Chocolate and Raspberry Cake




Baking is something I have always loved to do, and now that the summer holidays have arrived, and I have four long months stretching in front of me, I find myself baking up to three times a week (often with little success). What I love about this recipe is that its really simple to make, and depending on who you are baking for, you can easily make it more sophisticated and polished looking, or if like me you get the help of a younger sister to decorate it, you can dress it up to look like a princess cake!

YOU WILL NEED:


  • 4 eggs (medium to large)
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 6oz self raising flour (if you want a more chocolatey sponge, reduce this to 5oz)
  • 8oz butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract/essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 oz cocoa powder (if you desire a more chocolatey sponge increase this to 3oz)
METHOD:

I use an electric mixer for this recipe, but you can also do it by hand

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C/160C for fan, and grease two medium sized non-stick cake tins
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy
  3. In a separate jug, beat together the eggs and vanilla extract
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla extract slowly, a little bit at a time, occasionally stopping and wiping down the sides to make sure all the mixture is incorporated
  5. Whilst slowly incorporating the eggs and vanilla extract, sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl
  6. Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder slowly, adding a little bit at a time, again stopping every so often to scrape down the sides, making sure all the mixture is incorporated.
  7. Split the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for around 25 minutes or the sponge bounces back when touched.
Whilst the cake its cooling, its time to prepare the frosting. I am using a recipe from Baking Part Time, as I feel its really light and fresh, making it perfect for hot summer days. 

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 8oz of cream cheese
  • 25 grams of raspberry jam (if you are looking for a more polished look, use seedless jam, I personally prefer the look you get when using regular jam)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • 169 grams of unsalted butter
  • Start with 350 grams of icing sugar, and then add more until you get your desired thickness. I ended up using around 450 grams of icing sugar and the mixture is still quite gloopy
  • A handful of fresh raspberries
METHOD:

  1. Mix together the jam, cream cheese and butter until everything is smooth and an even pale pink colour
  2. Sift the icing sugar
  3. Add the icing sugar slowly, until the desired thickness is acquired and the frosting has a smooth, thick texture
  4. At this point I also chucked in a handful of fresh raspberries and blitzed them into the mixture, as I wanted add a fresher taste to my icing. 
  5. Cool in the fridge for around half an hour
You can ice this cake however you want, if like me, you are going for a girly theme to match the pink frosting, add a hell of a lot of pink sugar, sugar stars, and raspberry flavoured fudge bits. If you are going for a more polished look, add fresh raspberries around the top of the cake, or drizzle dark chocolate over the sides.


You can also switch up the cake mixture, creating a raspberry and white chocolate sponge by adding 8oz of self raising flour and ignoring the cocoa powder. Then once all the flour is incorporated gently fold in a handful of fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips. Like I said above, the great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is, so get creative!

Letting Go

For me, letting go has always been the hardest thing to do. Ever since I was a little girl I thought that if I just tried hard enough, wished hard enough, or was good enough, that things would work out, that I'd get the grade I wanted, that I'd get my happy ending.

As I've grown older I still haven't learnt how to let go, particularly when it comes to relationships. I'm a romantic at heart, someone who believes that showing someone you care, striving for them and showing them you are never going to give up, regardless of what has to happen to get there. Maybe my head is just full of classic romance couples, such as Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, Catherine and Mr Tilney, or even the modern day TV couple Chuck and Blair, but something inside me just has the inability to let go. Its as if I'm a small child desperately clingin to a balloon thats dragging me away, but I just don't want to loose it.

I'm not a total optimist, sometimes things just aren't right at certain times. Sometimes distance, struggling lives, or illness can drive a wedge between relationships. Sometimes the timing is just wrong, or one person needs to grow and change, find out who they are before they commit to something more. I believe that sometimes there's too much friction to fight through, and you just have to hold them a little bit further away so you don't end up suffocating each other. But I don't believe in completely loosing touch whilst all this happens. I fear that if you just truly let go, that you'll forget what you enjoyed about the other person, what made them great in your eyes. This goes for friendships as much as it goes for relationships.

And it is for this reason that I can never truly let go of anything, especially when I feel that something unjust is also underfoot. If you care about someone, how can you ever let them go? How can you let go of a friendship just because it can't be everything you'd hoped or wanted for right now? Just because life is difficult or complicated shouldn't mean you should loose them forever? Or am I being naive?

