Monday, 30 March 2015

Baking // Easter Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns - a total Easter essential! As a rule I hate anything with "live fruit" in (don't ask!), but even I love to tuck into a hot cross bun or two. This year I decided to make my own and I have to say I'm really glad I did! They may have taken quite a long time to prepare but they were pretty easy, and definitely worth it.

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INGREDIENTS


For the buns...

♥ 300ml full fat milk (plus an extra few tablespoons) ♥ 
♥ 50g butter ♥ 
♥ 500g strong white bread flour ♥ 
♥ 1 tsp salt ♥ 
♥ 75g caster sugar ♥ 
♥ 7g fast action yeast ♥ 
♥ 1 egg ♥ 
♥ 75g sultanas ♥ 
♥ 50g mixed peel ♥ 
♥ Zest of 1 orange ♥ 
♥ 1 apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped) ♥ 
♥ 1 tsp ground cinnamon ♥
♥ Sunflower oil ♥ 

For the cross...

♥ 75g plain flour (plus some extra for dusting) ♥ 

For the glaze...

♥ 4 tbsp apricot jam ♥ 

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INSTRUCTIONS 


1) Pour the milk in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Then remove it from the heat and add your cubed butter and leave it to cool to a warm temperature.

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2) Sieve your bread flour into a bowl and add your salt, sugar and yeast, making a well in the middle. Pour your warm milk and butter mix in the well and use a wooden spoon to mix it well. Use your hands to bring everything together into a sticky dough.

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easter-baking-hot-cross-buns

3) Lightly dust your work surface with flour and tip the dough out. Knead it for about 5 minutes, stretching the dough with the palm of your hand and folding it back on itself. After 5 minutes your dough should be nice and smooth and quite elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with piled cling film. Leave it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

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4) Once the dough is ready, pour the sultanas, peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon into the bowl. Use your hands to knead the ingredients into the dough making sure it's all mixed in and is evenly distributed. Re-cover the dough with oiled cling film and leave it to prove for another hour or until it has double again in size.

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5) Line a couple of baking trays with some baking parchment and then divide your dough into equal size balls - 75g each. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then position it on the baking tray, leaving a good distance between each bun. Once they're all in place, cover (but don't wrap) the trays with a clean tea towel or oiled cling film. Leave them to prove for another hour.

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6) Pre-heat your oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7 and then make the flour paste ready to pipe your crosses. Sieve the plain flour into a bowl and then add a tablespoon of water and mix it together. Add teaspoons of water one by one until you have a thick paste (usually takes about 5-6 tablespoons of water). Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a relatively small nozzle. 
TOP TIP: It's probably worth just spooning a little in at first and practising your piping to make sure your nozzle isn't too big / too small. In true Goldilocks fashion, it took me three goes to find the right nozzle which was "just right" - giving me neat crosses which piped easily with the thick paste.

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7) Once your buns have finished their final prove, pipe a cross on each of them. Then pop your trays in the oven and bake your buns for about 20 minutes until they're a golden brown. Then take out and cool on a rack.

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8) Time to get your glaze ready! Heat your apricot jam in a saucepan until it melts. If you have lumps of apricot you can either sieve these out or just mush them up so your jam is nice and smooth. While your jam and buns are still hot, brush a light layer of glaze over the top of each bun and then leave to cool completely. 

Delicious eaten as they are or toasted and buttered!


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I'm so pleased I decided to give these buns a go! Although they did take quite a long time to bake (three proves!! THREE PROVES!!) they were totally worth it. The buns were really light and soft and also nice and big - YUM! The best thing is, now I know how to make my own, I can eat them all year round and not just at Easter :D


Check out more of my Easter baking - how to make mini egg brownies


What will you be baking this Easter?



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Friday, 27 March 2015

Fashion // OOTD: Casual Spring Days

So it's official - Spring is here ...apparently! The weather in London keeps swinging between overcast and cold to bright and very nearly warm! I thought I'd share with you my go-to outfit for these early Spring days.

