In our garden, we have five apple trees that, year after year, never fail to produce a seriously gluttonous glut of fruit. It's a wonderful treat to be able to frolic about the garden, basket in hand, picking dozens and dozens of these crazily chunky apples and marvelling at the difference in shape and size between them. No supermarket-pretty apples here I can assure you! They are each so gloriously gnarled and ugly in their own right! 


Anyway, this year I decided to use a couple of our keenest and ripest to whip up a scrummy tart that makes a perfect pudding for those chilly Autumn evenings on the way. I've popped the recipe below, if you'd like to check it out- it's slightly adapted from a recipe in this month's Waitrose food magazine :)

Apple & Honey Tart
Ingredients
For the topping:

- 2 apples, halved and cored
- 1/2 lemon, juice
- 1 tbsp honey, to glaze
- 1 tbsp apricot jam, to glaze

For the pastry:

- 1 cardamom pod
- 150g plain flour, plus a bit extra for dusting
- 50g spelt flour
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 egg yolk

For the frangipane filling:

- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g honey
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp plain flour


Method

1. To make the pastry, open up the cardamom pod and crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar; discard the pod. Mix into the flours with the icing sugar and a good pinch of salt, then whizz together in a food processor until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of ice-cold water, add to the processor and whizz until it all comes together. Remove, knead briefly and gently until smooth, shape into a fat disc, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30mins.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to around 0.3cm thick and use this to line a 23cm fluted tart case. Trim the edges and prick the base.


3. Line the top of the pastry with a layer of baking parchment and fill with baking beans: chill for 30mins. Next, blind bake the tart case for 20mins, then remove the parchment and beans and cook for a further 5mins. Set aside to cool. 


4. For the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then beat in the honey and then the eggs, one by one. Beat in the almonds, flour and a pinch of salt until just combined. Spread the frangipane mixture evenly over your tart case.

5. To decorate, slice the apples as thinly as you can and pop them in a bowl filled with the lemon juice mixed with a bit of water (enough to cover the slices). Microwave the apples for around 3mins, until they are soft and pliable, and then take them out of the bowl and dry them on a sheet of kitchen roll. Twist and twirl the soft slices of apple around each other to create flower shapes (this is easier than it first seems- stick with it!) and then push them as deeply as you can into the frangipane. 


6. Reduce the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake the tart for 40-45mins, until the frangipane is golden brown. Finally, heat the honey and apricot jam in a small pan until warm, then brush over the tart to give it that sweet autumnal glow! Allow to cool, then serve :) 


Don't panic if you feel like the tart has a slightly tinged look about it- I can assure you it's meant to be like that- well, the one in the magazine looked the same! 



And there you have it :) a gorgeous apple and honey treat to warm your cockles as we move into the colder months. It's delish served warm with a good splodge of custard and the cheekiest sprinkling of brown sugar!

I hope you give this one a go. If you do- be sure to let me know how it goes!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x


A Very Autumnal Apple & Honey Tart

Sunday, 27 September 2015


In our garden, we have five apple trees that, year after year, never fail to produce a seriously gluttonous glut of fruit. It's a wonderful treat to be able to frolic about the garden, basket in hand, picking dozens and dozens of these crazily chunky apples and marvelling at the difference in shape and size between them. No supermarket-pretty apples here I can assure you! They are each so gloriously gnarled and ugly in their own right! 


Anyway, this year I decided to use a couple of our keenest and ripest to whip up a scrummy tart that makes a perfect pudding for those chilly Autumn evenings on the way. I've popped the recipe below, if you'd like to check it out- it's slightly adapted from a recipe in this month's Waitrose food magazine :)

Apple & Honey Tart
Ingredients
For the topping:

- 2 apples, halved and cored
- 1/2 lemon, juice
- 1 tbsp honey, to glaze
- 1 tbsp apricot jam, to glaze

For the pastry:

- 1 cardamom pod
- 150g plain flour, plus a bit extra for dusting
- 50g spelt flour
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 egg yolk

For the frangipane filling:

- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g honey
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp plain flour


Method

1. To make the pastry, open up the cardamom pod and crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar; discard the pod. Mix into the flours with the icing sugar and a good pinch of salt, then whizz together in a food processor until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of ice-cold water, add to the processor and whizz until it all comes together. Remove, knead briefly and gently until smooth, shape into a fat disc, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30mins.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to around 0.3cm thick and use this to line a 23cm fluted tart case. Trim the edges and prick the base.


3. Line the top of the pastry with a layer of baking parchment and fill with baking beans: chill for 30mins. Next, blind bake the tart case for 20mins, then remove the parchment and beans and cook for a further 5mins. Set aside to cool. 


