Saturday, 6 September 2014

August Favourites

I have managed to find some lovely beauty products this past month that I've been making sure to use as often as I can. I will admit that this month's post is extremely nail based, but as I work in a restaurant, I'm not allowed to wear nail varnish on a daily basis, so I have to get my nail fix whenever I can, and I've just so happened to have more opportunities in the past month than I normally do.
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The Body Shop Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask
I have been seriously getting into my face masks in the past couple of months, but it wasn't until I tried this one out that I fell in love. There's just something about applying a clay mask onto your face, and feeling it dry out. It makes me feel like its sucking out all of the oil, and helping cleanse my face. This one especially smells lovely and clean, and once I've washed it off, my face feels smooth and refreshed.
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Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner
I've been resisting this beauty for a while now, since it was released really, because I was in denial over the fact that I could live without it. Then one day, I thought I would see what it was like, so I actually went to the make-up stand in my local department store and asked one of the ladies to show me what it was like. She sat me down and applied it to my eyes, and I immediately bought this pen straight after. This gel liner works like a dream, giving me the perfect cat-eye flick every single time. I've loved the effect of gel liner, but always found it fiddly to apply; however this removes all complications and is the perfect shade of jet black. A definite must have in your make-up bag!
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Essie Help Me Grow Base Coat and No Chips Ahead Top Coat
These two nail varnishes used together have given me the best results in preserving nail polish I've ever seen, but I think it's mostly down to the top coat. I have always had a problem with nail varnish chipping away within two days of application, but when using these two varnishes I've found that my varnish always lasts longer, I think the longest I've gone is almost a week before a chip appeared. I've also noticed that my nails do appear to be stronger, and they're not breaking very often. Overall I'm very impressed with this combination.
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And finally onto some nail polish I've loved wearing this past month: included here is the Rimmel 60 Seconds varnishes 621 'Mary Mary Quite Contrary' and 262 'Ring A Ring O' Roses', some lovely pale pastel colours, with cute names too; and the Essie 'Cute as a Button' varnish, a lovely shade of pink that also looks slightly orange in certain lights. The photo doesn't really do these varnishes any justice, they are really lovely colours in person, and I have really enjoyed wearing them.

Sophie x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Iced Cherry Cake

There are only two programmes in the whole year that I will make sure I can stay in for. If anyone tries to organise anything on these certain nights, I am immediately thinking about how I can't miss this week's show. One of these programmes is Downton Abbey, while the other is, of course, The Great British Bake Off. I need to get my weekly fix of Mary Berry guys, I just love her!
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So you can imagine my excitement when the new season started a couple of weeks, and the first weeks challenge was cake! Cakes are very important to me; I feel like my motto should be 'Cake is Life'... Anyway, when I saw the technical challenge, I knew I had to have a go at it as well. Who doesn't love a cake containing glacé cherries.
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Mary Berry's Cherry Cake
200g Glacé Cherries, cut into quarters
225g Self Raising Flour
175g Softened Butter
175g Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 Lemon
50g Ground Almonds
3 Eggs

175g Icing Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon
15g Flaked Almonds, lightly toasted
5 Glacé Cherries, cut into quarters

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease a 9inch bundt tin.
Cut all of the cherries into quarters, and put 5 cherries to the side to be used later. Wash the rest of the cherries in water, drain and pat them dry, and toss them in 2tbsp of flour.
For the cake batter, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, before adding in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Finally, add in the flour and ground almonds, and mix thoroughly. Lightly fold in the cherries, and turn the batter out into the bundt tin.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is golden-brown in colour, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before cooling on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the icing by beating together the icing sugar and lemon juice, until the icing is smooth and glossy, and has a thick texture. You want the icing to be able to stick to the cake, and not run down the sides too much. At the same time, toast the flaked almonds in a pan over a low heat for a few minutes, making sure they don't burn.
When the cake has cooled, spoon the icing onto the cake until it is covered, or use a piping bag to make a nice pattern. Finally sprinkle the remaining quartered cherries and the flaked almonds on top of the icing.
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As a side note, apparently sales of glacé cherries have increased over the past couple of weeks... This just shows how much of an effect Bake Off has on it's viewers.

