Lavender & Black Bakes

Other Small Bakes: Eccles Cake

Right so here we are, after a ridiculously busy week I am finally getting around to writing up this post which is all about the Eccles Cakes I made just over a week ago! You may have thought after three baking attempts that I had given up on my little project but fear not I am still here baking away in my limited spare time.

IMG_20180717_130237_057[1666]

Now this weeks challenge was exactly that as I have never in my life heard of an Eccles cake never mind seen what one is supposed to look like, so when I flicked to the chosen recipe for last week I was a little confused as to what I was actually making. From the list of ingredients and brief method I gathered it was a small current filled pastry. I hate currents. I don’t hate them as much as rice pudding or custard but there pretty far up there on the list of foods I twist my face at.

This recipe was fairly an easy one in all honesty, just a mix of butter, currents, sugar and orange peel encased within two sheets of pastry. I did cheat slightly and I ended up purchasing some Jus-Rol puff pastry which if truth be told ended up being a god send as after the heat wave we have had in the north-east I think attempting to make flaky pastry in a boiling hot kitchen would have ended up an absolute disaster with me rocking in the corner, but I promise I will make pastry from scratch when the next recipe calls for it.

One adjustment I did end up making to this recipe was the size of the Eccles cakes. From the measurements given in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible I think these pastries are meant to be the size of small tea plates, I however cut my pastry with a large scone cutter instead which made them a lot smaller than the recipe called for, yet I believe it was a more manageable size to both cook evenly and to consume afterwards.

So that’s that. The next challenge is Blueberry muffins, and surprise surprise I also dislike Blueberries. I honestly fear this baking challenge is going to end up just highlighting how much of a picky eater I actually am rather than helping me learn to bake tasty treats. Oh well…

Advertisements
Lifestyle · Monthly Favorites

June Favourites

As if June is over and July is already well underway! I know it’s a little ironic to upload a June favourites post considering we are now a week into July and the fact that my blog page was shut down for the majority of June but I feel I should celebrate the month of my birth as it has been pretty bloody awesome!

After my mini melt down that occured the first five months of 2018, June was finally the month that I acknowledged something was a little off and I worked my butt off to pull myself out the of mental gutter I had slid my way into. After seeing what I accomplished in June I am majorly looking forward to see what I can achieve through July and onwards over the next few months and beyond. One thing that helped me a lot was an app called Headspace, which teaches mindfulness and has re-taught me how to acknowledge and approach certain situations that happen to all of us daily. I fully recommend you check it out!

June is also the month I give myself the crazy task to bake my way through the entire Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. This is no mean feat with 223 individual recipes making up the contents of this book this challenge should take me around 3 to 4 years to fully complete. I will be blogging my way through the challenge where you can find weekly posts under the Lavender and Black Bakes tab in the menu bar or alternatively you can follow my new Instagram page here which will be a visual collection of images throughout this challenge.

IMG_20180703_171151_695

Product wise I may not have posted a lot (okay, fine nothing, I posted nothing) in June but it was the month I discovered the Pixi skincare range that has taken over my entire skincare routine and has changed the appearance of my dull lifeless skin for the better! It was also the month Lush kitchen made a tiny come back and released some of their more sought after liquid shower gels, which I was lucky enough to grab two bottles of. So look forward to these posts appearing hopefully sometime in July!

IMG_20180607_201051_150

Clothing wise I discovered how amazing Tesco’s F&F clothing range is this month, I picked up these adorable Pj’s which have come in super useful during the past few weeks of hot weather we have had as well as a new jacket which hasn’t been as useful but I am sure I’ll get my money’s worth come the cooler months. I also bought some Dungarees mid way through June from Ebay and I am in LOVE with how light they are to wear in this heat as well as how they make me feel like I am living through some 80s rom com.

IMG_20180619_200749_757

E3 which feels like a lifetime ago also took place during June. E3 is basically a yearly event called the Electronic Entertainment Expo where game developers showcase what they have been creating and the games we will be playing during the upcoming months / years. This year I was personally blown away by the Berthera and Microsoft announcements and I am looking forward to Fallout 76 and Gears of War 5 (despite still not finishing Fallout 4 or Gears of War 4).

And that’s that! That was June summed up in around 550 words, here is hoping July is a lot more productive and just as awesome as last month was!

