S yes that is Gossip Girl playing in the background! Baking and GG is an unbeatable combo!)


1) Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a bowl and then add in your cubed butter.


2) Rub together the butter and flour mix until you have breadcrumb-like consistency.

TOP TIP: Don't be tempted to be heavy handed when squishing it all together - you want breadcrumbs not dough at this stage! Just use your finger tips and lift your hands in and out of the bowl as you go to get lots of air in the mix (Hard I know as making breadcrumbs by hand is one of the longest most painful things ever! Definitely my least favourite baking activity! **Hand cramp alert!!!)


3) Once you have breadcrumbs, stir in your sugar and make a well in the centre of the mix.

4) Beat your egg into the milk and then pour this bit by bit into the well of your flour mixture. Stir it all together to make a dough.

TOP TIP: Add the eggy milk slowly as you may not need to use it all to bring everything together.


5) Roll out your dough to about 1cm thick and then cut out your ring doughnuts. I used a 10cm scone cutter for the outer circle and the lid of a salad dressing pot to cut out the inner circle. 


6) Now here's the point where Blue Peter would tell you you need adult supervision - enter my boyfriend! I'm such a clumsy chef (remember the ciabatta making?!) I definitely needed a responsible adult to watch over me at this stage! Heat the oil to 180c and then lower your doughnuts in. Allow them to turn golden brown and then flip them over.

TOP TIP: Experiment with the heat of your oil to test what temperature works best to cook your doughnuts. I popped a little ball of dough in to test how well it cooked before frying my actual doughnuts.


7) Once your doughnuts have browned on both sides, carefully take them out of the saucepan and place on kitchen roll to cool and remove excess oil.

8) Whilst the doughnuts are still warm, roll them in caster sugar / cinnamon / other delicious toppings of your choice.


Overall I was pleased with my doughnuts and would definitely use this recipe again! It was so quick and easy and still produced pretty good results!

Have you made doughnuts before? Did you prove your dough?

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*Thank you to Ozeri for sending me the Green Earth Frying Pan for review. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer page.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

InstaLIFE // w/c 21st September 2014

This week's InstaLIFE post starts off where last week's finished - with my boyfriend's birthday wahoo! I also went to Oxford Street for the Vogue Fashion's  Night Out, for a Cocktail Making Masterclass and tour of a swish new Bankside hotel, and also had a little trip out of London. Let's get on with it shall we?!

It was Tony's 30th birthday on Sunday so we went to the Tower of London for the day. You may remember we went with his mum to see the poppies at the beginning of summer and I couldn't believe how much the installation had grown since then! The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an art installation to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and remember those who fought - each poppy represents the death of a member of the British Forces who served in the Great War. It's a beautiful tribute and also quite shocking to see just how many died. 

We had lots of fun exploring inside the Tower walls too. We had a great tour with a Yeoman Warder, saw the Crown Jewels (oh so many sparkles!!!), checked out the ravens and saw the changing of the guard. We were absolutely cream crackered by the end as you can see on Toto's "please no more selfies it's time to go home" face below! It was a great day though and I will definitely be writing a post about it soon.

On Monday a gorgeous little parcel arrived through my door! Check out this stunning jewellery! Pia Jewellery have sent me this gorgeous green gemstone and silver ring and silver bangle engraved with the word "believe" to style. Thank you guys! They're both absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to share them with you all in more detail. Look out for the OOTD starring these beauties coming soon! 

I decided to nip into New Look on my lunch break this week and saw this awesome t-shirt! Who doesn't wish they were a unicorn eh?! It's only £9.99 so might have to be my September pay day treat next week! 

On Tuesday I met up with the gorgeous Donalyn from Love From Twinkle and headed to Oxford Street for the Vogue Fashion's  Night Out. It was a great event with so many shops on Oxford and Regent Street having different events and promotions on. We started in House of Fraser where we had some free Mahiki and Ting cocktails from their pop up Mahiki bar, were given a beautiful white rose each by the D&G perfume peeps, saw Millie Mackintosh present her new clothes line, heard Jameela Jamil DJ and also met the real life Radley dogs! Amazing! One of my fave things was a Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream vending machine which gave out free samples. How cool is that?! We then headed to H&M where Donalyn got a free personalised tote bag, and then down to River Island where we made bejewelled pom pom pals! It was really good fun and Donalyn and I have decided to go every year from now on! You can see more pictures from the night on my Instagram page - Instagram.com/emsypickle  

On Wednesday after work I popped into Boots and happened to wander past the clearance section and got some absolute steals!!! I paid just £7 and got a Seventeen Maximum Volume Mascara (which is one of my faves), a Seventeen Stay Pout Lipstick in Audition and two sets of House of Holland by Elegant Touch false nails - Game Changer and Jewel Thief. Bargain or what?! 

