Sunday, 31 March 2013


I've been back at home the past few weeks on my Easter break. I've successfully managed to finish my dissertation (almost three weeks early...) and had quite a productive bought of baking!

Below is my attempt at the infamous Pinata Cake which I made with my Auntie for my cousin's 18th birthday. Pretty impressive right?

I had lots of left over sponge from making the Pinata Cake so I thought I would attempt to make some Cake Pops too! Easy peasy... crumble up the cake and mix with melted chocolate then roll into balls and place in the fridge for a few hours. Once they have set then you can get creative! I dipped mine in melted dark chocolate and then rolled them in dessicated coconut and hundreds and thousands.

The Easter Bunny also came this morning bearing gifts in the form of a hand mixer, mixing bowl, my very own apron (probably a little bit too excited about this and should really get out more) and a silicone pastry brush - Thanks Mama and Papa Wood!

...oh and CHOCOLATE of course!

H A P P Y    E A S T E R !

Friday, 29 March 2013


I do love a lemon drizzle, but after watching Raymond Blanc make his lemon cake on the current BBC Kitchen Secrets program I was sold for a sticky glaze!

Raymond Blanc uses double cream in his lemon cake, but we didn't have any in so I used my usual lemon drizzle recipe and instead of doing the usual lemon drizzle topping at the end, I went down Raymond Blanc's route and covered the cake in a sticky glaze with apricot jam and a lemon icing.


For the Cake:
225g Butter or Margarine
225g Caster Sugar
225 Self-Raising Flour
3 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Essence
Grated Zest and Juice of 2 Lemons
2-5tbsp Milk

For the Sticky Glaze:
3tbsp Apricot Jam
100g Icing Sugar
3tbsp Lemon Juice


1.  Preheat your oven to 180 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (or two 1lb loaf tins) with baking paper.

2.  In a bowl, cream the butter (make sure the butter is at room temperature) and the sugar together with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and mix until combined.

3.  Add the lemon zest and juice to the mixture and the fold in the flour.

4.  Add 2-5tbsp of milk until the mixture becomes "loose" then transfer into the loaf tin.

5.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 50-60 minutes.

6.  When cooked, remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes.

7.  Heat the apricot jam in a saucepan on a low heat or in the microwave. Take a pastry brush and slather the cake (all visible surfaces) with a generous layer of jam.

8.  Whilst the jam sets, to make the lemon glaze, mix the icing sugar with the lemon and then drizzle over the cake and leave for 20 minutes to set before serving.

I'm a little bit obsessed with these 1lb loaf tins at the moment!

They make two small loaves which stay moist and fresh so you can easily stick one in the freezer or give one away to a very lucky friend...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Oh Leeds we are REALLY lucky!

On Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April, at Left Bank Leeds, we are being honored to play host to what will soon be known as one of the North's greatest street food festivals... oh and it's FREE!

"Amazing Graze is Leeds' first ever festival celebrating all that's good about life on the street. Organised by Left Bank and Manjit's Kitchen, Amazing Graze will feature the best street food, street performers, street art and street traders. Imagine all the best things about street life distilled into one beautiful space - that's Amazing Graze!"

The street food scene has taken off in the past few years, with innovative ideas and great quality food available on most city street corners.

Come down with a BIG APPETITE and be ready to sample some of the UK's finest street eats.

It's open from 5pm-12am on the Friday and then 12pm-12am on the Saturday.

Street Food Trader Line Up:
El Kantina
The RibMan 
Gingers Comfort Emporium
Fish &
Manjit's Kitchen
The Pizza Pod
Diamond Dogs
Greedy Bassets Kitchen
Courtyard Dairy
Las Paelleras
Margo & Rita
Vw Lulabelle
Barnhouse Bistro 

Live music from:
Hunting Bears
The Vicars of Skiffle
Lesley-Anne Goode
Jonny Walker
Dave Smith

For more information you can view the facebook event HERE.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Inspiration for these muffins was taken from THIS recipe. 

