28 June 2013

Passionfruit Sponge Cake

I hardly need an excuse to bake, but my Mother's birthday this week gave me the perfect reason to get the mixing bowl out midweek. It lead to a funny sort of day; diving into M&S first thing to grab some passionfruit, via a gorgeous deli for almond croissants; carefully taking my precious parcels into school, then back out to a short trip to Leeds, before dashing back home again to get the oven on.

I strained out the pulp of the passionfruit and used my fail-safe Victoria Sponge recipe, replacing the vanilla essence with a spoonful of the fruit pulp. I've heard that you can purchase passionfruit extract to get a stronger depth of flavour in the sponge. While that was baking, I whipped up my first ever batch of passionfruit curd, using a recipe from Nigella Lawson. I was surprised at how quick and easy the curd was to make, so I will most definitely be making a few more fruit curds in the future! I was getting a little pressed for time at this point; so I tidied up and left everything to cool overnight. 
 5:30am the next morning, I was in the kitchen again prepping the cake. After sandwiching the curd between the sponge layers, I made half a batch of my cream cheese frosting, replacing the butter with a tablespoon or so of left over curd. I couldn't use e electric whisk without waking everyone, so for the next half hour, while I warmed up the croissants and finished getting ready I kept on nipping back to beat the icing, and seem to get perfectly acceptable results for spreading over the top. I think marscapone would taste even better, with just a little icing sugar beaten in, as an alternative, so do try that too and let me know what you think.

By half past six, breakfast in bed was ready for my  Mama, and the cake, finished with a sprinkling of pale pink pearls, was lit. I had to leave for my early train at 7, but not before I'd made sure that my gift had been opened and the day's surprises revealed -namely a spa package courtesy of my Father to the Feversham Arms.... I'm so jealous! Sufficed to say, I am pretty pleased with our efforts for this year -my Mother is by far the easiest person to buy for! Who do you like to treat? 

Passionfruit Curd
  • 5 passionfruit
  • 50g unsealed butter
  • 1 large organic egg 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75g caster sugar (I used golden)

Blitz the passionfruit pulp in an electric mix, and strain it into a bowl. Save a small amount of the unstrained seeds.
Melt the butter gently in a heavy based saucepan. Beat together the eggs, yolk and sugar and pour into the saucepan, along with the passionfruit juice, stirring continually until the mixture begins to thicken.

Add the reserved seeds, and remove from the heat. Decant all this into a sterilised jar or two, and leave, ideally overnight, to cool.

19 June 2013

Competition Wins

Hello! Today I thought I'd share some recent competition wins. I won most of these within the space of a few days which made for a pretty exciting winning streak.

Firstly I arrived home from an exam to a message from Holly of HollysBeautyBox saying that I'd won her hair and nails gift box. The gift contained a Bristows leave in conditioner; Neals Yard Hand Cream; Nails Inc Gel Effect Top Coat; Undressing Cream By Bumble & Bumble; Collection nail polish in Candy Floss; Maybelline  Gel Polish In Coral Reef; OPI Play The Peonies and also a Mellor & Russell PINK Hairdye!

I've found myself using some of the products pretty regularly, especially the Neal's Yard organic honey hand cream, which smells so good! I especially love how Neal's Yard are donating £10 000 per year to bee-conservation projects, as protection against bee numbers falling is something that I strongly support. I'm also loving having a Nails Inc top coat, and a bit of Bumble and Bumble for holiday.

On the very same day I was then tweeted by Debenhams notifying me that I'd won their Pinterest My Dream Prom competition (see my winning board here).

I was lucky enough to be given the whole range of Elemis' Fresh Skin skincare. There's so much I love -the cleanser, exfoliator, serums and moisturisers.... I will definitely be repurchasing!
Then, on a quick 20 Question-style twitter competition run by Benefit cosmetics I had my third win. We had to guess the product to win it, and luckily for me, the product that I happened to guess wasn't only the correct one, but also the blusher, Hervana, that I had been saving up for. I don't tend to treat myself to make up very often, so I was really excited about this one!
Lastly, I won this adorable frog prince charm, courtesy of John Greed Jewellery. It's so cute! At the risk of sounding a bit soppy, I think that this is the perfect romantic charm to be bought.

6 June 2013

The Finish Line

After three months of hard revision, I am happy to say that I have finished all my exams for this year! It is such a relief... I can have "me" time again! Plus I can now give my blog some much needed love since I've had to neglect it for a while. I had seven exams, nine including general studies, and hopefully everything went okay. There were a couple of tough exams, but I'm not going to worry about any of it until August.

Exams haven't been the only thing that I have been finishing; on Sunday I completed my first ever Race for Life. I've been thinking about doing it for years, so when a friend of mine, Abbie suggested that we entered, I decided it was finally time to go for it. One problem though -I only had a month to get running again! I'd ran a little over summer 2012, but I hadn't been properly training for ages. So I've spent the last month exploring my local area as I gradually picked up my pace again, and I was so pleased to run the whole 5km without stopping in 31 minutes. It was pretty slow by most people's standards, but I'll be keeping up training to beat my time next year, or maybe go for the 10km. Abbie has a couple of photos of us, I think, so I'll pop them up on twitter if I can get hold of them.
The Race for Life was really well organised and was so fun. My JustGiving page is still running, although is looking a little empty since I've been mostly getting sponsorship in hand, so if you feel like donating to Cancer Research, my page is here ;) Thank you!
 The closest I could get to any photo's of me!! My forehead and a swish of my hair!
All photo's from the York Press website.

So here's to feeling summery. Our garden is looking well on it's way to being productive and I'll hopefully be getting lots of salad leaves and strawberries soon; and there is nothing nicer than nipping onto the terrace for a few sprigs of fragrant thyme. Hope that you're all feeling as good as I am!
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