26 September 2014

Autumn Bucket List

Now that my favourite season Autumn is upon us I thought I would do a little bucket list. The days are absolutely flying by recently so it's nice to keep a list of all the fun  things I want to do before we are into the Winter months. These next few months I'd like to:

- Go for a long walk in a forest on a chilly day
- Bake pumpkin cookies or cupcakes
- Collect conkers
- Eat homemade bread and Camembert
- Make chocolate & orange cupcakes for Halloween
- Carve a pumpkin
- Kick a pile of leaves
- Be a better blogger!

This is my favourite time of year so hopefully I make the most of the season!

What are your plans for Autumn? Have you got a seasonal bucket list?

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The Perfect Loaf

My workload has been just a little unbearable these past few weeks, so as you can imagine i'm making the most of my weekends. Last weekend I made bread, it was the perfect way to let some of that stress out! It was lovely for breakfast, sometimes you cannot beat buttery toast and a mug of tea in the morning!

This loaf was particularly yummy as I used Sainsbury's Strong Canadian Flour. When Sainsbury's sent me the flour to try I was a little sceptical, I expected it to taste like any other bread I had made. However I was proved wrong! This bread was nicer than any other homemade bread that i've tasted! As it has a high gluten content it resulted in the perfect crispy crust with a distinctive nutty flavour which I love. The white also had a lovely soft texture. If you enjoy making bread then i'd definitely recommend this flour, it makes the world of difference.

Have you used this flour before? Are there any bread making techniques you can recommend to me?

13 September 2014

Mary Berry's Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake & Lemon Meringue Pie

As I have fallen behind on my Great British Bake Off posts I thought i'd share the past two weeks in one post.

For dessert week I made Mary Berry's American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake. It was straightforward to make but took a while in the fridge to set. The waiting was definitely worth it as it tasted divine! A thin slice with a little single cream was the perfect amount as it was rather rich. I'd really recommend making this as it tastes amazingly luxurious and would be great for any dinner party.

As part of pastry week I baked Mary Berry's Lemon Meringue Pie. I have had no 
luck in the past with pastry, it's either always too sticky or completely crumbly. Mary's recipe suggests whizzing up the pastry ingredients in a blender until it comes together. This took mere seconds and made things a lot easier! When I rolled out the pastry it was sticky but constant turning and a little flour helped. I rolled it out as thin as I could and then laid it gently into the pie dish, patching it up where it was a little too thin. 

The rest of the recipe again was *easy as pie* and the meringue was such fun to make. Everyone loved the meringue topping, I think piping it on made it look really impressive.

I didn't really enjoy this weeks episode. I'm meant to be baking some sort of European cake this weekend for it but am feeling totally uninspired. Maybe tomorrow i'll feel better.

Happy Saturday!

8 September 2014

Life Lately

It seems all I've shared on here recently are my bakes...sorry for that! I thought I'd do a little life lately post to share what I've been up to recently.


A few weekends back Ian & I spent the day in Cambridge city centre. It was just what we needed, time away from familiar surroundings spent exploring a new area. After an hours drive we jumped on a park & ride bus and 10 minutes later we were in the hustle and bustle of Cambridge. We started off with a long stroll along the River Cam, then had a picnic watching the punters go by. Afterwards we walked up and down the little lanes discovering the shopping delights the city has to offer. Although it was just a day it felt like we had taken a mini break, it was so relaxing!

Picking Vegetables

As it's coming to the end of the growing season I've really enjoyed picking everything we've grown. The beans have done amazingly well! There is nothing like eating a meal with lots of homegrown vegetables. I think the best bit hunting through all the foliage trying to find fully grown ones (Yes I am a big kid at heart!) There are still plenty more to be picked.

Lunch time escapes

Ian & I are lucky enough to work in the beautiful town market town Berkhamsted. There are an abundance of shops and lots of lovely walks to take. During our lunch break we like to venture out as far as we can within the hour to stretch our legs. Last week we had a cheeky chip shop lunch walking around the ruins of a castle, it was so nice as it felt like it was the weekend! Definitely not your usual lunch break!


My favourite time of year is fast approaching and I cannot wait. Not only am I excited for chillier days, crunchy leaves and long walks, I'm also excited for long wearing boots, baggy jumpers and scarves (I've actually started to wear scarves to work in the morning!!). The candles are already out in the evenings and I absolutely love it. 

What have you been up to lately?

1 September 2014

Italian Herbed Bread - Bake Off Challenge Week 3

Last week was bread week and I have to admit my past bread making skills have been pretty poor! Whenever I have made bread, the dough is usually raw in the middle or it hasn't risen well. This time round I was determined to get it right!

For this particular loaf I used Paul Hollywood's Eight strand plait recipe with some added dried herbs. You can add whichever you like. I used some dried Oregano, Basil and Mixed Italian herbs (about 1/2 tsp of each). I also threw in a dash of dried Rosemary. It smelt amazing!

The plait was fairly difficult to do. I started out okay but as I went on it was harder to remember which stage I was at with the plait so I guessed the rest of it hehe! One end of the bread was a bit loose and the other was fairly tight. I like to call it 'rustic' looking ; )

It ended up being a gorgeous fluffy loaf which was ACTUALLY cooked in the middle! Yay!! I was dreading baking this but it turned out to be a very enjoyable bake : )

Do you enjoy baking bread? Have you got any tips for me?

Gemma xXx

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