I used lemons as I had no limes and decided to experiment a little bit by making a lemon drizzle to top the muffins with to give it a nice and tangy sugary crunch
 These are delightfully moist and a great way to use up over-ripe Kiwis.

This recipe makes around 9 muffins or 12 cup cakes.


For the Muffins:
150g Plain Flour
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch of Salt
60g of Dessicated Coconut
3tbsp Oil
120g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1tsp Vanilla Essence
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 Kiwis

For the Crunchy Lemon Drizzle:
3tbsp Granulated Sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon


1.  Preheat your oven to 200 and line a muffin tray with 9 muffin cases or 12 cupcake cases.

2.  In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until creamy, light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence and beat until mixed.

3.  Peel the kiwis and blend them with a hand blender or in a food processor until pureed. Add 2tbsp of water to the kiwi puree. Add the kiwi puree, along with the lime zest to the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence.

4.  In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and mix in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and coconut. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

5.  Place a generous tablespoon (or more) of mixture into each muffin case and then sprinkle the muffins with a bit of extra dessicated coconut. Place in the middle tray of your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.

6.  Whilst waiting for the muffins to cook, take a saucepan and on a low heat add the sugar and lemon juice. Keep stirring until it starts to thicken.

7.  When the muffins are out the oven, take a skewer and whilst hot poke around 5 or 6 holes into the top of each muffin.

8.  Drizzle over the lemon and sugar mix whilst hot and leave to cool.

Friday, 22 March 2013


I have been planning on making banana bread for let's say...the last 3 months? I always eat my banana's too quickly though and never manage to let them get to the brown, blackened mushy stage. Alas - coming home this Easter I was in luck! A surplus of banana's all speckled and freckled - so to my joy I decided to whip up two different variations in these cute little loaf tins I found in our cupboard.

Basic Banana Bread recipe is as follows...


140g of Light Margarine (I used Flora Light)
100g of Caster Sugar
30g Honey
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 large or 3 small-medium sized over-ripe Bananas

* I made two different types of Banana Bread - I added these extras with the mashed banana:

(1) Dark Chocolate and Nutty Granola - 75g of chopped Dark Chocolate and 50g of Granola (with a little extra to sprinkle on top).

(2) Maple Syrup, Oats and Mixed Seeds - 2tbsps of Maple Syrup, 20g of Oats, 20g of Oatbran and 3 tbsps of Mixed Seeds.


1.  Preheat your oven to 180 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (or two 1lb loaf tins) with baking parchment.

2.  Cream together the butter, vanilla essence and the sugar in a mixing bowl (preferably with an electric whisk) until light and fluffy and the mixture has turned from a yellow to a cream colour.

3.  Beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour and baking powder - add any extras at this point.

4.  Place the mixture into the loaf tin(s) and bake in the centre shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


I always ask my friends what cakes they want for their birthday... after a tense decision making session, my friend Liam requested some biscotti after trying the batch I made before Christmas (see recipe HERE). An odd choice for a birthday cake I must admit... but I didn't mind!

I decided to go for a little bit of a different take... using what I had in the cupboard to make a lovely new combination. As ever... Biscotti is ridiculously easy and satisfying to make.
Just be careful of your teeth!


1 Egg
100g Caster Sugar
125g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
100g White Chocolate
50g Peanuts


1.  Preheat your oven to 180 celcius and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Whisk the egg, vamilla essence and sugar together until you have a mousse-like consistency.

3.  De-shell the peanuts if needed and (you could even toast them under the grill for 5 minutes) and chop the chocolate into small pieces.

4.  Fold in the flour, baking powder, peanuts and chocolate.

4.  Flour a clean surface well and also flour your hands. Carefully scoop the (very loose) dough into your hands and keep working flour into it on the surface until it is no longer sticky.

5.  Roll the dough into a long oblong log shape and place on the baking tray.

Monday, 18 March 2013


Mindfulness is an invaluable tool to have at your disposal for keeping in the present and being aware of your own being, your existence. It's more like a journey rather than a lesson as you are continually discovering new things and learning more about yourself each time you practice.

