Lemon shortbread hearts filled with blackberry jam

These lemon shortbread hearts make a wonderful gift for loved ones! The zesty lemon shortbread accompanied by the tarty blackberry jam is the perfect sweet treat for these Autumn nights.

Hi guys! I am absolutely loving the autumnal weather that’s taken hold of us here in Lancashire over the past few weeks; even though it’s mostly wet and windy, I must admit that I love the evenings growing darker and getting tucked up on the sofa with Jason as it pours it down outside. 🙂

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When the weather’s dark and miserable, I also love baking. One of my fondest memories from high school was being sent home due to the snow, pulling a wooly jumper on and starting baking some mince pies… but I’m getting ahead of myself here! It’s only October!

Today’s bake is my lemon shortbread hearts filled with homemade blackberry jam. I’d been trying to settle on a good shortbread recipe for a while, before finally deciding on the one in this post. These shortbreads were the perfect amount of zestiness and crumbliness- and the blackberry jam went so well with them!

Ever so moorish, these shortbreads are the perfect sweet treat to be tucking into while wrapped up on the sofa on these dark Autumn days!

Find the recipe below!

Ingredients (makes approximately 12 shortbread hearts):

  • 250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 360g plain flour
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 130g caster sugar
  • Blackberry jam to go in the middle of your biscuits (why not make your own? Find my recipe here)

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Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150C/
  2. Cream your butter and sugar together. Mix in your lemon zest and juice.
  3. Sift your flour into the mixture and combine. Use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a dough.
  4. Wrap your dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Once you have done so, remove from the fridge before rolling out your dough on a floured surface. You want it to be about half a centimetre thick, so 5mm.
  5. Cover your rolled out dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge once again for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Remove your dough from the fridge. You can now cut out your love heart shapes. You will need two love heart cookie cutters, one large one and one small one, for this design, though you could use circular cutters or similar to get the same overall effect.
  7. Cut out 24 hearts using your larger cutter. If you don’t have enough dough for 24, or you’ve got way more, no worries! Cut out as many as you wish, simply ensure that it is an even number.
  8. Leave half of your larger hearts as they are. With the other half, use your smaller cutter to cut the middle out. Place your biscuits on a greased and lined baking tray (Silly me had forgotten to buy more greaseproof paper for this project after running out… I had to use tin foil to line my baking trays- I can confirm it works!)
  9. Sprinkle sugar on top of your biscuits before placing in the oven for approximately 14 minutes.
  10. Allow your shortbread biscuits to cool for 5-10 minutes on your baking tray before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. When your shortbread are completely cooled, Spread a layer of jam on your full heart shaped biscuits. Place a cut out heart biscuit on top and there you have it! Lemon shortbread jam sandwich biscuits!

These biscuits went down a treat, I only wish that I’d made more! I think this is a great recipe to try your hand at as we lead up to Christmas, and they would make a wonderful gift for a loved one (it’s never too early for Christmas, right?).

What have you been baking recently? You know I’d love to hear about it!

 

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Best wishes to you all on these blustery Autumn days!

Maddie x

 

 

Chocolate and Peanut butter celebration cake- It’s my birthday!

This celebration cake is perfect for the peanut butter lovers in your life!

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY GUYS! 😀 As some of you may know I turned 20 today, so naturally that meant that I spent the entirety of yesterday in the kitchen, baking till I could bake no more! No, seriously, I spent seven hours in there- I was exhausted by the end of it! 

I’d been toying over what type of cake to make for my birthday for a while. My birthday cake is my one big bake of the year; the one when I don’t feel guilty about going completely over the top with the edible glitter and food colouring! I’d originally been considering a rainbow cake, but after a bit more thinking I decided on a peanut butter and chocolate cake creation! 🙂

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I lurrrvvvee chocolate cake. I’m not a big chocolate eater on its own, but somehow in cake form I become obsessed with the stuff. Chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache, I love it all.

Unlike my inherent love for chocolate cake, my liking for peanut butter was something that I hadn’t discovered until recently. Like my obsession with old school Taylor Swift, my discovery of peanut butter flavoured confectionary is something that I owe to Jason. (That boy is a hell of a Swiftie, I’ll tell you that much).

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So that was it, I decided to go all out on a chocolate and peanut butter cake. This over the top bake was complete with alternating layers of peanut butter and chocolate buttercream, sandwiched between THREE moist chocolatey sponges; all slathered in a thick layer of homemade peanut butter icing and coated with a milk chocolate ganache. Not to mention topped off with homemade toffee, edible golf stars and Reese’s peanut butter cups. You only turn 20 once, after all.

If you fancy making your own peanut butter and chocolate cake, I’ve written my recipe below!