4. For the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then beat in the honey and then the eggs, one by one. Beat in the almonds, flour and a pinch of salt until just combined. Spread the frangipane mixture evenly over your tart case.

5. To decorate, slice the apples as thinly as you can and pop them in a bowl filled with the lemon juice mixed with a bit of water (enough to cover the slices). Microwave the apples for around 3mins, until they are soft and pliable, and then take them out of the bowl and dry them on a sheet of kitchen roll. Twist and twirl the soft slices of apple around each other to create flower shapes (this is easier than it first seems- stick with it!) and then push them as deeply as you can into the frangipane. 


6. Reduce the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake the tart for 40-45mins, until the frangipane is golden brown. Finally, heat the honey and apricot jam in a small pan until warm, then brush over the tart to give it that sweet autumnal glow! Allow to cool, then serve :) 


Don't panic if you feel like the tart has a slightly tinged look about it- I can assure you it's meant to be like that- well, the one in the magazine looked the same! 



And there you have it :) a gorgeous apple and honey treat to warm your cockles as we move into the colder months. It's delish served warm with a good splodge of custard and the cheekiest sprinkling of brown sugar!

I hope you give this one a go. If you do- be sure to let me know how it goes!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x



Working full-time means that, these days, I rarely get a chance to just put my feet up and reeelllaaaaxx- so that's exactly what I prioritised on the couple of days off I had this week! I slumped about, make-up free (gasp), in my favourite big jumper and took some time to catch up on all the bits and bobs that had fallen by the wayside during my working week. Here are some snaps from my time spent relaxin' to the max, If you'd like to see... xD


It was lovely to just enjoy the simple things and settle down on the sofa with a mug of tea and a few magazines :) I caught up with a few bits of admin and even started collating a bunch of ideas for my small business! The weather was unexpectedly gorgeous for a spell, so I also spent some time in the garden with Penny- who was delighted to see that the warmish weather appeared to have brought out the rabbits and the chickens too!

All in all, it was some well-needed time off from the world and I feel so refreshed and ready to roll again now that it's over!

What do you prioritise on your days off? Do you like to get out & about, or are you all about the spa day and Netflix life? :) Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x

   

A Couple of Days at Home

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Working full-time means that, these days, I rarely get a chance to just put my feet up and reeelllaaaaxx- so that's exactly what I prioritised on the couple of days off I had this week! I slumped about, make-up free (gasp), in my favourite big jumper and took some time to catch up on all the bits and bobs that had fallen by the wayside during my working week. Here are some snaps from my time spent relaxin' to the max, If you'd like to see... xD


It was lovely to just enjoy the simple things and settle down on the sofa with a mug of tea and a few magazines :) I caught up with a few bits of admin and even started collating a bunch of ideas for my small business! The weather was unexpectedly gorgeous for a spell, so I also spent some time in the garden with Penny- who was delighted to see that the warmish weather appeared to have brought out the rabbits and the chickens too!

All in all, it was some well-needed time off from the world and I feel so refreshed and ready to roll again now that it's over!

What do you prioritise on your days off? Do you like to get out & about, or are you all about the spa day and Netflix life? :) Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x

   



So...this little one is not so little anymore! At eleven weeks old, Penny's really become quite the podgy doggy- so much so that I can't really pick her up for a cuddle anymore :( Buuut, yesterday she had her last set of injections, which means that she's now ready to hit the outside world and can finally start to socialise with all the other doggies! She has her first training session (or 'Puppy Party', as they call it) this evening, so hopefully she'll soon have lots of new friends to play with :)

In the meantime, her fave thing to play with has to be a cheeky pinecone or two. I'll leave you with this short vid entitled 'Penny vs. The Pinecone'...



All the love,

Sian x


Puppy Update!

Thursday, 17 September 2015




So...this little one is not so little anymore! At eleven weeks old, Penny's really become quite the podgy doggy- so much so that I can't really pick her up for a cuddle anymore :( Buuut, yesterday she had her last set of injections, which means that she's now ready to hit the outside world and can finally start to socialise with all the other doggies! She has her first training session (or 'Puppy Party', as they call it) this evening, so hopefully she'll soon have lots of new friends to play with :)

In the meantime, her fave thing to play with has to be a cheeky pinecone or two. I'll leave you with this short vid entitled 'Penny vs. The Pinecone'...



All the love,

Sian x


Today, the 9th September 2015, is the day our lovely Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning British Monarch. To mark the occasion I thought I would bake a cake but, when searching for the perfect Queenly recipe, I was quite surprised to find that there is no official 'Victoria Sponge' equivalent for our Monarch. Instead, what I stumbled across whilst perusing multiple foodie blogs was a cake that the Queen apparently bakes for herself when pottering about the Buckingham Palace kitchens. Such a wonderful image, I'm sure you'll agree!


