Saturday, July 30, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings

1) You are all savvy internet folks so you are probably regulars on Lizzie Garrett's Tomboy Style and have seen this already. I seem to reference TS almost weekly, apologies for being a broken record, but I just can't help myself. It is such a wonderful blog and I just adore the aesthetic even if I only adhere to it occasionally IRL. If my physique was more cooperative I would be a walking advert for Tomboy Style! Anyway, her TS Grid of awesomeness is awesome - my picture is but an edited highlight. She divides the TS essentials into Standard, Edge, American and Import but I couldn't possibly just pick one. I want them all. Peruse at leisure.

2) The latest issue of Sweet Paul magazine is out and it is giving me rumblies in my tumblies. Scrumptious looking food beautifully shot with lots of recipe ideas. I particularly enjoyed the Soda Fountain American Diner feature - ice cream sandwiches!

3) Browsing the Jaegar sale I came across this Animal Print Pleat Skirt. Love the shape, the print, the colours, the whole shebang. And it is reduced from £130 to £49. Tempting... If I wasn't on a spending ban (I've been a bit frivolous recently and I must save all my pennies) I would snap it up. Also, browsing the site reminded me how great Jaegar's styling is at the moment. They're doing a great job generally at the moment.

4) Phwoar! LOVING Finsk's AW11 shoe collection. Of course there are strange and unusual architectural glories but I felt particularly drawn to this ankle boot. Such interesting colours, textures and materials but still very versatile. I mean, these would go with everything in my wardrobe ever, right?? Uh oh, must stop rationalising a fantasy purchase since they are obviously well out of my budget but a girl can dream. More pictures and greater eloquence at KoS.

5) ... Let us just stop a while and gaze at the wonder that is this Oreo Olallieberry Chocolate Layer Cake. Dark, dark chocolate sponge swathed in cocoa-olallieberry (an intriguing sounding cross between a raspberry and a black berry apparently) Italian meringue buttercream with Oreo chunks, dripping with gold-flecked bitter chocolate ganache. Oh yes. Are those not the sweetest words you have ever read? Glorious. Stephanie at Desserts for Breakfast (wonderful ethos) knows where her towel is. Beautiful styling and mad, inspired recipes.

The sun is kind of shining and I have adventures planned for this weekend. A photography exhibition and a trip to a hilarious sounding city farm. There may well be pictures. Gosh, it is expensive but I'm having a lot of fun living in London at the moment. It is just unlike anywhere else in Britain. It still probably isn't going to make a city girl out of me but I'm going to enjoy it while I'm here. Does anyone have any strange/unexpected London recommendations? I'm always interested to hear about new things. The boyf had a great time at the Wellcome collection yesterday and the Sir John Soames museum is definitely on my list. And generally working my through the This is Naive and Miss Little Lime London guides. And generally becoming obese as I eat my through a city full of amazing food. Might do my own mini food line up soon.

Anyhoo, I'm running late (as ever). What are your weekend plans? Part of me just wants to spend 48 hrs asleep but I am going to try and power through!

Chuck x

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Give Me Respect(acles)

I don't tend to have favourite ebay shops. I love ebay but generally I am searching for something specific. Also, I think that ebay shops rarely have the consistency of product and presentation to keep me coming back. However, recently I have come across a shop that bucks the trend, the excellently named Respectacles UK, which sells vintage eye wear to almost unanimously good reviews. So many interesting, unexpected, beautiful pairs of vintage glasses! The wonderful stock and clear photos keep me coming back. Particularly excitingly, they stock lots of gloriously flamboyant catseye and chunky 60s frames. I haven't bought a pair yet because I can't justify replacing my current (very boring) pair as long as they are functional but as soon as they die this is where I will be heading for an affordable, aesthetically pleasing alternative.

Natty, yes? Add them to your Saved Sellers, you never know when you'll need some beautiful glasses.