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Ingredients (makes three 8″ diameter chocolate sponges):

For the cake:

  • 12oz unsalted butter or Stork margarine
  • 12oz caster sugar
  • 10.5 oz self raising flour
  • 1.5 oz cocoa powder
  • 6 medium eggs

For the icing:

  • 14oz icing sugar
  • 7oz Stork margarine or similar
  • 1/2tbs cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2tbs peanut butter
  • A splash of milk

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/356F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line three 8″ cake tins. (I only own two and so have to do this in two steps, no worries if this is the case! Simply bake two of your sponges and when they are cooling pop your third in).
  2. Cream your butter and sugar together. Beat in your eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with each. Sieve in your remaining flour and cocoa powder and combine.
  3. Once your mixture is thoroughly mixed together, distribute it evenly between the three cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. When your cake is fully cooked you should be able to stick a knife in the centre and pull it out clean, that is to say, without any cake mix on it.
  4. Leave your cakes to cool in the tins for five minutes before turning out onto a cake rack and letting cool completely.

Now you can make your icing!

  1. Cream your margarine and icing sugar together carefully until you have a smooth buttercream consistency. Add in the milk and combine.
  2. Spoon about 4tbs of your buttercream into a separate bowl. Add in your cocoa powder. This is your chocolate buttercream.
  3. Add the peanut butter to the remaining buttercream.
  4. Begin to construct your cake! Cover the bottom layer of sponge in your chocolate buttercream before sandwiching with another layer of sponge and then a layer of peanut buttercream. Place your final layer of sponge on top.
  5. Cover your cake in a crumb coat of buttercream and refrigerate for ten minutes. Once refrigerated, you can cover your cake completely in peanut buttercream. (Make sure you leave some peanut buttercream to decorate the top of the cake if you wish to do so).
  6. If you wish to cover your cake in chocolate ganache as I did, find my recipe here! Pour your ganache onto the top so that some drips down the sides of your cake.

Decorate your cake as you wish using peanut buttercream, Reese’s peanut butter cups and bits of toffee! Basically, whatever you fancy!

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Notes: A crumb coat is a rough layer of buttercream that you do to catch all the crumbs from your cake and prevent them from ending up in your final layer of buttercream. Your cake doesn’t have to be completely covered in icing, just a thin layer will do the trick.

That’s it for today guys, I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you’ve got any questions, I’ll do my best to help! 🙂

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

Barcelona Diaries- Day 1

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Hey guys! I noticed the other day that the travel section of my blog seemed to be lacking on content somewhat, so I’ve decided to show it some love and write a series of blog posts about my travels last year to Barcelona.

Barcelona was the first city outside of England that Jason and I had the pleasure to visit just the two of us. We’d previously been on holiday to Spain together twice, though this had been first with friends and then my parents, so we were incredibly excited to have the chance to go away on our own. I also speak Spanish, so I’m always excited when I have the opportunity to visit Spain.

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La Sagrada Familia- Barcelona

First things first, Barcelona is a beautiful city, there is no doubt about that. The influence of the architect Antoni Gaudi can be seen all over the city, with perhaps his most famous work being the great Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral.

Following an uneventful (but very early!) two and a half hour flight, Jason and I arrived at our apartment to drop off our luggage before having a wander around prior to our check in time.

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Las Ramblas- Barcelona

We stayed with MH Apartments Urban for the three night duration of our stay and I couldn’t fault them one bit. The apartment was spotless, modern and stylish, with a perfect central location, no more than a ten minute walk from Las Ramblas. The kitchenette came equipped with a dishwasher, microwave oven and kettle, and we were provided with a dishwasher tablet, soap and washing up liquid on arrival, something we were not expecting for the extremely reasonable price of the apartment.

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Photo courtesy of the MH apartments website-https://www.mhapartments.com/en/barcelona-apartments/mh-urban

There is a wonderful, buzzing city vibe as your walk around the streets of Barcelona. After depositing our luggage, we decided to walk towards the main shopping area of the city, Las Ramblas. We passed uncountable cafes and restaurants on our walk, all within the space of ten minutes. Following a much needed drink in Starbucks and then a bite to eat in one of the local cafes, we had a further look around before heading back to the apartment.

As it had been an incredibly early start that morning (our plane had departed at around 6am), we didn’t fancy doing much else on our first day. On our look around before we had spotted a Dominos only a couple of minutes walk from where we were staying, so we nipped out to grab a couple of pizzas and a bottle of wine, before spending our evening in watching tv and planning what we wanted to do tomorrow.

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Left: Our Domino’s pizza and a much needed glass of wine. Right: Tucking into a sandwich at a local cafe.

 

DIY paper storage- decoupage cereal box!

Check out this DIY paper storage box! Super cute AND super practical, a great craft project for the kids to get involved in.

