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The Big Apple Crumble

Hello cake lovers,

I didn’t forget about you! I’ve spent the past three weeks in New York City on vacation, and celebrating a friend’s wedding. I had every intention of blogging whilst I was out there but I’m not ashamed to say that I got caught up in the excitement of the Big Apple…

I stayed with family whilst in the States, only to arrive and find out that my Mother had told her sister that I would cook and bake regularly! (Thanks Mother.) So during my first week I treated my family to one of my favourite desserts, an apple crumble.

There’s nothing like the sweet and sour fusion of almost-crunchy apples resting underneath a roof of buttery crumble topping, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. I wouldn’t do this blog-post justice without providing the recipe, bon appétit!

Over the next week I’ll be uploading a few other posts about desserts that I discovered in NYC so keep your eyes open.

Love & Big Apple Crumble,

Tracey xoxo

The Big Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble

Green Apples

½ tsp ground ginger – 1tsp

½ tsp ground cinnamon – 1 tsp

½ tsp ground nutmeg – 1tsp

3oz Caster Sugar – 6oz

8oz Plain Flour – 1pound

3oz Unsalted Butter – 6oz

2oz Brown Sugar – 4oz

Walnuts OR Chopped mixed nuts (Optional)

N.B. The measurements on the left are to make a small portion, and the measurements on the right are for a larger portion.

  1. Wash, peel and dice the apples into small squares and place into a saucepan. (I prefer to use green apples as they provide the sour kick, whilst the crumble adds the sweeter element.)
  2. Add the brown sugar, nutmeg and ginger to the apples and cook on the lowest heat for 5-7mins, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat once the apples are slightly soft.
  3. Place the flour, caster sugar, butter and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix the ingredients together, whilst creating ‘crumbs’ in your fingertips.
  4. Pour the apples into a flat (Pyrex) dish (Optional: sprinkle nuts over the top of the apples), and layer the flour evenly over the apples.
  5. Place the crumble in the oven on a medium heat, no time specification. Check on the crumble every 10minutes by tapping the top of the crumble with your finger; it will have finished baking when the crumble is firm and golden brown.

Can you resist the buttery crumble...

Serve with vanilla ice-cream or custard.

Triple vision!

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I’m A Champion: Versatile Blogger Award!

Last month a fellow blog friend ThingsMyBellyLikes blessed me with one of the best gifts, a Versatile Blogger Award. There’s no refuting the fact that I was shocked, surprised, and excited all in one breath! As a relatively new blogger, with less than 20 followers (although I must say that I love and appreciate my faithful followers), I didn’t ever imagine receiving an award. Naturally I assumed that life-long bloggers with hundreds of followers received such honours, but lo’ and behold I am now among this elite category! (See post, Thursday Thoughts) Call it over-excited if you wish but I truly feel like a champion, hence this awesome song:

So the rules of this award state that I should thank the person who passed it on to me; nominate other bloggers that I admire and follow, and write 7 facts about myself. Here goes…

Huuuge thanks and a *virtual cupcake* goes to ThingsMyBellyLikes the awesome blogger who bestowed this medal on my blog. If I was allowed to pass the award straight back to you I would, because I love reading your blog posts and my belly genuinely rumbles at each post! Awesome writing, keep it up!

  1. Whiskey River BBQ {I recently discovered this blog and I immediately fell in love! It’s about a couple who have recently started their own catering company in the Whiskey soaked BBQ world!}
  2. Tiny Kitchen Stories {A rustic-style blog with mouth watering home-made recipes and desserts. It’s also a handy reference point for vegan and veggie meals.}
  3. Foodimentary {Known on the blogosphere as ‘A Food Lover’s Notebook’, with this blog you’ll never miss a national food day again. A blog full of interesting food facts and daily quotations.}
  4. The W Perspective {Breath taking photography from Penang, Malaysia. This photo-blog has the ability to make me say ‘wow’ each and every time.} 
  5. Without an H {Another favourite photo-blog: self-portrait photography from South East Asia, capturing the heart and soul of each community through a lens.} 
  6. The Middlest Sister {Have you ever laughed just by looking at a picture? Well then you’re in for a treat, this blog uses felt cut-outs to re-live the childhood of five sisters, through the eyes of the middlest sister. Classic and unique.}
  7. Garden Goat Quote {Another new blog that I presently follow, which I discovered through Freshly Pressed. This Super-Mom works a full-time job, blogs, and mothers nine children! Her style of writing is LOL funny and the truths of her daily life are somewhat enlightening on the joys and trials of Motherhood.}
  8. Good Humored {This blogger uses the type of humor that I thrive on, she’s sarcastic, blunt, and has the ability to turn an ordinary story into a masterpiece.}

Okay, so now 7 Interesting Things About Me (Is it ambitious for me to call these things ‘interesting’? *shrugs* You decide.)