Chuck x

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Leo, I'm Bossy

Happy birthday to me. Just had the most lovely day with great friends and yummy food. Have a sunburnt nose from the freak sunshine and salt in my hair from the sea air. The only thing that could (maybe) have made it any better would have been if I was wearing this hilarious jumper. Sure, yellow doesn't really suit me but it is so cheerful and appropriate for the good weather and it is true and everything. I'm Leo and I'm bossy!

Here's to another year. I hope everyone had fun in the sun. Long may it last!

Chuck x

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings

1) You've probably seen these already because they have been on A Cup of Jo and Refinery29 and pretty much everywhere but I am going to post them again because they are awesome. I am seriously considering buying some of these $5 temporary text tatts. Frivolous but so cool. It could be like a practice run. My favourites - 'open eyes', 'hell yeah' and 'stay true'. Trying to think of other 2 x 4s... 'true love', '... lust', 'kick arse'. Any other ideas?

2) Burning Bush collection by Tabitha Gwyn Osler is almost every flavour of lovely. Surreal, haunted, spare and beautiful. The flames are perfect. Seen at Clever Nettle.

3) I originally saw Miss Peelpants's photos of the Madame Grès exhibition on Margaret's Weekly Round-up post and I was blown away. I had seen pictures of her clothes before but never detail shots. They are ridiculously beautiful and so modern. She was a woman ahead of her time. The pleated pieces are easily my favourite although I had a horribly difficult time narrowing it down to just one! A totally inspiring post.

4) I want to be bad ass (or at least dress like one)! That may seem incongruous and it probably is but, nonetheless, it is one of my hidden cravings that surfaces occasionally. The desire was violently reignited this week by Kate's amazing look. I am finding her style, as showcased on her blog PaniEkscelencja, completely captivating at the moment. It hasn't got much in common with the way I dress but I want it in a spoiled child kind of way. I know I couldn't pull off the whole look but I'm thinking about ways I could incorporate bits of bad ass-ery into my life and wardrobe. Into my work wardrobe! The office would lurve that. Also, here is yet another person making me want a longboard - check out Lizzie's uniform and this great, atmospheric video of the Longboard Girls Crew. I don't have the coordination, I don't have the coordination - repeat until I accept the fact.

5) Chow chow pandas and retriever tigers. Just because these are beyond cute.

Have a fab weekend!

Chuck x

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wonderful or Weird?

Well, obviously weird. Rather, wonderful or too weird? I love pigs and I love sofas but I am unsure about this combination of the two. I think I might be in the uncanny valley. He kind of reminds me of the horrid, scary pigs in Spirited Away. I want to love him, I want to cuddle down in a big squishy, cuddly big but I am also a bit freaked out... What do you think??

He is technically part sculpture/part sofa and he could be yours for a mere $500 from Pavia Burroughs Etsy store. That is, as long as you can get to Philadelphia. His name is Hillhock by the way. Love him or loathe him?

Chuck x

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Rhapsody on Ice Cream

c/o Gelupo

A fragrant herb garden in the early morning. Dusky and cool. Scents rising from the moist earth. Crushed leaves between your fingers. Warm earth and flecks of dark chocolate. Fragrant fresh mint straciatella.

The soft, sensuous fuzz of peach skin against your cheek. Gentle sweetness wafting from the unpicked fruit. Tender melting flesh and sticky fingers. Sun-warmed summer happiness. White peach sorbet.