Sophie x

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

July Favourites

I know that we are already over a week into August, and this post is meant to be done very early in the month, but I just haven't had the time to do it until now, so apologies for the delay. I've also found that I haven't really had a lot of things which I've really been loving, but I'm hoping that next months post will have more, as I've already got a couple of things that I'm loving.  photo IMG_1560.jpg
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The Body Shop Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet
I am absolutely in love with this face cream, I have been religiously using it everyday ever since I bought it last month. It comes in this cute little frosted glass pot, and the cream itself is more like a gel, but it goes on so nicely, and I find that I only need a little bit to cover my whole face. And because it is a sorbet, it has a nice cool, refreshing feeling when applied, and my face feels really fresh and ready for the day.
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Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Face Powder
This was kind of a summer impulse buy, as I suffer from slightly oily skin, especially when its warm, so I wanted something that would just take away the shine from my face. I saw this somewhere on youtube and thought it would be worth having a go. This has a nice translucent powder, which doesn't effect my skin colour, and it has a nice smooth texture when applied, and it doesn't feel horrible if you apply many layers. I've found that it's a really useful item to have in your bag for some touch ups during the day, and I would really recommend it to anyone that suffers from a bit of oily skin.
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NUME Titan 3 Hair Curling Wands
This curling set is amazing, it just works for me. I have tried a few curling wands before, and they never really did what I wanted, but as soon as I got these, it was like all of my curling worries were over. They are perfect. And the fact that you can change the barrel size is brilliant too, so I can choose what types of curls I want for my hair. I did have to ship them from America, and normally they are $250 (!!!!), but luckily I managed to use a discount code from a youtube video, and got the set for $99 instead! But they are completely worth the money.
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Urban Decay Naked3 Palette
It was only a matter of time before I went back and bought this palette, especially after how much I loved the Naked2 palette. There is just something about Urban Decay's eyeshadows that is just heavenly to apply. And the rosy pink colour scheme is just perfect for me as I have blue eyes. There's nothing more I can say about this palette except that it should be an essential part of every girl's makeup collection.

What have you guys been loving this past month?
Sophie x

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Baked Ring Doughnuts

I don't think it is actually possible to put into words just how wonderful I think doughnuts are. Honestly, I'm not even going to give it a go. Let's just all agree that doughnuts are the bomb.
It's getting to the point where I stand at the Krispy Kreme counter at my local supermarket, trying to convince myself I shouldn't buy them, because honestly, nearly £4 for three doughnuts isn't very cost effective, especially as the own brand jam filled doughnuts are five for £1. But they aren't as nice, so I end up going without doughnuts. Woe is my life!

Which of course leads me to baking my own, because really, what other option is there?
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2 Cups Plain Flour
3/4 Cups Caster Sugar
2tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs
2tbsp Unsalted Butter, Melted
1tbsp Coloured Sprinkles

100g Icing Sugar
3-4tbsp Water

Preheat the oven to 230C/ Gas Mark 7/ 425F, and grease a doughnut pan with butter.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, while in a smaller bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add the sprinkles, and mix until all combined.
Spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, making sure it's evenly spread throughout the ring.
Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and leave the doughnuts in the pan for another 4-5 minutes, before transferring the doughnuts to a cooling rack.

While the doughnuts are cooling, prepare the icing, by mixing the icing sugar and water together until it forms a thick paste, and add some food colouring for decoration.
Once the doughnuts are cool, you can ice them. Either spoon the icing onto the doughnuts and spread it around, or like I did, have the icing in a shallow bowl, and place the doughnuts in the icing upside down, so that you get an even covering of icing.
Quickly cover the icing in sprinkles before it hardens, and hey presto, doughnuts!
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These are definitely a winner, and will make me reconsider buying doughnuts ever again. I struggled not to eat the whole lot, they are just so good.
Sophie x

