Baking bread

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I love bread. I love the smell of fresh bread, I love the smell of bread being baked, and I love eating bread. I love bread so much, that when on holiday a few years ago I made my family stop at every bakery we saw just to go inside to look at and smell the bread. I was the designated driver for the holiday, so they didn’t really have much choice! So that’s why I thought I’d write a blog about baking some bread.

Anyway, due to my love of bread, for Christmas my boyfriend bought me a bread maker. Amazing. I have made bread from scratch a few times, but this bread maker just makes it so, so much easier, it’s wonderful.

I thought I would share with you one of my bread making sessions, today I chose to make a French bread style loaf. Now, normally you would expect this to be in the form of a baguette, but this is just a regular loaf shaped bread. Still tastes great though.

For this, I used my Russell Hobbs breadmaker. It comes with a leaflet that gives you recipes for different types of bread, I have made a few of them before, but this is my first time trying the French bread recipe.

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You will need:

300g strong white bread flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dried yeast

200g of water at room temperature. (The water is measured in grams in the recipe book so I just weighed it on my scales as if it was a dry ingredient.)

 

I was obviously making this in my bread maker, so you put all of the ingredients inside the loaf tin ready to be mixed. However, you must add the ingredients in a certain order, otherwise the yeast may activate too early or not activate at all and then disaster will strike. The recipe book advises that the wet ingredients are added first, so water on the bottom. Then dry, so I added the salt before the flour (salt and yeast need to be kept well away from each other). I added the yeast last, so there was a flour barrier between it and the salt.

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That is basically all the hard work done. The rest is up to the brilliant machine! You just pop the loaf tin into the machine, select the programme you require and off it goes. It mixes, kneads, proves and bakes the bread without you having to do anything else. It then beeps at you to tell you it’s ready. Can you tell I’m a little bit in love with it?!

The French bread recipe takes 3 hours and 40 minutes from when you start the machine to when it’s baked. There is also an option to set the machine to come on at a certain time, I haven’t tried it yet, but I want to set it to be ready for breakfast. Imagine waking up to a house smelling of fresh bread that you can literally go downstairs and start eating! Heaven.

This is about 10 minutes after I started the machine, all mixed together ready to start proving.

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This is with about an hour to go, so just about to start baking I think.

 

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The finished loaf! I was practically drooling as I took this photo, I had a slice as soon as I’d taken it. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm!

 

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For any of you who like bread as much as me, I hope this has inspired you to get baking. I do see it as a bit of a cheat, but honestly, it’s so good, you need to try it.

Ali xx

 

 

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Feb faves

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I see a lot of monthly favourite blogs and vlogs so thought I’d give it a go myself. I did actually film a video of this, but haven’t put it up yet, not sure if I will or not… such a tease ha.

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I of course had to start my February favourites with the Garnier Ultimate Blends Shampoo, The delicate soother – 1, because it genuinely is the shampoo I’ve been using throughout February, and has become my favourite, and 2, because I really like it! (See my previous blog post :))

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Next up, is my Blogger box! I won this in a competition (see my first blog post) and so I thought it deserved a mention. This arrived with some really helpful blogging items; a tripod for your phone, fairy lights, a candle, some photo props, and of course the shampoo, conditioner & heat protector. It all came nestled neatly inside the box, with gold tissue paper, very exciting! I am keeping the box as I’m sure it will come in handy, it’s sturdy too.

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This Garnier Miracle Wake Up Cream, was a little freebie from L’Oréal from the photo shoot. I have been using the same day cream/ moisturiser for a couple of years now so I thought I’d give this one a go. I firstly really enjoy the fact that it’s pink. Since using it, I’ve found my skin has been a lot softer and has helped with the general eye-bagginess that I have been getting.

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I recently had my hair cut from quite long, to just above my shoulder, and as I had a new hair length, I decided to try a new style too, so went on the hunt for some salt spray. I didn’t have to hunt very far as the shops are full of them, I chose the Schwarzkopf beach matt MERMAID look texturizing salt spray. I may have been slightly persuaded by the mermaid look part of the description…but it basically is great. You just spray onto wet hair, dry it, and then style how you want. I’ve found whatever style you want to do, it helps keep it that way, I’ve curled it, made it wavy, straightened it, gone outside with it half dry in the wind (as suggested on the bottle) and it works all ways.

