Recipe: Saffron and White Chocolate Cake

Saffron cake

Christmas for me is all about traditions – carrying on old ones from my childhood as well as creating new ones just for our family. Despite having lived in the UK since the age of ten, when I was growing up we always celebrated a traditional Swedish Christmas (with a few English twists). Much of the festive season revolves around food and in Sweden saffron is synonymous with Christmas. For St Lucia Day (read more about it here), which falls on December 13, it is customary to serve bright yellow saffron buns studded with raisins. While the buns are rather time consuming to make as the dough needs to rise (but they are oh, so worth it, I will share the recipe when I do make them), this cake takes hardly any time at all. My eldest son has inherited my love for saffron so I made it for his birthday earlier this month and I’ll make another one for the first of advent to serve along with Glögg (similar to mulled wine) and gingerbread biscuits.

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter
100g white chocolate
0.5g saffron (if you’re near a Scandinavian food store you can usually buy the saffron powder in tiny (but expensive) bags)
2 eggs
160g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
130g plain flour

Preparation Method:

Melt the butter together with the white chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the saffron and put to one side.Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until white and fluffy. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and stir until combined. Sift in the flour and carefully fold it in. Pour the butter into a prepared spring form cake tin. Bake in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on the desire texture (I like the cake to be slightly gooey in the middle). Allow it to cool before serving.

This (or rather last..) Week’s Favourites

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I just got back from my little jaunt to the spa hotel this afternoon and have been trying to hold onto that relaxed, pampered feeling while supervising homework, negotiating sibling arguments and cooking tea. Not that easy at times but I did feel more chilled than usual and even managed to keep my serene demeanor when I caught my eldest trying to find out how many ‘bad words’ his seven-year-old brother knows (and eagerly offering to teach him any that he’s not yet familiar with..)

So my weekly favourites post is once again later than usual but at least I have a very good excuse – and even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t have posted it yesterday as we could not get any Wi-fi connection at the hotel.

1. It seems a long time ago now, but for Cameron’s birthday last Monday we went for brunch at a local restaurant at his request: Full English breakfast, Eggs Benedict and French toast – a great way to start the day!

2.The weather turned colder this week and no one could have been more pleased than Clemmie who finally got to wear her leopard print hat (or ‘tiger hat’ as she calls it)

3. You know that Christmas is getting closer when the Gingerbread lattes arrive at Starbucks! As much as I love the Pumpkin Spice one, this is my hands down favourite and I shall be having at least one a week between now and Christmas Day.

4. Casper’s Beaver Scout group had a visit from a blind man and his guide dog last week and all the boys were tasked with making a tactile picture of the dog. Here is Casper’s contribution, made with some sticky-back felt I found in the crafts box.

5. Reading material for my night away: Jimmy Choo founder Tamara Mellon’s memoir In My Shoes and the latest issue of British Vogue.

6. We arrived at the hotel mid-morning and had a cappuccino in the restaurant while we were waiting for the room to be ready.

7. They say a change is as good as a rest and swapping the congested roads in our pretty but densely populated village for rolling hills and fresh air certainly did wonders for the mind and soul.

8. Yesterday we stopped for lunch at The Mulberry pub (which incidentally is owned by radio and TV celeb Chris Evans) down the road from the hotel.

9. A facial and a manicure were among the treatments I indulged in. I love this OPI nail polish but unfortunately I forgot to ask what the colour is called.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Due to the lack of Wi-fi, I am a bit behind with replying to comments and reading your blogs but I’m sure I’ll catch up in the next couple of days. Hope you’ve had a great start to the week. X

Listen up People – It’s Friday!!

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{I love being a mum but sometimes we all deserve a bit of time off}

We have had a lovely afternoon with my sister and her kids who are visiting from Sweden. When the boys came home from school it turned into a bit of a mad house with five children aged from 2 to 10 running around, but it was great for all the cousins to get together as they hadn’t seen each other since August.

Now it’s winding down time, the children have just got out of the bath and are deciding which movie to watch for their Friday night treat. The rain is pouring down outside but it’s lovely and cosy inside. I’m going to light some candles, have a glass of wine and enjoy the peace and quiet before I cook dinner.

