August Break Day 30 Smile

It takes a lot to keep smiling and I am told I don't do it often enough. Here's my recent selfie and profile picture. In a Five on Friday post I wrote about things that make me smile!

August Break Day 29 Listening

Counting Crows - Possibility Days

Other songs on my recent play list:

Little Mix - Move
Train - Bullet Proof Picasso
Pitbull - Give Me Everything
Rupert Holmes - Escape (pina colada song)
Mamma Mia - Lay All Your Love On Me
Jewel - Hands

August Break Day 28 In My Bag

1. Vans flamingo hand bag bought circa 2005
2. paracetamol - you just never know
3. Ted Baker color lip gloss
4. Lush liquid lipstick - Perspective: Now I can see clearly.
5. Balmi lip balm - cherry
6. keys - with Make Cupcakes Not War Johnny Cupcake key chain
7. Good Fish Guide
8. wallet - TK Maxx find
9. Tic Tacs
10. Pen from Kyoto Sushi in Minneapolis, Minnesota
11. notebook

What's in your bag?

August Break Day 27 Favorite Recipe

It's hard to choose just one favorite recipe, but these chocolate chip cookies never fail me. It's a Nigella recipe from her book Kitchen. It can also be found here.

August Break Day 25 Green

Missed like all of the middle August Day prompts, but hey ho that's life. 

Green is my favorite color. 

Here are a few of my favorite green things! 

Two Ways with a Gypsy Tart

I just realised that my title could be taken the wrong way … if you are inclined to think that way. Something that I’ve learned is that it’s actually how a lot of people think. Being one of the small percentage of people who don’t always get innuendo I say a lot of things that get laughed at. I would relay some of the these instances, but we don’t have all day. Just take my word for it.

It’s not the first time I shared a Gypsy Tart on United Cakedom, but I thought I would try something different this time. Then it didn’t turn out so well and I hadn’t accounted for a couple of things. With a little improvising and adjusting I sorted it out and ended up with two different way to make a gypsy tart!

The filling is the same, it’s the base that changes. First I made mini tarts with a sweet shortcrust pastry. Then when I was stuck with a lot of extra filling because I didn’t think to half the recipe or something I made a quick cookie/biscuit base to bake the rest of the filling over with successful results!

Just like the title of this post could be taken two ways this gypsy tart can be made two's how:

Gypsy Tart


(makes enough for 24 mini tarts or 12 mini tarts and 7inch Gypsy Tart)

451ml (1 can) of evaporated milk
300g muscovado sugar

Whip them together for 15 minutes until light, fluffy, and tripled in size.

Mini Gypsy Tarts:

sweet shortcrust pastry

300g plain flour
4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk the flour and sugar together before rubbing the cubed butter into the flour/sugar until it resembles bread crumbs. Add all the other ingredients and bring together with a spatula or your hands until it makes a smooth dough. Make into a ball and squish a little to make a fat disk like shape, wrap in cling film and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough and cut out 12 circles to line each muffin hole. Gently press down into the corners, use a fork to put holes in the base of each pastry case before leaving in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes. The follow the instructions below for blind baking.


Pre-heat the oven 200C - Line each pastry case with a square of baking paper and fill with ceramic beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove ceramic beans and bake for a further 10 minutes until pastry turns a light brown.

to finish 

Fill each pastry case with the gypsy filling and bake for 5-10 minutes. Do not bake for 15 minutes as I did and had them collapse on me. Which I then whipped up some whipped cream and drizzled raspberry sauce on top!

Cookie Base Gypsy Tart 

cookies base 

213g chocolate chip hobnobs
50g melted butter

Blitz the cookies in a food processor, then add the butter and pulse a couple of times. Line a 7inch circle cake tin with the cookie mixture.

to finish

Pour the remaining gypsy filling into the tin and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool in the fridge for 2 hours before slicing and enjoying!

notes: Gypsy Tart is a pretty basic recipe, but this one was adapted from Eric Lanlard's Tart it Up! I wrote about it here the first time I made it. This is my #thepastrychallenge entry which I host with Jen at Jen's Food. There is still time to link up here!

Sweet Potato & Sweet Smoked Paprika Bread

This summer has been pretty disappointing. We had some glorious weather early on and that was about it. With the cooler weather lately I have already been thinking of fall/autumn flavors. Dinner has already started changing from chicken salads and sandwiches to creamy delicious macaroni and cheese and cottage pies! If dinner is already changing why not my baking!