Both memories from last summer in Sicily, both instantly evoked by the beautiful ice cream from Gelupo. I suspect that I store a lot of my memories in my tastebuds. White peaches will always be Sicily to me - joyfully abundant, sitting in the baking sun eating them off a sharp knife. Those were happy if unpredictable days and ones I will probably never be able to replicate. White peaches are too rare and expensive here to be eaten with careless abandon and the weather is too inclement and I suspect I shall never return to Vincenzo's farm in the middle of Mafia country... However, Gelupo's white peach sorbet is a comfort. It perfectly captures ripe summer white peaches right down to the creamy sweetness of the flesh and the slight greenness of the skin. Normally I scorn icy, watery, bland sorbet but this was soft and pliant and milky yet still float-away fresh. Sorry for seeming excessively lush and sensuous but I find it impossible to escape the language of sex and the body when talking about white peaches. Staid, cold adjectives just don't suit them, even when they are ice cream! Go to Gelupo, eat this sorbet and then see if you can be calmed and measured about it. Really though, if you have access to London I can't recommend this Soho gelateria highly enough. I've been a few times and I hope to go many more times. They have an amazing variety of interesting and evolving flavours. The classics are great but I hope to catch their Apricot Sorbet and Honey, Yoghurt and Walnut Ice Cream before they are replaced. I know London life is busy but do try and make time to come here - it is perfectly lovely and it is open late (until 11pm Sun-Wed and until 1am Thurs-Sat).

Ice cream is simply the greatest of foods.

Chuck x

P.S. Check out this great selection of ice cream/fashion images!.

Boot Lovin'

Remember the Emma Cook for Topshop boots? You know, the ones. The ones that all bloggers have and that are still awesome and that look great with everything. The ones that five years on still sell for more than their original price on ebay. Well I tried those on in Topshop at the time. I had them on my feet, in my size, within my sticky little grasp. But I didn't buy them. I really liked them but they were that little bit too clunky to walk in (I mean, actual getting around places walking), that little bit too impractical and that little bit too expensive. Regrets dog me to this day. Not lie-awake-at-night-gnawing-my-fingernails-to-bleeding-stumps regrets but rather niggles of frustration at myself whenever I see anyone looking amazing in them. Great shoes transcend practicality? I should have bought them.

That is a little bit how I feel when I look at these Miss Selfridge boots. Sure, they're no EC4TS but they're still pretty damn cool and they have quite a bit in common with them. Burgundy, pony skin, mixed materials, big height, serious clunk, kinda bad boy... I can't feasibly work them into my current work wardrobe and I can't go for long distance hikes in them but does that matter?

Any thoughts? I liked them in person and they qualify for free delivery online. I have a week and a half left of my student discount...

Chuck x

Monday, July 18, 2011

Raspberry Crumble Bars

I have been reading Food, Inc. of late. It is a book of essays that accompanies the eponymous documentary film about food (surprise) and the food industry. I haven't actually seen the film but the book makes for some interesting reading. It is quite (a lot) repetitive but it raises some valid points. It isn't going to turn me into a raw food, vegan evangelical, I don't have the will power or the requisite level of interest/dedication, but it is a salient reminder about food ethics. It has reinforced a couple of my personal food rules as well and prompted me to try and adhere more closely too them. I might discuss them more at a later date, particularly if I review Food, Inc., but the relevant one today is to eat more seasonally. Which brings us to raspberries, the king of fruit, and grown in England too (another rule - try to buy as locally as possible as often as possible). They are in season and now is the time to make the most of them. I was feeling sad earlier about the fact that I don't like jam which is the obvious way to preserve summer fruits for the winter months but then I remembered that I can just straight up freeze some! Genius. Am going to buy some beautiful fresh raspberries asap and bung them in the freezer for the sad winter months. Seizing the day though I made a big tray of Baked's Raspberry Breakfast Crumb Bars at the weekend.

My love of Baked is well chronicled on this blog. I have made and adored their brownies, cookies and glorious Sweet and Salty triple layer Chocolate Cake. Their first book really is turning into one of my favourite bakery book. So, when I felt like baking something this weekend, I flicked through the increasingly well thumbed pages and came up with this little beauty. It turns out that Deb of Smitten Kitchen has made and loved this recipe too so check out her blog for far more beautiful pictures. A crumb bar, for those of you who don't know (a number that included me until Sunday - there aren't any pictures of this recipe in the book), is kind of like a cross between flapcake, a dense biscuit and a crumble. It is crumbly but mine maintained their structure well as long as not manhandled. It is also chewy and rich and buttery - a whole bunch of my favourite adjectives. The Baked boys and Deb both comment on how they like that it isn't very sweet which I think is a little bit odd. Maybe it is an American thing, maybe it is a personal thing but I found these quite sweet. Not unbearably sweet, just pleasantly sweet, but still definitely sweet. Sweeter than anything that I would really want to eat for breakfast. I do favour the savoury breakfast though, to be fair. No jam or honey for me, thank you. Peanut butter and marmite all the way!

