Blackberry, marzipan and orange cake

I know, I know – I’m late to this party.  The excuse for my tardiness lies somewhere between being on holiday for most of last week, unthinkingly baking a giant chocolate cake just before the first episode aired (couldn’t bake another cake straight away, could I?) and a general scepticism about whether I’d want to get on the Bake Off Bandwagon at all this year.

I’ll admit that along with the rest of the nation, I was unsure about the move to Channel 4.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that just as the dust had settled and we’d all started to make peace with a Mel, Sue and Mary-less GBBO, somebody or other important at Channel 4 trailed the new series with a doom-laden reference to giving the show a “Channel 4 edge”.  If you’ve ever seen Channel 4 offerings like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, you too would be concerned as to what on earth this “edge” might be.

Turns out it’s mainly just the presence of Noel Fielding.  And not really knowing who he was but being slightly put off by his hair (sorry) I have to admit I think he makes a pretty nice host – friendly and goofy rather than obnoxiously edgy.  Plus he is charmingly offset by the British institution that is Sandi Toksvig, so we can all calm down and enjoy another helping of basically-the-same-old-GBBO.  So I’ve decided (belatedly) to bake along!

Initial thoughts aside, it’s (well, was… see above) cake week.  The signature challenge was a cake with fruit in it.  I decided to adapt a beautiful orange and marzipan cake I’ve made before to include more blackberries and a little less orange. I had lovingly collected a heap of them at the cost of scratched shins, nettle stings and purple-stained fingertips, so they needed a home.

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 175g (6oz) butter
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice of one large orange (reserve 2 tbsp for the icing)
  • 140g blackberries
  • 250g (8oz) white marzipan, fairly finely chopped

For the icing

  • 100g (3½ oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Directions

  • Set the oven to 180°C (160 fan) and line a square or rectangular tin with grease proof paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a handheld mixer.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoon of the flour each time, then beat in the orange juice (reserving two tablespoons for the icing) and zest.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour and half the marzipan pieces.
  • Sprinkle a handful of blackberries onto the bottom of the tin, then spread about a third of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle in about a third of the remaining berries, and about a third of the remaining marzipan.  Add half of the remaining mixture on top.  Repeat – add the rest of the marzipan and blackberries (expect a handful) then spread the rest of the mixture on top.  Sprinkle the handful of blackberries evenly over the surface.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before removing from the tin to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, mix the two tablespoons of orange juice with the icing sugar to reach a consistency with a good dribble.
  • Once the cake is cool, slice into 16 squares before drizzling the slices with the orange icing – leave to set.

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Recipe adapted from goodtoknow.co.uk; all other content and photographs are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2017.

An accidental hiatus, 101 followers and a little bit of hope

Well hello there. It’s been a while — oops. I promise I have a good excuse.

Okay — not really. But I have been busy. And, to put the icing on the sheepish cake, I logged back into WordPress yesterday after a period of good intentions paving the way to absolutely no blog posts whatsoever to find I’d missed a bit of an exciting milestone. One hundred and one people are now following ohtogoawandering which, I’ll admit, makes me beam with pride. In some ways, I never set out to write this blog for anybody but myself, but equally it’s nice to know that people enjoy what I create here in my tiny corner of the internet.

And I wanted to mark the occasion somehow: it feels like a watershed in many ways — a new beginning. A moment to look to the next one hundred, and the next few years. And it happens to coincide with other lines in the sand.

I’ve gone from a period in my life where I was really struggling a lot, felt as though I had lost my way and was very unhappy, to a period where I feel like the way ahead is clear, bright and full of promise. Where I feel appreciated, where my hard work seems to pay off, and where I look forward to getting up each morning.

Alongside that, we woke up in the UK yesterday to a new government: a less positive change. The fragile hopes of the left wing in Britain were dashed as we welcomed in five years of a conservative majority government. An administration that rode to power fuelled primarily by people’s fear and anger. The leaders of the two main liberal parties in Britain resigned, taking full responsibility for their party’s crushing defeats– their resignation speeches are not easy to watch. It isn’t easy to watch people give their all for a cause you believe in, and then to watch them lose, no matter how graceful their exits.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, gave a particularly emotional speech after watching his party lose seat after seat. But tinged as it was with personal sadness and defeat, his message was ultimately one of hope for the future. It struck a chord among a huge number of people: even if Clegg’s political record is far from flawless, he spoke to hope, generosity and liberalism in a dark moment for those who fear another five years of a party whose primary concern is the rich and powerful. And it reminded us that before we turn to the easy refuges of cynicism and anger, the most powerful weapon we have is our hope that things will get better.

It’s that little voice that has always got me through the rubbish times, and it’s that which will preserve left wing idealism. And no matter what your political feelings or your situation, hope is not something to be sniggered at or denigrated in favour of ‘realism’: anybody who has ever changed anything started with a belief that things could change. And they can.

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A bit of an emotional one this time, but it’s something I needed to write. Thanks to each and every one of my one hundred and one followers — I hope you continue to enjoy my blog! 

Listening to: Girl Crush by Little Big Town, I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King, Woman (Oh Mama) by Joy Williams, Word Up! by Little Mix.