I try to do the right thing, to go on with my life, better myself and be a good and just person, but every time I take a hit, every time someone chooses to walk out of my life, drop me or ignore me, I feel worthless. And now, someone who I thought was my best friend, and would never truly leave me no matter how different or how far away our lives are, has left me, and I'm wondering whether maybe  its true. Maybe I am a bad person, maybe I'm worthless, a nobody, someone who deserves to get repeatedly knocked down. I've tried to talk my self out of it, tried to desperately better myself, but if someone you respect and love so much can drop your friendship so easily, then how can it not mean something? It must mean that part of you, no matter how small, is worthless or insignificant in their eyes?

I guess it would be easier if it hadn't been the first time someone had dropped me like a hot potato, but I'm afraid this latest blow, a blow from someone I never expected to walk away from me, to stop being my friend has left me broken for good. And maybe whether letting go first, completely loosing hope when life pushed us apart, and moving on would have been the easier option, but thats just not who I am.

For now I'm just going to focus on myself. So many people are making me feel worthless, insignificant and small and I have got to let it stop. I have to continue to be good, to push and prove myself, to do the right thing, take the high road, and help those less fortunate than me, not to prove my worth to others, but to prove it to myself. To show myself that although part of me may be broken, I'm still alive and kicking and very fortunate, and I am worth so much, I just need to make myself realise it!

That doesn't mean I'm letting go, I'm never going to let go of those I truly love and care for, no matter how they hurt me, I'll always be there for them, because that's what you do for someone you love. You're there for them, you don't force them or stop them from doing anything. You don't tell them what they can and can't do, who they can and can't be friends with, and who they should be. You're there for them and you support them, no matter what. And you're there for them whenever they need you.

But for now I'm going to focus on me, to live my life to the fullest and be the person I truly want to be, and as always I will live by some of Blair Waldorf's sound advice:

"Destiny is for losers. It's just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen"

and

"If you really want something you don't stop for anyone or anything until you get it"

Get Up Offa That Thing








Although the UK is having a heatwave, it doesn't seem like the North East got the memo. Don't get me wrong, its been warmer than usual, but I've seen hardly any rays of sunshine peeping through those clouds. I'm so jealous of all the bloggers I've seen bathed in beautiful sunlight, whilst I sit inside obsessively watching for some sunlight to appear through the clouds so I can take some quick outfit photos.

Today's outfit features this gorgeous Topshop skirt, which I've had my eye on for a while. The problem I have with high-waisted skirts, particularly A-Line skirts, is that I have a rather small waist, yet disproportionately large butt. To find a skirt that'd truly fit, I'd need a 4 around my waist but a 6-8 on my butt, and Topshop just doesn't make skirts like that. However, I am just sick and tired of seeing so many gorgeous skirts, trying them on, then putting them back all sad and teary eyed. So when I tried on this white cord button up skirt, I knew I just had to have it, and tuck in thicker tops, or wear something over the top to distract from the hand sized gap between my waist and my skirt.

So I paired this 70's inspired skirt with a thin knit jumper (as it ain't that hot up here yet), my new Office boots, and a chunky beaded bracelet.

It also seems that I just can't stop dancing whenever I am taking outfit photos, so I thought it would be appropriate to name this post after one of my favourite dancing tunes, "Get Up Offa That Thing".

I hope you are all having a lovely summer, and getting more of this heatwave than I am up North. Has it been sunny where you live? Let me know in the comments below so I can get all good and jealous about your tanning opportunities.

Skirt- Topshop
Top- New Look
Bracelet- (Gift)
Shoes- Office

July Playlist

Another month, another monthly playlists, so without further ado, I give you my July playlist.

1. Devil's Backbone- The Civil Wars- This songs is so hauntingly beautiful with ethereal harmonies and eerie lyrics. It has a somewhat gospel/folk vibe to it and is perfect to listen to when relaxing. I'm not sure what it is, but the song is so all encompassing and haunting that when it finishes I kind of feel an emptiness, as if the song just left me part way through, and I have to play it again to get my Devil's Backbone fix.
2. Get Up Offa That Thing- James Brown- One of the greats of soul and funk, James Brown could certainly sing, and this is one of my favourite James Brown songs. When listening it you have just gotta dance, and well, I guess "get up offa that thing"....
3. Love is the Future- Hot Chip- Whenever I listen to this song, I always imagine one of those movie montages in my head, human interaction on super speed, people laughing, together, going out, that kind of thing. This song is perfect for me whilst I spend most of my days alone at home, being up beat and aiding me in my daydreams.
4. Passenger- Iggy Pop- I recently spent an evening watching highlights of The Old Grey Whistle Test with my parents, when a young Iggy Pop appeared (shirtless of course) and it just rekindled my love for his music. This song has to be one of his most famous along with Lust for Life. Passenger is just the perfect summer song, to dance to barefoot in the grass, to listen to whilst on a road trip, or even just to lie back and watch the world go by to.
5. Fortune 500- Everything Everthing This song comes from Everything Everything's new and rather brilliant album, which was released on the 22nd June. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a very good audio for this song, (with this post being written the day after the albums release), but this live version is pretty great regardless.