A great weekend (I hope!) lies ahead:  tomorrow night I am going out for dinner with my sister – a rare occurrence as we live in different countries. Then on Sunday I am going an even rarer trip to a spa with a friend. We are only going for one night but we have lots of nice treatments booked and I hope it will be a chance to recharge the batteries before the run-up to Christmas.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! X

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The Beauty Edit: (Re) Verso the Years

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I still remember the first time I went up to a beauty counter in search of an anti-aging cream. I was 23 years old and luckily the lady at the Clarins counter took a no nonsense approach and steered me away from the wrinkle-busting potions, instead persuading me to buy a pot of their Gentle Day Cream which I carried on using for many years.
I am extra grateful that she didn’t indulge my worries about my non-existent wrinkles after reading an article in The Sunday Times In Style magazine which warns against starting to use harsh anti-aging products too early, saying that they can irritate the skin and even cause it to age prematurely (take heed all you 20 somethings out there!)

Fast forward a few years and while I’m quite happy to grow old (er) gracefully without Botox, fillers or more invasive treaments, my skin is in need of a helping hand to stave off the signs of aging. The irony is that I probably spent both more money and time on my skincare regime when I was in my 20s than I do these days. Instead of the Clarins or Lancome products that I used to favour, I have been buying my face creams on the high street, or worse,  relying on samples from magazines, which are not necessarily adapted for my skin type (Big slap on the wrist for me!).

In the summer holidays I read about a new Swedish skincare brand called Verso which uses a formula called Retinol 8 to stimulate the skin’s own production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in order to reduce the signs of aging (read more about the science behind the products here). It’s not the cheapest option around but this month I decided to bite the bullet and invest in the serum and day cream (the range also includes a cleanser, eye cream and night cream). As the products only arrived yesterday I haven’t yet been able to gauge if they live up to their promises but watch this space for a more comprehensive review…

{Verso skincare is available from Selfridges in the UK. For a full list of international stockists click here.}

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Verso

Currently Coveting #12: Ali MacGraw’s Classic Preppy Style

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One style crush that I never tire of is Ali MacGraw in Love Story and I find myself turning to the 1970 movie for style inspiration every time Fall rolls around. The actress exemplified all-American preppiness in her turtlenecks, knitted scarves, plaid miniskirts, knit caps, and peacoats, creating a look that is both chic and timeless. Even though the film is over 40 years old,  every outfit could be worn today without blinking an eye and in today’s fast moving fashion world where trends come and go at lightning speed, that’s really saying something.

{In the picture above (clockwise from top left): Herringbone Tweed Jersey Skirt, £125 from Karen Millen; Cambridge Cable Turtleneck Sweater, £98 from J.Crew; Check Cashmere Scarf, £295 from Burberry; Sam Edelman Loren Heeled Riding Boots, £235 from Asos; Lexi Faux Fur Collar Coat, £250 from Whistles}

 

Recipe: Raspberry Oat Slices

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My friend made these raspberry oat bars for a cake sale at my son’s school last month and, after tasting one, I immediately asked for the recipe. They’re super easy to make and the oaty crunchiness contrasts nicely with the gooey jam. If you use sugar free jam they’re not too sweet and make perfect lunch box treats.

Ingredients:

(makes approx 12 slices)

5 tablespoons light brown soft sugar

125g (4 1/2 oz) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

100g (4 oz) porridge oats

125g (4 1/2 oz) butter, softened

250g (9 oz) good quality raspberry jam

Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas mark 4. Grease one 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin and line with baking parchment.

2. Combine brown sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and porridge oats in a large bowl. Rub in the butter using your hands to form a crumbly mixture.

3. Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared cake tin, reserving the rest for the topping. Spread the jam over the base but not quite to the edges as it will spread.

4. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top and lightly press it into the jam.

5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

Oat bars

This Week’s Favourites

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Hello again! Just a quick one tonight as I’m totally exhausted after Cameron’s 10th birthday party this afternoon for 17 of his friends at a mini golf course near our house. His actual birthday is tomorrow and I’ve just finished making a cake and wrapping the presents (his main present is a bicycle but he’ll get to choose it himself so we’ve just printed out a picture of a cool bike and stuck it in a birthday card).