With bread being the star of The Great British Bake Off this week, plus I just received a new bread book, and I had a whole bag of strong white flour in my cupboard I thought I’d make a loaf of bread! With fall/autumn like weather I decided to go with a sweet potato and paprika flavored bread.

You know how when decorating a room you either have plain walls with decorative accessories or you have fun wall paper and plan accessories. That’s how bread is. You either have plain bread with flavor packed toppings or flavor packed bread with butter or for dipping in soup. If done tastefully you can decorate a room with wallpaper and colorful accessories and that goes for bread too. If you know how to pair it just right you get yummy fillings/toppings to go with your flavor packed bread.

Well, after that load of ramble here is how I made this loaf of Sweet Potato and Paprika bread. The recipe comes from Simply Good Bread: Delicious home-baked recipes for everyone by Peter Sidwell. Somewhat adapted as my method varied from his direct instructions. The title says it all the recipes all seem pretty simple and easy for everyone. There are even instructions for those who are using a bread maker.

Sweet Potato & Sweet Smoked Paprika bread

200g sweet potatoes, baked/soft
500g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast action yeast (about 1/2 of a 7g sachet)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
300ml water
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

Start by baking the potato(s) and mashing them. Set aside.
Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a measuring jug measure the water before adding the yeast, sugar, and paprika - stir to combine.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/salt and pour the liquid mixture in the middle. Add the mashed potatoes before using a spatula gently bring the dry and liquid ingredients together before using your hands to start to work the dough. Once it starts to come away from the bowl tip out on to a well floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough is sticky so keep floured and have a dough scraper near by.
Once kneaded place back in the bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size should take 30-40 minutes in a warm place.
When it’s ready gently tip it out and knock it back or gently knead for about a minute. Then place in a 1kg or 2lb loaf tin, grease if it’s not non-stick. Leave to double in size while you pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Bake in the heated oven for 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Gently tip the loaf out and knock on the bottom, if it sounds hallow then it’s ready. If not cook for 5-10 more minutes.
Slice and enjoy!

notes: I hope break week on The Great British Bake Off encourages you to give bread a go! If you do you should enter it into Jen’s Food and Utterly Scrummly’s Bread Challenge - Bready Steady Go! I did!

To see a few other books I recently added to my bookshelf beside's Mr. Sidwell's check out my last post here!

New To My Bookshelf: Cookbook Review(s)

I thought I would introduce a handful of the new books I have recently accumulated. A few of these I have had for months! There was a time when I used to get new cooking or baking books monthly, but now it's here and/or there that I seek out new cooking or baking books. Since it's been a while I thought I would give a shout out to a few that I think others might be interested in!

Bake in Black: Music Inspired Baking 

by Eve O'Sullivan & Dave O'Sullivan
- I was drawn to this book because of the tag line or sub title "Music Inspired Baking." I recently wrote a post about inspiration and where it comes from. Books are a big source of my personal inspiration and I love that these two authors took two things they love and mixed it all together. There are some great looking bakes in here. The Megadeth By Chocolate cake looks amazing or the Battenberg Out of Hell is clever and looks awesome! But it's not just cakes they have cookies/biscuits like I'm a Cowboy (cookie) who doesn't love a little Bon Jovi? There is a whole section on doughnuts and pies, my favourite being Basket Case a pie based on one of Green Day's most popular song! When I was on a field trip in middle school the whole bus sang this song with out any music. It was awesome! Last but not least the last chapter is all about the desserts! If you like music and baking I'd definitely check this one out!

A Modren Guide to the Wine World's Best-Kept Secret Sherry: with cocktails and recipes

by Talia Baiocchi
- Having sort of recently made a delicious sherry cake I found myself with half a bottle of sherry. Until I had this guide I wasn't really sure what to do with it! The author, Talia Baiocchi, takes us through the who, what, where, and when of sherry. There is a little jealousy here as the Baiocchi must have had a great time researching this book. First there is the how it's made and the variations before telling us how sherry has been perceived throughout history and how it's starting to make a comeback. There is also a selection of cocktails and recipes that either use or pair well with sherry. Over all it's a very resourceful and thought out book! There are a few cocktails I have planned for my half of bottle of sherry like the Sherry Cobbler, Tuxedo, Pimm's Copa, and Flamenco! Will let you know how I get on!

