Loving fruity breads

Hey all. First of all please excuse me if this post does not make much sense- I was back to work this week, and it seems to have sucked all the energy out of my body and my brain.

I bought a few bits back from Bath:

Some Munchy seeds, Zest pesto (hurrah), Lime curd, chocolate covered marzipan, mini and normal foil cupcake cases, toffee drops (for in cookies) and some little loaf pans.

I put the loaf pans to good use last week:

I made up some sourdough bread, but then I divided the mixture in half, and to half I added some soaked raisins and cinnamon. To the other half I added some hemp seeds.

They came out pretty well, although I used half rye flour and they didn’t rise very much (but I have found that before with rye flour). Plus the silicone moulds means no sticking at all 🙂

I split one loaf in half while it was still warm and had it for breakfast with some cinnamon and raisin pb. Yum.

I had the other one another day with cinnamon raisin pb on one half, and apricot jam on the other half (I toasted it first).

I also decided (a bit late) to make some hot cross buns at the weekend. I had bought some dried apple (the lovely Urban Fruit stuff) as I wanted to have apple and cinnamon ones. I used the same recipe as last time from The Great British Bake-Off book, and just soaked the apples and some raisins in warm water first, so they plumped up a bit.

I even piped on the crosses (last time I left them as “hot buns” as I could not be bothered to do it).

All packaged up and ready to take over to Andy’s parents. We did keep a few for ourselves.

I tried one warm from the oven spread with some coconut butter and apricot jam.

Today I had one for lunch with some maple almond butter, and a pear. I toasted it under the grill for a bit first- yum.

The thing about fruity breads is that they are the perfect vehicle for nut butter 🙂

Rather optimistically I also charged my Garmin and Nike+ today. It is 6 weeks since my op, and the consultant did say I had to wait until then to start running again. So I was hoping to try a run/walk at some point this week. But going back to work has really put me back- I got home this afternoon and just sat and stared into space, needed a lie down and almost nodded off. I have not had an afternoon nap for weeks, yet I really felt like I needed on today. I really didn’t think going back to work would be that hard, and I was starting to feel more like my old self, and I think I have to realise that in fact I am not my old self and still need to build my strength up. No matter how active I tried to be whilst at home, it is not possible to replicate a day at work, so I would not know how tiring I would find it until I actually went back. Oh well, things can only get better as I get stronger I suppose.

Anyone had a hard time going back to work after having time off?

Tea problem

I have heard that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

Well, I have a problem. Now, I did actually admit this a long time ago in my hoarding post. This was way back in June of last year, and I think since admitting it my problem has got worse.

The problem is buying more and more flavours of tea.

The trouble is, since that post, I have discovered that I love even more types of tea.

These are the new additions to my tea family (Clipper Earl Grey, Apple and Ginger, Coconut and Orange, Twinnings peppermint and Green tea with lemon, Celestial Apple and Cinnamon, and Bengal Spice, Cinnamon and Licorice, Spiced rooibos, Caffeine free chocolate, Rooibos with strawberry and raspberry, rooibos with orange and cinnamon…). I think I am just going to embrace it and not try to fight it any more.

The thing is, I don’t have “normal” (black) tea very much any more. I had cut it out completely while I had the cyst still because caffeine made it uncomfortable, but even before then I only had one cup per day anyway. And I like variety. At the moment I have a bit of a “tea routine”. Mint for breakfast, Earl Grey for lunch, rooibos in the afternoon (or something in my teapot using loose leaf tea), ginger after dinner, and then licorice in the evening.  Although my routine changes all the time- I have even had some iced tea when it has been hot.

So please enjoy some pictures of tea. I wish I could make it play the music from the Hart Beat art show. So just sing it in your head.

Earl grey with a (delicious) peanut butter pretzel bar.

Loose leaf mint tea in my little teapot alongside a (burnt) teacake and pear. I love my little teapot.

Cinnamon Apple tea with an apple nut loaf.

Mint tea and carrot cake from Brighton. (That is where I bought the loose leaf mint tea from as it was amazing).

Licorice and cinnamon tea.

Iced lemon green tea.

I am actually more surprised when I don’t buy more tea at the moment 🙂

I got an email from Twinings the other day saying that they are going to be bringing out loose-leaf teas for the Jubilee! How exciting! And sent a very pretty picture of some tea:

Loose tea

I think you will agree it is much nicer than my pictures!