Lavender & Black Bakes

Banoffee Pie – pt 1

 

IMG_20180701_160448_251.jpg

Upon further investigation of my mammoth baking task at hand, my brother who was flicking through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible to see what I will be making these next few months discovered that right in the middle of the cook book there is a recipe for a three-tier American style wedding cake.This cake serves up to 100 slices and calls for 38 eggs and lord only knows how much sugar and butter. So yeah, there is a high chance that I have bit off more than I can chew here. Pardon the pun.

This week’s recipe however, I am sure you will be in no way shocked to discover (the title of this post is a huge give away after all) called for me to create a banoffee pie from scratch, or at least something that slightly resembled a banoffee pie. I hilariously wrote in my blog notes that I felt like this recipe would ‘ease me in gently’ and ‘wasn’t as scary as making a swiss roll or a three-tier wedding cake’. How naive and very wrong I was.

The biscuit base was fairly simple to create, smash-up some ginger nuts mix it in with melted butter and line the bottom of the tin with this buttery ginger crumb goodness. Step one complete. It was really step two where I started to lose my way a little. You see as upon opening the cans of condensed milk (which I needed to make the toffee filling for the pie) the smell of rice pudding smacked me in the face and knocked me a little off colour. There’s nothing I dislike more than rice pudding (custard being a close runner-up). After melting my butter and stirring in the sugar until combined, it was time to add the condensed milk. This was going relatively well until I thought ‘oooo if I get a boomerang of the milk pouring into the pan that may look good on my social media’. So I’m sure you can guess the rest, out comes my phone, I stop stirring the milk / sugar / butter mix take a video and…. drop my phone, which slides under the pan, into the flames underneath.

Shit.

After a little bit of a moment of rescuing what is practically my third limb and composing myself, I popped the pan back onto the hob and began to stir my ‘toffee’ mixture thinking everything would now be okay. How wrong I was. Due to me fannying on for a good 5 minutes and doing everything and anything except what Mary had told me to do aka constantly stir the mixture so it does not burn, my mixture kind of accidentally.. burnt. The mixture also didn’t really resemble toffee but more like gross custard with burnt bits floating in it. So I kind of think it was at this point that I realised that this weeks task wasn’t going to be a raging success. Due to not having any backup ingredients available, I decided to pour the burnt toffee / custard combo on top of the biscuit crumb base and pray to the gods that all will be well in the end.

The mixture actually took quite a long time to cool if truth be told, so I was grateful I had decided to make the pie filling and base quite early on in the day for a change. Once everything was set and cooled to room temperature I whipped  up some double cream, cut up some bananas and popped the last few ingredients on the top of the toffee / custard hybrid I had created. Unfortunately the recipe had called for luxury Belgium chocolate to decorate the top of the pie, however Galaxy chocolate was the most luxury brand my local corner shop seemed to sell so we went with that instead (Apparently there’s not a lot of chocolate connoisseurs in Gateshead). I then popped this all in the fridge, once again prayed that the banana and cream mixture would distract from the failings of the filling and left it all to chill.

IMG_20180704_205638_701.jpg

Unfortunately my prayers were not answered, and this post doesn’t have a happy ending of ‘we cut into the pie and law and behold the mixture had turned into a silky smooth toffee, and we devoured the entire pie and everyone was happy and laughing away as the sun set, what a fabulous night’.

No, unfortunately the looking very sorry for itself banoffee pie just sort of tasted like nothing. Just very.. meh. All three pieces that were taken got pushed around the plates with tiny spoons as no one dared to take a third bite after the polite first and second, and the rest of the pie made a very sorry for itself noise as it hit the bottom of the bin. Plop. I’m not going to be too deflated about it though, I mean it was honestly a really rank desert and if truth be told I can’t see how the ginger nut base would have worked with the rest of the pie had the toppings actually been a triumph. I have decided to try to make this horror show again pretty soon, rather than giving up completely on banoffee pie forever, however next time I am going to tweak the recipe slightly and I will probably avoid taking photos mid process.

Next week… Eccles Cakes.