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This is the lovely candle that came in the bloggers box, it’s called Green Tea & Fig and it’s by Fashion Fiend. I haven’t heard of this make of candle before, but I’m definitely going to seek some more out. It smells incredible. I mean, even when it’s not lit, you can still smell it when you walk into the room, which is pretty good for an unlit candle. Another great thing about this candle is that it’s made with natural oils and soy wax so there are no horrible fumes emitted when lit.

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This Garnier Hand Intensive 7 Days smoothing hand cream, was another little freebie from L’Oréal (thank you) and I do mean thank you, I have been using this SO much. I wash my hands countless times throughout the day due to Bella being so blimmin’ messy, and slobbery. Also, due to cleaning and other general hand washing reasons. So I have dry hands and am forever applying hand cream. However, this is brilliant. I have been using it for over 7 days now and I don’t have horrible dry hands anymore, yay!

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Three little make-up bits I’ve been loving this month are;

1 – Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 hour foundation. I find this gives excellent coverage and does last a long time. I haven’t actually tested to see if it lasts the full 25 hours as I remove my make-up at night.

2 – Collection Lasting Perfection concealer. This really does its job, it covers up my dark circles really well and I’ve actually worn this out without any foundation on top, so definitely a winner for me.

3 – The Benefit Rockateur blusher mini. For Christmas I received the Benefit selection box (not sure of its official name as I got rid of the box, kept the minis obv) and this blusher was one of the minis. I have been using it ever since, and considering it is a mini, I didn’t think it would last long, but it looks almost untouched. I really love the peachy pink colour and again, this really lasts long. I wear blusher, pretty much every single day as being so pale I feel I need something to brighten up my face or everyone, including me, thinks I look ill. This one works a treat and goes well with my skin tone.

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The photo made me laugh, I did actually take a more professional one, but had to use this one as it shows just how nosey (see what I did there?) Bella is. Excuse the foot. I was trying to take a photo of my lipsticks to add to this blog and she couldn’t help herself and stuck her nose in too! Bless her.

Anyway, these are the Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks in 38 and 16. Now, lipstick is a new edition to my life and I’ve got to say why didn’t anyone make me try it before?!?!?!?! I’ve always, always, always worn Vaseline, and on occasion lip gloss, but lipstick is fantastic. I still wear Vaseline all the time, but lipstick on top of Vaseline, is so much better than lip gloss. Lip gloss is so sticky and, your hair gets stuck to it, and it doesn’t last very long and yeah, lipstick is definitely the way forward. It lasts way longer, and isn’t sticky! What’s not to love? As you can see by the colours that I picked, they aren’t very daring, but to be honest I got a little over-whelmed from the ginormous range of lipsticks available that I chose two pinky, nudey colours to start with. I will be buying more to try out in March, so make sure you check out my March favourites too!

Ali xx

PS follow me on Instagram and Twitter using @alifrankle 🙂

Garnier Ultimate Blends

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As part of my competition win, (still not over that) I was given the Garnier Ultimate Blends, new blend The delicate soother shampoo and conditioner to try out. This is the blend I was chosen to represent on the photo shoot, I have been using it for almost a couple of weeks now and I really like it.

First of all, the packaging is appealing to me, its white with a pretty, pink, pearlescent lid, always a winner. I automatically wanted to try it. Secondly, it smells gorgeous, picture babies fresh out the bath, covered in talc. That’s what it smells like to me. The image it conjures, makes me believe it will definitely be soft and gentle, for sensitive scalps (which is what it claims to be).

Thirdly, the mixture of rice cream and oat milk definitely softened my hair. Usually, I’d come out of the shower, towel dry and comb through the knots in my hair. I’ve found since using this the number of knots has decreased dramatically, my hair is feeling so soft and nourished. I genuinely love it!

Fourthly, I’ve noticed that the fragrance really sticks around. I can still smell the talciness (is that word?) the next day. Amazing. I don’t know about you, but my hair usually ends up smelling like food! This has kept that smell at bay.

I also got given the Ultimate Blends heat protection milk, in the same range to try out and test. The instructions say to “apply evenly on lengths and ends” I was a bit cautious of this as I would usually apply heat protector just to the ends of my hair so that grease is not encouraged, but I discovered that even when applied to the whole of my hair, I can still go two days without washing. This to me, is brilliant, I hate having to wash my hair regularly.