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

June Favourites

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I can't believe it's already July; we are halfway through the year people! Time has flown by, it's hard to believe it is actually summer. So here we are with another favourites post, and I've realised that yet again, there are some Body Shop products here, oops. I just can't help myself right now, I'm in a bit of a self-induced Body Shop craze.
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Body Shop Vineyard Peach Body Mist This stuff smells divine. I'm loving this peachy smell, something about it just screams 'summer'. I've been using it instead of perfume for the past week, and I've found it just leaves a faint peach smell on your skin for the day. Lovely for these warm sunny days.
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Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Serum I've never used a serum before, as I never really thought I needed one. But the current day cream I've got is way too heavy for the summer, and makes my skin a bit too greasy, so I was in need of something lightweight. I knew serums were really good, as they don't just hydrate the first few layer of skin, but go deeper into your skin, helping to keep your skin cells even more hydrated. I've been applying this before my makeup, and I've noticed that it makes my skin feel really fresh and plump. I have combination skin, so it sometimes suffers from a bit of excess oil, but with this it doesn't make my skin extra oily, in fact I think it's been helping to make it less oily, which is just what I need for this time of year. I would recommend this as a lovely summer moisturiser, but I imagine it will be just as good in the winter.
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Barry M Crystal Glaze Nail Polish I really like layering glittery varnish over coloured nails, in fact I've been doing it for a while. At Christmas I used a red glitter varnish over plain red nails, and I loved how festive it was; I will be doing it again for this year. However, I really love this varnish, because it is really subtle. You have to move your nails in the light a certain way to be able to see the effect, and it really does remind me of crystals. I'm actually wearing it here in the photo, and you really can see how subtle the effect is.
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Urban Decay Naked2 Palette This is one of those 'essiebutton made me do it' moments. I've seen her talk about the Urban Decay Palettes in so many of her videos, so after much deliberation on which one to get, I chose to get the Naked2 Palette, because I really like using neutral brown colours on my eyes. And oh wow, this palette is worth all the talking about. These eye shadows are perfect, so buttery and soft, they are just so lovely to apply. And the beautiful thing about this palette is that nearly all of these colours will go together, I've been experimenting quite a bit, and I've loved every combination I've tried so far.
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IKEA Notebook I bought this about three weeks ago just as a little book to keep in my bag, for jotting down ideas, and to-do lists, I've even been using it for writing down recipes. As soon as I saw the design I thought it was perfect for me, I just loved the detailing of the perfume bottle, and it reminded me of some of the perfume bottles my Grandma used to have.
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ASOS Multi Row Chain Necklace This necklace is my new favourite piece of jewellery, whenever I'm going out I always try to wear it, I just love it so much. I think it's just because it's a simple set of chains; it's not gaudy or bold, it's just a little subtle accent to any outfit. Another item perfect for the summer.

Sophie x

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Teapigs Tea Review

I feel like I've been kind of resisting the whole Teapigs bandwagon for quite a while now. I know loads of people love the stuff, but I was kind of happy carrying on with Twinings. Until recently anyway...
About a week ago I decided to go browsing on their website, just to see what assortment of teas they do, and up popped this page saying that if you signed up to their newsletter, you could get a code for 10% off your first order. I figured it couldn't hurt to sign up, and then when I got to browsing I realised it was a good thing I did! Some of their teas sound divine!
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I managed to narrow it down to these three flavours; they seemed really tasty when I was reading the information, but it was really difficult, cause they all sound delicious. I got a bit too excited when these arrived in the post, I had to try them out immediately.
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Chocolate Flake Tea So this was actually a bit of a disappointment, I don't know what I was really expecting, but it just doesn't seem all that great. It's basically meant to have a faint taste of chocolate, and there was, but it was just strange. It tasted a bit like a really watered down hot chocolate, and a weak hot chocolate at that. I think I've only used a couple of these teabags, so I may still need to give it a chance, but so far I am not enjoying it as much as the other two. Definite thumbs down.
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Liquorice and Mint I like to think of this as a surprise tea. If any of you have had this before, you will understand. Basically, when you first take a sip, you get the taste of a normal mint tea, but then you swallow it, and suddenly at the back of your throat there's this burst of sweetness, as if the liquorice root is jumping out from behind a corner and shouting 'Surprise!'. And it is really sweet, sometimes too sweet, but it is really tasty, and I'm definitely enjoying it more than the chocolate tea. Plus it doesn't actually taste of liquorice; I don't like the taste of liquorice sweets, so I was worried I wouldn't like the tea, but luckily it doesn't taste anything like those sweets. I think because it's the liquorice root, it just adds the sweetness instead of the taste.
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Green Tea with Mint This is definitely my favourite of the lot, like I actually love this stuff. I don't normally like green tea, but this one is really good. I don't know if it's the mint helping out with the flavour, but the taste of green tea is definitely not as strong as a normal green tea. And the minty aftertaste is really refreshing, at one point I had this every morning with my breakfast, and it really helped to wake me up in the morning. And I also found that I didn't have to add anything to sweeten the tea; with normal mint tea I would add a small spoon of sugar, but the taste of this tea was so good I didn't feel the need to add anything. So overall, definitely the best of the lot, and I will be buying a lot of this tea in the future.