Hi guys! HAPPY MONDAY! -I decided to put that in capitals because today marks the start of my birthday week! I turn 20 on Friday- yay!

If, however, you’re not feeling too happy about the fact it’s Monday and would much rather be crawling under your duvet instead of facing the week ahead, I’ve got a lovely little DIY project to get you feeling inspired!

Today I bring you my DIY paper storage. As you may have seen in my recent Paperchase post, I have a love for stationary. However, what I failed to mention in that post was that my love for stationary extends to all things paper related. We’re talking pretty folders, cutely decorated storage boxes; you get the idea.

I love to feel organised and on top of my paper work, and being a Physics student, I have a lot of paper work.

Which brings us to today’s post, my how to DIY paper storage box!

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For this DIY you will need:

  • A cereal box
  • Scissors
  • Paper mache paste and paper (Find my DIY paper mache paste here!)
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • Decoupage paper or other patterned paper
  • Glue (You can buy specific glue and varnish for decoupage purposes here, or at similar craft stores including Hobbycraft.)
  • Washi tape

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I use the brand Decopatch for all of my decoupage supplies; they offer an amazing range of bright and colourful papers with a variety of awesome designs on, as well as glue and varnish specific to decoupage purposes.

What to do:

  1. Draw a straight line from the centre top of the cereal box to approximately three quarters up the side of the cereal box. Do this on both sides of the cereal box and then cut along both lines to create the shape of your paper storage box.
  2. Cover your box in paper mache. If you’d like instructions on how to do this, check out my post! Leave to dry over night. This will help make the box sturdy and strong enough to hold all your papers! 🙂
  3. Once your paper mache has dried, you can cover your box in pieces of paper! Tear your paper up into small pieces and apply them to your box using the glue, one at a time. Layer them up ensuring there are I used decoupage papers from the brand decopatch. I really like the contrast between the red and the blue paper on my box, but you can cover your box however you like!
  4. Paint the inside of your box, or decoupage the inside in a contrasting paper! I used a really cool pink design I’d found at Bents Garden Centre.
  5. Leave your box to dry over night again, before applying washi tape along the edges to cover up any messy bits!
  6. Ta da! Congratulations on your new storage box!

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I love this idea, it’s a great craft idea for kids to get involved in! It was really fun to make and I love the unique finish of this box. 🙂

I hope you guys enjoyed this simple DIY and maybe it inspired you to get crafty. What have you been making recently? Let me know in the comments, I would love to check it out.  🙂

Maddie.

 

 

Homemade Bunting DIY- renter friendly decor!

Handmade bunting makes a really unique and beautiful addition to any home. Great for renters, this bunting can be stuck up with blu tac!

Hi guys! Today’s post is my DIY bunting. I LOVE bunting. Seriously, love the stuff. I’ve got it in my bedroom, the kitchen, the garden, on the wall, in the window… you get the idea.

I think bunting is a great, cheap way of adding character to any space. I love the vintage look and feel of bunting, and it’s ability to transform a room. For me, it creates a festive and homely atmosphere- plus its renter friendly! I use blu tac when I’m at uni to stick bunting up on my walls to help make my room feel like home.

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Working in a fabric shop, I often get asked for suggestions on easy sewing projects for beginners, and I always respond with bunting. It’s a really simple but rewarding DIY, perfect for people who are just getting to grips with a sewing machine.

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, find my step by step instructions below!

You will need (for a 2m length of bunting) : 

  • Assorted fabric. The bunting featured in this post was made using five different fabrics; use what you have in or purchase quarter of a metre lengths of each. This will give you more than enough fabric to produce two metres of bunting. 
  • 2.5m of Bias Binding or ribbon.
  • A sewing machine.
  • Matching thread.
  • Fabric Scissors.
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I purchase all of my fabric from The Buttonhole, my place of work. They offer a great selection and also international delivery on all of their fabrics. All fabric featured in this post and my other DIYs is sourced from The Buttonhole.

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What to do:

  1. Cut out a template for your bunting. An equilateral triangle of approximately 6″ by 10″ will do the job, or scale to your own requirements depending on what you want your final bunting to look like. P1230286.jpg
  2. Pin your template to each of your fabrics in turn and cut around. To make a 2m stretch of bunting you will require around ten flags, this means you will need to cut twenty triangles. Note: Two triangles makes ONE bunting flag. You will see why in the next step.
  3. Place two matching triangles right sides together, that is, with the correct sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin down the two long edges of the triangle before machine stitching down these edges, leaving the top open. Tip: By pinning perpendicular to the edge of the fabric as shown below, you can sew over you pins with your machine without breaking the needle.P1230297.jpg
  4. Turn your flag the correct way around and press with an iron. Repeat this method until you have created all your flags.
  5. Fold the two raw edges at the top of you flag inside the flag to create a neat edge, press and machine stitch into place.
  6. You are now ready to attach your ribbon or bias binding. If you wish to use bias binding and would like to know how to do this, please refer to this blog post where I explain in detail how to attach bias binding to your projects. If using ribbon, place the top of your flag just behind the ribbon and machine stitch into place.
  7. Repeat this, spacing out your flags evenly along the length of your bunting until all have been sewed on!P1230300