So overall, I really enjoyed trialing these new products, and they are definitely an addition that is here to stay.

If anyone reading this has any tips on how to not wash your hair regularly, please comment and let me know! I’m all for trying them out.

Ali xx

 

 

 

Victoria Sponge Cupcakes

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It was my Dad’s birthday last week, so as a treat I decided to bake him a cake. His fave is a classic Victoria Sponge, but I decided to do a little twist on this and turn it into cupcakes. Recipe, method and pictures below.

Although, baking is a real favourite activity of mine and I love, love, love doing it, especially eating the results. I’m not always that neat and tidy or that great at it. I tend to pick recipes that are quite simple and easy to follow. You’ll see what I mean!

Ingredients & Utensils

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You will need for the cupcakes

  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch of baking powder
  • cupcake tray
  • cupcake cases
  • large bowl
  • wooden spoon
  • hand whisk/ electric mixer
  • sieve

For the buttercream icing/ topping

  • 75g softened unsalted butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • a dash of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons of jam (I used strawberry)
  • bowl
  • spoon
  • icing bag

Method

When I follow recipes I often get frustrated that there isn’t a picture of what each step is meant to look like. Obviously this is quite a basic recipe, but I thought I would show a step by step photo guide anyway.

Step 1

Pre-heat your oven to 170°C/ gas mark 3 and line your cupcake tin ready.

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Step 2

Add the softened butter and caster sugar into your large bowl and mix together until light and creamy.

I started with my wooden spoon then moved onto the electric whisk to really make it creamy.

 

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Step 3

Sift the flour and baking powder into your bowl.

That was easy 🙂

 

 

 

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Step 4

Crack the eggs one at a time into the bowl, mixing the ingredients together to form a smooth batter.

I used the electric whisk to do this and then the wooden spoon to scrape the sides to make sure everything was incorporated.

 

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Had to add this one as she was sat next to me, as per usual, watching my every move!

 

 

 

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Step 5

Spoon your mixture into your cupcake cases; try to get an equal amount in each.

As you can see I only made 9, you could probably stretch the mixture a bit further as they came out right to the top of the cases.

 

 

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Step 6

Put your filled cupcake cases into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they look slightly brown on top and are springy to touch.

Step 7

Place the cupcakes on a rack to cool

Step 8

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Whilst your cupcakes are cooling, it’s time to make the butter icing!

Mix together the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and dash of milk to form a smooth icing. Be careful to start with as icing sugar gets e v e r y w h e r e.

At this stage, you can be more creative, you can add different flavouring to the icing (instead of vanilla), food colouring, perhaps use chocolate icing or cream cheese etc. up to you. I decided to stick with the classic.

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By this time your cupcakes should have had enough time to cool down. Spoon the jam on top of the cupcakes. This represents the jam that is usually present in the middle of a Victoria Sponge. Again, you can use different flavours. Totally up to you 🙂

 

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Step 10

Now this is the bit I was referring to in my intro. Look at that icing! It’s terrible! I showed my boyf and he said I shouldn’t use the photo haha!

Spoon your icing into your icing bag and go wild! Obviously, they would look nicer if they were iced properly, but they taste pretty darn good.

Basically, when I snipped the end of my icing bag I didn’t cut it properly, and lost my nozzle so it came out at two angles at once. At first I thought, yay it’s creating heart shapes, but turns out, it just wasn’t.

I hope your icing is a lot more successful than mine! Let me know if you make them and if you enjoyed them? My Dad didn’t seem to mind the icing, and said they were delicious.

Ali xx

 

 

 

Bella

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Crossing the fields in the early morning chill and frost is not something I ever thought I would be doing, or writing about for that matter. I am not a morning person, I’m a let’s do everything the night before so I can stay in bed an extra 5 minutes kind of a person. That all changed when this little pup entered my life…

Come rain or shine, or even snow, there she is ears back, tail wagging at 7am Monday – Sunday, she doesn’t know what a weekend is either. It’s the best alarm clock.

Surprisingly, to me, I have come to love these early morning walks. This morning we wandered past the snow drops and the too early daffodils, into a frozen field filled with cows that she tried to befriend. She stood there mouth open, tail wagging waiting for them to sniff her in the accustomed dog greeting, but of course this did not happen and I had to escort her away swiftly. Though I’m pretty sure I’m the one that was scared! She will try to lick anyone and anything; her inquisitive nature has got us into a few pickles over the last few months.

