It’s all getting very exciting down at Hollylovescake HQ, I have just popped in an application form to my local farmers market! If all goes well, I should be up and running by October. I can obviously rely on all you loyal fans to come down and support me every week, right (What do you mean you live in Tijuana and you only stumbled on my blog by accident?!)? It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but never really had the guts or the facilities to do it. I’ve had lots of encouragement from my ever supportive BF (at least one person I can rely on to buy some cake…) and my new kitchen in Ascot has been given the all clear by the council, 5 out of 5 hygiene stars no less! Therefore I have been experimenting with lots of different recipes so my cakes can be enjoyed by as many different people as possible. I always thought vegan baking would be pretty joyless experience but this cake has been a revelation.
Hurrah this week saw the return of the eagerly anticipated Great British Bake Off! Every Wednesday for the next 10 weeks will be about having an early dinner and bath, snuggling up in your dressing gown with a cuppa and watching Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry casting their critical eyes over more baking disasters. For those of you out there who haven’t heard of this glorious programme, it involves two highly regarded bakers making sexual innuendo about soggy bottoms and huge buns as they test the baking skills of 12 amateur bakers. What’s not to like?! A few people have said I should apply but although I would smash week one (week one= cake week. Obvs.), I would epically fail at biscuit/ pastry/ probably bread week for I have no patience. Waiting for a loaf to prove? Pfffft. Messing with delicate ginger snaps? I’m far too heavy handed! Nah, I’d be out on my ear after week two. And anyway, I don’t need anyone else to tell me how good my cakes are 😉
Eeeeeekkkkkk I’ve been bouncing off the walls all day and I hardly slept last night due to the Glastonbury butterflies! Yes it is that giddy time of the year again when I pack up my wellies and an inflatable mattress (always flat as a pancake within 24 hours) and head to the green fields. The Glastonbury butterflies are similar to that excitable feeling of going on holiday except times it by ten and add a bit more. There’s me and 25 of my pals all driving down through the night so we are one of the first in the queue ready for when the gates open at 8am. Then we spend half a day trying to erect tents (which probably haven’t seen the light of day since last year, still covered in mud and smelling… questionable) whilst half asleep then head off to the nearest cider bus. I’m really looking forward to seeing Lionel Ritchie this year on Sunday afternoon, perfect to sing along to whilst nursing a hang over from an epic Saturday night. I’ve just checked out the weather forecast and it looks like a real mix but thankfully no heavy rain at any point (the weather man never gets it wrong…). I’ve already had two showers today, it’ll be another week before I can have a wash that doesn’t involve baby wipes…
This is the cake I did for my friend Donna Aplin who’s mum was getting married today! Although this morning was pretty murky, thankfully the sun came out for them this afternoon. There wasn’t much of a brief to work to except that she wanted lemon and orange featured in the colours and this is what I came up with. A Summery treat with the top layer being coconut caramel and the bottom layer is strawberry and white chocolate.
I remember when I started baking and being told that baking is a science, its not like cooking where you can throw a little bit of this or that and it will probably be a taste sensation. You have to stick to the recipe or it will be a disaster! I’ve come to learn (often the hard way) that actually, you can go against the rules and shake things up if you understand how your ingredients work. So I’m going to tell you what I have learnt about different kinds of sugar when baking and how you can confidently change them around in a recipe.
Check out this beauty of a cake I made over the weekend for my dear friend Becky! The decorations are all made using white chocolate with sprinkles or colouring dust. It is white chocolate with fresh raspberries and homemade strawberry jam. It was super yum! Please contact me using my contact form if you would like to enquire about your very own special celebration cake!
Coming back to real life after India was a huge uncomfortable bump. I was feeling rather blue, real life is just pants. I was still day dreaming about flexing my yoga skills under blue skys with the parrots flying overhead. So I was very glad to have my chocolate day course booked in for the week after my return with the fabulous Mark Tilling, twice crowned UK’s best chocolatier at Squires Kitchen near Guildford. This was the second part of my prize after winning Tate and Lyles Baking Dreams competition back in November (I haven’t stopped entering competitions since, you’ve got to be in it to win it).
Today I was driving round for work with my windows down, basslines pounding out the speakers and my shades on. I know, I know, it was only 13 degrees but after a cold, long winter, 13 degrees feels practically tropical (well, I had my windows down for about 5 minutes. Still a little bit on the nippy side…). I’m normally a real Winter girl, the dark colours and snuggly knits suit me more but I am super duper tres excited for this Summer as my collection of vintage summer dresses has grown exponentially over the winter, to the point where I am struggling to shut my wardrobe. I am blessed with a job that means I travel an awful lot, and spend many a lunchtime in a little village hunting out the best charity shops and making best friends with the OAP volunteers (I think I probably am an old woman in a young body, my love of baking, sewing and collecting home furnishings that wouldn’t look out of place in Del Boys flat). If you make friends with the shop staff then you are onto a winner, they will nip out to get you stuff kept out the back intended to be sold on to vintage shops. The best ones are independant charity shops in little towns, sometimes they don’t realise the value of their own stock and as I pay at the till, I feel a little flicker of guilt that I have just got my hands on a 1960’s unworn bottle green wool coat with mink trimmed collar for £20. £20! 5 meters of 1980’s limited edition Liberty print fabric for £6. 1950’s gingham A line dress for £2. And thats my weakness, cute cotton dresses in amazing prints, I almost have enough to wear a different one every day of Summer. Every time I make a successful purchase, I let out an inner squeel of delight and strut down the street, run home to try it on and stride round the house feeling like I have won the lottery (Oh my, can you imagine if i won the lottery on the same day as having a triumphant charity shop find?! Off the scale). Obviously, finding the winners means sifting through a LOT of rubbish. Piles of Primark cast offs, floral chintzy curtains and wonky eyed teddy bears need to be pushed to one side and finding treasure is getting harder and harder. But once you get an eye for it, you can spot a 70’s maxi dress on a rail from 100 yards. So if your nan needs her wardrobe clearing out, you know where to find me!
So as if I wasn’t busy enough already what with the baking, blog, sewing, job that keeps me away from home 4 nights a week plus the long distance relationship, I now also have yoga to keep me occupied. Over the last two or three weeks, I have been doing an hour of yoga 6 days a week and already, I can’t imagine life without it! Around a year ago, I slipped a disc in my lower back and had to have a week off work. Ever since then, if I picked up too much weight or did certain exercises I would agitate it and the pain would return. This was very frustrating as I have always been into keeping fit and was a regular runner, boxer and regularly attended a boot camp, but if I did a squat too fast or threw a punch too hard, I would be in agony. Lifting cast iron pots at Le Creuset for a job didn’t help! I eventually went to see a chiropractor who said my spine was now also out of line and the back muscles are super tight. He advised most of the activity I was used to doing probably wasn’t doing me any favours, I kept trying for a couple of weeks to do exercises that were more back-friendly such as spin class and using a cross trainer. But still the pain persisted (sad face). So I did some research, spoke to a few people and the advise always seemed to be yoga. I kinda just ignored it at first, my perception of it was that it was just slow and boring, how could it possibly give me the workout I was used to? In the end, I reluctantly gave it a go. I started off with a beginners YouTube video. I could hardly hold the moves or even get into position!