 

 

Lavender & Black Bakes

Classic Cakes : Victoria Sandwich

IMG_20180625_200806_022.jpg

I think you can forgive me for uploading this post one day late, as yesterday I was a little busy enjoying my birthday in the beautiful but rare north-east sunshine, and what is a birthday without a classic Victoria Sponge cake? My dad had informed me that baking my own birthday cake was a little sad but I’m kind of okay with it if truth be told, especially as I have been ITCHING to get back in the kitchen to bake all week!

It’s quite nice to have found a passion for something again. I still love blogging and writing posts but I find it very difficult to find time to write, edit, take photos, edit photos and then pull an entire post together. I often feel guilty as a working mother for spending quite a bit of time doing that when I should be devoting my spare time to little legs, however with baking he tends to be alongside me asking if he can help even though what we both know he means is ‘when do I get the bowl to lick clean?’ It is also quite nice to have something physical that I have achieved, completed and created all on my own. Especially when it goes right, like this recipe seems to have gone.

I say this as no less than 24 hours after cutting the cake, there is not a crumb of evidence left that it ever even existed in the first place. Yes, the entire cake has been devoured much to my delight as that must mean that it was good right? I’m taking it as a win, especially seeing as the last time I attempted to make a victoria sponge cake for little legs 10th Birthday I was just greeted time and time again by pancake flat sponges that looked anemic, which by the 5th attempt in one day of making this cake, I quit my task of trying to be the perfect mother, quit baking for well over a year and jumped on the first bus to my local supermarket to pick up a store-bought cake instead.

But this time it was all smooth sailing. My cake was golden and well risen, the bake was even all the way through and it tasted good. I think Mary Berry would be proud!

Next week: Banoffee Pie…

 

Lavender & Black Bakes

Buns & Scones: Plain & Raspberry and White Chocolate

IMG_20180617_192000_305

 

Right, here we go.

Recipe number 1 (or number 180 to be exact) is the one that kick started this whole Mary Berry Baking Bible challenge / idea. I’m not going to lie, scones turn me into a proper old lady as I cannot think of anything better than a good cup of tea accompanied by a cream and jam smothered scone. They also massively remind me of sitting (okay more like causing riot) in my nanna’s garden during the summer as a child where I would twist my face at the lumps in the strawberry jam and spoon the cream filling out with my fingers. I’m still not a fan of lumpy jam and I probably would still spoon the filling out if it was socially acceptable.

Anyway, back to the point. Like any good baker I began this by following the recipe to a T before deciding to chuck in my own ingredients for good measure and if I’m honest it probably wasn’t the best of ideas. The raspberries turned my dough into a wet sticky purple mess and just mixed themselves to nothing! I had to re-add the mix to my food mixer and add a little bit more flour to create a consistency I could actually work with rather than just wet gloop. Thankfully they seemed to turn out okay, although at one point I was highly concerned at the fact that my scone mix looked like corn beef and potato pie filling, both in it texture and colouring.

I also decided to make a small batch of plain scones, but seeing as I already had enough Raspberry and white chocolate ones to feed a small army I decided to instead half the ingredients and make a smaller batch this time around. Everything seemed to be going well, until I added the milk and egg mix and remembered ‘oh bollocks, I haven’t added the baking powder! They will never rise!’. Obviously doing what any great baker would do, I decided not to remake the recipe from scratch but instead to just knead the baking powder into my mix and just pray it all turned out okay in the end. I later realised in my absolute panic that I did not half the amount of baking powder used like I had all the other ingredients but it all seemed to turn out okay in the end.

IMG_20180618_191110_039.jpg

Actually they turned out surprisingly okay! All my scones were cooked all the way through, golden on their tops and bottoms and tasted wonderful once smothered in cream and jam. All in all a successful first batch, which is good considering I’ve made about 30 of them. Ooops!

Beauty · Uncategorized

Lush: Boom Toothy Tabs

IMG_20180121_152909_494

BOOM!

No, not BOOM! New post at last but BOOM! The toothy tabs sample I received within my last Lush order, which to be perfectly honest was quite a while ago now. These little solid toothpaste tabs are the strangest product I have tried out from Lush so far but one I was pleasantly surprised by in how effective they work.

Basically all you do is place one of these little pill like tabs into your mouth, give it a quick chew, pop your toothbrush into your mouth and wallah! the toothy tab begins to foam up like your toothpaste usually would as you clean your teeth.