  1. BIG SISTER I’m the eldest of three daughters. My sisters are my besties and I love my sisters more than ice-cream, sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fudge cake! That’s a lot of love.
  2. BLACK BRITISH I was born and raised in the UK but my cultural heritage is Ghanaian. The way I dress and speak is a reflection of the UK but my morals, cultural practices, and the way I cook stem from Ghana.
  3. FAITH My parents are Pastors so I’ve grown up in Church. I’ve been a Christian for 12yrs now and never looked back. My faith is more than a religion, it’s my life.
  4. CITY LIGHTS As a lover of food, fashion and all things sweet, it’s only right that I select my top 3 favourite Cities. In no particular order: Paris, London, NYC. Need I say more? (Umm seriously if you have to question this then drop me a comment, but I will be silently judging you from the other side of my laptop!)
  5. BRAINBOX Somehow I have a degree in English Literature and a Diploma in Law. People automatically ask if I’m smart. I don’t know, am I? I have a few certificates to say I’ve passed, but does that prove anything?
  6. LEGS 11 For the International readers among you, ‘legs 11’ is a British phrase for ladies who have long legs. I’m 6ft tall and this causes people to spew out word vomit such as, how are you so tall; why are you so tall; why wear heels if you’re already tall? My answers to the above consist of, Ask God, He made me this way; my Dad is tall (6″2) so I take after him; I paid for the shoes so why are you complaining/I’m not your wife or girlfriend so why are you trying to tell me what to wear!
  7. CAKE-A-HOLIC If you’ve read my Bio you’ll know that I have a slight obsession with cake. The store-bought kind doesn’t quite measure up to the fresh, warm, home-made delicacies that emerge out of my oven. They say ‘An apple a day keeps the Dentist away’, true true. But you should also remember that ‘A cake a day keeps emotions at bay’! Seriously, a well baked cake can turn any frown upside down :) I’m an addict and thats okay.

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo  

Afternoon tea and Scones in Costa Blanca, Espana :)

Afternoon Tea and Scones in Costa Blanca, Espana :)

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Ooooh Lola!

So it’s officially my birthday and I’m extremely excited, but also slightly nauseous, no seriously I’m nauseous; I’ve been sick for the past two weeks and in the wee hours of my birthday-eve morning I made a turn for the worse. (If you follow me on Twitter @trace_cupcake89 you would have read my rants for the day. But now is not the time, nor place.) As I prepare for my birthday festivities I’ve been fondly looking back on last year’s photos. I thought this would be a good place to pause and show some appreciation for last year’s birthday cake.

The creative genius who baked my birthday cake was none other than the London-based perfectionists, LOLA’s Kitchen. LOLA’s is a well known bakery based in Mayfair, London and run by business partners Victoria and Romy. Victoria and Romy joined forces in 2007 to run one of London’s most successful bakeries, with concessions in top high street and department stores such as Topshop, Selfridges and Harrods. LOLA’s have made a name for themselves by creating beautifully hand-crafted cupcakes, moulded to perfection and topped with mounds of creamy frosting. Their flavours range from Vanilla milk chocolate to Carrot cake, and even Vanilla coconut. Believe me when I say there is nothing LOLA’s can’t do!

What a beauty! The cake I'll never forget!

Prior to purchasing my birthday cake from LOLA’s I hadn’t even tasted a crumb of their delectable bakes; it was not until two weeks before my birthday that I began the mad panic to find a high-end baker. (Yes, in my mind two weeks is last minute for party planning) A fellow cake lovin’ friend recommended LOLA’s and although I had heard of the bakery before, and walked past it a number of times I couldn’t justify treating myself to so much frosting. However, my birthday was more than a great excuse.

So without further a-do let me introduce to you my very special birthday cake (February 2011): Buttery vanilla sponge cake, smothered with chocolate butter cream frosting, and topped with mini vanilla, chocolate and coconut cupcakes. Oooh Lola you make me melt! Thank you once again *raises virtual cupcake* and here’s to many more cupcakingly delicious birthdays ahead!

Love & Birthday cake,

Tracey xoxo

P.S. Check out LOLA’s online to see just how genius they are:

http://lolas-kitchen.co.uk/

Last year's festivities... Looking forward to this weekend!

 I highly recommend you try LOLA’s, I mean look at the pics, why wouldn’t you?

The remains of a beautiful treat <3

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Leaning Tower of Pancakes!

It turns out that we had another exciting Tuesday in the month of February, last week V-Day and yesterday Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day. (If you ask me February is turning out to be a baker’s haven!) All day on Twitter and Facebook people were updating their status about what they were going to drown their pancakes in, what trimmings they would have, and how excited they were to leave work and re-ignite their love with that sacred frying pan.

Flip it. Fold it. Roll it.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but surely eggs, flour, sugar and butter are available to purchase all year round? There are a handful of nations that truly appreciate the beauty of a pancake: A well known delicacy from France, famously known as the Crepe is eaten often, dusted lightly with sugar and spread with a thin layer of chocolate spread. Another famous pancake is the wafer thin Chinese pancake, wrapped around a spoonful of Peking duck, a sprinkling of cucumber and spring onion, and a few droplets of Hoi Sin sauce. Both of these delicacies are regularly devoured in their respective cultures. In fact, even places such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea have their own sweet and savoury adaptations of the pancake. (Note to self, learn how to make at least two of these pancakes in time for next year!)