Anyway, these are really straightforward to make if you have a decent sized food processor. I don't, I only have a wee baby one so I had to make the picture one half at a time which was a bit of a pain in the arse but still not an unbearable inconvenience! You basically whizz some crumb mixture and stir some raspberry mixture, a bit of cooking and your good to go. And they're really raspberry-y; the lemon and cinnamon make the raspberries pop.

For the crumb mix:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ~165-170g melted butter (1 1/2 sticks - i.e. the most stupid measurement ever)
For the raspberry filling:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 pound raspberries - I used two packets (340g) and it was enough although you can always have more!
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a 9x13 inch tin with greaseproof.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form. The crumbs are actually fairly recognisable and self-explanatory even if you haven't done this before.
  3. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture. Pour the rest into your tin and spread evenly. Push the mixture gently down into the tin. Bake for 12-15 mins, until golden. Leave the tin to cool on a rack.
  4. In a medium bowl mix the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and stir until coated.
  5. Spread the raspberry mix over the crumb base. I squished some of my raspberries to get a better coverage. Sprinkle the remaining cup of crumb mix evenly over the raspberries.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until it is bubbling away like a crumble.
  7. Leave to cool. This is sadly necessary - it doesn't hold together when hot. Try to resist. When cool enough cut into squares and gobble down.
And kind of healthy, maybe? They do have fruit in them and everything.

Chuck x

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And they call it Bunny Love

His name is Petit Gris. Isn't he the most delightful thing you've ever seen? He is a rabbit wearing a Hawaiian shirt!! He is owned by Karen Inderbitzen-Walller and Delphine Avril Planqueel and shot by Todd Selby. And I love him. I love their home too but mostly I love their bunny.

I miss my puppy dog a lot. A lot a lot. I miss having something warm and fluffy to lavish excessively with affection. I miss having someone to play with who is on my mental level. Sure, R fulfills two of those categories (I'll leave you to guess which) but there are still some gaping holes in my life. I can't get my own puppy because I am living in a fourth floor flat and I work full time. I can't get a cat because I'm too allergic. But I still crave a pet and now I'm thinking house bunny/bunnies...?

Has anyone had a house bunny? Does anyone have any advice/thoughts on the matter? I think I would probably need two bunnies so they could keep each other company. Apparently they can be house-trained but they do like to eat electrical cables. I have zero idea how much they would cost to run and maybe it isn't going to be practical but maybe it might work. Please?

LOOK AT HIM!! He is just irresistible. Heart throb.

Chuck x

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings

On a Saturday...

Clockwise from top left:

1) Simone Rocha's amazing AW11 shoes via A la Mode. Everything you could want from a shoe! Wedge, brogue, perspex, ponyskin, you name it. You'd never need another pair.

2) Serious cravings for this t-shirt from The Orphan's Arms. I love it - great print, great shape, made in England. And it is on sale! Unfortunately practicality won out this week and I bought a (beautiful) more work suitable t-shirt in the Whistles sale. Perhaps if it hasn't sold out by next week...

3) I love Caitlin Shearer's work, I wrote about her almost a year ago (time flies!). Her paintings and drawings are irresistibly beautiful and Ventricular Projects have an interview with her here.

4) Check out this gorgeous photo shoot. Styled by Siri and shot by Charlie Rubin with Lydia Carron modelling. Lovely atmosphere and gorgous pictures.

5) Look! Dream hair! This shoot for Vs. Magazine is making me miss my long hair. I want to plait flowers into  it and wear wreaths and generally float around in haze of 60s loveliness.

