Calories

If I ever open a bakery, I’m going to frame this quote and put it behind the counter.

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Oreo Cupcakes

A kid kicked these cupcakes. They were prettily boxed up (bought these in bulk :P) and in a bag, I was in the queue in Boots and just put down the bag so that I could pay. And then he ran up, peeked at the cupcakes and kicked them. I don’t know whether this meant that a) he disliked the look of the cupcakes or b) he was just a brat. My money is on b), because how could anyone dislike Oreos AND cream cheese frosting? If you do, maybe you need to reassess your views on life. Or maybe just make these cupcakes.

Oreo Cupcakes

Adapted from ‘Love Bakery‘ (for the cakes) and the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (for the frosting).

 

Makes 12 cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

1 medium egg, at room temperature

20g cocoa powder, sifted

150g plain flour, sifted

140ml buttermilk

2¼ teaspoons of baking powder

4½ teaspoons white vinegar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

For the frosting:

300g icing sugar, sifted

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

3 Oreo biscuits, crushed

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take at least 5 minutes. Be patient!

3. Add the egg to the mixture and mix well.

4. Add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.

5. Add the flour and buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix after this stage, as this will result in the flour releasing too much gluten – resulting in a tough, stodgy cake. Nobody wants that!

6. Add the baking powder, white vinegar and vanilla extract and mix until everything is well incorporated.

7. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases and fill each one no more than two thirds full.

8. Bake for 25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back after pressing them, and a skewer comes clean out of the middles.

9. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin, and then transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool off entirely while you get on with the frosting.

10. To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar and butter until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. At this stage, the mixture will not be a smooth, uniform mixture – it will be a very crumbly mixture. Do not be alarmed, it will all be fine once you’ve added the cream cheese.

11. Add all of the cream cheese and mix together until the mixture is light and fluffy. This should take around 5 minutes – but be very careful not to over-mix at this stage, otherwise the mixture can turn very runny, very fast. I usually err on the side of slightly under-mixing at this stage – nobody wants runny cream cheese frosting.

12. Crush the Oreo biscuits – put them in a plastic bag and pulverise them with a rolling pin.

13. Fold the crushed Oreos into the cream cheese frosting until evenly dispersed.

14. Top the cupcakes with the frosting. There are a number of ways to get a nice finish – a palette knife (or you can use the back of a spoon if you don’t have one) swirls on the frosting quite nicely. My weapon of choice is always a piping nozzle, the easiest way to get a quick, professional finish.

15. For some extra Oreo-goodness, top the cupcakes with Oreo halves. Voila! Finished! Eat!

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Blueberry Muffins

Studying makes me hungry. It thoroughly amuses my mother how much food I take with me to the library. “Are you going to the library or a picnic?” she commented the other day.

In my attempts to satisfy my regular snack attacks – I have realised what a food snob I am when it comes to baking. Cakes just don’t taste as good when they’re not fresh. Brownies that are really cakes in disguise anger me. Frosting shouldn’t be rock hard – it should be soft and lovely and melt in your mouth.

Hence, time for muffin making! I turned to trusty Smitten Kitchen for this recipe. Yum!

Blueberry Muffins

(from Smitten Kitchen, with a few very minor tweaks)

Makes 10 scrumptious muffins

70g unsalted butter, at room temperature

100g white sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup sour cream

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (all I had on hand was some very intense lime – so I used 1/4 teaspoon of lime zest instead)

190g plain flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon salt

100g blueberries

*

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF/190ºC/gas mark 5. Line a muffin tray with 10 paper muffin cases.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Put aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy.

4. To the butter and sugar mixture, add the egg and beat well.

5. Add the sour cream and lemon (or lime!) zest to this, mix.

6. Add half of the flour mixture to this and mix until just incorporated.

7. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix – stopping when all the ingredients are combined.

8. Fold in the blueberries.

9. Fill the muffin cases, no more than three quarters full.

10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, on the middle shelf. Muffins are done when a skewer comes out of the middle clean and the tops are a beautiful golden brown.

11. Take an ample supply along with you to the library, ready to satisfy all your peckish needs.*

*optional

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Jurisprudence and Moonwalking

In recent weeks, my nearest and dearest have been subjected to my incessant blabbering about my Jurisprudence essay. Most of it complaining, the occasional claim to a breakthrough…but really, most of it – complaining.

I’ve decided to put it aside for a while and work on other things (mainly for sanity’s sake). Unfortunately, my unconscious has a sadistic sense of humour. A sense of humour which resulted in me having a Jurisprudential dream last night.

These are times of low.

It involved a confrontation with academic X, whose theory I’ve chosen to critique for my essay. I bump into her in the halls of my law building and the following conversation ensues:

Me: I’m doing my essay on your theory.

