Monday, 29 September 2014

This crystal city's gonna fall apart...

I think that between my mourning for summer, and the fact that my work uniform currently consists of blue denim and Nikes, this kind of an outfit post was always going to happen. I'm fascinated with bohemian, folky styles at the moment and 'bell sleeve' is a saved search on my Depop. These styles suit the transition from summer to autumn so perfectly well, and since I'm a bit of a hippie at heart I'm becoming more and more inclined to express that through my clothing...

Rose headband - Camden Town*
Dress - Topshop (via Depop)
Boots - Topshop

When this purple headband arrived from Camden Town I couldn't help but mourn the end of summer. Don't get me wrong, I love autumn and I'm really excited for all that comes with the season, but there is usually such a carefree spirit in the air when it's warm and sunny outside (also if I go one more year without a proper festival I'm going to be one very sad Hannah!) Now that it's nearly October I had certainly missed the window to pair this with denim and DMs in a homage to festival fashion, so I tried a different tack with a chiffon dress for an Ophelia kind of vibe. A lot of bloggers have written off the flower crown by now, dubbing them so very 2009, but as a hippie at heart I'm always going to love wearing flowers in my hair.

These kind of smock shapes are tricky for a curvy girl as they aren't the most flattering, particularly in pale colours where you can risk looking like you've wandered outside in a (super pretty) nightgown. Belts, my usual solution, don't always look right on material that's both super voluminous and pale (particularly since my love for black leather and studs will never fade, and this sums up the majority of the belts in my possession) so instead I bought a length of lace which worked well to draw this dress in just enough. It's weirding me out that I'm so drawn to pale colours at the moment, but as always, it's nothing a pair of big black boots can't balance out. Find this outfit on Lookbook here...

How do you feel about bohemian style and flower crowns? Summer, festivals, or all year round?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Build a heart made from armour...

Hi dolls. Today I have an outfit post lined up for you guys. This is such a gorgeous dress and I'm really excited to share it with you guys! Aside from my amazing weekend away I've not been feeling all that great lately, but luckily nothing makes me feel better like putting on a pretty dress and heels...

Dress - Joe Browns*
Heels - New Look (old)

Joe Browns are a brand that really know how make dresses, and well. This is the third Joe Browns dress in my wardrobe now and all three have been beautifully crafted, with thoughtful attention to detail (I love the quirky heart button detail on the skirt, such a thoughtful little touch) and made from good quality materials. The fact that they always get just the right length is really important too: whilst I'm not afraid of a short hemline, just an extra inch can make all the difference meaning you don't have to constantly keep an eye on it haha.

This dress from their new Sovereignty collection caught my eye immediately, I loved the lace overlay, to me it looked beautiful and regal. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised with the weight of the material: it's thick, heavy and whilst it's a cute going-out dress for now I'm already dreaming about layering it with fluffy black jumpers or sheer chiffon blouses come winter. (I'm actually strongly considering wearing it for my graduation ceremony as I think it would work really well, what do you guys think?!) Next on my Joe Browns wishlist is their vintage floral print dress which is just gorgeous and would work really well for styling with chunky knits when that time comes around. (Yeah soz, I'm already all about the knitwear. Obsessed, much?) Find this outfit on Lookbook here...

Do you like this dress? Does dressing up make you feel better when you're down?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The lion's roar...

Hi dolls, I hope you're well! I wanted to write a post about the past weekend, which was such an amazing time. With both our first anniversary and my boy's birthday to celebrate, I whisked him off to London on Saturday afternoon. I don't often share much detail to do with days out here, which is a shame really as it's nice to share those memories and keep them preserved!

If you'd like to read a little bit about our weekend, stick around! This post is super photo-heavy (yay animal photos!) so click to read more. :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I never miss a beat, I'm lightening on my feet...

These Bakeoff days keep flying round, I can barely keep track any more! For the past few weeks I've had very little free time - I really wasn't sure when on earth I'd fit in my Bakeoff challenge, particularly as the theme this week is 'advanced dough.' I looked to Paul Hollywood's book for guidance and was shocked to find that his croissant or Danish pastry doughs require about 17 hours rest before you even assemble the final items! Between my late-night bake and work the next day that was just not plausible for me, but instead I found a classic recipe for a Belgian bun which required a fraction of the amount of time Mr Hollywood suggests, but still works for the 'enriched dough' specification. If you'd like to learn how to make these bad boys, read on!

This recipe creates approximately 16 Belgian buns. You will need the following ingredients:

475g strong white flour, plus a little extra for dusting
5g salt
65g caster sugar
10g milk powder
40g butter, plus extra for glazing
1/2 egg, beaten
8g fast action dried yeast
250ml water (warm, not hot)
75g brown sugar
5g cinnamon
Currants, to taste
Icing sugar, to taste
Glace cherries, to taste

Sift the strong white flour, salt, caster sugar and milk powder into a bowl. Stir the yeast into the warm water and set aside. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, then add the yeast liquid and the beaten egg. Mix well, until a soft dough is formed. Resist the temptation to add any extra flour. Knead the dough well, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the dough into a heavy bowl and leave the prove for about 45 minutes in a warm place.