Chuck x

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Menswear to Steal, Pt. 1 - Digital Prints

Queen Michelle was writing about digital prints yesterday and I agree with her; the visual impact of digital prints is undeniable. Also, the influence of Christopher Kane is everywhere and the high street is lagging behind in the creation of really arresting prints. Beautiful, well designed digital prints just haven't been easily available and affordable and more is the pity. However, apparently the boys have an answer. Check out these gorgeous men's t-shirts from Your Eyes Lie - extreme, sharp, brilliant. Great image choices too and only £35 each. Such great designs, I want them all. Think I might have to buy R one (or four) so I can steal it!

The Iceland t-shirt does come as a woman's t-shirt but I am picturing wearing the men's size Large loose and tucked in. It would be just such an easy way to add something beautiful into your everyday wear.

Lucky boys!

Chuck x

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ice Cream Dreams

I've found a new favourite website. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Sure, I would go to one of Jeni's nine Ohio or two Tennessee shops if I could but that isn't going to happen any time soon. In the meantime though I can stare at the pictures of her lovely ice cream and dream and maybe buy her book. My muv says that she has an ice cream maker floating around somewhere. If she ever digs it out I might take some inspiration from Jeni's amazing and interesting sounding flavours. They just sound ridiculously good. Ice cream escapism...

The names are like music. How hungry are they making you? Aren't they just sparking your imagination?

Peak Harvest Collection: Coriander Raspberry, Blackcurrant Yoghurt, Sweetcorn & Black Raspberries (!!), Peach Buttermilk, Passion Fruit Yoghurt.

Dreamy, right?

Do I have any Ohio/Tennessee readers? Have you been?? Is it as delicious as it looks? Is it worth a trip to America for? So, what £400 for flights, £200 for accommodation, £200 for costs = £800 for ice cream. That seems reasonable, right?

Chuck x

Monday, July 11, 2011

Easy Summer Bags

I'm really craving an easy summer bag for the casual, sunshine fuelled summer I am not having. I want to skip around the south of France and lounge on beaches and buy baguettes. I will read existential literature and drink cheap wine on picnics and generally look insouciant...

This is a horse feed bag! Is that not the coolest thing ever?? Typical of Maya to capture it.

Amie's perfect packing for Bali. Wouldn't this be great for the Med too? Ah, Sicily, imagine! 

Jane Birkin's wicker basket is a classic immortalised here by Lizzie (of course). Could she be any cooler? No.

Just thinking of this pretend summer makes me feel happy. I need to bring a little of it into my life. Fingers crossed for a sunny Saturday and a farmers' market. There can at least be baguettes and cheap wine!

Chuck x

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swedish Visiting Cake

Hurrah for quick, easy, delicious cake. Yes, triple layered beauties are fun but sometimes easy wins. My sister got back from five months away and we had a mini tea party in her honour. I didn't want to spend hours away from her in the kitchen so I knocked out Dorie Greenspan's crazy easy Swedish Visiting Cake. Sweet, sticky, lemon and almonds, goodness. Almost no effort but perfect warm out of the oven. Lovely with lots of raspberries on a summer day.

I tweaked the recipe a little and I think it worked really well. I substituted the almond extract and some of the flour for ground almonds. I think this made for a less overpowering almond flavour (which works for me) and a slightly denser cake. The raspberries also added a nice sharpness. I think raspberries improve pretty much everything though so maybe I am biased.


  • 1 cup sugar - I used golden caster.
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plain flour, 1/4 cup ground almonds.
  • 1 stick/115g butter, melted - I used salted.
  • Flaked almonds - I'm not sure how much I used 50-100g perhaps? Be quite generous.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC and liberally butter your tin/pan/skillet. It does look lovely cooked in a skillet a la Dorie but I opted for a 9 inch tart tin for easy removal.
  2. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together in a medium bowl. Use your fingers - it smells amazing!
  3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract.
  4. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. Fold in the melted butter.
  5. Pour the batter into your tin. Scatter the flaked almonds on top. Put some more on. Scatter generously with golden sugar.
  6. Bake for 25-30 mins, until golden. Crisp on the outside and moist in the middle.
  7. Serve warm with raspberries and potentially some Greek yoghurt.
Delightful. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Chuck x