I am fortunate enough to work from home, so I spend my days sat at my desk trying really hard not to be distracted by her. If you own or have ever met a German Shepherd you will realise just how difficult this can be. After our walks, I prepare our breakfasts, (recently I’ve been trying to be healthy and have porridge with fruit, much better than peanut butter on toast right?) she will then leave me alone for a bit, say an hour? Until she gets a bit bored and comes upstairs to find me. I can’t help but laugh. She comes in, tail wagging as pleased to see me as if I’ve been gone for a whole week, puts her head on my knee and looks up at me with her pleading pretty brown eyes “please play with me”. So I may end up sneaking off for 5 minutes to play. Who could resist?

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The best thing about Bella is how everything is still new and therefore incredibly exciting to her, the response she gives to things she hasn’t seen before is funny. On one of our walks the other day we came across a yellow grit salt bin and she just had to bark and bark at it! Warning me of this frightening thing I suppose? But seriously, it could be anything and she wants to know about it. The pen I’ll be using, the sock I’m trying to put on my foot, the bath bomb I’m trying to put in my bath. (I will come back to this at a future date, her and my boyfriend are obsessed with Lush). She’s there with her gorgeous head tilts trying to understand what it is and what I’m saying to her.

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I’ll be sure to fill you in on some of our adventures, but for now I must start work! It’s only 8am, we’ve been on our walk and I’m settling down to eat my porridge in peace. (yeah right!)

Ali xx

What. A. Day!

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I just had one of the best Friday’s I’ve ever had, ever. I was picked to be one of the faces of L’Oréal Garnier Ultimate Blends. My face was chosen along with four other girls to be featured in Superdrug! Unbelievable. Well, it certainly was for me. How did it come about? I’ll tell you…

Scrolling through Instagram one evening I spotted a post from Superdrug claiming that Garnier were looking for a new beauty blogger, this instantly sparked interest from me as it’s something I’ve been considering for a while. The competition deadline was the next day so I quickly went on the Garnier website and entered, thinking to myself, why not eh, might get the blogger box and become a blogger. I’d deffo be up for giving it a go.

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So using this photo and 140 characters on what beauty means to me I entered. I went to sleep that night thinking; sure, I could be a blogger. Why not?!

 

 

 

 

I received an email a few weeks later, the title screaming at me “We want you to be one of the faces of Ultimate Blends!” I opened it with disbelief, yeah right, thought I. The email invites me to a photo shoot at L’Oréal HQ in Hammersmith. So I started to believe it, they did want me, well, my face at least. How amazing. I replied straight away, wow yes please, I can come, when and where do you want me?!

The night before the photo shoot was a huge pamper evening, as I’m sure you can imagine. Hair mask, face mask, nails painted, outfits selected, train tickets collected. I was ready to go…

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This made it all seem real!

So, inside HQ I was whisked upstairs to one of their academy studios where hair and make-up were ready and waiting for me. Along with PR and professional photographers setting up their shoot. Madness. The “look” Garnier wanted was a very natural look, so I was done up with pretty make-up and very smooth, bouncy hair. I found out I was picked to represent the brand new blend called The delicate smoother. Ha! Still with me?

The photo shoot involved a lot of L’oreal ‘cos I’m worth it hair flicking, (yes they did say the line) big smiles, posing and laughter. Basically, it was a lot of fun! Photos to follow.. I didn’t actually take any on the day, not sure why, I think I was in too much shock. My face and the other girls will be shown in Superdrug, so when the posters come out, I’m going to take lots of selfies, with myself. A selfselfie?!

One of my favourite parts of the day was getting to pick lots of products to take home with me at the end, here is a sneak preview of a few of them. I will be testing them out and letting you know what I think;

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The other lovely ladies and lucky winners already have their own blog/vlogs set up and spent the day telling me I should definitely do it, so here I am. And what a great day to blog about. I can’t wait to start blogging and seeing people’s reactions to little old me being in Superdrug!

I have decided to blog about three of my passions; beauty, baking and Bella (my 11 month old German shepherd). I also love alliteration so even better – blogging, beauty, baking, Bella. Love it!