After my amazing bargain Boots buys, I headed on down to a Cocktail Making Masterclass at the citizenM London Bankside Hotel. The class was so fun and it was really cool to learn the various techniques and skills involved with cocktail making, as well as discovering which flavours and at which ratios work well together. We got to invent and make two of our own drinks so I created the Emsyginkle (below) - Hendricks gin, muddled cucumber, Campari, cranberry juice and a touch of strawberry - and the Ginsy Pickle - Bombay gin, lime juice, angostura bitters, sugar syrup and ginger beer! Yum!

As well as finding our way around behind the bar, Marc, the manager of citizenM London Bankside Hotel took us for a tour of the hotel and explained the concept to us. It's a really modern hotel with a big focus on compact but technology filled "pods" for rooms and comfortable spacious common areas. I loved all the finishing touches and especially all the cute little signs everywhere which gave it a really friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Amazingly my Ginsy Pickle cocktail was chosen as the best of the night and I won 2 nights stay at the citizenM hotel of my choice! (I actually still can't quite believe it!) so I am really excited to experience a citizenM stay first hand.

I decided to take my boyfriend away for the weekend as part of his birthday celebrations and decided on Cambridge as neither of us had been there before. There'll be more about this in next week's post but we kick started the weekend off with a delicious breakfast in Bill's. I went for the scrambled egg on sour dough toast with bacon and mushrooms. Scrumptious!

I hope you're enjoying these InstaLIFE posts! Give it a "Like" on Bloglovin if you'd like me to keep doing them :)

Have a good week!

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Lifestyle // Freixenet #LittleThings

I am all about trying to find the positive in life - we only get to live it once so why spend it bringing yourself down with negative energy and miserable thoughts?! Obviously this isn't always easy but I do try and find the little glimmer of glitter which lies behind every grey day! The fabulously fizzy folk at Freixenet* also love the little things in life and have challenged us bloggers to writing down our favourite #LittleThings which make our days better.

Freixenet have put together this hilariously amazing video to show their favourite #LittleThings - I defy anyone to watch this and not laugh out loud and agree with all of these!

Here are the #LittleThings which make my day better:

1) Getting the last seat on the tube

The smug smile that fills my face as I realise I won't have to make the 20 minute ride to work standing up keeps me buoyed up from 9-5!

2) When the 11am munchies come a-knocking and I go to the shop to find I have JUST the right amount of change in my purse to buy that all important bag of Frazzles

Bacon flavoured crisps and no more change-laden, heavy purse means smiles all round!

3) Sitting in the park at lunch time and getting up only to have a pigeon poo exactly where I was sitting 3 seconds previously

Being pooped on is supposed to be lucky but it certainly doesn't feel like it when it happens to you! No thanks Mr Pigeon, better luck next time!

4) Dropping your iPhone on the hard wooden floor as you start to feel too tired to function in the post lunch slump at work... Only to pick it up and find your screen isn't smashed to smitherines HURRAH!!

Literally the most heart stopping and jaw dropping moment EVER! The near tears of joy and constant screen-stroking that come afterwards are entirely justified! 

5) Continuing your clumsy state at after-work drinks as you knock your glass of Freixenet, only to catch it just before it spills everywhere! 

Again - all the relief!! No one likes to spill and waste a drink, especially over your suede shoes / white shirt /  boss!

6) Getting to the bus stop, just as your bus comes along

Waiting is never fun and the sheer joy that overtakes me as I time my busing just right surprises even me!

Other lovely #LittleThings which make my day include saying thank you to the bus driver (manners cost nothing, yet a positive attitude spreads lots of little rays of joy!) seeing how much my dough rises when I bake bread (satisfying and delicious!) and seeing my bestie's miniature sausage dog (so much cuteness!)

What are the #LittleThings that make your day better?

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PS - As it's a Friday, here's another pic of little Satchmo the Sausage Dog! :D

*Thank you Freixenet for inviting me to be part of your #LittleThings campaign, and for sending me some lovely sparkling wine to celebrate the #LittleThings in life!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Midweek Manicure // Oriflame The One Long Wear Nail Polish - Ruby Rouge

It's felt very Autumnal in London the last few days - I even wore black tights for the first time in months yesterday... And they were fleece lined! I love this time of year when it's time to turn to deep berry red and plum shades and look at how gorgeous this Oriflame The One Long Wear Nail Polish in Ruby Rouge* is!

I met the lovely ladies from Oriflame at Bloggers Festival a few weekends ago where they told me about their long lasting nail polish which is said to last for 14 days! Sounds good to me! I'd not tried any of Oriflame's nail polishes before and was thrilled to receive this deep red polish in the post a few days ago.

