Sunday Bake | Cherry Pie

31 Aug 2014

Ohhhh my, American Pie. Theres nothing that makes me feel more like a Southern housewife than whipping up something in my pie plate. This was my first attempt at a fruit pie though, as generally speaking I don't like cooked fruit. I wish I did though, and I thought cooked cherries might be a good way to try and change my taste buds!

I used Edd Kimber's recipe from Say it With Cake, which I've mentioned on here before - such a good book! It was a really good recipe too; really easy to follow and wasn't a faff at all. My biggest worry in making this was the pastry, I'm usually the worlds worst at pastry. If I were to ever go on Bake Off, pastry week would absolutely be my downfall. But for once, I actually succeeded!! SO happy!

So for those who want to imagine themselves in the mid-west popping round to the neighbours with a pie, here is the recipe:

- 200g caster sugar
- 800g pitted or frozen cherries (I used frozen - they're cheaper!)
- Zest and jucie of 1 lemon
- 45g cornflour
- 400g plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 200g unsalted butter (diced and chilled)
- 100-125ml ice-cold water
- 1 medium egg, beaten with 1tbsp water

1. Put the sugar, 600g of the cherries and the lemon zest into a large pan over medium heat. Put the cornflour and lemon juice into a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. As the cherries begin to release their juice, add this paste to the pan and cook the cherries gently, stirring, until the juice comes to the boil. Cook, stirring, for a few more minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the reserved cherries. Set aside to cool while you make the pastry.

2. Put the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse until it forms small chunks, just under the size of a pea. Slowly add the water while pulsing the food processor until the pastry holds together when squeezed. Tip the dough onto the work surface and gently knead together. Divide into two balls, one a little larger than the other. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the larger piece of pastry, until it is large enough to line a 23cm pie plate. Gently roll the pastry around your rolling pin, and then drape it over the pie plate. Press the dough into the plate and then trim the excess leaving a 2.5cm overhang. Take the second piece of pastry and roll out as before. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the pastry into strips 2.5cm thick. Put the pie plate and the strips of pastry into the fridge for 15 minutes to let the pastry rest.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6. Remove the pie plate and strips of pastry from the fridge and tip the filling into the prepared base. Brush the edge of the pie and the overhang with a little egg and water wash, and then lay half the pastry strips over the pie. I then laid the remaining half at a 90-degree angle from the first half, weaving them in and out. You can just lay them on top if you want a simpler look however. Then brush all strips with the egg and water wash.

5. To finish the pie, fold the pastry overhang so that it sits on the rim of the plate and covers the edges of the pastry strips. To crimp the pie, pinch together the thumb and forefinger of one hand against the edge of the pie crust and, using the index finger of the other, press the pastry together along the top edge to form a simple scallop. Scatter sugar over the lattice to create a caramelised golden finish. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling.
(recipe adapted from Say it with Cake by Edd Kimber)

Let me know if you try the recipe out! :)

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Holidaying in the Cotswolds. Part I

28 Aug 2014

Us humans are funny creatures. We will walk up a flight of stairs, a little mound or a huge mountain purely to look down at where we came. The promise of a spectacular view is enough for us to don our walking boots and hike. This was hardly a huge exertion, not even a little exertion! But the view was still spectacular overlooking the Cotswolds. You could see as far as South Wales if you looked hard enough.

This is Broadway Tower and its the Cotswolds highest castle. We didn't spend the extra cash to actually go in the castle (as it was rather overpriced) but I can imagine the view must be stunning from the top! We had other plans for the afternoon (and my sisters famed Butterscotch Bars stocked in the car) but there was a delightful looking cafe by the castle too if you wanted to make a day of it.

Vainly, I'm pretty happy with these photos. I think they capture how majestic the castle looks, and the gorgeous weather makes the countryside look even more stunning. I also enjoy our family shot - theres nothing better than the slight panicked look of a timer selfie!

Have you been to the Cotswolds? Let me know where you've been!


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Travel Back Thursday | Chicago.

21 Aug 2014

All in all I have spent approximately 16 hours in Chicago, Illinois. Stretched over two tiring trips consisting of 4am coach journeys from Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. Despite this, its one of my most favourite cities and one that I literally LONG to go back to.

As detailed in my Flashback Friday post, back in 2011 I spent my summer taking photographs at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. I did go travelling for two weeks at the end of my stay with my sister, but I also managed to fit in a few places whilst living in Ohio. I saved up for two trips to Chicago, the second being booked as soon as I returned from the first! The trips were so tiring as the coaches pick up time was the eye watering 4am - I don't think I've ever been so adept at sleeping en route until then.

I explored with my lovely Charlotte on our first trip, and we were then joined by Liam on our second visit. Charlotte, Liam and myself all met in America despite us all being English. We had such an amazing time on both trips and tried to fit in ALL of Chicago's touristy highlights. We ventured onto Navy Pier which had the most beautiful views of Lake Michigan, feasted on Pizza and Breadsticks at Gino's East - an absolute MUST when visiting the City despite the long wait - and rocketed up the Willis Tower for the most incredible views across the City.

For a slightly different view to the City we took a boat cruise down the Chicago River. It really showed just how impressive all the sky scrapers were. It also really reminded me of London, especially with the amount of bridges we sailed under!

However, without a doubt our favourite part of Chicago was the impressive Cloud Gate.....or The Bean to most. It really is one of the most beautiful sculptures and makes the City look even more impressive. Its also ridiculously fun to take a million pictures using it as a mirror!

Chicago is a wonderful City and one that I think often gets overlooked! I'm definitely saving for a return visit in the future.

Let me know if you've ever been to Chicago!

