Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cherry and Coconut 'British' Flapjacks

So I learnt something new about flapjacks recently-apparently British flapjacks are different to American flapjacks. The ones I’m always baking are British flapjacks, while American flapjacks are what we call scotch pancakes.
Anyway, more cycling=more flapjacks. This time, cherry and coconut flavour.

2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons golden syrup
100ml milk
200g porridge oats
50g desiccated coconut
50g glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together the wet ingredients and stir in the dry ingredients. Pour into a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 10-15mins.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Chocolate and Ginger Flapjacks

I bake a batch of flapjacks most weeks, sometimes even twice a week. They’re great cycling snacks as they’re easy to carry, they don’t fall apart, they provide plenty of energy and they taste good. But if there are any left over, they go down well with a cup of tea too.
Additions to the basic ‘oats and syrup’ recipe depend on what’s in the baking cupboard at the time (yes I now have so many baking ingredients that they have their own cupboard). The flavour of this week was ‘Chocolate and Ginger’.


2 eggs
3 tablespoons golden syrup
50ml milk
200g oats
1 heaped dessert spoon cocoa
1 tablespoon glace ginger
1 tsp ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together the wet ingredients, stir in the dry ingredients. Pour into a baking tin lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 10-15mins.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


From brownies to blondies, just to be fair. Again adapted from Linda Collister’s book, Chocolate Baking.

200g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp real vanilla essence
3 large eggs, beaten
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A large pinch of salt
Walnuts and dark chocolate to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Beat the eggs together. Add all the other ingredients and mix. Pour into a baking tin. Decorate with walnuts and dark chocolate broken into pieces. Bake for 20mins.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Very Chocolatey Chocolate Brownies

One Christmas two of my brothers bought me chocolate baking books and the third bought me some fancy chocolate. They must think I like chocolate or something?! Knowing that, believe it or not this is the first time I’ve actually made chocolate brownies. This recipe was adapted from one of the Christmas present baking books-‘Chocolate Baking’ by Linda Collister. Incidentally, the same author who wrote The Great British Bake Off cookery book. So it seems everything I’m baking at the moment originally came from Linda Collister. Anyway, this recipe was really easy to follow and the brownies turned out well. Although I’ll bake them for less time in future (baked for 35mins this time) as they weren’t quite as squidgy in the middle as I was hoping.

140g butter
4 eggs, beaten
140g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
75g cocoa powder
140g plain flour
50g walnuts
50g pecan nuts

Makes 16

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter in a pan and leave to cool while preparing the rest of the mixture. Beat the eggs together then add the sugar and mix. Add the butter and vanilla and mix. Stir in the flour, cocoa and salt until combined, don’t over mix. Stir in the nuts. Pour into a baking tin and bake at 180°C for 30mins.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sultana and Walnut Flapjacks

I seem to have reverted back to my old (boring) baking ways recently baking only flapjacks or banana bread. They’re just so quick and easy being the main reasons I think, closely followed by also tasting good. I’ll have to get my Great British Bake Off cook book out again soon and try some more adventurous baking again. Especially after watching The Great British Bake Off Masterclass with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry the other night!

200g oats
50g sultanas
50g walnuts
1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 tbsp golden syrup
50ml milk
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Bake at 180°C for 15mins.

On the bread maker front, I’ve now also tried: the Seeded Wholemeal Loaf; Olive Loaf; Maple and Pecan Nut Loaf; and Honey and Sunflower Loaf (we get through a lot of bread). The best of these was the Olive Loaf which was tasty and had a lovely soft texture. The worst was the Seeded Wholemeal Loaf which turned out quite dense-I’ll add less water next time which will hopefully make it lighter. The Maple and Honey loaves tasted nice although the Maple loaf was a bit too sweet (even for sweet-tooth me!).

Olive Loaf

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Coconut and Cherry Scones

Not much to look at, but they taste delicious (even if I do say so myself). Unusual measurements as they’re converted from an imperial recipe. I guess I could round them up to make them neater, but I’m reluctant to change something that works, plus it’s easy to weigh out any amount on electric scales!

227g self raising flour
57g butter
28g caster sugar
150ml milk
16 glace cherries
28g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Mix together all the dry ingredients (except the cherries). Add the milk and mix, then stir in the cherries. Bake for 10-15mins. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Testing out the bread maker

In the world of baking, is using a bread maker classed as cheating? I'm not sure, but if it is, at least I'm admitting to it upfront ...unlike Lance. 
There are 18 pages of recipes in the bread maker instruction booklet. It might take me a while, but I've started to work my way through them. So far I've made Spicy Fruit Loaf, Apricot and Almond Loaf and Sundried Tomato Bread. The Spicy Fruit Loaf wasn't really that spicy, so I’d add more spices next time (still, it disappeared so quickly I didn't have time to take a photo, so it must have tasted OK). The Apricot and Almond Loaf and the Sundried Tomato Bread both worked well, although again I think they could have had a bit more flavour so would add more almonds/tomatoes in future.  Next up I think I’ll try the Honey and Sunflower Loaf and the Maple and Pecan Nut Loaf.