A simple date and nut tray bake, the Queen Elizabeth Cake is a (sort of!) healthy version of the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's gorgeously light and airy whilst remaining sumptuously sticky and decadent...the perfect combination!

I took the recipe from the British foodie blog, londoneats, but altered it slightly decoration-wise for this special occasion :) You can decorate it with whatever you like, or simply keep it as plain as Her Maj likes it!



Anyway, here's the recipe if you want to give it a whirl...

For the cake:
(makes 12 big pieces or 16 small ones)

- 175g soft dates, chopped as finely as you can manage!
- 240ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 120g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 140g plain flour (I used gluten-free but this isn't essential)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 60g walnuts, chopped

For the glaze:

- 75g soft brown sugar
- 75g single cream
- 25g butter
- pinch of salt
- 30g desiccated coconut

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 175° (350° F). Line a 23cm x 31cm rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. In a heatproof bowl, mix the dates, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and then set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, then fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined.
4. Add the walnuts and then the date mixture (the dates should have absorbed a lot of the water but the mixture will still be very wet- it should also be lukewarm, not hot). Stir lightly until smooth, the batter is supposed to be quite sloppy at this point so don't panic!
5.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for around 25-30mins until the top is brown and an inserted skewer or cocktail stick comes out smooth. Leave to cool.
6. While the cake is baking, make the glaze- put the sugar, cream, butter and salt into a small saucepan and keep stirring until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat an set aside until cool.
7. To finish the cake, spread the glaze on top and then cut into twelve squares. Sprinkle the squares with desiccated coconut and then decorate as you wish :)

And that's it!    


I really hope you give this recipe a go! It really is delicious, and the fact that it's a scrummy cake hiding behind a rather austere exterior makes it feel all the more British! I think it's a fitting tribute to our wonderfully practical, yet ever-so-charming Queen.

Long may she reign :)

All the love,

Sian x

 
       

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Today, the 9th September 2015, is the day our lovely Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning British Monarch. To mark the occasion I thought I would bake a cake but, when searching for the perfect Queenly recipe, I was quite surprised to find that there is no official 'Victoria Sponge' equivalent for our Monarch. Instead, what I stumbled across whilst perusing multiple foodie blogs was a cake that the Queen apparently bakes for herself when pottering about the Buckingham Palace kitchens. Such a wonderful image, I'm sure you'll agree!


A simple date and nut tray bake, the Queen Elizabeth Cake is a (sort of!) healthy version of the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's gorgeously light and airy whilst remaining sumptuously sticky and decadent...the perfect combination!

I took the recipe from the British foodie blog, londoneats, but altered it slightly decoration-wise for this special occasion :) You can decorate it with whatever you like, or simply keep it as plain as Her Maj likes it!



Anyway, here's the recipe if you want to give it a whirl...

For the cake:
(makes 12 big pieces or 16 small ones)

- 175g soft dates, chopped as finely as you can manage!
- 240ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 120g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 140g plain flour (I used gluten-free but this isn't essential)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 60g walnuts, chopped

For the glaze:

- 75g soft brown sugar
- 75g single cream
- 25g butter
- pinch of salt
- 30g desiccated coconut

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 175° (350° F). Line a 23cm x 31cm rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. In a heatproof bowl, mix the dates, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and then set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, then fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined.
4. Add the walnuts and then the date mixture (the dates should have absorbed a lot of the water but the mixture will still be very wet- it should also be lukewarm, not hot). Stir lightly until smooth, the batter is supposed to be quite sloppy at this point so don't panic!
5.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for around 25-30mins until the top is brown and an inserted skewer or cocktail stick comes out smooth. Leave to cool.
6. While the cake is baking, make the glaze- put the sugar, cream, butter and salt into a small saucepan and keep stirring until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat an set aside until cool.
7. To finish the cake, spread the glaze on top and then cut into twelve squares. Sprinkle the squares with desiccated coconut and then decorate as you wish :)

And that's it!    


I really hope you give this recipe a go! It really is delicious, and the fact that it's a scrummy cake hiding behind a rather austere exterior makes it feel all the more British! I think it's a fitting tribute to our wonderfully practical, yet ever-so-charming Queen.

Long may she reign :)

All the love,

Sian x

 
       

Uh-oh, I've been shopping.

In my defence, lots of the AW15 collections I've seen so far seem to be offering plenty of what I look for in clothes! It's all about the comfy grey knitwear and the big ol' capes that give you an excuse to literally walk around in a blanket all day... plus they've even popped some art-studenty dungarees in there for good measure. It's wannabe hipster heaven!