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Holiday Pastels

19 Aug 2014

Photos by Katie Field

Pastel colours seem to have been ever creeping into my S/S wardrobe this year as you may be able to tell from the photos above. Just maybe. 

I love how bright and summery they make you feel regardless of the miserable weather we've been having recently. What happened to summer eh? My dress is from Joy, a payday treat for myself a few months ago and I'm still having a love affair with it. It makes me feel like an American Ice Cream seller (not something I thought I'd aspire to be, but fashion wise I'm loving that career choice). My cardigan was a bargain sale purchase from Urban Outfitters a year or so ago that is a staple regardless of the season. It goes with so many different outfits and really is the comfiest thing.

Shoes wise, these are another sale item that I picked up last year at Topshop. They've come out quite purple in the photo, but they are in fact quite a dusty pink. They remind me of shoes I used to wear as a child and make me feel like I should be frolicking somewhere. Finally my bag was a Birthday gift from Topshop, its one of those bags that I would never pick myself citing it as impractical due to its hue. But actually, its one of my most used bags I own and I love that its not just a common neutral colour.

Whats your take on pastel fashion?

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Sunday Bake: Raspberry Macaron's with Chocolate Ganache

17 Aug 2014

STOP PRESS. I made Macaron's and they actually turned out okay!! I won't lie, I am super proud of these! Possibly my best bake of 2014 I think. I was so worried about making them, so for them to turn out so well has made me a very happy bunny indeed!

I decided to make Macaron's for my sister Katie as it was her birthday this week. I researched a load about them trying to decipher the correct 'macaronnage', the perfect egg whipping time and how long to rest them. I even did a practice run a few weekends back. That time I made simple chocolate macaron's and though they turned out okay for a first attempt the feet (the little ruffles at the bottom) weren't fully formed and they were literally all hollow.

The secret to good macaron's seems to lie in the correct macaronnage and how long you leave them to rest.

So where did I find all this knowledge you may ask? THIS amazing blog post by Eat Live Travel Write literally helped me through every step. The post is actually about fixing hollow macaron's but right at the bottom is her recipe. Follow it to the letter!! Do not stray and I promise you will have amazing macaron's that taste divine! THESE video clips are also a huge help with technique.

I need to work on my filling to shell ratio as I was a little too stingy when filling them, and I want to try and perfect the shape of the shells. But aside from that I am one super happy baker. I can definitely feel a macaron obsession beginning and want to try ALL of the flavours now! First on the list? Pistachio <3 p="">
Let me know if you have any macaron tips! Or if you try out this recipe :)

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Graduating: When the real work begins.

12 Aug 2014

On leaving University there should be a sign thats says "The Real Work Starts Here". Not one person warned me that this would be the hardest step. Suddenly you're thrust into life without any stereotypical direction and no academic advisor to point the way (applause for you if you got the Avenue Q reference).

Am I the only one that still finds real life difficult, even after graduating two years ago? Not with the simple everyday things but when it comes to finding a direction in life I'm lost!

Going to Uni was one of the best decisions of my life; it gave me so much independence, I learnt life skills and most importantly it gave me some of my best friends in the world and Craig. However, career wise it hasn't helped me one bit. It may be a rose-tinted expectation that you'll walk out of Uni and straight into a job, beating all your peers who didn't spend thousands on a degree. But thats exactly what college's drill into you at 18 and what you therefore expect when you leave at 21. To instead be scrounging around for any old job makes a mockery of the whole system.

Unless you're going into a very vocational course, companies aren't looking for a degree they want experience and thats exactly what graduates don't have. By the time I graduated my Music degree I had two internships under my belt, an overseas summer job and a part-time job to put on my CV. I knew it wasn't a huge list of achievements but I felt I'd done a fair amount and certainly more than others I knew. But, that was nowhere near enough experience to get me anywhere in my field. Two more internships after graduating and I still wasn't getting anywhere. I realise this is now starting to sound a bit 'pity me', but if you are reading this before starting Uni or even if you're currently in your degree you can at least learn from my mistakes and start gaining as much experience as you can before you graduate.

This post is a bit of a double edged sword really, directed at recent graduates and excited freshers gearing up to make the move in a few weeks. If you've just graduated, gear up for some more hard work and grab every opportunity as it comes to you! If you're off to start your journey in a few weeks, good luck and enjoy every moment of it....but also work really hard and gain as much experience as you can.

I may feel that Uni hasn't helped me career wise, but life wise I wouldn't be the person I am today without having gone to Uni. You know how adults always say School is the best time of your life? Thats a complete lie, but Uni most definitely is.

What're your thoughts on University, do you think it helps to have a degree with job hunting?

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Current Feels.

9 Aug 2014

- That I am STILL full 6 hours later from the amazing Pancakes and Bacon from The Breakfast Club. I am such a sucker for a good american pancake and these are my absolute favourite. The Hoxton branch being the best in my eyes!
- That I am SO excited to go on holiday with the family next week. Living away from home makes you appreciate the time spent together so much more. Expect holiday snaps the following week!
- That I've been feeling restless in life for the past few weeks - give me direction please! Anyone? 
- That I can feel Autumn creeping up on us and I'm dreading the sun leaving. Sitting with the windows open is my favourite thing and I don't want to be cooped up!
- That I need to get back on my health kick. The fatty foods have been consumed enough, back to fruit please! And Pineapple. Always pineapple.
- That blogging has definitely taken a back seat recently which makes me sad. August is literally the BUSIEST month for me but I should be able to get back into my regular schedule soon. My iPhone i full to the brim with post ideas so I'm excited to get them onto paper....or screen but you know what I mean. 

How are you at the moment? 

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