It is particularly helpful if you are subject to becoming stressed easily by overwhelming thoughts and emotions. If you focus too much on the past or think too much about the future then it can help to ground you and to manage these thoughts and feelings in a more rational way.
It will aid an understanding of your emotions, surroundings and actions.

I like how the Action for Happiness website sums it up:

"Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it's right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life - like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future - so we get more out of the day-to-day. "

There are plenty of Mindfulness courses available, but there is also a multitude of resources available online.

To get started with practicing Mindfulness, try the three minute breathing space exercise HERE.

Useful links for more information and resources on Mindfulness are listed below:

1.  Be Mindful - The official Mindfulness website for the UK's Mental Health Foundation.

2.  Action for Happiness - A guide on how to bring Mindfulness into your everyday life.

3.  Headspace - Meditation podcasts for you to download.

4. Mindful - A collection of articles and online resources. Grasp the basics.

5.  MindfulnessInfo - A guide to Mindfulness meditation with nine exercises.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


After being inspired by the wonderful Michel Roux Jr on BBC's Food & Drink series, along with the Real Bread Campaign movement, I thought I would put myself to the test to make my very own loaf. I decided to opt for the EASIEST option... Soda Bread! It contains no yeast, does not need resting to rise and can be prepared, cooked and out of the oven within 1 hour. Perfect.

This recipe makes a small-medium sized loaf. Perfect for around 10-12 slices depending on how thick you choose to cut it. It can be easily doubled for a larger loaf.


150g Plain Flour (plus extra for dusting)
150g Wholemeal Flour
1 1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
A very generous pinch of Salt
250ml Buttermilk (or same quantity of natural yoghurt)


1.  Heat your oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients to form a dough and knead gently, forming the dough into a ball.

3.  Place the ball of dough onto the baking paper and then with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of the dough about an inch deep. Sprinkle with flour and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Traditionally you'd serve this whilst still hot with butter or jam... or with a nice wedge of runny cheese.

Or you could do what we did and pair it with Sweet Potato Hummus (David's concoction - Recipe HERE!) for a wonderfully sweet and savoury delight.

Friday, 15 March 2013


Last Friday night, Inkwell hosted the preview of their latest exhibition 'Out of the Sketchbook'. My lovely and wonderfully talented friend Lorna Johnstone was one of the artists to exhibit her work.

Lorna explains a little about her work and her approach:

"I keep a visual journal. I use drawing and collected words to document and make sense of my world. For “Out of the Sketchbook” I wanted to share my creative process, linking my ongoing projects, challenges and observations together in sort of a big spider diagram. Some drawings evolve naturally, from a meditative state of mind; other times I set myself tasks such as ‘daily news drawings’, ‘a drawing a day’, or leaving messages on paper coffee cups for others to find. What I’m interested in now is removing my drawings from the isolation of the sketchbook page and laying it out with work from different days, different sketchbooks. I’m curious to see how themes begin to link together and what patterns will emerge."

You can view more of Lorna's work HERE.

Some pictures I took of Lorna's exhibition work are shown below:

Thursday, 14 March 2013


As a student at university it can be an extremely exciting and world-opening experience!
However, the increased pressure and expectations, alongside the massive change, can for some people at some point or another in their degree appear to be all too much to cope with...

...have no fear - you are not on your own!

Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, there is a lot of help out there for YOU as a student which is available at your disposal. Sometimes you might have to dig around for it but once you are able to engage with help it can help you to feel more grounded and balanced with your studies and social life.

I will talk about the help on offer for you in a post next week, but for now I'd like to share my TOP 10 tips on how to keep "mind healthy" at university. If you have any tips you feel are important and not mentioned then please get in touch! It would be great to know what works for different people :)


1.  It is important to figure out what triggers your stress levels to run sky high (e.g. nearing deadlines, lack of social support, money issues, relationships, disrupted routine) and to be able to identify these and create yourself a network of support to help you from these situations becoming too intense for you to.