Friday, July 8, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings

Clockwise from top left:

1) I've been having a serious Americana food moment lately. First there was the delicious roll full of pulled pork and 'burnt ends' (that is brisket to the rest of us) at Bodean's BBQ Sports Bar in Soho. It was a chips and Corona kind of place, we had onion rings on the side. Then last night, a different take on an American classic - pulled pork with beans and slaw from Pitt Cue Co on the Southbank. Instead of red plastic baskets it was cardboard boxes and wooden forks. Upmarket rustic, if you will. Less cheerful but possibly even more delicious. The pork was so tender, the root beer beans so sweet and hearty... It was only a pity we were in such a hurry that we had to eat so vast I almost passed out. Can't wait to go back and enjoy it again at a more measured pace. Great looking Southern, alcohol heavy cocktails too. Picture c/o Time Out along with an excellent review.

2) Drooling over these Reed Krakoff Resort 2012 shoes and generally admiring the Fashionologie Must-Have Shoe Report. A bit of daydreaming never hurt anyone, right?

3) I really must buy this beautiful Lizzy Stewart print, she has the right idea. It has been a manic week and I need to slooooow down. I don't have the stamina for all of this! My inner OAP is crying out for a rest and some time to myself. Also, I really love Lizzy Stewart's work generally and have been thinking of buying some for ages. Win-win.

4) I'm not sure how long it has been out but I just stumbled across Lime Crime's new Pop Romance collection. Particularly loving Coquette, their super nude. Unfortunately it is sold out on their website but I'm hoping it is available elsewhere. Otherwise their is always mint green - very versatile for work.

5) Frisky and Mannish - how I love thee. We caught their latest show, Pop Centre Plus, last night at the Udderbelly (hence the hasty hoovering of the pulled pork - mmm... alliteration). I saw both of their previous shows - School of Pop and The College Years - in Edinburgh and raved about them on here then. Music, comedy, cabaret, all of the good things. I don't think I've ever heard better live shows and they are such wonderful mimics. Just found out that they have added the Florence + the Machine/Peter Andre sketch from The College Years to their YouTube channel. If you don't click through on anything else please follow this link. It is just ridiculously good. Frisky nails Florence. If you haven't come across them before you have many  treats ahead, especially Kate Bash...

Sorry this is a bit scrappy/messy, I am exhausted again. Current story of my life. I'm definitely getting there on the student > worker bee conversion but it is a work in progress. Have some serious sleeping planned for the weekend and maybe a baked good or two (surprise!). What are you up to? If you have some spare time and access to iPlayer may I suggest The Good Cook and Perfume, both of which are excellent. Does anyone have any other TV recommendations? Feel like I'm rather out of the TV loop at the mo and all I really want to do is slump in front of something soothing. I'm so glamorous.

Chuck x

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Like Heaven

(all photos c/o Fashionising)

Really, could the Givenchy couture collection be any more beautiful? This is what couture is for. It made my day yesterday - it is just heavenly. The beauty, the purity, the skill... I got to play with a Givenchy couture jacket last year and I think it was the most perfect thing I've ever touched with my own fair hands. I can't wait to see Cate Blanchett wearing one of these. Although maybe she would float away and that would be sad. In my head the models had to be anchored down. This is probably a sign of an overactive imagination. Read some more eloquent appreciation here.

Have a serene day.

Chuck x

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recent Eats

Doesn't Poladroid make everything look delightful? Things I've enjoyed recently - a summer roast chicken, a tomato puff pastry tart from Diana Henry's lovely Food from Plenty, Nige's tomato and harissa stew and Ottolenghi's mushroom and pearl barley ragout on delicious home made flatbreads. All excellent.

I love food. Had you noticed?