And (hint hint) of course there is always more room in my tea cupboard for new types of tea, or of course teapots! 🙂

Are you a tea fan? If so, which flavours do you particularly like? I think if it has the word “cinnamon” somewhere on the packet then I am sold right away!

What do you hoard away in your cupboards?

PS- I am going to make a loaf cake later on- any guesses for the secret ingredient 😉

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes (recipe)

I have been loving the sour things recently- grapefruits, lemon in iced tea, lime curd, passionfruits- and the other week I bought a bag of lemons, so of course I made some cupcakes with them.

I also bought some poppy seeds, as I keep seeing recipes for lemon and poppy seed muffins/ cakes, so I thought the flavours must go. In the end I could not find a recipe that I liked the look of, so I based it on a lemon cupcake recipe from this Cupcakes book, but changed a few things and added in the poppy seeds.


125g butter (I used Pure spread)

125g caster sugar

125g self raising flour

1 medium egg

30ml almond milk (but any liquid would work)

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

20g poppy seeds

1 tsp lemon extract (optional. One recipe had vanilla in it so that could be tried too)


Mine made 10. Preheat the oven to 190C.

Cream together the butter and sugar until it is fluffy.

Add the egg, almond milk and lemon extract, and beat again.

Then add in the lemon juice and zest. It might go lumpy, but don’t worry.

Finally add in the flour and poppy seeds and stir together gently. Mine did not rise that much, so next time I might add in a tsp of baking powder.

Spoon into cases and bake for 12-15 mins until lightly golden and just firm in the centre.

Put on a cooling rack.

Optional- top with a little icing.

I used the juice from 1/2 a lemon, and then added enough icing sugar to make a paste, and then some lemon zest too. Although it would look better if I had reserved the zest and sprinkled that on top instead of mixing it with the icing.

It was a real “drizzle” of an icing, not a thick frosting, but it went perfectly with the zingy lemon cupcakes.

I had one with some tea and it was lovely- very zingy indeed. Having never had poppy seeds in a cake before I was not sure what to expect, but they added some texture to it. But you could leave them out for plain lemon cupcakes and they would be lovely still.

It reminded me of when I tried that lovely seed & bean lemon poppy seed white chocolate (although that tasted like lemon cheesecake too).

Are you a fan of lemon cakes?

Favourite zingy food?

Bath and beyond

Be warned, there are quite a few photos!

On our way to Bath we stopped at a place called Avebury. We decided to join The National Trust (not just for the tearooms), and this was included and looked interesting. It is made up of lots of stone circles which were excavated and re-erected in the 1930’s.

There are loads of these massive stones everywhere, so we spent quite a bit of time wandering around different fields and taking photos.

Having some fun with them:

And having a rest in them:

That stone had a perfect “seat” in one side, so of course I had to have a go.

There is also a manor house which you could look around. They have made it interactive, and on entry to the house were told we could touch anything except the wallpaper in one room, but if we were to jump on the bed please remove our shoes first.

They had made an effort to make it interesting, with each room being set out for a different time period, and even dressing up clothes and hats, and a little hunt/quiz thing for children. I don’t normally like going in houses that much, but it was more interesting than most.

We had a stop in the tea room, and I bought a few bits in the shop (including some lime curd), had a banana at the car and then drove to Devizes. It is a pretty little market town, so we had a little wander (I found a shop selling that lovely Zest pesto), and then went for a walk along the canal, as there is a famous section of loads of locks as the canal has to go up and down a hill. I was getting quite tired as it was about 4.30pm, but luckily we found a tearoom so shared a teacake with cinnamon butter (did not want to spoil our dinner)- the nice sit down and tea recharged the batteries.

Then we walked back along the canal, had a little wander around the shops, and then decided to go to Pizza Express for dinner (and shock, I had a “new” salad with roasted veggies, lentils and goats cheese, instead of the usual goats cheese pizza).

The next day we headed into Bath (on the train as we stayed a little way out)- first up was Prior Park gardens, a mile uphill behind the station. It started off not too steep, but soon it was hard work! This was another National Trust place, and was worth the hard walk.

It was full of pretty gardens and water, and had amazing views of Bath.

Lots of woodlands:

They even did an Easter Egg hunt for the children.

But the views of Bath could not be beaten.


At least we had walked up to the entrance, so we got to walk downhill through the fields and gardens.

There is also a very impressive bridge (which you can see in the first photo- shows how high up it is).

Now, although I was tempted by the tearooms, Lucy had recommended to me Sally Lunn’s, so we headed straight there as I was in need of a sit down.