There are a few variations and different flavour to choose from but it was Boom! I was kindly gifted in my last online order from the Lush website. Boom! contains powdered charcoal and gunpowder tea which help to whiten your teeth. It leaves a cola like taste in your mouth once you have finished cleaning your teeth which is a nice change to the usual menthol flavours of regular toothpaste.

So would I actually invest my money into this product? Do you know what? I actually think I would and I am highly considering tagging these into my next order if truth be told. My mouth felt incredibly clean after using these little tabs and they seem to have whiten my teeth slightly (I am not saying it worked miracles but there was definitely a visible improvement after a few days of cleaning my teeth with this product).

Lush also do a mouthwash version of these little tabs on their site, but I am yet to try those out as of yet but after being pleasantly surprised by the toothpaste version of these tabs I may give those a go also to ee what they are like. if you have any recommendations please let me know what ones to go for or how well they work!

Lavender & Black Bakes · Uncategorized

Lavender & Black Bakes

Mary Berry cook book cover

Okay,  so I have been a little unwell as of late due to my mental health. Nothing over the top serious just sometimes I get myself worked up and very anxious and unfortunately the past 8 months I suffered a relapse without really realising it was occurring. For anyone who follows the blog you may have noticed this is when I stopped posting content so much and anybody who knows me in real life will have noticed as I basically became the most flakiest friend anyone could ask for (sorry!) as I slowly became a hermit.

However! It’s not all doom and gloom, I have been spending the past month fighting myself and my negative thought patterns to try to overcome this which I can thankfully say is working. I’m not 100% right but I am most certainly getting there, slow and steady wins the race.

So you may be wondering why I am sharing this useless information and what the title of this blog post is about. Basically I used to bake A LOT and it used to make me very happy indeed then as time went on and life occurred I just kind of stopped and lost the bug. That was until I picked up my Mary Berry’s Baking Bible the other day to find a scone recipe and realised when flicking through that this book contains a lot of wonderful recipes (223 to be exact) that I have made all of four of. So to cut a long story short so you can get on with your day, I have decided to set myself the most insane task of trying to bake every single recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I think I have worked out if I bake once a week this task should take me around four years!

So if you would like to join me on my crazy baking journey to see if I can actually achieve this task you can follow my new separate Instagram here —> Lavender & Black Bakes where I will be keeping a visual log of all of the cakes, biscuits, tray bakes and cheesecakes I have baked over the weeks or alternatively I will be posting my thoughts and images of each recipe under here once a week. Probably a Sunday / Monday.

So yeah there we go! Here we go!

Bake on.

 

Bath · Bath and Body · Bath Bombs · Beauty · Bubbles · Hauls · Lifestyle

Lush April Haul

201804141936434852.jpg

Just like uploading a new post, it has also been quite a while since I last placed an order with Lush. In fact, I think it was when the Valentine’s day products launched way back in January! So I think it is safe for you to assume that I went a little mad, but not too over the top. I also tried to steer clear of the seasonal products, however I did pick up two Golden Egg bath bomb melts and a Cream Egg bubbleroon to try out.

In fact, Milky Bath bubble bar and Cream Egg bubbleroon were the only two bubble making products I purchased this time which was a little out of the usual as I have always preferred my bubble baths to my bath bombs if truth be told. Milky Bath bubble bar just smells so clean which I know may sound a little stupid seeing as it is bubble bath but it just hasn’t got that heavy sickly scent some bath products often have attached to them. Cream egg on the other hand has a heavy peppermint fragrance that is very uplifting and I recommend you pick one of these little bubbleroons up to try from your local Lush store before they disappear for good.

After falling in love with Butter Bear bath bomb at Christmas, I decided to grab a Butterball bath bomb which has the exact same scent and moisturising properties as its Christmas counterpart. This little bath bomb is quite the steal coming in at just under £3, and it pairs fantastically with the Milky Bath bubble bar mentioned above.