Have any of you tried the teapigs tea? Any recommendations?
Sophie x

Thursday, 5 June 2014

May Favourites

I have been buying a lot of products recently, like I've been going crazy. I think it's because I've recently found a new favourite makeup blogger, essiebutton, who is also on youtube; I seriously recommend you check her out if you haven't already, she is just amazing!
But anyway, at the beginning of last month, I was basically wearing the same old boring makeup every day, using the same old products I've had for a year or so, not doing anything more than the basic foundation, and I was getting fed up. But then I found essiebutton, and I was inspired to buy some new products, and so I've finally changed up my makeup routine. I don't know about you guys, but sometimes just changing something as simple as your makeup can actually really make your day feel a whole lot better, like you are adding a little something extra to start off your day.
 photo IMG_1533.jpgSo because I have a few new products in my life, I thought I would start this new feature of my monthly favourites. Obviously the majority of bloggers are already doing this, so surely it's about time I did it too? This month features only beauty products, but that won't always be the case, it most likely will feature non-beauty related products as well. So without further ado, here is what I've been loving this past month:  photo IMG_1539.jpg
Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Wash This smells ah-mazing! Honestly, I love citrus body wash for when I'm in the shower, and this stuff is just perfect. It smells almost like a key lime pie, if a bit sweeter, and every time I use it, it instantly puts a smile on my face. Plus it has the added bonus of making my skin silky smooth. But we don't care about that, just how good it smells ;). And because it's the huge 500ml bottle, it always lasts me 4-5 months, sometimes more, so at £6.50 a bottle, I think it's hugely cost effective.
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VO5 Plump It Up Dry Backcombing Spray I've recently had my hair cut to just below my shoulders, because my hair is quite thick and heavy, and previously I found that it would never hold any hairstyles for very long. I love a bit of volume in my hair, specifically for doing some mini-beehives, which meant quite a bit of backcombing with a good old comb. But then I found out about this product, which basically does all the work for me, and in a shorter amount of time. It's really simple to use, you just shake the can and spray into the roots, then just rub it into your roots a little bit, and the result is a a bit of oomph in your hair. Perfect when you only have five minutes to do your hair.
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Bodyshop Wild Rose Hand Cream I love anything rose scented. I don't know why, but rose is just my favourite floral scent. It just makes me think of English gardens and cottages in the countryside... Anyway, I sometimes get really dry and itchy hands, and sometimes they can be sensitive with certain hand creams, but this Bodyshop hand cream is just gorgeous, it makes my hands really smooth, and it lasts for ages; I normally just apply it once a day, occasionally twice. Plus it's SPF15 which is always good considering it's now summer.
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Bodyshop All-In-One Instablur This stuff is basically a primer that you apply to your face, and it instantly smoothes out your skin, reducing the look of your pores and any blemishes on your face. I love how it makes my skin feel, and you can actually use this by itself without any foundation, because it gives your face this lovely glow. But if you do use it with foundation, it works wonderfully at making your makeup last; I've actually found that my makeup will last the whole day if I use this primer. I also think it's quite well priced at £14, which is cheaper than other primers I've bought before. It also works perfectly with the BB cream below.
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Bodyshop All-In-One BB Cream This is a really nice BB cream, it's very light on your skin, which is perfect for the summer, and I think it blends really nicely. I've found previously with BB creams that the shade is sometimes a bit orange on your skin, but the body shop BB cream comes in a variety of shades, so it's easier to find one that fits with your skin colour. The assistant in my local Bodyshop recommended that I use the '00' shade... yeah I'm that pale, but it really does work, and it looks like my normal skin colour. One of the best BB creams out there, and it's only £12!
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Bodyshop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder I will admit I've never used bronzers before, and I probably wouldn't have if it hadn't of been for essiebutton. Apparently it's one of her makeup must haves, and she's used it in quite a lot of her videos, and when I saw how it gave her skin a more natural looking glow, I thought I would give this a go. This again comes in a variety of shades, and I bought the '02' shade. It gives a nice subtle bronzing to your face, without seeming too orange or like your face has some dirt on it; it really does give you a natural glow. It costs £13, which is a bit expensive, but I think the fact that it works so well means it's worth the price.
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EOS Strawberry Sorbet Lip Balm I love eos lip balm. I always have one on me, and there is always one of these little spheres kept in my bag, because I am applying it to my lips all of the time! It makes my lips so smooth, and they always help my lips out when they are dry and chapped. Actually this past winter I didn't have a problem with chapped lips, because I just used this multiple times a day. This stuff is just heavenly! Unfortunately, living in England, you can't buy this in any stores, however, you can buy multipacks off eBay, and it works out to be really cheap. I would definitely recommend this to everyone.