X: (rather worried) Really? Hmm, well I think we should have a chat. Just to make sure you’re not getting it all wrong…

Me: Yes, of course.

Fuzzy recollection of me trying to explain my ideas, and then…

X: Well, what you really must remember to do is Moonwalk.

Silence, followed by an unconvincing nod. I try to look as if I know what she’s talking about.

Me: Yes…

X: (unimpressed) Do you know what Moonwalking is?

Jackson related comment would be inappropriate here, I guess.

X: (sighs, waves hands about impatiently) It means you have to walk back on your argument. Re-trace your steps. Make sure you’ve considered all the possible viewpoints. Keep going back until you get it right.

Me: Ah. Yes. Of course.

*

Moonwalking in Jurisprudence: probably the only (un)contribution to the world of legal philosophy I shall ever make.

Even then, I suppose the real credit can only go to the man himself:

 

 

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Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies


Makes 16 brownies

Based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

This is my go-to chocolate brownie recipe. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this – it is ridiculously easy, super quick and never disappoints. The key to this recipe: don’t overdo anything – the mixing or the baking. Absolutely do not use an electric mixer for this recipe, stir gently by hand (I prefer using a rubber spatula, but a wooden spoon would do the job just fine).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2 cup butter (115g)

1 cup white sugar (200g)

2 medium eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa powder (35g)

1/2 cup plain flour (75g)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease and line a  20 cm/8 inch square tin.

2. In a large pan, melt the butter. Once melted, take off the heat.

3. Add sugar to the butter and stir gently until incorporated.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together with a fork (only a light beating, too much will result in the brownie rising too much and then sinking).

5. Add egg mixture to pan and stir until incorporated.

6. Add cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir gently until everything is mixed together.

*this is the point at which you would add any additions, see below.

7. Pour into prepared tin, evening out the top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins. Do not overbake.

8. Help yourself to a delicious, chocolatey, warm slice – perfectly delicious on its own, but also quite scrumptious with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

*Optional Additions: For the brownie purists, you can stick to the above recipe. If, however, you wish to funk things up a bit – here are some suggestions – you can add one or more of the following:

  • Nutty brownies: Add 1/2 to 1 cup of nuts to the mixture, toasting the nuts for 5-10 mins if you want to enhance their flavour even more. I like to stir in half of the nuts with the mixture, and then scatter on the rest once the batter is in the pan and then push them in ever so slightly.
  • For super chocoholics: If the cocoa hit just isn’t enough for you – add 1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate to the mixture.
  • Chocolate, meet orange: I love chocolate and orange, I think they make such a divine combination. To give your brownies an orangey kick, grate the zest of half an orange over the poured mixture.
  • Oreo brownies: biscuits are a great way of funking up brownies – you can try varieties other than oreos, too! Add 1/2 to 1 pack of oreos – breaking them up into quarters. Stir half of them into the mixture and scatter the rest over the top of the poured mixture, pushing them in slightly.

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Stressed?

Therapy is expensive. Popping bubble wrap is cheap.

Popping virtual bubble wrap is even cheaper.

Click away.

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Life and death on the London Underground

Ergh. London commuters can just be so mean. Piccadilly Line during the height of rush hour – just vile. Don’t get me started on the woes of Piccadilly-rush-hour-summertime-sweaty-commuters-and-being-of-armpit-height…

This morning, the gentleman behind me decided to express his frustration at the fact that my oyster decided to malfunction for all of five seconds (the second tap let me through just fine) by letting out a string of expletives in my direction.

Really. Chill. I have places to be as well.

Anyway, it reminded me of the morning I missed my last ever lecture on the LL.B (Jurisprudence, if you were wondering).

*

Dear passengers, due to a person under a train at Morden, there are severe delays occurring on the Northern Line.

Due to a customer incident earlier, there are minor delays on the District Line.

London Underground apologises for the delays to your service.

*

Who are these jumpers?

When the message comes crackling through the carriage, the apologies for the delay, the news that someone, somewhere on the the mass web of tube lines – has become a ‘one under’ – the reaction is always the same: rolling eyes, raised eyebrows, a tut-tutting or an angry flip of a Metro page.

How bloody inconvenient.

Am I the only one who feels sad? That someone just jumped, and died. Just like that. Lights off. Just like that.

*

Morning of my last lecture. The carriage is stuffy, filled to the brim with sleepy, grumpy commuters. We’ve been stuck in the tunnel for a few minutes, and have yet to be updated on what the deal is.

Lots of sleeve pushing, time checking.

I lean against the door, exhale-yawn.

Finally, the driver’s voice comes crackling through.

“Sorry for the delay folks…(pause)…I’ve just been informed that a lady…”

Is it another jumper?

“…that a lady has just gone into labour in Russell Square. Sorry about the delay, hopefully we’ll be out soon. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll keep you updated.”