 When the dough is proved, knock it back and fold over itself, leaving to rest again for another 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, you can prep the ingredients needed to assemble the buns: mix cinnamon and brown sugar in one small bowl, and melt butter in a different bowl, ready to glaze. Set these aside. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

Roll the dough out to cover an area of about 30cm x 60cm (since I didn't have quite enough spare kitchen surface space, I repeated the process twice: using half the mixture accordingly on a 30x30cm surface.) Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinammon mix over the top of the rolled dough, then sprinkle with currants.

Roll up the dough in a Swiss roll fashion, not too tightly. Glaze all sides of the roll with butter (this will prevent sticking once the buns are baked) then cut the roll into equal slices.

Place the slices flat side down onto a baking tray with the pieces almost touching, then leave to prove. Once proved, bake the buns for 15 minutes.

Once the buns are baked, remove them from the oven (mine went slightly over despite baking them for only 13 minutes; if you have a fan oven keep a very close eye on your bake!)

Leave the buns to cool for a moment, before transferring them onto a cooling tray.

The buns will break apart quite easily once transferred to the tray. From this point you could glaze them or dust them with a little caster sugar but I opted not to.

I did drizzle a few buns with icing sugar and topped with a glace cherry, for those with a sweet tooth.

Whilst my family are big lovers of croissants, this type of sweet bun is something I've never attempted to bake before. However, I'm really glad I tried this recipe as I'd love to make this again using different flavours: the filling, providing it is not too wet, should be fairly interchangeable. I'm not usually a fan of currants and cinnamon but in these the flavour isn't too overpowering. They make a really great breakfast! Do you like the sound of these, would you try them?

Friday, 19 September 2014

'Cause you are the only one...

Hi guys, I hope you're well! I have some outfit posts and exciting news to share with you next week, but first I wanted to let you know I'm off away this weekend with my handsome man. It's our one year anniversary today, which has come around so quickly, then it's his birthday on Sunday so I'm planning on spoiling him! Here's a little mini portrait I made of the two of us for his anniversary card.

I'm not usually the type to write a public, soppy statement about these kind of things, but I guess you only get one first anniversary, and I'm a big fan of this boy. He fills my days with happiness, laughter and love, and he's a big part of my life so it will be nice to at least attempt to show him how much he means to me!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Make it last, make it count, make it one more round...

I didn't really enjoy cooking lessons at school. Don't get me wrong - our teacher was great and I was interested in the subject, but between the time constraints, the grotty equipment and the crowded kitchen I never really came home with something I was proud of. I remember in year 9 we spent about a term making pasties - constantly planning, then baking, batches of pasties until myself (and my poor mother who had to try my 'delicious' creations every single week) were sick to death of the damn things! Just the memory of getting home and opening up the plastic container (which had condensed and turned my greying pastry a bit soggy) brings back all too visceral a reaction, and not an entirely pleasant memory, although quite a funny one.

As this week's bakeoff is pastry week I decided to give pasties another go, in the hope that one day I wouldn't shudder at the very thought of a homemade pasty! I opted for a cheese, leek and potato filling as I thought that would be a great basic recipe to master and please everybody at dinner time. (Truthfully I seem to be using this Blogger Bakeoff challenge as a way to learn new recipes rather than produce showstoppers, but hopefully it's fun to read nonetheless!)

This recipe makes 5 cheese, leek and potato pasties. (You could make more or less depending on the desired size of the pasties!) For this recipe you will need:

500g shortcut pastry (recipe here, omit the tomato puree)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 leeks, finely sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp double cream
150g cheese (I used Cheddar!)
1 egg, beaten
Flour, for dusting
Dried thyme, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Firstly, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan, and soften the leeks. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for approximately 8 minutes, or until tender but still in shape.

Once cooked, drain the potatoes and add them to the leeks. Stir in the mustard, cream, cayenne pepper, thyme, and season well with salt and pepper, leaving on the side to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to the desired thickness (no thicker than half a centimetre!) I used a tea plate as my template, and used a knife to cut around the plate, dividing the dough into 5 circles, arranging these on the baking tray.

Grate the cheese and stir it into the potato and leek mix, making sure it is thoroughly mixed in.

Spoon the mix onto the centre of each circle of pastry, leaving space at the edges to seal the shape. Gather the edges of the pastry together, and crimp the edges together, forming a pasty shape.

Beat an egg into a small bowl and glaze each pasty using the egg and a pastry brush. Pierce the pasties with a knife for ventilation, then put in the oven to bake for approximately 40 minutes.

When the pasties are golden brown, take them out of the oven.

Transfer the pasties onto a wire rack to cool, or serve warm. I was really pleased with how these turned out: it's the kind of recipe that is so simple you wonder why you haven't tried it sooner, and the fact that they can be eaten hot or cold gives them extra versatility.

I'll be having one of these for dinner tonight with a side salad (I also gave one to my boyfriend this morning to take to work for his lunch, cos I'm a nice gal like that.)

I was out for dinner last night celebrating a friend's birthday so I've not even tasted these bad boys yet, but my rents took one for the team and seemed pleased with my efforts! Many thanks Mum for eating all those bloody pasties back in year 9, I only hope you enjoyed these a little more..!