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I absolutely adore my new Oasis handbag* from House of Fraser. It's cream colour is perfect for giving my outfit a Spring lift and the gold hardware makes it really pretty. It's a great size too, with loads of room for all my junk everyday essentials. I love that it has a short handle as well as a longer, adjustable strap so I can change up my look easily, and its secure satchel style makes it perfect for taking on the tube.

It's still coat weather at the moment and I love my new fur hooded open duffel coat from ASOS. It's quite lightweight but keeps me nice and warm, but the open bottom shape means it's still airy for when the sun does come out. This is a great coat for wearing on Spring strolls as its fur trimmed hood also keeps me protected from any Spring showers (which we're having far too many of at the moment!)

I've been loving basic tees recently and Primark has an amazing selection of colours. I love this light grey one of theirs, it's really soft and its oversized shape makes it super cosy. I've been wearing a black cami underneath as an extra layer of warmth until the sun decides to properly put his hat on. Hurry up sun!!!

A good statement necklace is perfect for jazzing up a plain tee and I love the neutral gold and white colours of this one from Oasis. It's simple but ornate at the same time and the light colours are perfect for Spring. They also work really well with my vintage gold and pearl cocktail ring and new favourite nude and rose gold Olivia Buton-esque watch. They perfectly complement my new Spring wonder bag too!

It's still pretty chilly so I'm still surgically attached to my high waisted black skinnies. I love these "Rivington" jeggings from ASOS, they're so comfy and fit really well. I've seen they also do a ripped version now too so I'm going to buy a couple of pairs of these to bring a bit more Spring to my wardrobe.

My trusty mint green Converse* finish off my casual daytime outfit and are perfect for a laid back look - super comfy and the loveliest Spring time colour. Who doesn't love mint green?!

What do you like to wear on casual Spring days?


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*Thanks so much House of Fraser for sending me the Oasis Sasha Satchel Bag for review. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Midweek Manicure // Purple and Gold Nail Art with Binky London

It's been a while since I did a bit of nail art so I thought today I'd get a little bit jazzier with my Midweek Manicure this week. I've got just the nail polish for a jazzy look - the gorgeous glitzy Gold Rush* by Binky London. Look how sparkly!!!! I decided to team it up with another Binky London beauty - their Purple Gel Effectpolish (which I have previously reviewed here).

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Gold Rush is such a stunning nail polish - it's a gold base with bigger gold hexs mixed in which makes it a great full coverage glitter for maximum impact. It's actually quite similar to one of my favourite OPI polishes - Sparke de Triomphe (part of the Serena Williams range) but at just £3.95 a bottle, is a snip of the price, and just as good quality.

(I also have a Binky London discount code for you - EMSY10 - which gets you 10% off your order before the end of March - making Gold Rush even more of a bargain!)

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If you've read my review of the Purple Gel Effect polish, you'll know I am a big fan of the way the Binky London range applies, and Gold Rush is no different. The brush is really wide so you get a good even coverage in just one coat. Perfect for last minute manis!

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I decided to team the two Binky London polishes together and think they compliment each other really well. They're quite regal, royal colours so I've been feeling like a bit of a princess with this combo on my nails! I went for two coats of the Purple, topped with a slick of Gold Rush on the tips and two coats of Gold Rush on my ring finger. I'm pretty pleased with the final result and it's a great way to bring some sparkle to your nails without being too in yer face! Though Gold Rush is so beautiful I will definitely be going for a full on gold-glitter-glamour look soon!

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I'm so pleased with this Gold Rush polish. It's a lot harder to find a "solid" gold glitter, rather than a clear polish with gold specks and I can't believe the quality of this one, particularly for such a bargainous price. Binky London makes other make up products too, and you can read all about their luscious lipsticks here. 


Don't forget you can get 10% off your Binky London order before the end of March 2015 with the code EMSY10. A great excuse to give Gold Rush a try!


