Marble Cake

I missed so many birthdays in the states that I wanted to start out by saying happy birthday to Allyson, Ashley, and Lizzy! I miss you both! Imagine this cake was for you!

On a side note- The lovely Ashley turned 21 this past Friday and I am so happy I was able to celebrate it with you! I know that we can already legally drink in Wales so it was great to celebrate you being truly legal in the states! <3

Now on to the real reason for this post!— Cake!

 

Another birthday another cake. One of my new friends here had a birthday this past Sunday so I asked her if I could make her a cake. She requested marble (among others and I choose marble), and butter cream icing (my forever go to icing). This recipe comes courtesy of ‘BBC Good Foods’.

  • 225 g butter
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225 g self rising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp   cocoa powder ( I added an extra third because I love chocolate)
  • a pinch of salt.

Instructions-

Preheat oven to 180/190 C. Grease two sandwich pans.  Combine sugar and butter until fluffy, and add eggs and beat one at a time. Add milk and vanilla. Slowly add self rising flour, and beat until combined. Sprinkle salt and fold in. Separate half the batter into another bowl.

  •  Add cocoa powder and fold in. 2 tbsp at a time drop vanilla batter and chocolate batter into the pans. Once all the batter has been used up take a tooth pick or knife and drag around to create a marble effect. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until you press the center and it bounces back.

I wrapped these up and put them in the freezer for a day, however they cool quite quick, and then decorated them.

I didn’t really use a buttercream recipe because it’s something I can make in my sleep! I started with about 300 g of unsalted butter (very important for it to be unsalted) added milk, vanilla extract, and icing sugar until I reached the consistency and flavor I wanted!

Thinking now a chocolate butter cream recipe would be great, if you prefer chocolate, (if I was making it for myself this what I would have done)

And this is the final result! I didn’t bring much from home other than clothes, but I did bring my pipping tools. I’m proud to add this one to the collection, it’s not my best but for what I had I think I did well!

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This town was a 5 minute train ride away, and is located on this island called Anglesey, so of course I dragged out Ashley to come with me. I have Wednesdays off and get bored so I decided to take a quick trip. The town name meaning is longer than the town roughly translates to “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave.” The town literally changed the name to make it longer just to drum up tourism. I guess it worked.

We went to a really cute little restaurant that had amazing tea and food, and the best Calamari I have ever had.  But other than that there wasn’t much to do around, and the next train was coming in two hours so we walked back instead. There’s this bridge called the Menai bridge and it’s stunning. It was about a 45 minute walk to the bridge, 15 minutes to actually get across it, and then another 45 to get back to our flats. The views on the way to the bridge, and from the bridge made it worth it. When in Wales right.

See those mountains? Thats the Snowdon Mountain range, you may recongize it from Penrhyn Castle.

The views once we reached the bridge were equally breath taking.

The castle and cathedral count remain the same.

Castle Count:3

Cathedral Count: 3

Penrhyn Castle

Apparently it’s not a real castle, but it was suppose to be a hunting lodge… which is insane. It’s beautiful and huge, I cant even imagine having so much money that I go to built a hunting lodge and end up building a castle.

The entire Castle won’t even fit into one picture, not even a panorama could fit the entire thing.

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Even though the day was cloudy, and the grounds were muddy from rain the night before it did not rain while we were there and for that I count it as a success!

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There were beautiful gardens that were fairy tale- quality, and had a eerie quality to them while in the winter but I’m sure in the spring or summer, it’s even more stunning.

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The views from the castle were stunning themselves. From one side you get rolling hills, and the sea (or maybe it’s the menai straights), and on the other side you get the Snowdon Mountain range, which luckily looked like it just snowed recently and had a lot of snow on top.

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The inside of the castle wasn’t open so I’ll have to go again one day when it is.

Once again this is a place I want to travel back to when the weather is a bit warmer, because I’m sure the grounds are stunning. Now our castle count and cathedral count are all tied up.

Castle Count: 3

Cathedral Count: 3

Victorian Sponge Cake

I ventured into my first attempt at baking while in the UK and if I dare say it didn’t turn out too bad. I’m sad I forgot to take pictures of the process but here was the recipe I used to make a cake for my flat-mates birthday!

Victoria Sponge Cake

200 g unsalted butter(room temperature)

200 g caster sugar

4 free range eggs (beaten)

200 g self rising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp milk

Instructions-

Preheat oven to 190 C. Cream together sugar, and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add rest of the ingredients, beat until smooth.  Divide evenly into separate pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cake bounces back when touched. Set aside and let cool.

History behind the Victorian Sponge Cake-

So when I was looking up recipes I was aware that my recipes from home might not work the same. And rather than take a gamble on recipes and end up messing up the entire kitchen I decided to look up ‘traditional British dessert recipes’. Of course mince pies, and fruit cake, fairy bread all came up, and so did Victorian Sponge cake. Essentially it’s a sponge cake ( go figure) that is sliced in half or sandwiched, and in between is typically jam or fruit and whipped cream. Sometimes it’s the whipped cream is replaced with butter cream however. It is considered a ‘quintessential English tea time treat’, and rose to popularity during Queen Victoria’s reign (surprise surprise).