My eyebrows have gone up now. And my mouth can’t help but crack into a sleepy smile, because this – this I wasn’t expecting.

I look around, wondering if everyone else is finding this amusing too – but, lo and behold – the reaction: rolling eyes, raised eyebrows, tut-tutting and Metro flicking.

*

Dear Jumper,

I wish you hadn’t.

 

Dear Lady in Labour,

Did you name him Russell?

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In absence of creativity, recycle

Something I found whilst flicking through my old collection of (mostly very angsty) poetry.

 

*

 

Disobedient flutter.

Treacherous, impatient,

wretched thing.

You flitter, I stutter

to hold you in.

Whisper wickedly

beneath my skin –

telltale rhymes

as you tumble through

my uneasy pulse

(imbued with your

restless rhythm)

chasing after that

rushing frisson.

 

April 2009, on a rather grey Friday

 

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French Apple Cake

I’ve gone through a bout of excessive celebration-cake-making. Chocolate, Vanilla, Red Velvet, Nutella cake, a very-indulgent-hits-the-sugar-spot Peanut Butter Chocolate cake…to name a few.

But lately, I’ve been craving more everyday cakes. Loaf cakes to have with my cup of tea, a slice of something simple and comforting for when it’s horrible and rainy outside. Something easy to whip up in the midst of the piles of articles I have to get through.

Yesterday, I had a sudden craving for apple cake. Hummingbird Nutty Apple Loaf popped into my head as a suggestion – but it requires leaving the batter in the fridge overnight – and really, I couldn’t wait that long to satisfy my craving.  I very vaguely recalled an apple cake I had seen on David Lebovitz’s blog…a quick google later – and voila! One recipe for French Apple Cake happily filling my screen.

Oh god. This cake….this cake…is so good. I had to eat a slice warm out of the oven, with a generous dollop of crème fraîche. I had another slice this morning for breakfast…I may have to renege on the promise I made to my friend yesterday – I don’t know if there will be any leftover when she comes over tonight…

Make this cake. Just. Please.

French Apple Cake

Adapted from David Lebovitz (who adapts this from Dorie Greenspan). The original recipe calls for rum, but since I don’t drink alcohol – I tripled up on the vanilla and substituted some of the white sugar for brown instead.

I had peeled and diced 4 apples, but when I was adding them to the batter – I only added about 3 of them because that seemed to be enough. Next time I may try with all 4, but I was quite happy with how the cake turned out with just the 3 apples (they were 3 very big apples though!). Main thing with the apples – make sure you use a variety, it really adds to the flavour of the cake.


110g (3/4 cup) plain flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3 large apples (eating apples, a mix of varieties – I used Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

120g (1/2 cup) white sugar

30g (1/4 cup) light brown muscovado sugar

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. Melt the butter and leave to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23cm springform pan.

3.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4.  Apple time! Peel, core and dice the apples into medium size chunks (2-3cm).

5.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until nice and foamy (no need for an electric mixer – I did this by hand)

6.  Add sugars and vanilla to the egg mixture, whisk in.

7. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter.

8. Gently stir in the rest of the flour mixture, and then the remaining butter.

9. Add the apple cubes to the mixture and fold in until they are well coated with batter – that is what the batter will look like; a bunch of apple cubes coated in batter! Pour it all into the prepared pan and smooth the top over as best you can.

10. Bake in the middle shelf for 50 minutes – 1 hour, until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then run a knife around the edges before loosening the sides of the cake pan.

11. Cut yourself a big slice because you deserve it. Enjoy with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.


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Self-intimidation

So, I’ve been attempting to write. To get myself back into that place where I can tap away and create a nice little bubble for my mind to play around in. But just like a musician who picks up his guitar after many a year only to find he isn’t quite rocking it the way that he did back in the day – I am rusty. A hesitant overthinker. That despicable as-you-write-scrutinise-each-word editor.

Hoping to inspire myself into creative genius – I decided to pick up some of my old writing, see if there was anything I could pick up, maybe rejuvenate some life into old ideas. I thought it logical to start with the last big-novel-that-never-quite-made-it that I had written – 100 or so pages before it fizzled out and I fell victim to my classic inability to finish everything (bar that sci-fi/romance/action novel I finished as a 12 year old, which no one else is allowed to read. Really. You don’t want to).

The reading process went a bit like this:

Oh hello, familiar characters. Some nostalgia. They seem so innocent. A smidgen of guilt in the knowledge that unbeknownst to them, they will all be abandoned.

Oh, actually – this isn’t too bad…

that bit is rather good, actually. Did I write this?…

because I can’t write like this now…

oh dear, what happened to me…

I feel a bit depressed.

Yes, I successfully managed to intimidate myself. And I am now far too busy feeling sorry for myself to even ponder about how ridiculous a notion this may be.

Breakthrough. Soon. Please?

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