Simply Good Bread: Delicious home-baked recipes for everyone

by Peter Sidwell
- Bread is something that either works or it doesn't for me. I haven't picked up the knack for it just yet. Practice makes perfect and all that. Having Peter Sidwell's Simply Good Pasta book and a few of the recipes have become family favorites, so I look forward to trying out the recipes in his bread book. It takes the reader through the simple steps of making a basic loaf and then gives us variations on those basics. The Cider Apple Bread sounds interesting as well as the Cheese and Marmite bread! Chorizo & blackened chilli bread sounds good too! In the last chapter he shares recipes that use up stale bread as crumbs and so on! I can't wait to get baking!

Recipes from My Mother for My Daughter

by Lisa Faulkner
- This is a title I have been unsure of for a while. It wasn't that I didn't want it, I just needed an excuse and having recently won a book bundle on twitter I was lucky enough to have this included in the haul. So, it's currently sitting on my bedside table ready to be read before bed! It's the only time I usually have to read these days. There are already several recipes that have grabbed my attention after flipping through it.

notes: I bought Bake in Black, Sherry was given to me to review by my request, Simply Good Bread and Recipes I won in a twitter competition.

August Break Day 13 Last Year

Last year I went home, to America. It was a much needed visit, as prior to my five week stay last summer, I hadn't been home in 4 years. Money, kids, life just kept me from getting back. There isn't an actual word to describe how glad/thankful/grateful I am that I went for that visit.

Little did I know that it was the last time we would all be together, my parents, sisters and I. It would seem reasonable for me to rant about needing and wanting more time, of course we all do! The extremely practical part of me knows there is no more time, therefore, I can only be grateful for the time I did have. As I mentioned above there are no words to express how glad/thankful/grateful I am for the time I had last year.

I Will ALWAYS Want More Time, Always. - The Street Sage aka Stacy my sister

August Break Day 12 Yellow

This image/picture is of a blanket my Grandmother crocheted for me one Christmas when I was younger. My sisters each got one too, my older sister had an orange one and my little sister had a green one. I liked that we didn't get pink, purple, and blue per usual. When I moved over to the UK I shoved it in one of my suitcases, it was one of the few non-clothes items I brought with me when I made the move 10+ years ago.

random fact about me: when I was little I couldn't say "yellow" I would say "yell-low." People would try to correct me, but I honestly couldn't hear what the difference was. 

Peanut Brittle: Patience is a Virtue

There are some things in life that take action and others that take patience. Sometimes it’s good to know your flaws and one of my biggest ones is patience; I have very little. My two little people take 95% of that little patience which leaves only 5% for everyone and everything else. However, it never stops people or things from testing that 5%.

Myself included. There are some challenging bakes and desserts that I have avoided making for the sheer knowledge that with very little patience I would not be successful at making them. I also have in the past behaved like a toddler when things didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted. Recently as I feel that I am getting older, funny how certain events make you feel like your growing up more then others, I am testing my patience more and more.

One day when I had some time to myself, meaning no kids or husband to distract me I set to making Peanut Brittle. My good friend has a partner who loves the stuff and would live off of it if he could. It was a surprise gift and one I will hopefully be repeating for him again soon. However, I will share the recipe here in case he or my friend ever wants to try making it themselves!

This is an American recipe using cups and American ingredients. The light corn syrup can be bought online or at bigger Tesco’s that have a World Food Section. You will also need a medium or large heavy bottom sauce pan, a sugar thermometer that has the sugar stages listed on it and easily clips to side of said pan. The last thing you need is patience! You don’t want to rush this otherwise you could burn yourself; hot sugar can give 3rd degree burns so be careful!

