Autumn.

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Autumn is my favourite time of year. I do love the beautiful warm, activity packed days of Summer. But I’m naturally a hermit, my home is my sanctuary and If I don’t have too, I’d prefer to just not go anywhere.

During the Autumn months, its cold, grey, wet and generally miserable. This makes it easier to turn down any plans made outside the house. Instead, I get to do the things I love best, I’ll cook something hearty –  It almost always involved Gravy… I’m a northerner after all. I’ll sit sipping Tea, whilst reading, writing, watching, listening. And this is my happy place.

To be honest I’ll do this all year round, regardless of the season. But knowing its Autumn, just means its a little more acceptable to blow off life and lounge round the house.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Boston cream cupcakes.

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I’ve never had a Boston cream pie, i’ve no idea why not. They look amazing, a custard-cream filled cake, topped with a slathering of melted chocolate. It makes me drool at the thought.

Every Wednesday Sam’s younger brother comes by to ‘spend some time with his big brother’ (thats code for watch The great british bake off with us) And most weeks i’ll bake up something delicious for us to eat. Earlier on yesterday whilst scrolling Pinterest as Izzy napped on me, I decided this week I’d do Boston cream cupcakes. A slight tweak on the original pie.

They’re everything I imagined them to be… and more. And they’ve very swiftly knocked Lemon drizzle cake of the top spot as my all time favourite dessert.

 

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So if you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, heres the recipe –

There are three parts to these little custard filled beauties, Here’s what you’ll need:

Creme Patissiere.

  • 300ml milk (plus a little extra set aside)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Vanilla sponge cake.

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • Teaspoon of vanilla exact

– Plus 1/2 family size bar of milk/dark chocolate (I use milk because I really don’t like the bitterness of dark)

– 12+ cake cases.

 

Now you know what you’ll need heres what you’ll do.

First up you’ll need to make your Creme Patissiere, I always thought it was really hard to make, turns out it isn’t at all. These quantities will make more than enough for 12 cupcakes. I use this to fill profiteroles, eclairs and more often than not me, Mischa & Izzy will just sit with spoons and eat whatevers left over.

– First pour the milk into a saucepan and heat to simmering point.

– In a separate bowl cream together the egg yolks and sugar, before adding the flour and cornflour.

– Once your milk is ready slowly add it to your egg/sugar/flour mixture, making sure to whisk thoroughly in-between adding more.

– Now return your custard mixture back to the pan, placing on a low heat and whisking constantly. This is so important, it’ll look like nothing is happening and then all of a sudden it will thicken up really fast. once that happens take it off the heat & continue to whisk making sure its completely lump free. *This is what I call the pre-cake binge workout*

– More often than not you’ll find your mixture is really thick, you don’t want a sauce, but  you don’t want something thats almost solid either, this is where I like to beat in trickles of milk until I get a lovely creamy, pipeable consistency.

– Now you can add your vanilla before setting aside to chill.

* Always layer some cling film directly on top of the creme pat, this will prevent a thick skin forming. Leave it on the side until its cooled down before putting in the fridge until you need it. You can leave it in your fridge, covered with the cling film layer for up to 3 days, just give it a good stir through when you want to use it.

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Now its time for the cupcakes. I found what I think is the best vanilla sponge recipe around over on All recipes you can find that Here or just read on and i’ll explain.

– First preheat the oven to 170 degrees/ gas mark 3

– Next mix up the butter and sugar, before adding in the eggs and vanilla extract.

– Now add the flour and whisk for a good five minutes. The extra whisking time is a pain if you only have a hand whisker, but it really is needed for a light and fluffily cupcake.

– Spoon all of your mixture, divided evenly between twelve cupcake cases.

– And finally place on the middle shelf of your oven, baking for 12- 14 minutes.

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So now you’re all ready to put everything together and build the cupcakes that dreams are made of.

First you’ll need to knife a circle inside your cupcake, making sure you don’t stab right through to the bottom. You can use the tip of your knife or a teaspoon to scoop out the middle of your cupcake. Slice of the centre of the cake from the bit you’ve just taken out, leaving a lid. Your cupcake should look like this.

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Now, using a spoon scoop up some of your chilled creme patisserie and pack it into your cupcake. As tempting as it may be to really pack that cupcake, you want to be able to place the lid on and not have it all being pushed out. So not too much.

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Now simply place your lid back on while you get to work on melting your chocolate.