Chuck x

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Beautiful Birthday Cake

I am very pleased with how this turned out. I eschewed my usual taste-at-all-costs-appearances-be-damned school of baking to make something really gorgeous for R's birthday. It isn't really his birthday until later in the week but he was celebrating this w/e and I don't have the time to make something this excessive midweek. I woke up early on Saturday and did some of the most efficient baking ever and then lugged the results across and out of London - bus > tube > train > car - so impressed it survived so well! I got a couple of slightly odd looks on the tube but it was definitely worth it.

(It is a bit scruffy round the bottom - I should have taken the pictures on a glamorous presentational plate but this is still quite impressive after 2 1/2 hrs on public transport, I think...)

In my attempt to make my layer cake even and official looking I followed some of Deb's amazing layer cake tips and they really (unsurprisingly) worked. 1) I accurately divided and flattened the cake mix into the tins rather than flinging it into the middle of the tin in a slapdash manner. 2) I cooked the cakes on a lower heat and for longer - apparently this helps to stop the cake doming. 3) I flash froze the layers which made them a joy to handle and assemble, no cracking or crumbling or generally falling apart or being troublesome. 4) I crumb coated the cake - this is when you put on a thin, rough layer of frosting to cover the cake first as a base for your real frosting. I actually cheated a bit on the crumb coat, it is supposed to be refrigerated for 30 minutes and mine got max 7 minutes because I ran out of time, but I still think it definitely made a difference. 

To be completely honest, I think you sacrifice on taste and texture a little bit with the freezing/refrigerating but the aesthetic results are undeniable and, even for me, there are occasions that call for beauty. The cake was still delicious, it just would have been better hot out of the oven. That is my opinion on all cake really but it isn't one that is necessarily practical for parties. For pizzazz these are real winners.

I didn't follow any particular recipe for this cake. It is a classic Victoria sponge with the vanilla extract swapped for almond essence. I would normally use 3 eggs for a 2 tier sponge and I stuck with that and it still made more than enough mixture to completely baked cake tins. For a standard sponge I like to let the eggs lead the way and mine were large and weighed 200g so I matched that in my dry ingredients. The filling of the cake is simply mashed up fresh raspberries with a bit of sugar to bring out the juice and sweetness. It seemed like a waste to use jam when there is delicious fresh fruit. If I were to try something similar again I would think about macerated strawberries/raspberries with a hint of balsamic vinegar and black pepper - that could be interesting. For the outside I used the Baked 'Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake' chocolate caramel ganache which is a reliable winner for me. Raspberries, almond and chocolate seemed like a reliably delicious combination to me and it really was.

How were your weekends? Anything thrilling to report?

Chuck x

Friday, July 1, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings

Clockwise from top left:

1) It has been getting a lot of love on the interwebz and rightfully so, what is not to love about My Daguerreotype Boyfriend? 'Where early photography meets extreme hotness'. See also, Bangable Dudes from History, obv. Cracking web genre.

2) I really enjoyed this post on Kiki Dee by the inimitable Miss Moss. Random in the best internet way. Apart from 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' I know nothing about Keeks but clearly she was gorgeous. There is a long standing threat of an enthusiastic rendition of this classic at my wedding... I am already afraid.

3) I remember reading about Amanda Wachob's tattoos a couple of years ago and they have recently resurfaced in my consciousness. Her abstract tattoos are just so beautiful and interesting but her whole website is a joy to traverse. Fuel to the tattoo fire that is smouldering away in my mind...

4) I am loving this Passion Pit remix of Cold War Kids 'Mine is Yours'. Their latest album is just brilliant, I can't stop listening to it. If you don't know them you are in for a treat. One of my most favourite bands ever. 

5) Just such fun. I love this Stella McCartney inspired from Apollinas. Brilliant idea, beautiful design, delicious sounding cake. Want to brainstorm other high fashion baking ideas now - any suggestions? Seen on Siri's tumblr.

A bit of a random selection but generally very jolly. I have to get up super early tomorrow to bake a birthday cake. I'm aiming quite high so here is hoping it is perfect (or at least quite good). It is for an extra special someone. What are your plans for this weekend? Anyone doing anything exciting?

Chuck x