However anyone that knows me when it comes to baking knows I only follow instructions so far. So I asked my flat mate what she liked, and she replied she likes chocolate and vanilla. So with the cake being vanilla I set off to make my go to chocolate Ganache Icing.

Ingredients:

300 ml double cream

400 g dark chocolate finely chopped. (tip* chopping the dark chocolate or even breaking it up into smaller pieces makes it easier to whisk when adding the cream and will give a more even consistency*)

Instructions:

Heat double cream until a boil, pour over chocolate in separate bowl, whisk until smooth. Let cool (place in fridge if you want a thicker consistency).

Then for the decorations I melted white chocolate and went to work!

I was pleased with the end result, although I should have used a smaller tip to write with. I’m excited to try and see what recipes I’ll try next!

 

 

Liverpool

We traveled to the home of the Beatles and to where the titanic departed from on it’s maiden (and only voyage). The Liverpool football(soccer) team had  a game against Swansea (Wales) I wish I was able to see it but unfortunately we had to purchase tickets in advanced. I will make it to a football game while I’m here! We started out our day at the Titanic Museam where we learned about the construction of the ill-fated ship, and what ultimately lead to it’s down fall. (Apparently if they hit the iceberg head on the ship would have been damaged but not sunk).

From the museum we saw the only surviving life vest from the titanic.

 

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We took the trek ( lots of walking in the UK) to the cavern club. Which is the first place the Beatles ever performed.

 

Additionally we saw the Liverpool library which looked old from the outside but very new from the inside. They have a “wall of fame” and you can see the Beatles dead center under the plaque.

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Liverpool was interesting it kind of reminded me of Boston and Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of old buildings (the city was discovered in the 1200’s after all), but next to an old building there would be a modern one. The perfect example of this is the cathedrals (I’m adding a cathedral count with my castle count.)

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There was the Catholic Cathedral that is built like a dome, and was started before the second world war but was abandoned and bombed, so when it was rebuilt they built it modern. I could be wrong but I don’t think you’ll find another cathedral in world like the catholic one.

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Then just down the street through the trees is the Anglican cathedral. We saw it much sooner before we reached it.

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All in all Liverpool was very impressive and I intend to go back when it isn’t as cold! The cathedral count takes the lead!

Castle Count: 2

Cathedral Count: 3

Update: My best friend is from Liverpool I ended up spending a week with her!

Conwy

This place is absolutely beautiful I don’t know how I got so lucky to end up in such a beautiful place, and you’ll probably read this again and again but Wales is truly underrated. This was my first “real” castle but they’re everywhere so I’m only counting real castles that aren’t completely in ruins in my castle count. Conwy (Con-We.. i think, I’ve also heard it pronounced Con-WAY) is a small sea side town about 30 minute bus, or 10-15 minute train ride away from Bangor, it has beautiful scenery great shops, and evil seagulls… I’m not kidding they warned us about the seagulls don’t feed them.

But enough on that look at this castle! These are some panorama’s I look from inside!

 

It was built in the 1280’s.. how old! There’s so much history I can’t even begin I highly recommend you to look it up! It was stunning and old and amazing how even though its in ruins it’s really not and it’s held it’s own fairly well!

I wen’t up to second height of the watch towers… I hate heights and the stairs where incredibly steep so I didn’t trust myself going all the way up. Additionally this town had the first traditional red phone booth I’ve seen since being in the UK. Needless to say I was very excited. And yes if anyone was wondering the phone DOES work! That surprised me a bit.

Conwy is home to the smallest house in the UK! Aka my new home.

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Seeing as it’s so close I’ll probably be back when it’s warmer to explore some more, it’s a super quick trip that I could do any time I’m bored. Castle and Cathedral Count are all tied up.

Castle Count: 1

Cathedral count:1

Cymru

Cymru is Wales in Welsh… don’t ask how it’s pronounced I’m still figuring out the Welsh basics. All I know so far is that the double d like Ffordd is pronounced as “th” also the double F isn’t a misspelling. As they told us when we entered it’s one of the oldest languages in Europe if not the oldest.

That’s the Welsh flag for those that didn’t know.  I think it’s so cool. So I arrived Monday morning at 6:20 am… the plane self landed because it was foggy in Manchester… I didn’t know that was a thing. I got through customs in about an hour which I didn’t find personally to be that bad but others thought it was terrible. Around 12 the University picked us up, and we spent two hours traveling to Bangor. I hadn’t slept since 9am the day before so I was running on pure adrenaline. I thought it would be easy to fall asleep… so much.. however jet lag didn’t really kick in the next day. We had this orientation of sorts… and some how being me I ended up lost for over three hours… and it was fine until it started to get dark and I really had no idea where I was going. But that’s when I found the cathedral!

This cathedral is in the center of town and was founded in 525 AD (according to my favorite source Wikipedia). I haven’t had  a chance to go in yet but it truly is beautiful!  It’s about a 10 minute walk from my flat(British lingo) to the main campus. It looks a lot older than it actually is so I’ll let you all figure that one out ;). My flat mates took me out pubbing and that was fun! It’s different being able to legally buy alcohol here. Every time I hand my ID to someone they freak out that it has my height on it because I guess British ID’s don’t. Anyways. That’s a run down of Wales… its the land of castles, and sheep.

Castle Count: 0

Cathedral Count: 1