2.  Establish a good routine and structure - regularity can help to settle your mind and aid your work/life balance. Stick to a timetable or figure out your plans for the week ahead.

3.  Establish a group of close friends who you feel able to talk to and can turn to when life is particularly stressful. Try to avoid isolating yourself and hibernating away in your room (as appealing as it is at times) - TOO MUCH alone time is NOT good for anyone.

4.  Keep on top of your finances - figure out how much money you realistically have to spend each week as a student and use that as a guideline to work around - you're more likely to stay out of your overdraft this way and avoid any nasty end-of-term single figure surprises!

5.  Eat well and eat regularly - lots of whole grains and energy-fueling food.
Make sure you eat enough protein, whether meat or a vegetarian option and Omega 3 is extremely important for keeping your mind healthy.

6.  Get involved with extra-curricular activities.
It can be a university society, a community group, part-time job, volunteering, etc...

7.  Getting enough sleep is VITAL - this can also help you with regulating a routine. Eight hours sleep minimum if you can. It's really not that big a deal going to bed before 1am as a student (unless you're out partying EVERY NIGHT) and you'll feel much better for it anyway.

8.  Exercise is also essential for maintaining a healthy mind. Try to do 20 minutes of brisk exercise at least five days a week, even if it's just walking to or from uni instead of taking the bus on some days or biking down to the supermarket for your shopping. You don't necessarily need a gym - if anything, being out in the fresh air will be much better for you.

9. How much are you drinking? Are you partying too much? Too much drink or too much party can cause anyone a slight moment of madness. You end up in that situation of asking yourself "What is my life?" (we've all been there!) - if you know this is going to upset your "balance" then recognise this and take action. It's ok to party, it's good for you(!), but try to understand your limits and use it as a treat. Your mind and your bank-balance will thank you...

10.  If you feel that your problems are severely affecting your ability to live and study then PLEASE contact external help. There are many options available for you as a student out there which can help you to manage your issues whilst at university (MORE ON THIS NEXT WEEK!).
However - If you ever feel in a point of crisis then please contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

Monday, 11 March 2013


This is the recipe we used at Inkwell on Friday. This makes around 12 medium-large muffins.
My recipe is adapted from Rachel Allen's recipe which can be found HERE.


250g Plain Flour
75g Rolled Oats
1tbsp Baking Powder
30g of Mixed Seeds
2 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Essence
75g Light Brown Sugar
2 Bananas (Ripe)
100g Crunchy Peanut Butter
50g Butter (Melted)
250ml Milk


1.  Preheat your oven to 190ºC and fill a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases (or alternatively you could use fairy cake cases and make 24 little muffins).

2.  Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder, rolled oats and mixed seeds.

3.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until fluffy and mousse-like. Add the vanilla essence, 2 bananas (make sure they are mashed well), peanut butter, melted butter. Add the milk last.

4.  Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture - be careful not to over-mix.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. You can sprinkle over some extra oats and seeds at this point (I forgot to do this!).

6. Place the muffins in middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes (or until the top of the muffins spring back when you touch them).

7.  Leave to cool for 20 minutes and dust with icing sugar for a pretty finish!

We also made some smaller muffins in cupcake cases and topped with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting and Grated Chocolate.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


I had another afternoon of fun and baking at Inkwell last Friday, this time with my baking buddy David! We bake on the Friday afternoon so that there are cakes to sell in the Cafe the next day. Last week's cakes were a MAJOR success so I was asked back to bake this week!

To learn more about Inkwell visit my previous post HERE.

We made some nut and seed flapjacks...

Some peanut butter and banana muffins...

...and some smaller versions with cinnamon buttercream frosting.
(This was our first attempt at using a piping bag - please forgive us!).

Also in the kitchen was some delicious home made roasted red pepper soup...

...and some carrot and chickpea veggie burgers!

I love being able to experiment and get creative in the kitchen and it's great to know that we can do it for a good cause too. I'll be back again next week with some vegan cakes and a few more wonders.

Do you like my hat (and my flapjacks)?