Bake Off!

Since The Great British Bake Off first aired 11 years ago, it has become a household staple that many people look forward to watching every year and then avidly watch throughout the competition. I have always been a fan and have watched every series. I have always enjoyed baking and like many others, I end up feeling inspired by the bakes and often tell myself I will have a go at some of the bakes (but it rarely happens!!).

I have to admit that I preferred the series when Mary Berry was a judge and when Mel and Sue hosted it. I don’t think I have had the same affection for the Bake Off since in all honesty. It may also be because the challenges have become increasingly difficult and so it is no longer targeting good home bakers. I have always had a soft spot for Mary Berry, and I would love to meet her!

Maybe it is because I grew up without a Grandma and longed for one and when I picture a ‘stereotypical’ Grandma I picture Mary. Spending hours in the kitchen with her baking and sat round a table together enjoying our bakes over a pot of tea!

I haven’t done an awful lot of baking in the past couple of years, mainly because if I bake a cake it is tempting to eat it and I don’t like waste. I remember someone suggesting that I should bake because I enjoy it and not worry if it doesn’t get eaten but that doesn’t sit right with me! I’d happily bake and give it a way, but I don’t have that many people to bake for. I did end up baking buns for my counselling peers to celebrate the end of our first year and I enjoyed that.

I have also mastered dairy-free lemon scones which I have to admit are delicious! Not like the dairy-free scones I have tried in cafes which for some reason tend to be dry or hard.

So, when the Bake Off was mentioned in conversation with some new friends I suggested (half-jokingly) that when we meet up, we should set each other a Bake-Off challenge. And guess what?! We are actually going to do a Bake-Off challenge!!

I’m excited about this as baking for a purpose gives me a perfect excuse to have fun in the kitchen!

I was given the task of setting the same challenge for both of us, but I was told not to make it too hard! After much deliberation I have decided to go for something fairy straight forward but with a twist.

I have set us both the challenge of baking a no bake cheesecake but dairy-free. I used to love cheesecakes when I ate dairy and realised that I haven’t had one since. There are plenty of dairy-free alternatives out there now but I have yet to find a dairy-free cream cheese that is edible so this could be challenging! If we manage to find the right alternative ingredients there is no reason why it shouldn’t be delicious.

I have no idea what my friend has in mind and for all I know they could be planning on sculpting the Eiffel Tower out of cheesecakes!!! So, I have been scouring the internet for ideas of how to make my cheesecake into something spectacular and feel I am setting myself high expectations!! I am contemplating attempting to make mini meringues to go on top (I have never attempted to make meringues in my life!) and making lemon truffle curls to decorate the cheesecake as well. I’d like to also finish the cheesecake with lemon curd heart swirls (again I have never done this before!) Whether or not I attempt all of these things I am not sure, but this is what I am aiming for!

I think one of the first things that I will be unpacking when I move next week will be my baking things so I can get practising. Although I need to source some good dairy-free ingredients first, particularly the cream cheese. The ones I have tried so far have ended up in the bin as they were inedible, as hard as I tried to eat it or try and hide the taste I couldn’t.

Any recommendations for a good dairy-free cream cheese would be appreciated!

I’ll let you know how it turns out and if it’s a success I’ll post a photo! (If it doesn’t get eaten first!)

Lockdown part 3….Week 13

Happy Easter!! It has certainly felt like summer is on its way recently which has made a pleasant change.

I arranged for my girls to go on an Easter Egg hunt this week and luckily, we picked the nicest day of the week. I liked the fact that you had to book in advance and that there were limited tickets available. As it was being held in the gardens of a local hall there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out too. The sun was shining, and the grass was full of daffodils in full bloom! We enjoyed running around looking for hidden Easter Eggs with letters on for us to unscramble. I couldn’t believe how much my 4-year-old daughter has grown up and was running around finding the letters and writing them down all by herself. There wasn’t a prize at the end, so I sneakily hid an egg for them both to find! It’s a good job I was prepared!! My girls finished the trip by discovering the joy of rolling down hills…again and again!

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I left my abusive partner 25 months ago and this week I finally got the best email ever from my solicitors!

I had never been so excited to read the words, your decree absolute has come through, congratulations you are now divorced!! I squealed and did a happy dance!!

I’d had a bottle of champagne ready for a while but finally I could pop it open to celebrate! I can’t tell you how happy I am to be free; I feel such a sense of relief.

As my parents divorced when I was a child, I never wanted to get divorced myself and never thought I would, let alone be happy about it. However, I am free to be me and to live my life.

It has been 2 years of pretty much constant emails, phone calls and paperwork and has been an incredibly stressful, anxious, and emotional time. If it wasn’t for lockdown restrictions, I would be having a divorce party!!

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The pressure is building for my counselling course with 2 assignments due this month which we must pass before we are allowed out into the big wide world on placement as trainee counsellors. I also want to try and fit in some me time – well needed self-care. I used to love baking but haven’t really done much in the last couple of years, mainly due to time restraints, loss of interest and money being tight, but I have been challenged to bake a cake. So, I dug out my Mary Berry books and set my sights on a rainbow cake! Let’s see if I get round to it and how it turns out!

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Wow! I now have more than 70 followers!! Thank you once again to each and everyone of you who has read my blog, I can’t tell you how much it means to me!