Apricot and Almond Loaf 

Sundried Tomato Bread

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Scottish Aquathlon Championships

On Saturday I travelled up to Scotland for the Scottish Aquathlon Champs, my last race of the season. The journey up the East Coast Main Line from Leeds to Edinburgh must be one of the nicest in Britain, passing through Durham, Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed. I always think it’s a shame to be passing through Durham and not stopping, but the destination- Dunblane was also lovely, especially since I was staying with family.

The race took place on Sunday at Stirling University. The sports facilities here are amazing with a 50m pool and athletics track right next to each other. But the real star of the show is the surrounding scenery which is just beautiful- I’ll take my camera the next time I visit. The race itself involved a 750m pool swim followed by a 5km run consisting of two laps around the University campus on a mixture of tarmac and grass. I didn’t feel like I had a great swim or first run lap, but I felt good on the second lap and was really happy to win the race (although I only found this out a couple of days later due to a problem with the timing!). My Aunty, Uncle and cousins came to watch me race which was great as it’s always nice to have someone cheering for me and following the race we went back to Dunblane for a delicious meal starring Granny's soup (otherwise known as lentil or ham bone soup).

Race report and results here: 
Scottish Aquathlon Championships

End of season interview here:
Sportsister catches up with Seonaid Thompson

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Banana Bread with Dates and Walnuts

Back to normal today-baking banana bread- to use up some brown bananas. I only like yellow ones for eating, on the green side of yellow at that. So as soon as they start to get freckles I leave them to go really brown before making banana bread with them. Banana bread sounds really healthy, but actually with the amount of sugar and fat in it, banana cake would probably be a more accurate description. Still, it tastes good and makes a great afternoon snack, especially after a bike ride. Below is the basic recipe I follow, but I often add other ingredients too depending on what I fancy that day. Today I added dates and walnuts, other favourite additions are chocolate chips or sultanas/raisins.

150g caster sugar
50g butter
2 eggs
4 brown bananas
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and bananas. Mix in the flour, bicarb, salt and baking powder. Bake for 45mins to 1hour. Cool for 10mins on a cooling rack. Remove from tin and eat!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lemon and Pecan Cake

Today’s cake was another recipe from the Great British Bake Off cookbook-Lemon and Pecan Celebration cake, except I didn’t bother with the marzipan or fancy icing so I guess it’s not really a celebration cake any more. I also made a mistake with the recipe and added too much lemon juice so had to add more and more flour to bring the consistency back to normal. The result was, unsurprisingly, a cake that tastes like it has a lot of flour in it. The lemon and pecan flavours still come through strong though and taste delicious together. The lemon curd in the middle also adds an extra lemony burst. I’ll have to try this one again though, actually following the recipe properly, before I decide if it needs any alterations or not.

Monday, 1 October 2012

A wee trip up to Edinburgh

...for my cousin’s wedding. What a wonderful day.

We travelled up to Edinburgh on Friday evening, staying at Craigmoss Guest House. Porridge for me and a full Scottish breakfast for my husband. The breakfast was delicious, our bedroom was very clean (until we moved in) and the owners were very friendly, even ironing my husband’s shirt for him. My only points for improvement would be a bit of a revamp on the decoration front and those little jam jars (I collect them) instead of plastic tubs of jam at breakfast.

On Saturday morning we managed to fit in a run up Arthur’s Seat before heading over to the wedding at The Hub. The bride and bridesmaids looked absolutely beautiful (the groom looked handsome too) and the ceremony was lovely with only one small hitch-when the celebrant said the wrong name, well at least it wasn’t the groom! It was also lovely to catch up with all my ever growing family and the ceilidh was, as always, great fun.

The fun continued on Sunday as we went for a group walk up Arthur’s seat followed by a fantastic buffet back in the bride’s home village. We also stopped off in Durham for dinner on the way home. Lots of new restaurants, shops and bars have opened up since we were last there, but it was good to see our old favourites- Klute, The Picnic Basket, Sammy’s and La Spaghettata were all still there. Without considering anywhere else we headed straight to La Spag for a cheap and cheerful (and very tasty) dinner. A perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

Durham Cathedral, still there too

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off

What an amazing leaving present from my friends at work: ‘The Great British Bake Off’ Cookbook. Each chapter is devoted to a different type of baking: cakes; biscuits; breads; tarts etc. And each chapter contains a ‘Showstopping Challenge’ with three alternative recipes: ‘easy’; ‘takes a little time’; and ‘needs a little skill’. These are then followed by more recipes, some from the Bake Off contestants and some from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. 