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There are a couple of ways to melt your chocolate, I like to do it the easiest way, simply snap up the chocolate and microwave in 20 second intervals. The only thing to remember when doing it this way is to stir in-between melting. Even if you chocolate squares are still perfectly formed once you’ve opened the microwave door, odds are if you give it a stir, they’ll all melt together. I usually only need around 40-50 seconds, there will still be lumps but after a bit of stiring the heat will melt whatever solids are left and I’ll have a lovely, glossy melted chocolate.

Now your chocolate is melted, simply dunk the top of your cupcakes in.

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And thats it, it does take a little effort, but I promise it is so worth it. These cupcakes are just incredible.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

Fixin’ up a car boot haul.

As i’ve mentioned before (about 9 million times) I love a good car boot. My home is made up of about 20% Ikea & 80% of other peoples junk restored to fit in with my interior vibe. About three months ago I found the most beautiful set of drawers at my local car boot sale, imagine my absolute joy at being told he only wanted a tenner for them!

 

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I know they’re a little battered, the handles don’t match and they’ve been patched up with new bits of wood. But I just loved them so much. Originally they were supposed to go up in my sewing room, but they fitted so perfectly in the living room, so thats where they settled.

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Fast forward a few months and I finally decided to give them a much needed makeover. I’m drawn to darker shades at the moment (As you’ll see in next weeks Sewing room re-dec post) and with my living room being very much a light and airy beige-fest,  I fancied mixing it up with a very dramatic piece of furniture. So I went for a dark slate grey, contrasting the dark with some light brass handles – which I didnt want to replace because I really like that they’re all different. I painted the drawers with a mixture of Johnstone’s wood paint (black) and a basic white matt wall emulsion and I used Plastikote in Brass for the handles.

collage

A couple of hours of spraying and painting, a couple more literally sat watching paint dry – I’m always so eager to see the finished project – And I now have a beautiful, completely unique and actually rather expensive looking corner drawer set. All in all costing less than twenty pounds. As I said before, I really do LOVE a car boot sale.

 

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Another year older.

another year older

 

A few weeks ago it was my birthday (August 17th to be exact.) I’m now twenty four.

Like new years, I find birthdays very much an anti-climax. Its supposed to be this big ‘thing’ but really it just marks another year of your life gone… God i’m depressing. Ha. Ha.

I do enjoy my birthdays really, especially since I have grown up and started a family. Even more so because as the years go by I get a little wiser, a little more focused on what kind of woman I want to be and where I want my life to go. With this in mind I’ve decided to start setting myself yearly goals. Kind of like new years resolutions, but not… I stopped making new years resolutions after the ‘learn to drum’ fiasco of 09′ – Drums are really, REALLY loud!

So here are my Birthday resolutions for my 24th year.

– Pass my driving test.. I took my very first driving lesson a few weeks after my 17th birthday, I then took about 300 euros worth of lessons when I lived in cyprus. Sam even went so far as to buy me a car for my 22nd Birthday…which I then had to sell, because it sat unused for so long. And still, I can’t get past passing my theory test. The next go will be my fifth time. This year I’ll do it.

– Finish a novel. I started writing after I had Mischa, I had a lot of free time thanks to us being based in Germany, Mischa was sick for a very long time meaning we couldnt come home to England for a while & I needed an outlet for all the built up – new mother, prem baby, missing home’ emotion. Writing eased that. So much so I wrote a 60,000 word ‘story’ *I use that term very loosely*  in just under three months.. I still haven’t finished it, nor the other ten to twelve stories saved on my laptop. It doesn’t have to be publisher worthy, or even really any good. But I’ve started and left so many unfinished, this year I’d like to stick it out & complete the process.

– Take regular breaks from the internet. If you follow me over on any of my social media accounts you’ll know i’ve been taking a little time off. I love Instagram especially, but I found myself spending a lot of time during the day staring into my screen, completely oblivious to the world around me. I was finding it impossible to really get stuck into any projects, my thought process always revolving around what would look better on Instagram. This is no good, and so I decided to take a little break. It was just what was needed, last monday I wrote eighteen pages for my latest -never to be seen, by anyone- novel. The most I have ever done in one day.

Thats it really, I have the usual eat less junk, do more exercise. Turn down the invites for wine & takeaway with my sister more often – they always result in a mammoth hangover. But these are my main must do’s.

My birthday itself was lovely. I was treated to a shopping trip to the Trafford centre, where I was spoilt rotten & later in the evening I had our traditional birthday dinner out with my sisters at our favourite italian – there was A LOT of pasta & wine consumed. All in all a bloody perfect way to introduce my twenty forth year.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.