Peanut Brittle

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups (1 pound) of unsalted shelled peanuts

Heat the oven to 200F or 390/400F grease and line two baking sheets, I used ones that had a slight side to them and store the sheets in the oven. That way when the peanut brittle is poured on them, it will spread smoother. Also grease a metal spatula generously with butter.
Mix the baking soda aka bicarbonate of soda with the water in a small bowl and set aside.
In the medium to large sauce pan, I mentioned above, mix the sugar, water, and corn syrup and heat on a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 25 minutes until it reaches 240F or soft ball.
Add in the butter and peanuts, continue to cook on a medium heat for about 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until it reaches 300F or hard crack. This is where you’ll want to be diligent to make sure it doesn't burn. Take off the heat and stir in the baking soda mixture, it will froth up and be all frothy and bubbly.
Pour about half of the mixture onto each prepared baking sheet (after you’ve taken them out of the oven) and quickly spread until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick using the already buttered spatula! Leave to cool completely for a minimum of an hour. Then have fun breaking it into pieces. I started by slamming the baking sheet down on the counter and continued to break up with the handle of my spatula. Keeps in a sealed container for 2 weeks…if it lasts that long it’s really addicting!

notes: recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Red Book

August Break Day 5: Citrus/Citrus Water

Today’s August Break prompt is citrus so I am going to share with you my favorite flavored water. I find it refreshing and it always seems to help when dealing with a nasty cold.

Citrus Water
500ml water
1 satsuma or tangerine, juiced
1/2 of a small pineapple, juiced
1 lime, squeezed

Juice the satsuma and pineapple in a juicer before adding to the water, squeeze in the lime and shake or stir. Keeps for about a day or two, best served chilled.

August Break Day 3 Skin/Tattoos

The magic of our skin is that it repairs itself. If it didn't tattoos wouldn't be possible. For the secret of tattoo permanence I like this video

My sisters and I all got the same one in memory of our mom whom lost her short battle with cancer earlier this year. She loved and admired owls for their mysterious nature, beauty, and wisdom. We didn't go for an overly decorative owl, but a simple reminder of her and our love for her. 

August Break 2015 (Day 1 and 2)

When I first started my blog I found a lot of inspiration from a popular lifestyle blogger, Susannah Conway. She runs many e-courses and I think her blog is beautiful.

Back in the day she announced that she was going to take a month off blogging. A sort of sabbatical to refresh and regroup. Having only been blogging for a few months and not really feeling the need for a break I struggled to join in, but it was something I wanted to be a part of so I took part.

I have every year, except for last year when I was physically cut off from the internet world at my parents house, that I joined in. This year having had the inevitable happen I think it's a great time to relax and regroup my blogging ideas.

The August Break doesn't mean you aren't blogging, but where the words are minimal and pictures take over. Pictures apparently are worth a thousand words? There will still be lots of sweet stuff, but also a little bit more about myself as I share my interpretations the suggested themes.

For more information check out The August Break page, it's a very relaxed challenge and if you never read Susannah's blog check it out here.

Day one is always breakfast and as I am a day behind here are my day one and two!

As I have mentioned before in a Five on Friday post I work crazy early hours. I struggle to eat a proper breakfast before I go in settling for a piece of fruit and water. It means I want something as soon as I get in and nothing is easier then eggs on toast! Plus a little hot sauce never goes amiss when getting the day started for the second time!

When I think of air I think of the sky, wind, and flying. If I could choose a superpower it would be flying. To be able to go wherever you wanted when you wanted would be awesome. Even if I couldn't fly like a bird I would be cool with a suit like Iron Man's!

The Pastry Challenge August Link-Up

It's August! Despite being Captain Obvious I'm excited as it's my month for hosting The Pastry Challenge. Last month we had some great quick and easy pastry recipes over on Jen's Food. This month I'm leaving it pretty open as it's summer.

Summer is time to relax and do whatever you want. So, this month's theme is "Do what you want!" or really there is no theme as we're all doing what we want. I could go back and forth on this forever, but to keep us all sane I won't!

Here are some of our ground rules and below is the button to add your link!

First bake a pastry that fits the theme.
Second blog about it! Be sure to link back to both myself Lisa and Jen.

If you tweet use the hashtag #thepastryhcallenge and be sure to include us @unitedcakedom & @jensfood1 we like and retweet any we see!

Please feel free to use the image below in your post as a way to help spread the word. I will be adding the entries to the official Pastry Challenge Pinterest board that you can follow here!

Lastly link it up below, following the instructions on the widget/gadget below.

A few reminders we are looking for new or re-posted posts following the instructions above. Feel free to enter more then one entry. Also if you have a few minutes check out the entry before yours and leave a comment! Any questions please feel free to contact either Jen or myself! We look forward to seeing all your amazing pastry creations!

There are lots of other blogging challenges so overlapping is encouraged and if you have one we haven't heard of please let us know by email or leaving a comment below!