JUNE READ: THE POWER AND THE GLORY|| Graham Greene

I have always read a lot, as children my Mum used to have to hide our books when it got close to dinner time, otherwise my younger sister and I wouldn't hear them calling for dinner, or calling for help setting the table. Our house is lined with bookshelves, and books that overflow the shelves and are now precariously stacked along windowsills and along the floor.

Unfortunately whilst studying for my history degree at the University of York, I have little time to read anything other than academic books, and when I do have some leisure time, the thought of reading another chapter is not so welcome. That having been said, now that the summer has arrived, and I am off for a whooping three months, I am back on the reading band wagon. That is why I have decided to do a monthly book post, featuring a book I have recently read and would recommend to you, my lovely readers. Hopefully I read enough books over the summer to tide over this mini series till my next holiday break at Christmas, but we'll see how it goes.

The first book I would like to feature is a classic from someone who is often considered one of the great English writers, Graham Greene, author of books such as Brighton Rock and Travels with My Aunt. The book that I am featuring however, is The Power and the Glory, a book that is often considered Greene's literary masterpiece.

Written about the anti-Catholicism and secularisation of Mexico, the books central character is a priest, or "whisky priest" on the run, and one of the only known priest left in Mexico. Split into parts and then into chapters, the novel has a disjointed yet decidedly fluid structure. With the first few chapters opening around, not the main character, but those who he directly or indirectly interacts with, such as Mr Trench, the Police, and Captain Fellows. Greene artfully sets the scene, and gives the reader a true feeling of what it was like in 1930s/1940s Mexico, not only for Mexican peasants, but those in authority, and those who had known a different life, such as the English dentist Mr Trench.

Greene's characters are full of life, and although all vastly different people, their lives intertwine and overlap each other in this oppressed and struggling country. There is the struggling English dentist, forgetful and dreaming of his home town, not necessarily for the family he left behind, but the amenities and the lifestyle. Then there are the police, a collection of misfits and Indians, men in authority whose only job is to capture the priest, and the gringo (a robber and murderer from the United States). They are not necessarily bad men, just committed socialist and men with a job that needs to be done. Then there are those such as Coral, the daughter of a banana plantation owner, mature beyond her years, the parent to her parents. Other characters are introduced throughout the book, such as Padre Jose, a traitor priest, and the half-caste, who remains nameless but ever rememberable with his two yellow fangs and needy demeanour. Each character has some sort of interaction with the "whisky priest", either knowingly or unknowingly, some willingly protect him and hide him, others more begrudgingly, but the strong desire to confess, to hear mass often drives them.

Greene's main character, the "whisky priest" remains nameless throughout the book, and is a struggling character battling with his soul, and his past misdeeds and sins. Why did he stay in Mexico? Can he ever be a martyr? Is he really even a priest anymore, never mind a good priest? These are the sorts of question that plague him throughout the novel. As I ventured further in to the novel I flitted between feelings of dislike, sympathy and anger towards the priest, and it wasn't until the last few chapters  that I felt any true liking towards the priest.

Although I found this novel hard to get into at first, once I reached the halfway mark I feel in love with it, and I feel it is a must read for any book lovers out there. However, Greene novels aren't really the uplifting, so if you're someone in search of a feel good read for the summer, this novel might not be for you.


YORK TEA & CAKE GUIDE: Brew & Brownie

Another week, another York Tea and Cake Guide, and this ones a scrummy one! Just opposite the Museum Gardens and down from the Minster is Brew and Brownie, a small but perfectly formed cafe that not only serves delectable cakes and lunches, but also a variety of mouth watering American-Pancake dishes!

With beautiful and rustic interior, a friendly atmosphere and a wide array of tea options, Brew and Brownie is the perfect brunch, lunch or late afternoon destination. You can even take your cakes and pancakes home for later, allowing you to bring a little bit of tasty joy home with you!

A Whole Lotta Maroon










Just a quick one today, as I'm busy unpacking and job searching for the long summer months ahead, sigh. I seem to be having a thing for maroon today, and as the sun was shining bare legs were on the cards (if slightly hairy and bruised). Paired with a vintage scarf and my perfect pair of Summer Boots, I was all set for a day of tea drinking and errand running.

Top- Boohoo
Skirt- Boohoo
Boots- Asos
Scarf- Vintage