That’s it! Congratulations on your new bunting! I hope you guys enjoyed this post and maybe it inspired you to get crafty! Have you got any renter friendly DIY decor ideas? Let me know! It’s always great to discover new ways of decorating my student halls.

Best wishes to you all!

Maddie x

Super tasty lemon cupcake recipe

These super tasty cupcakes are any lemon lovers dream- filled with zesty lemon curd and topped with tangy lemon buttercream!

Hi guys! Following on from my classic vanilla spongecake recipe last week, I thought it’d be a good idea to share my lemon cupcake recipe with you all! This recipe is probably one of my favourite cupcake recipes of all time, and I’ve returned to it time and time again. I actually made a large sandwich cake version of this back for Jason and I’s one year anniversary; we’re now due to celebrate four years this month.

These mouthwateringly moist cupcakes are filled with a tangy lemon curd centre and topped off with a swirl of lemon buttercream- a lemon lovers dream! Be warned though: these are so light and airy, you might eat the whole batch!

Fancy making your own? Find the recipe below:

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • A lemon
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 oz unsalted butter or margarine (I use Stork margarine for all my bakes)
  • 4 oz caster sugar

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If you’d like to make your own lemon curd to go inside the cupcakes, find my recipe here! You will need:

  • A lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • 2oz unsalted butter

For the buttercream, you will need:

  • Half a lemon
  • 8oz icing sugar (sifted)
  • 4 oz margarine

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Method (makes 12 cupcakes):

  1. Line a cupcake tin with twelve cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 190C fan/375F/gas mark 5.
  2. Cream together the butter/margarine and sugar. Add the zest and juice from the lemon.
  3. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, before sieving in the flour.
  4. Fold the mixture together before spooning into the prepared cupcake cases and popping in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes have turned a golden brown and you can place a skewer inside the cake and pull it out clean.
  5. Place on a cooling rack to cool.

If making your own lemon curd, do so now using this recipe.

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Once your cakes and lemon curd have cooled, cut a small circle out of the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with lemon curd before placing the top of the cake back on.

Now you can make the buttercream:

  1. Cream your margarine and icing sugar together using a wooden spoon, at least until the icing sugar is thoroughly mixed in. You may now go in with an electric whisk to speed up the process.
  2. Add the juice of half a lemon and combine.

Once you have done this, you can pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of each cake! Ta da! Now go and enjoy your homemade lemon cupcakes!

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Top tip: If you wish to make a large sandwich cake version of this like I did for my anniversary, multiply your quantities by 1.5 and place the mixture in two circular cake tins, lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Pssst… If you liked this post, why not share it on your social media or pin it on pinterest?

 

DIY paper mache paste

 

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Hi guys! A super quick and easy blog post today- my DIY paper mache paste! I’m sure a few of my readers already know how to make their own paper mache paste, but for those who don’t, this is for you lovely people! 🙂 I also thought I’d include some short instructions on how to paper mache, too.

Paper mache (or papier-mâché) is a need to know technique for aspiring crafters. Fun fact: ‘papier-mâché’ is actually French for ‘chewed paper’!

Paper mache is a composite material consisting of pieces of paper and some sort of paste or glue. It is sooooo versatile, and can be used for a multitude of craft projects. I used the  particular paper mache paste featured in this post for an upcoming blog project- so keep your eyes peeled!

So, how do you make your own paper mache paste?

You will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water

Method:

  1. Combine the flour and the water in a bowl… and that’s it! Told you it was super easy.

How do you paper mache?

  1. Tear up sheets newspaper or similar into strips. Dunk your first strip of paper into your paste, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. Remove from the paste, take any excess off the paper strip by running it between your thumb and finger. (I never said it wasn’t messy!)
  2. Place your first strip onto the object you wish to paper mache, and stick down with an old paint brush. Repeat this process until all of the object has been covered.
  3. Leave to dry over night.

So there you have it, how to make your own paper mache paste. I hope some of you found it useful, and maybe it even inspired you to get making! The possibilities of paper mache are endless.

Before I go, we’ve got some great blog posts coming up this week: homemade bunting being just one of them! I’m so excited to share them with you, I hope you’re looking forward to it too.

Best wishes to you all for the week ahead.

Maddie x