I absolutely adore this colour. It's such a rich deep red and looks really sophisticated and will be fabulous for AW work wear. I used two coats to get the density here.

Ruby Rouge applied really nicely with a thick, even covering. The brush is slightly angled which did take a little bit of getting used to, but overall helped to apply the polish quite neatly and in few strokes.

I've been wearing Ruby Rouge for two days now without a top coat and haven't had a single chip so far! I'm really impressed with this as I usually find I get at least one chip a day with nail polish as I am sat tapping away at a computer everyday. I will let you know how it wears and whether it can live up to it's bold claim of lasting a whole 14 days!

This is a perfect colour for Autumn and is also a chic alternative to the classic festive red at Christmas time (yes I'm thinking about the Big C already!) I'm really impressed with the quality of application and will definitely be picking up a few more polishes from the Oriflame nail range. At £6.95 a bottle I think it's a pretty good buy!

What are your favourite shades for Autumn? Have you tried Oriflame nail polish before?

*Thank you so much to Oriflame for kindly sending me Ruby Rouge to review. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lifestyle // World's Biggest Coffee Morning - Macmillan Cancer Support

This Friday 26th September is the World's  Biggest Coffee Morning, where people all over the UK will hold coffee mornings to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and help those affected by cancer. Macmillan Cancer Support have calculated that on the 26th September the average person will be no more than half a mile away from their nearest Coffee Morning, which means over 205,000 are being held across the UK - how cool is that?! The clever folk have also estimated that this equates to 10 MILLION slices of cake and 5 MILLION cups of coffee!!!! (I'm loving that two slices to a drink ratio - my kind of coffee morning!) Macmillan Cancer Support are aiming to raise over £20million to help those with cancer which is absolutely fantastic.

Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity close to my heart and really does some fantastic work. Their Nurses help patients and their families through their cancer treatment, offering help, support and advice - emotionally, practically and financially. Macmillan also help campaign for better cancer care and do endless fundraising to better help cancer patients and make sure health care laws put patients first. As you can see, they're an amazing charity who do some incredible work and are well worth eating some cake in order to support! (And I'm pretty sure cake calories don't even count when you're eating them for charity!)

So how can you get involved? 

It's not too late to host your own Coffee Morning - simply sign up on the Macmillan Cancer Support website and they'll send you a Coffee Morning Kit to help you on your way and also provide you lots of hints and tips on how to make it as successful as possible.

If you'd rather go along to someone else's event and show your support there, you can find your closest Coffee Morning by using the handy location map on the Macmillan website. You can see whether it's one being held by an individual, an organisation, a private party or even a good old M&S Cafe.

As well as hosting events, M&S are also offering support by selling these cute Bespoke Coffee Morning Badges by renowned textile and fashion designer Celia Birtwell CBE for a suggested donation of £2 a pack. Marks and Spencer's are also donating 5p from every sale of coffee and cake in their cafés and 20p for every Victoria Sponge cake sold in their food halls during September. Even more excuse to buy some cake! Guilt free calories wahoo!

You could also bake your own cake to give to a Coffee Morning event for them to sell. Macmillan have drummed up the support from some absolutely awesome celebrities to get ther favourite recipes - including Alan Carr, Greg Rutherford and even Dame Judi Dench! Check out this delicious looking Mocha Marble Cake from Strictly Come Dancing Strictly Get Baking presenter Claudia Winkleman

Claudia's Mocha Marble Cake

PREP: 20 mins
COOK: 55 mins

** 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
** 200g golden caster sugar
** 3 large eggs, beaten
** 200g self-raising flour
** 2 tsp vanilla extract
** 3 tbsps milk
** 30g cocoa powder, sifted
** 1 ½ tbsp strong coffee, cooled
** 50g dark chocolate, melted

1) Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with a strip of baking parchment. In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar and a pinch of salt, with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift over and fold in the flour, along with the vanilla extract and the milk, then transfer half the mixture to a separate bowl. Stir the cocoa powder and coffee into one of the bowls. Dollop spoonfuls of both mixtures into the prepared tin, alternating between the two. Once all the mixture has been used up bang the tin on the worktop to eliminate any air bubbles. Use the handle of a metal spoon to swirl and marble the mixtures together.

2) Bake for 50-55 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, cover with foil after 40 mins if it is becoming too brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 mins, then lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, drizzle melted chocolate over the surface of the cake and leave to set before slicing.

Yum! I will definitely be giving that a try! You can find lots of other celebrity recipes on the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

So as you can see there are lots of different ways to get involved with the World's Biggest Coffee Morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and help people cope better with cancer. 

Are you taking part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning? 

