Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, if you want keep up to date with my adventures on my Instagram @mariablackstone… I tend to post more regularly on there.
I have been busy with a new job – I am now working as a Graphic Designer for a wine supplier (lucky me), I have been away to Menorca and Belgium and spending the summer enjoying myself, and getting out as much as I can before I go to study in September. I have a wine course to go on next week, and am then starting a graphic design course a few weeks after that. I’m excited to learn lots of new stuff but apprehsive about the battle I will no doubt have with my energy levels.
I also made my first ever wedding cake for a friend round the corner. I did a tasting for them and they chose vanilla and lemon – perfect for the summer. It was decorated simply with roses, berries and herbs from their garden. I was super pleased with the result and was amazing to know that people would enjoy all my hard work and efforts and that I could be a small part of their big day.
If you’d like a cake for your special occasion, please do get in touch and I can discuss options and prices with you.
I’ve decided that this year I am going to start trying to be kinder to myself.
Yes, I want to loose weight and look great (I am off to Sri Lanka in 4 weeks and still don’t have my bikini body) but as young women there is so much pressure to be a certain way, and I simply get miserable when I realise I don’t fit the bill.
I read an article by Angelica Malin on About Time Magazine. Check it out here – she mentions that we all need a re-tox. A fabulous idea, which got me thinking. Instead of being so hard on myself I will change my outlook on life. I will do more exercise because I enjoy it, and not beat myself up when I’m too tired to go because of my fatigue. I will not eat all the biscuits at work because they are there and I’m bored. However, I will have a few cubes of chocolate in the evening because I really need something to satisfy me. Life is about balance, and if I eat healthy food that I really enjoy, go swimming and to the gym, because this lifts my mood and makes me feel fabulous, I can still eat a slice of cake or a dessert at the weekend because I really want it.
We all need to be kinder to ourselves. We all have busy lives, life is too short to spend hours in the gym, and deprive yourself of that bit of cake that you REALLY want but shouldn’t eat because your Instagram feed is full of pictures of girls that have better bodies than you.
Saying no to something simply makes us feel guilty when we do have it, and we only want it all the more because someone tells us we shouldn’t. So have that bit of cake, chocolate bar, or that biscuit that you want to dip into your mid-morning cup of tea. Just don’t go crazy. Life is all about balance!
I wanted to take a picture of something today, and thought about making a banana traybake with some black bananas that have been floating around the fridge for a bit too long. This is made with out sugar or butter/fat so a little bit better for us but still delicious. It has a texture between a traybake and blondie. I had a piece tonight with some warm custard. Really quick and easy to whip up, and great to pack into your lunchbox for an afternoon sweet-treat.
2 ripe bananas – mashed (the blacker the better)
60g sweetener – I used Sukrin Gold, as this is similar to brown sugar. You could substitute this for light brown sugar, or an alternative sweetner.
120g full fat Total Greek yoghurt
1 large egg
5 tablespoons milk
115g cashew butter – you could also use peanut butter
220g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
100g dark chocolate – chopped into chunks
25g chopped, toasted hazelnuts
To decorate – 3-4 cubes dark chocolate, melted
Preheat your oven to 180*c/160*c fan and line a tin with non-stick parchment paper.
In a bowl mix together the banana, sweetener, yoghurt, egg, and milk until well combined.
Add the cashew butter and vanilla extract and mix again.
Fold in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
Mix in the dark chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into your lined tin, smooth out and push all the way to the corners.
Sprinkle the top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, use a fork to drizzle the top with the melted dark chocolate.
Easter may have come and gone but this recipe is perfect to use up those mini eggs and indulge just once more before we get back to working on our summer bodies! Easter is usually all about chocolate, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE chocolate, but the Creme Egg brownies have been done so I wanted to go down a different route. Easter is also about spring, yellow is the colour that comes to mind for me – daffodils, tulips and Easter chicks!
These cupcakes are inspired by the humble dippy egg, seeing as Easter is all about eggs! They have a surprise centre. A delicious, tangy lemon and passion fruit curd, that ooze like a dippy egg when cut, or bitten in to. There are a few parts to the recipe, but these can be made the day before, and assembled the next day. After all holidays are about being relaxed and fun, so why not get in your kitchen and have a go.
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
Tsp lemon extract
I only used half for this recipe, but why not serve the rest with some meringues and cream, or spread on toast?
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
4 passion fruits
100g White Chocolate
140ml double cream (I used half an elmlea carton)
1. Add the zest, juice, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, once the mixture in the pan has melted I added this to the egg yolks and whisked. How about making some Easter chick meringues with the left over egg whites?
3. Add this back to the saucepan and whisk continuously on a low heat until thickened, and bubbles start to appear. Ensure you whisk all the time, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg!
4. Pour this into a heatproof bowl, and cover with cling film, making sure the film touches the curd directly, to stop a skin forming. Once cool enough refrigerate.
5. Once cool, scoop the flesh of four passion fruits and stir into the curd, set this aside in the fridge until ready to use.
1. Melt the white chocolate, you can either do this in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. If using a microwave, ensure you don’t burn the chocolate as it has a high sugar content.
2. Add the cream to the chocolate and using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk and some muscle) whisk the mixture till light and fluffy. It should be thick enough to resemble a light buttercream. Be careful not to over whisk, otherwise the cream will split.
3. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.
1. Preheat the oven to 180 or 160 fan and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with 12 cases.
2. I used a kitchen aid, but you can use an electric whisk or do it by hand. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between to ensure each egg is encorporated to avoid curdling. If it curdles, add some flour and continue. Mix in the lemon extract at this point. I used a Sainsburys taste the difference one.
4. Add the flour, and mix enough to encorporate all the flour, but don’t over mix other wise your cakes will be tough.
5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until light and springy, and a skewer comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
1. Using an apple corer, or a knife cut out a hole in the centre of each cake. The deeper the more lemon curd you can fit in! Yummy!
2. Fill the holes with the curd, you can use a piping bag or a teaspoon. I found the curd was fairly runny, so using a teaspoon was easier than a piping bag.
3. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the frosting, and smooth over with a pallette knife. I aimed for a dome, to look a bit like an egg shape.
4. Top with freeze dried raspberries, and mini eggs. However, you can top with whatever you like. This for me is what baking is about! I like the tang of the dried raspberries, but you could top with a little fresh passion fruit, some flakes of white chocolate or whatever you fancy!
Check my other post for instructions on how to make the Easter chick meringues, 🐥🐣.
I hope you get in the kitchen and have a go at these, it seems complicated, but if you take it in steps its achievable and you can impress all your friends. Feel free to send me pictures of your bakes!
This week I have been mourning the loss of some fantastic TV. My Wednesday’s from now on will not be the same. Not only have we lost Bake Off, but also what I think could possibly be one of the best TV dramas to date – Doctor Foster. I pretty much spent the hour on the edge of my seat, holding my breath after getting pretty emotional after Nadia’s speech and Mary Berry’s tears on Bake Off.
I spent the finale of Bake Off eating cake, (obviously) so in remembrance of the nations beloved show, this weeks recipe is for a coffee and pecan cake. Pecan because I don’t like walnuts. Sorry walnut lovers. This is the cake which I stuffed my face with, after spending an hour at a gym class – seems logical right?! (Wrong).
Perfect with a cup of coffee mid morning catching up with pals, or for a sweet afternoon treat. Try this lovely cake, which ditches the traditional buttercream icing, as one I’m not a huge fan and two, when making cakes for what my mum calls ‘home use’ we try cutting down on fattening icings and indulgence. Yes, cakes covered in thick smooth icing, look beautiful and taste delicious but if you’re like us and need your regular dose of cake, it can be helpful to cut back sometimes. Now I’m not trying to claim this cake is healthy in anyway, that would be like saying Nutella is good for you because it contains nuts – it’s not. Although I think we all secretly wish it was! This cake is simply drizzled with some runny fondant water icing, and topped with chopped toasted pecans. If you prefer though, feel more than free to top with coffee buttercream … Just don’t come running to me when your jeans don’t fit haha!
6oz / 170g golden/normal caster sugar
6oz / 170g margarine or butter
6 oz / 170g self raising flour
3tsps instant coffee mixed its 3tsps boiling water
5oz /140g approx pecans
1stp instant coffee
Fondant icing sugar Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180c or 160c fan. Line your tin with silicone paper. I used a silicone square 9 inch tin, so something similar in size, but I like to add a strip of paper in the bottom so help get the cake out the tin.
2. Begin by creaming together the sugar and margarine. I used a kitchen aid for this, but you could use an electronic whisk or do it by hand and burn the extra calories, just make sure it’s really creamy, pale and fluffy.
3. Mix in your eggs one by one, combing well between each addition, if it curdles add a spoonful of the flour.
4. Toast your pecans in a dry pan on the hob, or in the oven, until the aromas are released and they are nicely toasted. Chop into small pieces.
5. Set aside a handful of your pecans, and add the rest to the flour and mix. This ensures an even distribution in your cake. Add in the coffee mixture into the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Then add in your flour and nuts and mix lightly until combined.
6. Pour the mix into your tin and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, dependent on your tin size, until baked. To test, pierce the sponge with a skewer in the middle. If it come out clean and the sponge is springy to touch it’s done. Remove fro, the oven and leave it to cool in the tin, when cool remove from the tin and place on a serving plate/cake stand.
7. To make the icing, mix together the coffee and water until dissolved. Then add enough icing sugar to make a run in consistency, but thick enough to hold. The amount will vary and whenever I make icing, I tend to just add more icing sugar, or more water until I get my desired consistency and I usually end up with too much. So apologies on behalf of the lack of measurements here. Using a fork or a whisk drizzle the icing over the cake. Then sprinkle with the left over toasted pecans.
A handy tip when making sponges – a general rule I use is double the amount of flour, sugar and butter in ounces to eggs. Eg. 6oz to 3 eggs, 8oz to 4 eggs. I find it easier to remember than using grams.
I am stating my new internship on Monday and am super excited, as well as being a little nervous. Wish me luck and I will post some spooktacular recipes at the weekend ready for Halloween!
From the 25th May-21st June I am lucky enough to be exhibiting my own photographic work in this lovely coffee house. They do they best coffee, wonderful panini’s and amazing homemade cakes. If you are in Lincoln this month, then please do check it out and let me know your thoughts. My work is for sale too, check out my website for details.