5 January 2020

2020

Usually, as a new year approaches, I'm ready for a fresh start. I have a list as long as my arm detailing things about my life I'd like to change, resolutions I'll definitely keep this time, brand new bullet journal spreads to put into a fresh notebook and a reflective blog post about how far I've come and how excited I am for the year ahead. But nearly a week into 2020 and I'm still waiting for that inspired feeling – instead, I'm still mourning the Christmas tree my dad took down just two weeks after we put it up.

Before writing this I was reading a blog post I wrote two years ago about lessons I'd learnt in 2017. I love the archive of my blog (it's a great indicator of how much my writing has improved), but this post, in particular, made me feel like I'd made no progress at all, like I've only gone backwards, and that doesn't align with any of the motivational quotes I keep seeing on Instagram. It scared me to see myself so positive and sure, when just six months later I went through one of the most difficult periods of my life to date, taking a huge blow to my confidence and mental health.

Of course, there's another part of me that knows I needn't be so hard on myself, and it is that part that reminds me of a few things here.

God's plan might not be the same as your plan. My idea of happiness and success may be something totally different from what He has in store for me. I compare myself to others more than I care to admit, and I know it's totally wrong and unhelpful to do it. but I do it anyway. But here's the thing – I'm only human, and I can't do it all right, I'm not perfect – and that's the beauty of being a Christian. I know that even though I thought at 27 I'd have a very different life to the one I currently lead, I am blessed in so many ways and I know my current situation is not my final destination.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight" - Proverbs 3:5-6


There are bumps in every road – life is about the ebb and flow (something my best friend Emily wrote once that is ingrained in my mind forever) and I know that progress isn't linear. So, while I've seen lots of people talking about how much they overcame in 2019 and are now the best version of themselves, I'm here to tell you that if you're still going through some of the stuff that in an ideal world would slot nicely somewhere in the middle of the year, that's okay. Just keep going, keep doing the best you can, because sometimes great things happen in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times.

And for now, the things I'm holding onto: His constant presence even when I feel too low to notice it, my ever-supportive family who, sometimes quite literally, hold me up and my friends who love me no matter what. It's thanks to all of them that I have a plan in place to make some positive changes in my life this year.
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25 September 2019

Magnolia Bakery Mocha Cupcakes

Cupcakes! They might have gone out of fashion but the original – and best – bakeries are still delivering the goods. Every time I go to London I scoff as many Lola's cupcakes as I can (shout out to Hummingbird and Crumbs & Doilies too), but nothing beats a cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery.

Of course, they're on the other side of the world, but NOTHING compares. So light and fluffy and rich and decadent, they're impossible not to scarf in just three mouthfuls but so delicious you'll forgive yourself and buy another one to eat straight away. It's been three years since my last visit (welp) to NYC, so I've been keeping the dream alive at home with the most insanely delicious mocha cupcakes I have ever baked.


The buttercream is what makes these cupcakes so good – it is the best (and easiest) thing ever, you will never need another recipe in your life. If you don't like coffee then just skip the espresso powder and you'll have the best ever chocolate cupcakes instead!


It's up to you how you ice your cupcakes, but I like to pipe mine in a little blob so you can still see the sponge. The buttercream recipe is more than is needed for these cupcakes but I like to make extra... just in case, heh.

Mocha Cupcakes – sponge recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery and buttercream recipe adapted from Love is in my Tummy

Ingredients:
105g self-raising flour
20g cocoa powder
10g espresso powder - I used Percol Beyond and Black
140g caster sugar
Pinch salt
40g unsalted butter
120ml milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

170g unsalted butter
128g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
10g espresso powder (or to taste) dissolved in a tablespoon or two of boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g icing sugar

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 170°C and fill a 12-hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
2. Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, espresso powder, salt and butter in a freestanding mixer or use a handheld electric whisk to beat until a sandy mixture comes together.
3. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla in a jug and slowly pour into the dry mix. Beat on high for a minute to get rid of any lumps – don't overmix!
4. Best way to get this soupy cake mix into the cases is with an ice cream scoop - it ensures each cupcake is the same size, too. Bake in the oven for at least 15 minutes – mine usually need 18 minutes but the original recipe calls for these to be baked for 20-25 minutes. In the words of Georgia from Georgia's Cakes, know your oven! When they're done they'll be bouncy and lovely – pop them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the best EVER mocha buttercream, melt the chocolate and leave to cool almost completely (but not harden).
6. Beat the butter in a freestanding mixer or use an electric whisk for 3 whole minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
7. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla and espresso powder mixed with a drop of hot water.
8. Mix in the icing sugar and beat for about 2 more minutes. Use a wooden spoon to mix the buttercream by hand to get rid of any air bubbles. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with your chosen nozzle to pipe onto the cupcakes. Eat them all immediately.
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26 June 2019

Peach & Raspberry Almond Cake


I'll never complain about summer rain – I mean, what is more delicious than pottering around the kitchen with the back door ajar while it pours? Plus, when there is rain there's no irrational FOMO, so, lately, my thoughts have been healthier, more creative, inspired and, obviously revolving around baked goods. The result: a fruit-filled, bakewell-style cake that, if it were just a smidge warmer, I'd be serving with iced tea. But it's still steaming cups of coffee and I'm quite happy with that.


This recipe is adapted from Emily's Blackberry Plum Crumble Cake recipe over on her blog, De La Terre. I recall (very fondly) Sunday afternoons sitting cross-legged on her bed eating that cake with mugs of Earl Grey, exactly as she recommends it in her post. Those memories are what I miss the most about living in Bristol.  

Peach & Raspberry Almond Cake 

Serves 9 
Ingredients:
150g unsalted butter room temperature
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g raspberries (I used frozen as they're a lot cheaper)
150g fresh peaches, sliced
50g flaked almonds
40g apricot jam (I like Bonne Maman)

Method:
1. First toast the almonds. You can buy them toasted already but I prefer to do it myself – just something about the smell that fills the kitchen. Preheat your oven to 180°C and spread the flaked almonds across a baking tray. Pop in the oven for two minutes at a time until the nuts are toasted to your liking.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time (make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between each egg if you're using a freestanding mixer).
4. Add the vanilla and cinnamon, then sift in the flour and bicarb. Mix until everything is just combined.
5. Stir in the raspberries and pour into a lined, square tin. It's quite a thick mix so you may need to spread it out with a knife or the back of a spoon. Press the peach slices into the cake batter and bake for 30-40 minutes – mine took 38 minutes but it largely depends on your oven, so keep an eye from 30 minutes onwards.
6. Leave the cake to cool a little in the tin - about 10 minutes, then heat the jam in a small pan or the microwave. Spread the apricot glaze over the top of the cake and sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds evenly over the top. Optional: dust icing sugar over the top for that gorgeous almond croissant aesthetic.

If you make this cake please do let me know! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wnwrote 
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