20180414865632653.jpg

Whilst scrolling through the bath bomb section of Lush’s webpage, I came to the conclusion that it would be a crime not to add these two adorable products to my basket. Not only do they both look and smell amazing, they have also both produced beautiful bath art when I have used them in the past. Although if truth be told I have a suspicion that Rocket Science  will be a dud as every time I pick this little guy up he is so soft and crumbly, however he smells fantastic! Like those blueberry sour laces you used to be able to get from your corner shop as a kid which also (fun fact) used to be my favorite sweets ever! Yellow Submarine on the other hand is more topical and fruity fragrance rather than overly sweet. Some people say the scent of this bath bomb reminds them of lemon sherbet sweets but personally this reminds me of Malibu and pineapple juice, which yes may just indicate that I have a bit of an alcohol problem.

2018041447477745.jpg

Over and Over on the other hand actually reminds me of lemon sherbet’s as it has that sweet but almost sour citrus fragrance going on. The top orange layer is actually a coating of bath oil which made my skin feel lovely and soft when I last used this, and the bath art this product creates is mesmerizing as it rolls around spewing out vibrant yellow, orange and pink colours into the surrounding water. I know spewing isn’t the prettiest word to use here but trust me this bath bomb is amazing.

20180414654421770.jpg

Guardians of the Forest. What can I say about this? It has a wonderful complex woody, slightly spicy fragrance going on. The first time I purchased this product I was taking a bit of a gamble if truth be told as I had never used products like Tramp or Grass and I wasn’t 100% sure I would be keen on this product at all but I fell in love instantly. It is however, a really difficult product to describe so I will firstly say it slightly reminds me of lord of misrule but less peppery, which is strange as I don’t think they have any ingredients similar at all, and secondly I would suggest trying this product out for yourself as it is so different to all the other citrus and sweet-smelling products you can typically find in store.

20180414312762253

Lastly I decided to grab two products from the bath oil section. I have no idea what a bath oil is really, I imagine it’s something you pop into the bath and it will melt due to the heat of the water? I’m not sure… but at £2.50 a pop I thought why not find out? I picked up Furze which smells beautiful and very earthy. It also slightly reminds me of, and it sounds weird, when you walk into a garden centre greenhouse on a warm summers day. I also decided to purchase Cloak of Invisibility obviously because of the Harry Potter reference, however I am not so sure if I am keen on the fragrance of this if truth be told but I am still looking forward to trying it out.

And that is that. Would you like to see some posts about these products similar to the ones I uploaded back in October with a brief summary of how these products perform in the water? If so let me know in the comments section below! Also let me know what products you are currently using and loving from Lush this month.

201804141812198189

Lifestyle

What is so wrong with being single in anyway?

Hello, I am back!

Sorry I have pretty much been MIA for the past few months. I wish I had some wonderful tall tale of some fantastic life I have been living, but unfortunately I will have to disappoint you as I kind of don’t. In fact, I have kind of spent the past few months trapped inside my own head and isolating myself away from the world which for any one who battles daily with crippling anxiety will know isn’t the best of ideas for your mental health.

It all started with a tiny health scare I had way back at the beginning of November and I had to attend all those appointments for that scare alone, which is okay I guess and it can’t be helped, but it also got to me that I didn’t have anyone close to turn to during that time period partner wise to console me, cos it was freaking terrifying. Then the Christmas period rocked up, which is so much fun but so stressful when you work in retail. It’s also super shit if you don’t have that special ‘someone’ to share all that christmas joy with… or so I kept being told.

Ironically, I really enjoyed Christmas alone. I didn’t have to run around or wait around for someone to appear, I spent a long time in the bath listening to music from the 40s, I spent boxing day curled up on the sofa under a blanket drinking (and not sharing) my bottle of prosecco whilst watching old black and white movies. But then it started. ‘Oh this time next year you might have found that special someone at last’, ‘I just want you to be happy and married and settled down’ and even worse, a wonderful friend of mine (no sarcasm I actually love her to bits) embarrassingly messaged the first boy I have liked in a LONG time all this weird .. weird stuff (trust me if you need to know one thing about me it is that I am not a ‘lovey dovey’ emotion sharing person, these walls are firmly up!) and that was that… Defensive mode kicked in, spiral to hell occurred.

This strange interest in my relationship status or therefore lack of it has been the topic of conversation with every person I know since. I mean, are you single? Do you experience this weird absolute shit show of a topic on an almost weekly basis? Cos its honestly starting to wear a bit thin for me like. In the past four months I have let it get to me so much I have decided to write this strange post and I have also at times cried myself to sleep. There’s nothing WORSE than being reminded constantly that you’re not wanted by another person or that your just quite frankly not good enough. I have been asked / told things like, my hair colour and tattoos are too intimidating, I don’t have a problem finding a man its the fact I can’t hold onto one, I act like a 10-year-old boy and should be more girly and grown up, I can’t live like a spinster. I’m 27… 27.