I decided to start with the first recipe in the book, Mocha Marbled Cake, a Showstopping Challenge-Easy recipe. The recipe was indeed easy to follow and the cake didn’t take very long to make. It involved making two sponge mixtures-chocolate and coffee- and then marbling them together. The cake tasted lovely, but not too different from a normal chocolate cake. I’d add more coffee next time to achieve a stronger coffee flavour. The marbled effect also didn’t turn out quite as well as expected and certainly didn’t look as good as the picture in book. Maybe I got carried away with the swirling of the two sponge flavours and ended up just mixing them together.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

London Triathlon

The London Triathlon was the final event in the British Super Series and my last triathlon of 2012. As we had done for Strathclyde, we travelled down the day before the race, this time staying with a friend who lives near the race venue. Getting from King’s Cross to our friend’s house turned out to trickier than we’d anticipated and ended up taking us two hours by tube and bike. We made it eventually though and with enough time to grab a bite to eat and a hot chocolate before the race briefing.

Race day and I didn’t have a great swim, but felt strong on the bike and run and managed to finish in seventh place. This meant that I moved up the British Super Series rankings to win the series, which I was very surprised about but very happy too. This time I was the only family member competing, but my husband, parents, brothers, brother’s girlfriend and friend who we’d stayed with had all decided to come along and watch. It was great hearing them all cheering for me and it definitely gave me a little bit of extra energy each time I cycled or ran past them.

Trying to get back to King’s Cross again proved to be quite a challenge and after cycling around in the rain for 30 minutes we decided to cut our losses and get a taxi. After over an hour travelling through the London traffic (and £45 on the meter!) we finally made it to the station. Again, we were just in time to get some dinner and another hot chocolate before jumping (actually more like hobbling by this stage) onto the train.

Report here:

Friday, 21 September 2012

Go Faster Flapjacks

We’re travelling down to London on Saturday so will need a substantial supply of snacks for the journey. I tend to get through a fair number of cereal bars a week (about five boxes). But each time I buy them, I feel guilty thinking: ‘I could save myself a fortune (or at least a bit of money) if I made these myself’. So with an afternoon off work I decided to bake my own snacks for the weekend. In the absence of a good ‘Nutri-Grain Elevenses’ recipe I went for cranberry and white chocolate chip flapjacks. I just hope there are still some left tomorrow...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pink 'n' sparkly cupcakes

An unusual habit maybe, but I quite enjoy flicking though cookery books and looking at all the different kinds of cakes and biscuits I could bake one day (if I had the time/ingredients/patience). However when it comes to actually baking things, I’m not very adventurous and tend to stick to either flapjacks or banana bread-mainly because they are simple to make and require quite basic ingredients. This weekend though, I thought I’d push the boat out and bake something a wee bit fancier than normal-cupcakes. The cakes themselves were really easy to make but the icing was a bit trickier and I still haven't got the hang of it.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sir Chris Hoy

What a great autobiography. Once I started reading it, I really struggled to put it down. That is, until I started to near the end and tried to make it last longer by reading only a few pages at a time! Hopefully Sir Chris will write another one in a few years time to include London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. Throughout the book I came across many little snippets I’d like to write out and stick on my fridge as inspiration, but I’ve limited myself to just one. It’s actually not a quote from Chris Hoy but from Graeme Obree (The Flying Scotsman);

'Determination, desire, dedication, and a steadfast refusal to accept the expectations that other people might have of you, are infinitely more important than natural talent, whatever that might be.'

Chris talks very highly of Graeme Obree in his autobiography citing him as one of his role models. He sounds like a very interesting character, so I think I’ll read his autobiography next, oh after Pendles that is...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Strathclyde Duathlon

Good first run, slow transition, dropped on bike, OK last run. And a lovely weekend with family in Glasgow. We travelled up to Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday for a course recce ahead of the race on Sunday. Unfortunately the swim was cancelled due to poor water quality which was a shame as the lake looked lovely, if a wee bit chilly. The bike course was great-I like a few hills- and there’s not much to say about the run course, except sadly it’s as flat as a pancake. Quite a few family members were also competing at the weekend-my Aunty in the Glasgow Half Marathon (started by my cousin) and two more cousins in the Strathclyde triathlon (now duathlon). Following our respective races, we all met up in Glasgow for a delicious BBQ (trying to pretend it’s still summer-even in Scotland). Looking forward to the next family gathering already…

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Red Lion, Cricklade

Well after three nights camping in Wales, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Red Lion, Cricklade followed by a night at Cricklade House. I wasn't very impressed with my dinner-a Pork and Apple Sauce Sandwich which contained more fat than pork. But my dessert-Chocolate and Almond Tart with Cherry Sorbet was delicious which almost made up for it. Cricklade House was also a mixed bag, with a swimming pool that was in desperate need of a clean but a good breakfast and overall very good value.

Happy to be upgrading to a hotel after three nights camping