For me, these picks are all about creating that relaxed, off-duty yet effortlessly stylish look. And I'm all about the effortless in life :))  

My Picks:

1. New Look Black dungarees & ASOS Marl roll-neck jumper
2. Primark Grey roll-neck dress
3. ASOS Grey drape blouse
4. Primark Blanket wrap (similar)


I have to admit, I deliberated over getting these dungarees for ages! They were kept in a tab on my browser for quite some time...until I took the plunge and just bloody well ordered them :) Now that I have them I love them but, at first, I was a bit worried that a) they would make me look like a crazy woman-child and b) the ripped-knee thing would look ridiculous. However, in reality they are insanely comfy to wear and I've received lots and lots of compliments on-what some people have called- this fun look! I like to pair them with the roll-neck on a chilly day but they look just as good with a little crop top when its a bit warmer :)

   
Again with the roll-necks I hear you cry! I know, I know...but this dress just looked so damn cute on the mannequin in the shop. The only thing is it is quite thin, so I would recommend wearing tights underneath (unless you're happy with people seeing your undies!) Here, I've paired it with my leather jacket from H&M for a slightly edgier look but it looks super cute worn underneath the blanket cape (below) too!


This shirt, for me, is a step into the adult world...it just feels like something a grown-up lady would wear! But I was totally sold on the colour of it- it's sort of a soft grey/lilac in most lights and looks really nice tucked into a pair of light blue jeans. For a more evening-y look, you could pair it with some high-waisted black jeans and a leather jacket... what I really like is that it works both as a casual piece and a formal one :)    


The last thing I bought was this blanket cape- a bold move as it only comes it one size and I thought it might drown me! However, it's a ridiculously snuggly thing to have drowning you! Plus, it actually folds in to become quite figure-fitting so it works quite well over a dress or a top and jeans :) If you wanted to be snazzy, you could wrap a belt around the middle where it folds and cinch it in at the waist- but I personally prefer a more divatastic drape-y look...wearing this like a cape makes me feel like such a drama queen!

So there are my four outfit picks for those chillier days to come :) What are your staples for Autumn/Winter? I'd love to know!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x

 

Four Autumnal Pieces

Friday, 4 September 2015


Uh-oh, I've been shopping.

In my defence, lots of the AW15 collections I've seen so far seem to be offering plenty of what I look for in clothes! It's all about the comfy grey knitwear and the big ol' capes that give you an excuse to literally walk around in a blanket all day... plus they've even popped some art-studenty dungarees in there for good measure. It's wannabe hipster heaven!

For me, these picks are all about creating that relaxed, off-duty yet effortlessly stylish look. And I'm all about the effortless in life :))  

My Picks:

1. New Look Black dungarees & ASOS Marl roll-neck jumper
2. Primark Grey roll-neck dress
3. ASOS Grey drape blouse
4. Primark Blanket wrap (similar)


I have to admit, I deliberated over getting these dungarees for ages! They were kept in a tab on my browser for quite some time...until I took the plunge and just bloody well ordered them :) Now that I have them I love them but, at first, I was a bit worried that a) they would make me look like a crazy woman-child and b) the ripped-knee thing would look ridiculous. However, in reality they are insanely comfy to wear and I've received lots and lots of compliments on-what some people have called- this fun look! I like to pair them with the roll-neck on a chilly day but they look just as good with a little crop top when its a bit warmer :)

   
Again with the roll-necks I hear you cry! I know, I know...but this dress just looked so damn cute on the mannequin in the shop. The only thing is it is quite thin, so I would recommend wearing tights underneath (unless you're happy with people seeing your undies!) Here, I've paired it with my leather jacket from H&M for a slightly edgier look but it looks super cute worn underneath the blanket cape (below) too!


This shirt, for me, is a step into the adult world...it just feels like something a grown-up lady would wear! But I was totally sold on the colour of it- it's sort of a soft grey/lilac in most lights and looks really nice tucked into a pair of light blue jeans. For a more evening-y look, you could pair it with some high-waisted black jeans and a leather jacket... what I really like is that it works both as a casual piece and a formal one :)    


The last thing I bought was this blanket cape- a bold move as it only comes it one size and I thought it might drown me! However, it's a ridiculously snuggly thing to have drowning you! Plus, it actually folds in to become quite figure-fitting so it works quite well over a dress or a top and jeans :) If you wanted to be snazzy, you could wrap a belt around the middle where it folds and cinch it in at the waist- but I personally prefer a more divatastic drape-y look...wearing this like a cape makes me feel like such a drama queen!

So there are my four outfit picks for those chillier days to come :) What are your staples for Autumn/Winter? I'd love to know!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x

 

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