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Baking // Pizza Birthday Cake

Now I know Mondays are when I usually post my Great British Bake Off posts but this week  Idecided not to bake along with the theme of Pastry at all. Last year I made two bakes involving choux pastry (Profiteroles and Goats cheese, caramelised onion, walnut and rocket choux bun canapés) and I also made empanadas a couple of weeks ago, so I figured I'd already tried a few of the bakes from this week's theme. I've also been mega busy as it was also my boyfriends birthday this weekend. As I wrote in yesterday's InstaLIFE post, I made him a birthday cake decorated to look like a pizza! I thought I'd give you all a looksie at how I did it (it's super easy!!!) in place of my usual GBBO baking post.


For the cake base...

** 3 eggs
** 6 oz self raising flour
** 6 oz salted butter
** 6 oz caster sugar
** 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

For the toppings...

** icing sugar
** salted butter
** dash of milk
** white chocolate
** 3 Ferrero Roche
** yellow Peanut M&Ms
** black jelly beans
** Dolly Mixtures
** Haribo Rainbow Spaghetti
** Haribo Giant Strawbs


For the "pizza base"...

1 ) Cream the butter and sugar together until it resembles a light almost mousse like consistency.

2) Crack all the eggs into a cup and whisk together with a fork.

3) Add some of the flour into the butter and sugar mix, as well as some of the egg. I usually just tip a bit of each at a time. Mix it all together.

4) Keep adding the eggs and flour into the main sugar / butter bowl in manageable amounts until all the ingredients are incorporated and mixed in, and have a smooth consistency.

5) Add in the vanilla essence and mix in until distributed evenly through the mix. Add more if you think it needs it.

6) Line a 12" pizza tray with baking parchment so the batter doesn't seep through the holes and then pour in the mixture. Use a pallet knife to evenly distribute it, and make sure it's filled right to the edges, and doesn't go above the shallow pan rim.

7) Bake for 15 - 20 mins on Gas Mark 6 / 200c. Keep an eye on it as due to the thiness of the cake it could bake quickly. When it's golden brown and cooked through, take it out to cool on a wire rack.

Time to make the "tomato sauce"...

8) Put a block of butter into a bowl of sifted (sieved?!) icing sugar (I don't know exact measurements I'm afraid, I always guestimate and make my butter icing to taste).

9) Cream these together. If the icing sugar doesn't catch onto the butter and the mix remains very powdery, then add a dash of milk. This will help bring the sugar and butter together, but you may need to add more icing sugar to soak up the milk.

10) Keep tasting your mixture, you'll be able to tell if it tastes too buttery or sugary. You can also gauge how much you'll need to cover your cake, remember you want to keep a rim of cake around the outside to look like the crust.

11) Once you're happy with the amount and taste of your butter icing, slowly add in red food colouring until you have a good tomato red colour. I used an entire tube of red gel colouring and it was still more salmon pink so added half a bottle of liquid red colouring too. I still didn't get it quite as red as I would have liked but it started to get that artificial food colouring taste so decided to stick with the dark pink / light red colour I had.

12) Once your sponge has completely cooled, spread the butter icing on top. Make it a good even layer, leaving a bare patch around the rim so it looks like a crust.

Now lets add the toppings...

13) Once your icing has set a little bit, finely grate white chocolate over the top to be the cheese.

14) Cut 3 Ferrero Roche chocolates in half and dot them on top of the pizza.

15) Use scissors to cut a handful of Haribo Giant Strawbs into circle shapes, removing the green "stalks". Place these on top of the pizza too.

16) Add some yellow Peanut M & Ms "sweetcorn", black jelly bean "olives", Dolly Mixtures "mushrooms" and red, green and yellow Haribo Rainbow Spaghetti "peppers". Ta daaaa pizza is finished!

I served mine in a take away pizza box to make it look even more pizza-like (it was a brand new clean box obvs, otherwise that would have been a little bit grim!) Tony's favourite pizza is a Quattro Stagioni, so I very wittily added a label saying Quattro Stagitony ho ho ho!! as well as some classic Toto photos and a big "Happy 30th Birthday" sign inside. We also used a pizza cutter to slice and serve it to add to the authentic pizza cake experience!

I was so pleased (and amazed!) with how my pizza cake turned out - it really does look quite like a pizza! It was so easy to make and quite quick too as the decoration is all just strategically placing pre-shaped sweets and treats on top! I pulled the cake together in just 10 minutes after the cake and icing was done (as I was rushing to get it done in time before my boyfriend came home - which is also why I don't have better pictures soz!), so it's a great cake to make if you're short on time. Most importantly, Tony loved it, and it was a fun end to our pizza dinner. Minimum effort, maximum effect!

What do you think of my pizza cake?

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