When we got there we only had to wait a few minutes for a table, but by the time we left (when we took photos) the queue was out of the door.

I could not resist trying one of the buns, which was like a brioche- I had mine with lemon curd, plus an Earl Grey tea (which I love but have not had for ages- then I kept seeing Phil have them and now I remember why it is the Queen of Teas). Now I am not sure if the photo does it justice, but the bun was huge- that is a dinner plate not a side plate. You can see my cup next to it to give it some scale. Anyway, it was delicious. The tearooms were very touristy, and sort of twee- the staff were all in old fashioned costumes, and we were in the Jane Austen room, but I liked it. Tea and cakes: what’s not to like? Plus it was proper loose leaf tea 🙂

After we left we went downstairs to the cellar, where they have a tiny museum which tells you the history of the bun (based on brioche, but with butter instead of lard- although I am sure now brioche is made with butter)- the lady who worked there told us some interesting facts, including that the pavement height was raised so suddenly all the ground-floor rooms were turned into cellars. You could also buy the buns to take home, but we resisted!

Pretend prize for spotting me in any photos stood around waiting for Andy to take loads of pictures. 

After that we had a nice walk around Bath, to the park. We sat by the river for a bit, and I did a spot of shopping (while Andy checked the football news on his phone!) and then had dinner at Giraffe.

The next day we drove to Southampton to watch the football, before heading home for Saturday evening. Even the journey was great as the fields were full of lambs gambolling about. It was a lovely couple of days- Bath is one of my favourite places to visit in the UK. It has a great mix of touristy things (on previous visits we have been to the Roman Baths, or up to the Royal Crescent, and we have yet to visit the spa), pretty buildings, little cafes, shops and restaurants. We were also lucky with the weather- it was cold and windy the first day, but the second day was lovely and sunny, and we had no rain at all.

Where do you like to go for a weekend away? 

Birthday baking (although no excuse needed)

Yup, of course I have been baking!

We had a lovely few days in and around Bath, but as Andy took the photos I need to wait for him to send them to me before I do a post. So you have to make do with a baking post instead.

It is Andy’s birthday today, and yesterday we went out for a meal with his parents, brothers and their girlfriends. His brothers especially are massive chocoholics, so I decided to make a brownie cake for after. I had seen Lucy make her recipe into a cake before, so I decided to try it out.

Now it was my own fault because I lined the cake pans with foil, but did not grease them. Duh. Anyway, I did manage to get them off, more or less in one piece!

I made some mint filling by creaming a little bit of pure spread, some mint extract and icing sugar.

Then I topped it with the rest of the cheat icing that I bought a few weeks back (I found it in the fridge) and decorated with stars. Those stars are my favourite!

We went to Prezzo, which I love because they do an amazing goats cheese salad with artichokes, roasted peppers, tomatoes, spinach, toasted bread and balsamic. Yum. Although I had to save some space for the cake. It went down very well indeed (although Andy’s Dad thought that the “30” referred to how many slices it should be- to be fair my parents forget how old I am too) but it was sooooooo sweet. I only had a small slice but I could only just manage that. Anyway it satisfied all the chocolate lovers- and there was lots left which we made them keep for another day.

Andy had requested that I make him a fruitcake (his brothers don’t like it and one of the girlfriends hates dried fruits) so I did that today.

I used a recipe for Light fruit cake from an Eric Lanlard book (I was kindly sent the book after writing the blog post about Baking Mad)- this has dried fruit (which I soaked before using as I find otherwise it is too dry) but also lemon zest for a lighter taste. They smell delicious anyway.

The recipe said it would serve 6, and I wanted to use my new mini loaf pans (I think each mini pan would be a good two servings) so as you can see there was a lot more! I think they will freeze well too. I am going to put some marzipan on them in a bit.

I have had a pretty chilled out day today, compared to the last few days. I did manage a lot of walking (more than I have done in months) but I was so exhausted in the evenings. Andy was off at football today so I have been enjoying time to relax.

Including having an Earl Grey tea and a cookie from Tam via the cookie swap.

Also, I did my first ever guest post! Laura from Mommy Run Fast has been doing a series called “Purposeful Running” and mine was posted today. You can check it out here.

I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend- anyone get any Easter Eggs? My Dad got us a rake for our allotment (he said he was going to get us an Easter egg, but then saw that and knew we needed one- he wants to start a new tradition!), and we did not get each other anything, but Andy’s Mum gave us one to share yesterday. Although we need to eat the birthday cake first!