Saturday, 23 January 2016

Choc Chip Loaf Cake



I have fancied choc-chip something or other for a couple of weeks, and to be truthful cookies were springing to mind but I am more of a cake monster than a cookie lover.

Do you remember the Lemon and Blueberry Loaf I made last week? Well, here it is again but a little less lemon and blueberry-y and a little more chocolate loaf-y. This was my opportunity to try the same recipe with normal flour instead of gluten-free. It made hardly any difference, which is why this recipe can be made with either wheat or wheat/gluten free flour.

The result is a light and not-too-sweet tea time treat that'll leave you wanting more!

The original recipe is from Ms. Cupcake's The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town, but here's my very own adaptation of the recipe...

You will need:

250g self-raising flour - either wheat or gluten-free (such as Dove's Farm)
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
220ml soya milk
120ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
About 100g of dark chocolate chips - check they are dairy free! 

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C / Gas Mark 4. Line your loaf tin, I always use a liner like this.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently stir in the soya milk, oil and extracts until just combined. I always use a spoon for this rather than an electric mixer because over mixing can make a vegan cake stodgy. Gently fold in around 80g of the chocolate chips, set the rest aside for sprinkling on top of the cake.

Spoon into the lined tin and sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips over the top of the batter. 

Give the tin a firm tap on the counter to remove air bubbles before placing in the centre of the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes or so. 

When the cake is risen, golden and a skewer poked into the centre of the comes out nice and clean remove it from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is completely cool, slice, serve and enjoy!





Free From

Farmhouse

Friday, 22 January 2016

How to Crochet a Granny Square



Hi everyone, I thought I'd share with you a couple of videos I made a few years back of how to crochet a granny square. I taught myself to crochet using a mixture of YouTube videos and online blog tutorials (this one from Little Tin Bird is fab) but I couldn't find a video that explained the order that everything was done and why, so had a go myself.

These videos are quite basic as I only used my camera phone propped on a few cake tins and they're the first videos I have made for this kind of purpose.

This first video shows how to start the first round...



The second video show you how to tie off the first round, add a new colour and crochet the second round...



You will need to know how to hold your hook and it would be helpful if you already know how to chain stitch, and hopefully you will learn how to do a double stitch if you don't already know how to.

I hope the videos explain where the stitches go and hopefully you can crochet along with them.

Enjoy!

Amy xx

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Lemon and Blueberry Loaf


I baked for the first time in AGES at the weekend. It was probably an elaborate procrastination activity (assignment due in t -3 days) but I have no regrets. It was this lovely lemon and blueberry loaf from Ms. Cupcake's The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town. I have wanted this book for so long and was kindly given it at Christmas.

I made this cake gluten-free because that's the only flour I had in - it was great but I think I will try it again with normal flour next time and see if the texture improves slightly. I can't quite put my finger on it but the sponge seemed slightly grainy, which I can only put down to the flour. Could be wrong, though! Even so I'd definitely make this one again - it was a perfect bit of sunshine on a rainy Sunday in January.

Here's my adaptation of the recipe:

You will need:

250g gluten-free self-raising flour (I used Dove's Farm)
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
220ml soya milk
120ml sunflower oil
2 tsp lemon extract (I used this one from Asda 'coz it's lovely!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 100g of blueberries with a few kept aside for decorating with

For the lemon drizzle: 

I usually just make this up - tip some icing sugar into a small bowl and very gradually stir in some lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until it's smooth and a slow kind of runny consistency. Sorry there's no quantities but it's just how I do it. Testing as you go is actively encouraged - you could use a splash of soya milk to loosen it too, or some water.