During my last two years of University pancakes were a regular ‘necessity’ in the staple diet for my housemates and I. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that we had freshly made pancakes for breakfast or as a snack at least once a week. Our pancakes were nearly always smothered in ‘Aunt Jemima’s Maple Syrup’, chocolate sauce and a side of strawberries for the healthy kick! Even in my fragile-detoxing-state I’m dreaming ahead to the end of the week when I can treat myself to a well deserved birthday-breakfast, full of treats that soothe and massage my sweet tooth.

Behold, the leaning tower of pancakes!

Despite my week of discipline I still managed to rustle up a stack of ‘leaning pancakes’ for my friends (and I’m proud to say that I didn’t eat a single one!) I delivered them to a friend’s house yesterday evening only to find even more temptation surrounding me, (B’s famous ginger and nut cookies, not pictured). Again, I resisted the urge (I think an applause can be inserted here) and happily watched my friends inhale the pancakes!

Some six years ago on my first visit to NYC I got hooked on the American style pancakes, and I’ve haven’t looked back since. So I guess this wouldn’t be a post worthy of uploading if I didn’t supply the recipe. Bon Appétit.

Love & Pancakes,

Tracey xoxo

 

American Style Pancakes

140g/5oz plain flour

2tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2tbsp caster sugar

3tbsp butter melted

225ml/8fl oz buttermilk/semi-skimmed milk

1 large egg

Optional: sunflower oil for oiling pan

Instructions: Pour the sugar and crack the egg into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Meanwhile, melt the butter on a low heat and add to the pancake batter once melted. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into one bowl and sieve half of it over the batter. Whisk the entire batter and gradually add the milk and remaining flour in parts. If the batter appears too runny, then sieve in a little extra flour until it is a thicker consistency.

Grease the frying pan with a small drop of sunflower oil or butter, and use a ladle to pour a small amount of batter into the centre of the frying pan. Flip over the pancake when it begins to brown, or to your liking.

Serve with crispy bacon and scrambled eggs for the All-American feel; with a side a ripe and juicy berries for a healthy twist, or you can opt for the sugar-holics menu and serve with chocolate chips and maple syrup.

The foundations of the 'leaning masterpiece'

My work is done!

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The Birthday Detox

I recently read an article somewhere that said something along the lines of ‘February is the most boring and dreary month…’ with face in palm and mouth wide open I quickly turned over that page! Come on, boring? Dreary? I can’t speak for the author of that article but February is one of the months when all my best baking happens; Valentine’s Day (see my previous post, ), Pancake day and at the end of this fine month I celebrate my birthday. What could possibly be boring about that? Before the month of January even ends I’m already thinking ahead to what I’m going to drown my pancakes in (obviously the top choice is maple syrup, but I like to dream about the trimmings too), as well as what type of birthday cake I’ll be treating myself to. It’s almost too much excitement to contain. But before I start reeling off various mouth-watering descriptions of my birthday-cake-buffet I feel like this is an opportune moment to grind to a halt and introduce a little something I call ‘The Birthday Detox’.

Some three or four years ago when I was at University I forced myself into a yearly ritual known as The Birthday Detox. If you look towards the top of my blog page you’ll see that my tagline reads ‘I love cake. I dream cake, I bake cake, I eat cake, and now I blog cake!’ excessive amounts of cake, and that excludes all the snacking I do between meals! Now cast your minds back a few weeks to Christmas time and all the unnecessary eating that happens within that season, well my birthday is like another Christmas! I seriously let myself run wild and it’s not a pretty sight. I digress… I came up with a temporary solution to my birthday gluttony, a 7-10day detox and abstinence from cake and other snacks. (If I had real will power I would detox for a month!) This sacred tradition entails purchasing an endless supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and other healthy produce. There’s no denying that trading in a slab of carrot cake for a bowl of strawberries or a raw carrot seems absolutely ludicrous, but it’s all in the name of clear skin and a birthday glow!

Stocking up on my antioxidants and the like.

A word to the wise, if attempting The Birthday Detox please recognise that you will come up against opposition and ridicule. Exhibit A, I bought a supply of candies for my piano teacher this week- he offered the bag to me but I kindly rejected saying I was starting a detox. He then told me to get out! Exhibit B, I went to the movies with a friend last night and she offered to buy the popcorn- I explained I was starting a detox and she laughed saying she didn’t believe me. It wasn’t until we were in the movie theatre and I reached into my bag and pulled out a box o’ grapes and a packet of salted peanuts that she took me seriously. Well, she laughed first then acknowledged my seriousness. It’s not going to be an easy week when Pancake day arrives in the UK, just days before my birthday, but I sure as heck will try.

 So fellow cake lovers, please show me your deepest empathies this week when I endeavour to continue blogging about my love of cake while shovelling down handfuls of raspberries, or glugging down endless cups of green tea. I can only muster up the courage to persevere through this challenge with the knowledge that they’ll be a sickly sweet birthday breakfast waiting for me on the other side! 

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

It's gonna be one heck of a fruity week ;) ...Spot the heart-shaped box of raspberries!