So there you have it, my first post of the monthly favourites series, I hope you enjoyed it :). I can't wait to see what will be in next month's post.
Sophie x

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf Cake

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I personally believe that the addition of desiccated coconut turns an already pretty decent cake into the most delicious, moist and fluffy cake possible. One time, I made another batch of these Starbucks-style Ginger Muffins, and I took a chance and added some coconut to the batter, and instantly it was like, wow, why didn't Starbucks do this to their muffin in the first place, it would instantly be a best-seller. It was finger-licking good.
coconut and raspberry cake
So then some time in March I was browsing through some food magazines, and suddenly there was this recipe for a raspberry and coconut loaf cake. And because of my previous experience with coconut, I just knew this loaf cake would be tasty, so I set to making it not too soon after. Especially with the hidden layer of jam in the middle, who doesn't like jam in their cakes?
coconut and raspberry cake
150g Butter
150g Golden Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs
250g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
100g Desiccated Coconut
4 tbsp Milk
6 tbspRaspberry Jam

80g Icing Sugar
2 tsp Raspberry Jam
2 tsp Water
2 tbsp Desiccated Coconut

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and line a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract, before adding in the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.
Fold in the desiccated coconut, and then add the flour and milk a bit at a time.
Spoon a third of the batter into the loaf tin, before spreading the raspberry jam in a layer on top of the batter. Cover the jam with the remaining cake batter.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, then cover with tin foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until cooked.
Leave the cake to cook on a wire rack, and meanwhile you can prepare the icing.
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add water until it reaches the right consistency. Then add the raspberry jam until you get the desired shade of pink.
Once the cake is cool, spread the icing over the top, and then cover with some more coconut.
coconut and raspberry cake
This is best served in the afternoon with a pot of your desired beverage, with some friends to share it with. Or you know, you could just eat it all yourself. No one will judge you here ;).
Sophie x

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wholemeal Maple and Blueberry Scones

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Scones are an essential part of my life. Whether they contain raisons, chocolate chips, raspberries or cheese, or are just good old fashioned plain, they will always put a smile on my face. Served with clotted cream and strawberry jam (ok, maybe not so much with cheese scones, yuck!), they are a necessity when it comes to my spring/summer.
This recipe is one from Joy the Baker; her recipes are just too good for me not to make them over here. Plus it's a recipe for scones, and I'm English, so that means I had to make these scones at least once.
Because it would be blasphemy not to. scones 2
Adapted from Joy the Baker. Makes approx. 12 scones.
2 cups Plain Flour
1 cup Wholemeal Flour
2 1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Baking Soda
1/4tsp Salt
3/4 cup Butter, cut into cubes
1 Egg
2tbsp Maple Syrup
3/4 cup Buttermilk + 3tbsp for brushing the tops
1 cup Fresh Blueberries

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/400F/200C, and cover a baking tray with greaseproof parchment.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour, and rub the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the egg, maple syrup and buttermilk, and add to the dry ingredients, stirring together to form a soft dough. Then fold in the fresh blueberries.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for a minute. Roll the dough out to 1 inch thickness, and cut out the scones using a 2-inch round cutter. Place the scones onto the baking tray, and brush the tops of the scones with the remaining buttermilk, before sprinkling with some sugar.
Bake the scones in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Serve warm with clotted cream and a jam of your choice. And tea. Always serve them with tea.
Sophie x

Monday, 7 April 2014

Wholemeal English Muffins

I love love love english muffins; I've been eating them since I was a little girl. I would always get excited when I saw my mum had bought some home from shopping, because I just knew I would be eating them for breakfast the next morning. There is nothing better than a freshly toasted muffin smothered in melting butter. That's a bit of heaven right there.
Obviously over the past couple of years as I've been getting into baking my own bread, I decided to have a go at making english muffins myself. And they are so easy, I've made them so many times, especially in the past few months. The only problem is that I never make enough, because they never last more than a day or two.
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Normally I make english muffins with just white flour, but I thought it would be a nice change to use some wholemeal flour. There really isn't that much of a difference between them in texture, and they are just as delicious.
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Recipe from Savory Simple. Serves 12.
2 1/4 Cups Wholemeal Flour
2 1/4 Cups Strong White Flour
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1tbsp Sugar
1tsp Baking Soda
2tsp Dried Yeast
1 3/4 Cups Milk
3tbsp Butter
1 Egg
Cornmeal or Semolina

In a large bowl, mix together the wholemeal and white flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and yeast.
In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter over a medium heat until the butter has melted.
Add the milk/butter mixture to the dry ingredients with the egg, and mix until the dough comes together. If using a stand mixer, leave to mix on medium speed for a few minutes, otherwise knead the dough slightly.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and roll out to an inch thickness, and using a round cutter, cut out the muffins, re-rolling the dough as needed. Dust a baking tray with the semolina or cornmeal, and place the muffins on the baking tray. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/165C/325F. After the 30 minutes, have a skillet pan ready on a medium heat to cook the muffins for 4-5 minutes on each side. Then finish the muffins in the oven for 15 minutes.
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Serve warm with butter and jam, and you're all set for the best breakfast ever.
Sophie x