As I’m typing this with only one eye open, here is a quick round-up of our week:

1. Apart from today’s party, Halloween was without a doubt the highlight of our week. When we went to our local farm shop we ran into this Pumpkin Princess who kindly agreed to have her picture taken with the kids.

2. The Halloween decorations were brought down from the loft and the children immediately tried on the bat hairbands. Clemmie kept hers on for two days and even took it into bed at night.

3. On Wednesday the sun graced us with its presence and we took advantage of the crisp autumn weather with a trip to a nearby adventure park and farm.

4. It has been lovely spending every day with my boys this half term. They have tomorrow off as well but on Tuesday it’s back to school.

5. The pumpkins took pride of place on our doorstep on Thursday as we hosted a small tea party for friends before trick or treating around the neighbourhood.

6. The kids all dressed up in their scary finery.

7. Cameron’s golf themed birthday cake (no I didn’t make it, cake decorating is not a strength of mine..) went down a treat at the party today.

8. My football crazy son holding one of his favourite birthday presents.

9. It’s bonfire weekend so after the party we went to see an amazing fireworks display.

It’s now almost 11pm and high time I went to bed, I suspect the birthday boy will not let us have a lie-in tomorrow morning. Good night to you all. X

#BritishBloggerSelection

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Hello! It is a lovely sunny autumn morning here in London, perfect for my son’s mini golf birthday party this afternoon. We still have loads to do (including packing 19 party bags full of sweets and little toys…Incidentally, when do they grow out of party bags? Do you still have to provide them for a 12th or 13th birthday party? I sincerely hope not..) but I just wanted to let you know about a new blogging group I’ve joined called #BritishBloggerSelection.

As I’ve said before, one of the great things about blogging for me is the sense of camaraderie and groups like these really help to foster that community spirit. It was started by Ellie over at Little Vintage Camera and if you want to join just click here. It doesn’t matter what your blog is about – fashion, cooking, lifestyle, beauty etc – you just have to be British (technically I’m Swedish but I think that after 30 years in this country I qualify..)

I really have to run now, as the clock is ticking but I also just wanted to say a big thank you for sharing your weekend plans in my previous post – I loved reading about what you’re up to. Hopefully I’ll be back later today with my ‘This Week’s Favourites’ post but until then: Have a great Sunday. X

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Happy Weekend!

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Friday again! What are your plans this weekend? Do you see the weekend as a chance to get out and experience new things or do you prefer to stay at home, flop on the sofa and relax? Go out for dinner, entertain at home, catch up on chores or go to the gym (maybe even all of them and more)? Or are weekends just another working day(s) for you?

I can hardly remember weekends pre-children but they definitely used to involve going out on both Friday and Saturday night. These days I probably need a week to recover if I go out two nights in a row! If I cast my mind back ten years ago, my hazy memory also seems to recall long brunches with a cheeky Bloody Mary or two (where we actually got to read the papers instead of just snatching a quick glance at the headlines while trying to stop the kids from wrecking the place), perhaps a spot of shopping on the King’s Road or a matinee showing of a film that didn’t carry a U rating.

As it’s half term, this weekend is gloriously free of kids’ activities which means no hunting around for football boots and swimming goggles (how come they’re never in the same place from one weekend to the next?) first thing tomorrow morning. Our autumn birthday marathon is nearing the finish line, culminating in my eldest son’s tenth birthday on Monday (double figures! Or as he keeps saying to me ‘mum I’m almost a teenager now!’ 😱) so on Sunday it’s time for his party which seems to have escalated to include 19 kids…Luckily we have roped in some friends to help but I’m thinking of bringing my ear plugs…

As Cameron’s party is so close to bonfire night it is customary for us to go to a fireworks display in the evening after his party, complete with fairground rides and toffee apples for the kids and mulled wine for the adults.

Anyway, enough about me. Please share your plans or your ideal weekend – I’d love to know 🙂 And whatever you’re doing, have a good one! X