The Walt Whitman image is from Pinterest, where it sadly becomes almost impossible to find the original creator. All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Well, the excitement is actually almost too much. (Even to me, that sounds sarcastic, but it’s really not!) And so, minus the sparkly dress and sequinned shoes I would have favoured for the occasion, I need to say a great big thank you to Osyth for giving me a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. One of the best things about blogging, or life generally, is surely to find that somebody whose work you admire also admires yours. Honestly, it made my week. In her own words, Osyth’s is a ‘story-telling blog’: the stories she tells are a joy to read, packed with witty insights and warmth. Keep telling stories please, Osyth!

So here are the rules for the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you
  • List the rules and display the award
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you enjoy, then comment on their posts to let them know that you have nominated them

Here’s the very pretty award, I’m excited to add it to my sidebar!

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So now: seven facts about me. Hmm…

1. I currently live in London, but I’m yet to become a city person. I miss clean air, open space, Northern accents and recognising everybody I see in the street.

2. I feel most at peace when I’m by the sea. Or preferably in it. The times I have felt most content to just be have been when I’ve been swimming in the sea. The freezing cold, crystal clear, British sea.

3.  My mum is Northern Irish, and I have visited Ireland every summer since I was born – it has some of the best beaches around… And hearing Northern Irish accents is the most comforting sound ever.

4.  I don’t tend to call the people that I love by their actual names. I make up alternatives, and not just one alternative, but loads of interchangeable ones. I also make up words. I kind of like not speaking properly…

5. I love to dance. I haven’t danced properly since I left university, but often just dance in my flat when the mood takes me. There is nothing more freeing. Weirdly, when I’m not dancing, I am beyond clumsy. To the extent that I feel I should have higher home insurance allowances than normal people.

6.  I cry a lot. And not necessarily because I’m sad! It really doesn’t take much. I cry at songs, films, adverts on TV, books — anything poignant. Sometimes I laugh until I cry. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I cry at the drop of a hat. No shame.

7. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my own work, and my handwriting is super neat, but yet I’m really messy. This is one of those strange contradictions that people seem to find odd.

And finally, the best bit: nominating fifteen other blogs for this award. Here goes! (and only numbered because otherwise I’ll lose track, these are in no particular order)

1.  The Little Library Cafe — Kate bakes and blogs her way through the foods in her favourite literature. An ingenious concept in my opinion, and she writes mainly about books she enjoyed growing up, so her blog is often a delightful trip down memory lane. With food. What more could you ask for?

2.  Pointes of View — Lani made the move from the big city to a sleepy suburb, and documents her everyday life on this blog. Lots of beautiful photography, wry humour and tales of everything from tepees to kitchen renovations!

3. Steph and Penny — A fellow lady who likes to bake, with a KitchenAid to die for named Penny. This blog is all about having fun in the kitchen, and Steph’s recipes are almost always enough to tempt me to get the scales out…

4. Storyshucker — This guy can write. I mean, really write. I love his view that there is a story to be found in almost all of life’s moments. It’s something I want to implement more in my own approach to writing/blogging, and his stories have honestly made me both laugh out loud and cry.

5. Leaf and Twig — A marriage of poetry and photography, these posts are short but always sweet, insightful and beautiful.

6. Something like a storybook —  Morgan writes in a way that is searingly honest and really, really good. She inspired me to write and actually send Christmas cards by good old fashioned snail-mail last Christmas, and recently her poetry has been just exquisite.

7. Listful Thinking — A blog revolving around lists (one of my primary passions) that is also my favourite kind of hilarious. Literally, all of it is funny. Please read it.

8.  Taste of Colours — First of all, points for a fabulous blog name. And second of all, as you’d expect, the photographs on this blog are beautiful. And the recipes are in grams. Any British people who read a lot of (often American) food blogs will appreciate that fact a LOT.

9. The Ordinary Cook —  She is actually far from ordinary. Great recipes and an infectious zestiness (is that an appropriate word? I feel it sums it up…) make this blog one of my favourite new discoveries.

10. Cafe Argentique — Helen is a bit of a blogging newbie, but as she is one of my best friends in ‘real’ life, I am confident that her blog will grow into something that I will very much enjoy visiting. She’s a talented artist, and takes amazing photographs. And she likes cake.

11. Life of Sarah Beth — A kind of lifestyle blog crossed with a beauty blog with some general musings thrown in: just the kind of thing I enjoy. Sarah has also been very brave and upfront about her struggles with depression, which I really admire. Keep going, Sarah!

12. Luce Luxe —  Lauren is a fellow history lover, as well as a northerner living in London, so I can relate to much of what she writes about! We also share a bit of a beauty product addiction, and I really enjoy her beauty posts.

13. Glitter Bunnies — Another beauty blog (I love ’em). Heather has a great eye for design: her blog theme is gorgeous and her posts are always beautiful to look at.

14. Daisy Chains and Dreamers — A recent discovery, I have fallen in love with this blog.  It’s another lifestlye/ beauty one, but with a bit more craft thrown into the mix. Everything on it is just so pretty. And sometimes, well, that’s really just what you need.

15. Butter Baking — Last, but my no means least: this blog is another yummy delight of a baking blog. Beautiful photographs and loads of lovely recipes to tempt you.

To my nominees: of course, I hope that you’ll take part! But many of you may not want to, or have been nominated already. In that case, please take this as a friendly nod in your direction and a kind request to please keep doing what you’re doing. I love reading your blogs!

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.