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C / Gas Mark 4. Line your loaf tin, I always use a liner like this.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently stir in the soya milk, oil and extracts until just combined. I always use a spoon for this rather than an electric mixer because over mixing can make a vegan cake stodgy. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon into the lined tin and tap the tin on the counter to remove air bubbles before placing in the centre of the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes or so. When the cake is risen, golden and a skewer poked into the centre of the comes out nice and clean remove it from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely,

Meanwhile, knock up your lemon drizzle and chop a few blueberries (or leave them whole if you're that way inclined!). Once the cake is completely cool, dress that baby up and enjoy with a lovely cup of rosie lea! :-)





Free From 

Farmhouse

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Love Bomb

The highlight of this week has got to be finding a brand new local yarn bombing group, and attending its first meeting on Thursday night. I have wanted to join a guerrilla craft group like this for ages so I leapt at the chance to join in! 

The meeting was held in the back room of a fab new pub in Margate called The London Tavern. I went along with my friend Angelo and felt very cool rubbing shoulders with a bunch of creative types as we plotted the first of many yarn bombs this year. Of course I am sworn to secrecy which I appreciate is probably quite annoying for you, dear reader, but all will literally be revealed soon. I can say it'll be LOVE-ly though - ha ha he he! 


I crocheted this HUGE heart using the lovely Jacquie's Sunburst Granny Heart pattern. I have serious blog envy for Jacquie, her posts are always so bright and cheery and I just love all her creations! I used two yarns at the same time to make this heart extra big, and a 4mm hook. 

I have an assignment due on the 18th Jan so I am trying to get the thing finished by tomorrow evening so I can have a breather for a week before the next workshop at university. Until next time! 

Amy xx

Monday, 4 January 2016

Feliz año neuvo!



Happy new year from sunny (/rainy) Margate! We are just back from a week in Benidorm and how lovely and warm it was. A massive difference to the gloom and drizzle back here in Blighty. Still, home sweet home and all that - and back to work tomorrow!

For the first time we have a family resolution - which probably means we can enjoy failing three times instead of one - but it is to learn Spanish. My aunty and uncle live there and we were so impressed at their fluency having only started to learn about six years ago, as adults. If they can do it, surely we can too?! Perhaps the fact we're not surrounded by Spanish people will hinder us but hey ho, I am up for a try.

2016 is the year I will finish my first year at university. I thought the time had passed for me to further my education (well formally anyway, I'm still enrolled at the School of Life o'course) but I am in this lovely whirlwind of full-time everything - mum, support worker, student, wife. Well, perhaps I could definitely be a more full-time wife, Nick definitely doesn't very much of my time, patience or attention... #badwife

I set some resolutions last year - to read more, learn to cross-stitch, learn to sew... I've forgotten the rest, but as usual things didn't go quite to plan. I spent a lot of time worrying and feeling really, really low, thinking there wasn't much use in me. But as I think about the year that's passed I realise there was a lot of good stuff in 2015, too. Would you like to know? Oh, alright then...

*deep breath*

I reduced my hours at work, re-started my cake business and made LOADS of cakes, completed an NVQ, wrestled with motherhood, went to South Wales, bought a second-hand DSLR camera and sort of learnt to use it, celebrated my first year of marriage, met David Gedge, went back to full-time hours at work, cross-stitched a tiny motif (and that's it), got into university (and miraculously got a distinction on my first assignment - go me!), planted loads and loads of bulbs in the garden, went to two Vegan festivals, found myself a counsellor and attended every week even though it was tough, bought a new car, started walking to work, adopted a bunny rabbit (canaja is the Spanish for rabbit, in case you were wondering), crocheted myself a hat AND got a promotion at work.

Bloody Nora.

That might sound like one massive brag, but to be quite truthful it's a complete blur. I don't feel like any of it has sunk in yet and in fact, if there's one thing I would like to do in 2016 it's a bit less. That's probably a bit naïve of me given my cuatro-full-time-ness, but if I could just concentrate on a few less things and give them more of my time I think I might be happier. Doing all that stuff has meant I have lacked in other areas of my life, too. I spent less time with my husband and son, stopped caring about my physical health and I leave 2015 feeling as if I did too much as a bit of a distraction from my feelings about myself.

In 2016 I would like to do more of what matters to me, and Archie and Nick. Fingers crossed I can pull it off!