Like, what the actual…

So anyway, less ranting more positive. This past week I have sat back and looked at my life and I wrote a small list of things I would like to achieve by this time next year (which I totally recommend) and not once did it cross my mind to write on this list ‘to find a nice man and settle down’. If anything its the absolute opposite. So then I got thinking, as you do in the early hours of the morning when your meant to be asleep as you have work in 4 hours, and I realised in the past four months of me being upset and down for not ‘having a man’ I have never actually wanted to find one. Everytime a boy spoke to me or asked me out I would mimic the Homer Simpson backing into a bush to disappear gif. If truth be told, I am really content with where I am in life and I am very excited for what this next year holds and how I am going to grow as a person. If somebody finds me and wants to join me on my adventures* during that time period then okay cool, if not then okay cool.

Anyway I’m going to wrap this up as I am nearing 800 words on this strange pointless post. I will however say if you are also single and are experiencing any of the above then please know you are NOT alone and honestly just screw society. Enjoy being you and remember the words in image below!

IMG_20180329_195100_910[1390]

Also!!! Now my head is firmly back into being the best me I can be mode (dinosaurs, games ’10 year old boy’ things and all) this means I will be trying to focus on this little part of the internet a bit more! I have even created a post schedule / timetable for the whole of April! Lets see if I can stick to it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*sitting in my room with an excessive xbox / ps4 addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty · Skin Care

Origins Original Skin: Retexturizing Face Mask with Rose Clay

IMG_20180121_152909_494

Two weeks back I decided to run poll over on my Instagram stories and asked what product you guys wanted to see me feature in my next Sample Sundays post. It is safe to say that the Origins retexturizing mask with rose clay was the clear winner with a whopping 83% of the votes!

I decided with it being a face mask that I would give myself a week out from these mini reviews to see how well my skin reacted to this product, especially given that the sample size was generous enough to give me three applications with a small amount left for a fourth.

IMG_20171020_142412_360

So once again I got this sample in with my Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign Beauty Box that I purchased and reviewed back in October and I was very excited to receive this product as I have only heard good things about the Origins skin care range. My first impression of this mask was that it seemed incredibly thick in texture when I first squeezed it out of its tube, however once applied to my skin it spread out quite thin and wasn’t relatively heavily like I have found some clay masks to be in the past. As it settled onto my skin for the first five minutes I could feel a cooling and almost tingling sensation but again this isn’t as intense as I often find some of these clay masks to be (looking at you The Body shop  Himalayan Charcoal mask).

Back when I uploaded my haul in October I said that this mask doesn’t smell floral like you would expect, however I was 100% wrong! Once applied to my face the rose / lavender like fragrance was quite potent, but as the mask dried the fragrance did began to mellow out and it reminded me greatly of one of Lush’s fresh face masks called Rosy Cheeks which unfortunately broke out my acne prone skin like crazy so I will admit I was a little worried about how my skin would react to the Origins mask.

Needless to say I was worried over absolutely nothing as per usual, and my skin was left looking radiant and glowing but not in a weird greasy way, in fact my skin looked mattified rather than shiny and also felt soft to the touch. I will however admit that my T-zone area did feel slightly tight but not as uncomfortable as it usually would after a heavy clay mask. Another thing I noticed after using this face mask was that the redness in my cheeks and around my chin area had reduced after the first use and my pores also dramatically reduced in size. Due to only having a sample size of this product I was unable to use it regularly so the redness soon re-appeared after a day or two, however I think if this was incorporated properly into my skin care routine this product might actually end up benefiting my skin in the long-term.

Now the important part, would I purchase the full-sized version of this face mask? The answer is Yes! Although it is quite pricey at £26.50 for an 100ml tube I must admit that in the small period of time I have used this product I have seen a difference in the appearance of my skin. However, you can also get the purify, hydrate and glow set priced at £15 which contains three 30ml face masks, one which is the rose clay mask featured here as well as two other best-selling masks from the Origins range.