Getting Cosy for Christmas

The days are short, and the nights long. Cosy is the word of the month, and great is the temptation to run amok in Anthropologie and festoon the flat with beautifully crafted garlands, kitsch tree decorations, and gloriously fragrant candles, thick with spiced and vanilla scents.

Sorry it’s been a little quieter around here on the blog over the last few weeks. I’ve been catching up with some much needed sleep, and lusting after incredibly inappropriate purple feather jackets. Clearly been watching a little too much Made in Chelsea!

I’ve already started bejazzling up the flat, and having great fun in the process too.  Despite the temptation to run around spending the entirety of my November paycheck, I’ve managed to hold the reins back.

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This string of minature baubles is knotted onto some jute string (comes with the packaging). It cost me £2 in total, and I think it looks very colourful and snazzy! Then, some jazzy string lights (from Tiger again) for the stairs.

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I also made some felt snowflakes for the windows, but they look ridiculously juvenile, like a three year old cut them out, so I’ll spare your eyes from them.

Soon time to find a tree, and then I’ll have an insanely fun time decorating it with the leftover baubles, and see what else I buy/concot/bake! Although I’m going to struggle with baking biscuits in my current oven, so we shall see what happens.

I can’t wait to open my advent calendar. We decided not to go for chocolate advent calendars this year (due to some misguided attempt at being ‘healthier’) so A kindly gifted me this fab looking Jonny Loves Rosie jewellery version!

Liebster Award

Before I forget too, many thanks to Jo for nominating me for a Liebster Award! I have seen it do the rounds before in the past, but I have to confess I never quite mustered up participating in the past! Here we go:

  1. I am a crisp fiend. Give me a family-sized bag and I will demolish it faster than you can say “salt-and-vingear.”
  2. Even though I’m supposed to be mature and grown-up I still love my soft toys. My boyfriend is resigned to the fact that he has to share his bed with not just me, but three other cuddly, furry friends.
  3. I have run three half-marathons, and now signed up for my fourth! Great way to burn off all the cakes.
  4. My fave season of the year is spring, followed closely by summer. I try and get in the mood for autumn but it just reminds me Winter is Coming …
  5. I was such a girly-girl that I didn’t own a pair of trousers until I was ten, and even then my parents had to cajole me to wear them.
  6. I just love watching Barefoot Contessa. From Ina Garten’s random friends popping by, to the table centrepieces of toy trains/DIY tools, the salads that are more cream and mayonnaise than vegetable, and of course, Ina being loved up with hubby Jeffrey, it’s hilarious.
  7. I am so bad at Guitar Hero I can’t even complete a song on the most basic level. E-musician, I am not.
  8. I did have piano lessons for 12 years though, so somebody tried.
  9. I’m a milk chocolate girl. Dark chocolate is alright, but when you get a chocolate-coated digestive biscuit, it’s milk chocolate all the way baby.
  10. My guilty pleasure is watching serial runs of Made in Chelsea in my pyjamas, surrounded by soft toys.
  11. I hate milk (probably as a consequence of being force-fed those horrid warm milk cartons at school) but butter, cream, cheese…no problems at all.

So now I get to nominate some other lovely bloggers.

Baking Stuff, Mostly Averagely: B’s writing never fails to make me laugh, and the recipes look both delicious and do-able.

The Very Hungry Baker: plenty of delicious looking bakes, especially the epic looking pizza pie!

Running Cupcake: Maria writes about running and baking. What a great balance!

Chocolate Loaf Cake

These colder, darker nights are perfect for staying indoors, warmed by the heat of the oven, baking simple cakes. Loaf cakes, where all you need is a knife to cut out a sturdy, soft-crumbed slice, and take it away to a cosy corner to nibble away. Sometimes with a slick of icing on top, to pick away, savour, and get fingers sticky.

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With a craving for chocolate to satisfy, I pottered around the kitchen throwing flour and sugar over most of the kitchen counter before popping into the oven a chocolate loaf cake. It’s draped in a lusciously tasty chocolate fudge icing.

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I’ve moaned at length about my flat’s gas oven, and getting good results from my baking is a heck of a lot more difficult than it used to be. This cake didn’t rise quite as nicely as it has done in the past, but the plus side of the gas oven is the top heats so poorly that I never have to cover any of my cakes for fear of scorching. Like most chocolatey bakes, it also seems to improve with a rest, well-wrapped, overnight.

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Chocolate Loaf Cake

For the cake:

  • 170g softened butter/margarine
  • 170g muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • splash of milk

For the icing:

  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a 2lb loaf tin.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then whisk through the eggs one by one. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda, then fold into the mixture gently. Add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture to dropping consistency. Spoon into a lined loaf tin, and bake for around 45 minutes until cooked through, springy, and a sharp knife comes out clean.

Set to one side to cool down.

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Then heat the butter, caster sugar and milk together on the hob until melted together, and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together until well combined, cool until spreading consistency, then ripple over the top of the cake.

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning to the white blankness of thick mist, and sight of hundreds of dew-jewelled spiderwebs that had been spun overnight. Very fitting for the morning post-Halloween.

With the refreshingly brisk November air (it’s November now, how time flies!) is the comforting contrast of the sweet warmth that comes from cookies baking away in the oven. Magical how a bowl of ingredients transforms into a pile of freshly baked cookies, crunchy outside with just the right amount of chew, interspersed with lightly toasted milk chocolate chunks.

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My crappy oven doesn’t do this delicious batter justice, and the cookies baked looking somewhat anaemic, so I baked a second batch in my parents’ (much better) oven and snapped a few photos afterwards.

P1070198I tried a few variations with the basic batter – one with white chocolate and cranberry, another with toasted ground hazelnuts – and really, my favourite has to be this milk chocolate version. I’m a milk chocolate girl through and through, and although there’s a time and a place for dark chocolate, this cookie isn’t one.

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Eat whilst admiring adorable fuzzy plushies online. I’m in denial about being a mature, fully-fledged adult, yes I know. Seriously, how could anybody say no to this?

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