What do you think of my royal looking mani?emsypickle-lifestyle-beauty-fashion-baking-blog


*Thanks so much Binky London for sending me Gold Rush and Purple Gel Effect polishes to review. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Lifestyle // Burritos at Chilango Camden Town

I've always been a huge fan of mexican food - guacamole, cheese and spicy meat - what's not to love?! One of my favourite things when I spent summers working in the US was the abundance of mexican restaurants and burrito bars which we just didn't have in the UK...until now! Over the last few years, burrito bars have been popping up on our little island too and this has made me happier than words can describe! I'm especially happy that one has sprung up right on my doorstep in Camden hurrah! And you can imagine my excitement when I was recently invited down to Chilango Camden Town to give their burritos* a go! Yes please!

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The first thing that struck me when I got to Chilango Camden Town was how awesome the themed decor was! You certainly can't miss the bright neon signs as you walk down the high street! The front of the shop is made up to look like a motel straight out of the movies - very cool! This theme is continued as you head inside with the main seating area made up to look like a living room with random trinkets and props from typical Tex-Mex culture (and randomly the Game Of Life) dotted around. One wall is fitted with a luminous photo of a hotel pool, the fridges by the counter sit below a "Mini Bar" sign and there's even a display of room keys. It's a pretty fun idea and I got quite excited spotting different quirky artefacts! It's the little things in life eh?!

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Chilango Camden Town is far more of a restaurant set up than a standard burrito bar. There's plenty of tables and booths to sit in (instead of just a couple of high stools at a window bar) and the counter is used just to choose your meal and pay, rather than watch your burrito get made up and passed along an assembly line. My boyfriend and I grabbed a booth and promptly decided on a grilled chicken burrito for me and a grilled steak burrito for him, with extra guacamole on each, obvs. I went up to the counter to order and I was recommended to try the mix of mild and spicy salsa by our friendly server - sounds goooood! I also grabbed us a beer and a homemade lemonade, though soon regretted my decision to be good as the girls on the table next to us had just received the most amazing looking frozen cocktails! My lemonade was really nice and refreshing though, and just the right level of sweetness. 

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Our burritos were bought to the table after about 5 minutes and it didn't take long for us to rip into them! Tony decided to entirely unwrap his whilst I followed the suggested "unpeeling" method given on the napkins. Either way, we were both making quite a mess within a couple of minutes - there's just no way to eat a burrito delicately is there?! Definitely not first date food! 

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Look at the size of it!! Definitely not one of the small things in life! 

Each burrito was filled to the brim and was absolutely delicious! It was really nice to have lots of fresh crisp lettuce leaves in my burrito too alongside the rice, black beans, chicken, sour cream, cheese guacamole and mix of hot and mild salsas. The salsa mix by the way was a great shout and it was actually pretty spicy! My boyfriend and I don't seem to eat anything these days unless it packs a heated punch and neither of us felt the need to add extra hot sauce - sign of a good burrito indeed! The meat was beautifully marinated and full of flavour as well as being really tender. I went for chicken as I though the steak had potential for being a bit tough and tricky to eat in burrito form but they were both really well cooked (and my boyfriend had to pretty much wrestle his steak burrito out of my hands after handing it over for me to have a bite!)

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We both devoured our entire burritos #SorryNotSorry and were really full afterwards. Toto had been worried before the meal that a single wrap wouldn't fill him up and insisted we should have ordered the nacho platter too (which by the way looked incredible!) but even he conceded he couldn't eat another thing!

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The restaurant was really busy, particularly for a Monday night, then we realised it was buy one get one free on all main meals. Hell yeah! Chilango is amazing value anyway (it's usually only £5.99 - £6.99 for a burrito depending on choice of meat / vegetarian option), but £6.99 for two?! Holy guacamole I'll be here every week!


We had a great time at Chilango Camden Town, loving everything from the super tasty food to the friendly and helpful staff and the fun theming. It's a great cross between a burrito bar and a sit down restaurant, making it perfect for relaxed, informal dining. I will definitely back (and next time I'm totally getting a strawberry and kiwi margarita!)


What would your ideal burrito filling be?


*Thanks so much Chilango for treating my boyfriend and I to our dinner. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page

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