Monday, 26 September 2011

MA Fashion Exhibition

So after really neglecting everything that isn't my MA for the last year I have finally finished. Hopefully this means I can settle into a nice job in a marketing agency or with an in house team that will let me be creative and, most of all, will help me to learn more and hone my craft. Fingers crossed.

To celebrate the MA Fashion Department is hosting a private view of our exhibition tomorrow from 5-7pm in the PR1 gallery on the ground floor of UCLan's Victoria Building. As I now live 100 miles away I have sadly had nothing to do with the organisation but I am hoping for drinks, nibbles and lots of banter with our guests. If anyone is in Preston you should nip and and say hello, the more the merrier. Here's what you'll see if you do...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Malteaser Cupcake Recipe

My 'little' sister has just turned 13 and last week she started high school...we have a middle school here hence her not having gone at 11. It seems like she is growing up really quickly but despite the stroppiess and constant texting that comes with being a teenager she still wanted specially made cakes for her birthday. Malteaser cupcakes to be specific, so I enlisted a recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days book and got to work.

I got the book a few months ago and I really like it. The recipes are accessible, different and look amazing. The photographs in the book are fabulous and I love that it is set into occasions working from Valentines Day right through to Christmas, incorporating fruits such as raspberries and blood oranges according to season. I tried their basic vanilla cupcakes first and the cakes were beautifully light but I used my own buttercream recipe as 500g of icing sugar seemed a bit excessive. I plan on trying many more and will let you know how my first whoopie pies go when I finally get round to it. In the meantime, you should definitely try these... and let me know how it goes if you do!

Malted Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12-16

Ingredients for the sponge:
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 75ml buttermilk (I actually couldn't find buttermilk in my local supermarket so I followed these instructions and mixed up a substitute using lemon juice.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 240g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 150ml boiling water
Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 200g dark chocolate chips - minimum 70% cocoa solids (I chopped up a bar of Green and Blacks)
  • 240ml double cream
  • 115g malted-milk powder (When I opened our Horlicks it had set rock solid so I used Ovaltine instead, which had some cocoa powder in it too.)
  • 50g full fat cream cheese
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 36-48 Malteasers to decorate (I brought a sharing bag and had some spare too. I normally gobble up Malteasers so fast I have no clue how many is in a bag.)
1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
2. Using an electric whisk beat together the oil with the milk, buttermilk, egg and vanilla essence on low speed until well blended. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, then stir in the sugar. Add a third of the boiling water, followed by another third of dry ingredients to the oil and milk mixture and beat slowly until evenly incorporated.
3. Beat in a third of the boiling water, followed by another third of the dry ingredients then repeat with the remaining ingredients, mixing together until they are all combined. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition, to ensure well-mixed batter. (I didn't read this properly, their instructions can be a bit lengthy - I like short and snappy - so I ended up pouring the boiling water in after all the dry ingredients. Still tasted good though.)
4. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, filling each by two thirds. Any remaining batter can be used to fill one to four more cases in a separate tin. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until springy to the touch. Allow to cool a little before removing from the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water to melt, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
6. Meanwhile, using the electric whisk, whip the cream with the malted milk powder until it forms soft peaks. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese with the caster sugar until combined, then add the cooled chocolate and mix again.
7. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, adding half the whipped cream at a time. Divide the frosting between the cupcakes, smoothing and swirling with a palette knife, then decorate each cupcake with 3 Malteasers. (I almost wished I'd crushed them and sprinkled to add to the Malteaser taste overall but they were divine none the less and looked pretty all arranged on top.)


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Autumn/Winter Style in Fused Student Guide 2011

For the second year on the trot (which is nice because it gives the impression it went down well last time) I have compiled the autumn/winter style pages for Fused's annual Student Guide, which has been transferred to their pocket sized Area format.  So, I suppose, it's now Area's Student Guide but it is as awesome as always.

You can find it here or embedded below (p14 - 19) but you should read the rest as well.  I particularly like 'How to Get Laid on the Cheap' (p34) and 'The Carpels' Guide to Birmingham Music' (p58).

Monday, 5 September 2011

The End of Summer

I think it's fair to say that summer is officially on the way out, which is a shame as it always seems to be when I'm happiest and I feel like I've spent most of it doing work for my MA.  However, I have also done other things...I've been to Portugal, I've been to Wales where the boy tour me on a tour of many many castles (my favourite was Pehrhyn), I've baked A LOT, drank copious amounts of red wine, I've done some writing for Fused, prepared their AW Fashion Guide, wrote a short story for Cellardoor's wonderful End of Summer Issue (p84), got my little sister prepared for high school and waved the boy off to live bloody miles away.  Oh and I've more or less finished my MA.  It's been a busy one.

Barmouth Beach

View from the Caravan

We may complain about British summers but even when it's pouring it down a 99 from the ice-cream man and chips on the beach front make me reminiscent of summers when I was younger.  As a young girl I spent many summers in a caravan/apartment/posh hotel depending on our finances at the time but to me it didn't matter where we were.  I once adopted a seagull who I called Sammy, I fed him every day whilst we were away with my aunties and cousins and every one.  I only realised this year whilst telling the boy that story that Sammy was probably multiple seagulls.  Naive I know, but it shows how much I believed in the magic of summer - as a tiny girl I had a pet seagull.  So don't give up on British summers - they may be shorter, come at strange times of the year and be largely interspersed by rain but they're our summers.  Make sure you make the most of them.

My mother and I, Newquay, aged 2.